One can begin to practice for all sorts of personal reasons: to have a more successful life, a better health, higher intellectual capacities… In fact, at the beginning, people often mistake the Way of the Buddha for a means of personal development.
But soon other more profound questions on the meaning of life arise. What are we doing in this world? How not to waste our life? How to live the best possible life? How to live in accordance with reality? What is reality? – all sorts of questions… And of course, if one continues to practice, answers appear.
But anyway, it is not by practising for a personal purpose, or even with a wish to attain liberation that we shall find the answers. It is much more by practicing with an open mind, by practising the unifying absorption in all situations. To do the things that fall to us to do wholeheartedly, as they have to be done, without expecting anything for ourselves, this is the noblest answer. Such an attitude can only come from within, after we have clarified our mind, abandoned all sorts of illusions. This has to be done at every instant, by looking inward.
Master Kodo Sawaki used to call out to his disciples when they slept or dreamt during zazen, or were carried away by theirs thoughts: “Hep! You there, what are you up to? What illusion are you creating?”
Unify body and mind and see all the unnecessary tensions that hurt you, wipe them off. As soon as you let go of all tensions in your body, of all intensions in the mind, a right posture appears. Just cast off all that is unnecessary. This is no ordinary practice, this is the practice of zazen. Keep immobile and silent, don’t nurture your old habits.
The right posture does not come from outside, it does not arise from mental activity. It is only by unifying body and mind, by focusing ones mind on every point of the posture, by erasing everything that is not necessary – this is how the right posture bursts forth from within, like a butterfly out of its chrysalis.
This requires great gentleness, the utmost attention, total immobility, perfect silence. Without any intention. This practice is accessible to everybody, it is universal: to give way to the ultimate reality.
Taiun JP Faure, June 2022