In the morning, when we don the kesa, we bring to mind what our practice is by singing :
O great garment of liberation
Field of happiness beyond all forms.
The kesa represents the Buddha’s teaching, that is, the teaching of the universe. To be clothed in the kesa is to be without separation from all existences, liberated from the self. Free of the self, free of everything. Being free of the self means being free of all erroneous concepts, free of the mind and its strategies.
Master Dogen reminds us that we must practice with “our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers who are none other than the mountains, the valleys, the rivers. Free of the self, free of everything.
Of course, liberation – the direct experience of reality – can be intellectualized. Indeed, in words, the Buddha’s teachings show us the direction, teach us the right practice – but this necessary intellectual understanding should not be confused with direct experience, with liberation from everything, with the field of happiness beyond all forms.
Sometimes we think we are experiencing awakening, but it is only intellectual. Direct experience is when you are totally one, united with your activity, liberated from any notion of the self. When our mind is strong enough, we forget our selfish desires.
Master Shunryu Suzuki says: “When you think you have a problem, it means that your practice is not good enough. “It means that you are leaving space for your commentaries, it means that you are leaving space for your analysis, it means that you are letting your mind flow along toxic paths. Out of ignorance of the Way, we allow ourselves to judge: “This is good. This is bad…” Such an attitude, such a mind full of judgments and accusations, seems absurd when one truely practices. Coming back to unity, totally forgetting the I, the me and mine, accessing the field of infinite happiness beyond all forms, united with activity.
When you think you have a problem, it means that your practice is not good. A good practice is when you are liberated from the “self”, liberated from everything. Some people talk only about themselves, think only about themselves, bring everything back to themselves: that is not being free. These are the same people who believe they are experiencing awakening when it is only an intellectual experience. To experience directly is to be united with our activity, free from all parasitic thoughts, when body and mind are one. To wear the kesa is to bring ourselves back to our dimension as disciples of the Buddha, returning to the right practice, free from the ego, free from everything.
When you think you have a problem, it means that your practice is not good. The Buddha’s teaching goes to the root. It’s not about letting our mind wander among thoughts. What Buddha proposes is that we return to the original mind, beyond any form, the field of true happiness, the field of infinite merits.
Taiun JP Faure, March 2020