Master Kodo Sawaki says: “Our vocation as human beings is to be true human beings. This means that a human being’s vocation is to be Buddha, and not a terribly mean little mushroom.”

What Kodo Sawaki means is that human beings’ vocation is not to live like a demon: a demon of hatred, a demon of greed, a demon of stupidity, of ignorance. Those demons exist within us as potentialities. Our vocation is to be true human beings, that is to say, Buddha.

The eminent patriarch Dôgen zenji tells us: “Zazen is the heart of our existence. Zazen is the visible, tangible manifestation of the buddhas in this world.”

We can’t understand what Buddha is. Buddha is beyond our understanding. But we can practice Buddha. That’s zazen.

Even though we are assailed by stupidity, by thoughts of ignorance, aversion, hatred and anger ; even though we are assailed by thoughts of greed, concupiscence and covetousness, we can not move before them, not be bothered by them, and simply hold ourselves straight, the head on the shoulders, breathing freely, the inbreath and the outbreath happening naturally, thoughts coming and going naturally, freely.

That is how we maintain Buddhahood, pure existence shared by all beings in the universe, all those beings we are part of.

Dôgen continues: “Sit down in zazen, taking the clouds, the mountains, the rivers and the forests for your father, your mother, your sisters and brothers in the practice.”

A cloud is always a true cloud. A mountain is always a true, authentic mountain. A human being sometimes is a little mushroom, full of jealousy and aversion.

To become a true human being, sit down, taking the clouds, the mountains, the rivers, the rabbits, the crocodiles, the snakes, the boars for your fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters. In other words, hold yourselves beyond your thoughts of covetousness, beyond your thoughts of fear, beyond all thoughts, and, in turn,  become the father, the mother, the brother and the sister of all beings.

Taiun JP Faure, abbot of Kanshoji,
January 27 , 2018