The teaching in Kanshoji

In Sôtô Zen, the teaching is transmitted from person to person.

At Kanshoji, it is given by Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure, who received the Dharma transmission from Dônin Minamisawa Roshi, vice-zenji of Eiheiji zen temple.

 Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure’s teaching is based on that of Shakyamuni Bouddha rewritten at each period. It takes the different traditional forms of sôtô zen (see page Sôtô zen buddhism). All the teachings are translated into English.


Oral teaching given during zazen

Kusen is the oral teaching given by the teacher during zazen.

It is not literature. Sentences are simple, short and straightforward. The kusen speaks to the deep part of the brain, to the heart of the disciple, who should not try to grasp it intellectually.

How to return to the original mind

Master Deshimaru spoke of the true religion. He said: “The religion before religion”, the religion before words and dogmas arose. These are not religions that oppose each other, but those that connect us to the original spirit, those that connect us to each other by what we have in common, beyond points of view and differences. Religions that allow people, human beings, to live in peace with each other.

Most of the time, we don’t know how to respond in a right way to what happens to us. Sometimes we answer in a feverish, angry, inattentive mind. At other times, we respond through isms, conventional attitudes. Buddha’s proposal is to respond with a pure mind, free of preconceptions, totally appeased, beyond all selfish interest. It means meeting the universe at each moment with an awakened mind.

This implies that we should be present as often as possible to this broad and awakened mind. What we lack is this presence of mind. It means being present to this original mind, totally available. This is what allows us to react in a fair, immediate and spontaneous way. It is Buddha who answers to Buddha.

What covers and buries this original mind is the confused and unconscious agitation of all kinds of points of view, of all kinds of interests.
That is why it is so important to know the path that leads us back to the original mind over and over again. To know it is to practice it.
Zazen is the immobile journey, the one where we return to the original mind. The important point is to understand how to return to the original spirit.

The first point is to renounce engaging in the toxic flows and quagmire of selfish conceptions, where “childish beings drown and lose themselves.”
The second point: even if we succeed in renouncing engagement in the ways of evil, we are asked to continue this immobile journey without worrying about what ceaselessly happens to the consciousness, without trying to catch or flee anything, that is to say without worrying about what appears or disappears.
Thirdly: if by misfortune one has been caught up in distressing passions, such as anger or lust, it is always possible to free oneself from them. Let us not be like that little monkey who puts his hand in a box to catch a coconut, who can’t see that by closing his hand on the nut, he can’t get out. He is not able to choose between freedom and death.

Above all, liberation is not achieved through the use of brutality or violence, but rather by looking calmly, without fear, deeply at what fixes us, what blocks us.  It requires great tranquility, great delicacy, it requires being fearless. That is what the world needs so much.

These are the three aspects that are necessary for the just practice of zazen: to renounce wrong ways, not to worry about what appears and disappears, and to be able to open finger after finger of the hand gripping the thought.

To arrive at the original mind is to arrive at this place where all movements of the mind are stopped, where there is no longer any manufacture or production of anything. It is with this mind that we can live in peace with ourselves and with others. Such is the majesty of the way.

Taiun JP Faure, April 2019

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