This video is related to Kusen No. 274.
‘It is not entirely without reason that Zen Buddhism is known as the Meditation School. Visitors to the modern Zen monastery, even if they are prepared to find meditation there, cannot but be struck by the extent to which the practice dominates the routine. The novice monk spends his first days almost entirely within the meditation hall, and, although he is expected during this period to learn some rudimentary features of clerical decorum, it is primarily his willingness to submit to the discipline of long hours of meditation in the cross-legged posture that will determine his admission into the community.’
盡十方界真実人體 Jinjippoukai shinjitsunintai, waka poem by Dogen Zenji, with some translations and our notes.
yo no naka ni
makoto no hito ya
kagiri mo mienu
oozora no iro
True person manifest throughout the ten quarters of the world
The true person is
Not anyone in particular;
But, like the deep blue color
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone, everywhere in the world.
Translation: Steven Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen
everywhere in ten directions world the true person manifests expresses
in the society
the person of the teaching
the limits can’t be seen
of the big blue sky
Translation: Shogen Blair
The True Person is
Everyone in particular
The blue silk of the whole sky
Is pulled through each open face
Translation: John Fraser
More from Kusen 268.
Are you interested in bodywork, preparation for zazen sitting, or the differences between Japanese and Western mindfulness? In this NHK film Soto zen monk Issho Fujita and Rinzai monk Takafumi Kawakami discuss letting go and listening to the body in the age of information.
Link to the documentary at the NHK website. (No longer available)
Watch Takafumi Kawakami talk on YouTube:
The verse for draping on the Okesa (kasaya – dull colour) robe, or the smaller portable robes such as Rakusu. Chanted usually in the morning at the end of the zazen period (slowly). Repeated three times. At some groups practitioners will keep their Rakusu folded during the first zazen and place on their head during the chanting (so that it is higher physically than their body) then put it on.
The robe of ‘freedom’ – gedatsu – can mean the robe of freedom from suffering or illusions – and therefore the robe (puku) of meditation practice which is the way to nirvana. Datsu means undressing or getting rid of – letting go of ego attachments and greed. In zazen we let go of being tightly gripped by distraction and return to open our awareness. The okesa design is based on rice field paddy shapes. It was pieced together by Buddha’s disciples from used rags. In it are teachings of impermanence and ‘form or emptiness’, ‘non material reward’ or ‘no forms/marks’ (musō). With practice and the expression of all things together we cultivate the ‘lucky/virtuous field’. The harvest is enlightenment rather than physical reward.
Wearing it we are wrapped (hibu) in the Tathāgata’s teachings (nyorai kyō). But by draping it on, freedom is not only for the wearer but spreads the robe out widely (kōdo) to embrace all other beings (sho shujō).
Read the verse here, with the English and Japanese/Chinese characters.
Zazen is not a means to something, but rather the expression of something. Here John discusses the point of spiritual practice and ritual in Zazen. Indeed, Zazen itself as an enactment ritual.
Zazen is the dharma gate of ease and joy, yet for so many of us it can often feel very different to this, it challenges us both physically and psychologically. In this video John discusses the importance of good posture in Zazen and how the physical position of the body can influence awareness and through this, ease and joy