Kusen from Taiun JP Faure – March 2018

When we go up to the room of clouds [the dojo], it’s important to know what we will be doing there.

We go there to sit, shikantaza, just sit. Every time we feel like doing something else, we have to let it pass. We come to the room of clouds to forget ourself.

To forget ourself means to not follow our karma. That practice must be maintained throughout zazen. When we sit in zazen, our goal is to not move before the assaults of our karma, not let ourself be bothered by what appears and disappears, not grab on to some aspects and reject others.

This attitude that we practice during zazen, which is the essence of zazen, must be brought into our life. When we do something, we must not let ourself get distracted.

We must understand what it is we have to do during our journey on earth. We must clarify the meaning of our life: toward what must we walk? How must we walk?

Right from the beginning, when we start on the Way, we say the words namu kie Butsu: I vow to live like a buddha, to uphold buddhahood, to turn away from the three poisons. That is practiced here and now, in the room of clouds, moment after moment, the head on the shoulders, breathing freely, deeply, completely.

There is this striking image: the dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on. Nothing alters the heavy and steady march of the caravan. We don’t have one single minute to waste: the life of the caravan is at stake. If the caravan does not reach the water point before nightfall, it will be in great danger. It’s very easy to get lost. Let’s not be lost travellers on our journey around the world.

That is what is called the impressive practice of the buddhas: regardless of the phenomena we may encounter, we keep moving on steadfastly. Whether we are attracted or bothered by phenomena, we maintain the practice, we maintain an open mind.

Such is gyoji, the monk’s practice, the sustained practice.

 

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