It is always good to remember that zazen is no ordinary meditation. Zazen is to experience reality as it is, one’s inner reality as well as the outer reality.

Hōkyō Zanmai is a fundamental text in our school, of which the title could be translated as the Samadhi of the Precious Mirror, the Samadhi of Pure Consciousness. The first words of Hōkyō Zanmai: Nyōze nō hō, the Dharma of reality as it is.

The Dharma of reality as it is, the Buddhas touched it secretly (in the depths of their zazen).

The poem goes on:

You who have now touched it, please, keep it intact.

When our mind flows by itself, without stopping on anything, without making any commentary, without analyzing what is ahead of us, we touch the absolute, reality as it is.

Master Deshimaru use to translate these first words, nyōze nō hō (reality, the Dharma as it is):

Absolute, free from doubt, such is the Dharma.

In our daily lives, we keep weighing what is good for us, what is bad. “Does one really gain anything at practicing the Dharma? Wouldn’t it be better to follow our selfishness?” We never know what we should do. In our lives, we always have a goal: make friends, get a good position, earn money to make a good life, comfortable, pleasant. Our goal is to enjoy life as much as we can. To do this, you have to be intelligent, astute, smart, have talent.

Zazen is about something else entirely: we sit upright, immobile, letting the mind flow by itself. We don’t aim at anything. We experience a life that is not directed by utilitarianism. We experience a life without compromises. In the ordinary world, our lives are always made of compromises: how to get an advantage from the situations that come to us? In zazen, we experience the absolute, that which does not depend on our compromises, on our calculations. That which does not depend on our selfishness.

We meet the reality of the Buddhas as it is deep down in our heart. This is why it is important in zazen not to do things half, that is not to stop halfway, but to let everything go. This requires going beyond our ordinary habits.

Absolute, free from doubt, such is the Dharma.

Often we do not believe that the best thing to do is to follow the cosmic order. We sometimes think that it is in our interest to act with the energy of the three poisons: greed, aversion, ignorance. The absolute is when life is liberated from the three poisons. It is important to taste the absolute: to do things wholeheartedly as they should be done, without expecting anything for ourselves. This is the dimension that zazen proposes.

To reach the absolute is to escape all the pitfalls of the ego.

Taiun JP Faure, May 2022

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