Kodo Sawaki said, “I have wasted my whole life in zazen”
Pay attention to his words. He didn’t say he’d wasted his life. He said he’d wasted his whole life.
When we’re on Retreat at Ardfern, the house and the dojo are surrounded by trees, and each of these trees is alive with birds. In each moment, they are completely exerting and expressing themselves. They are, moment to moment, completely pouring out -wasting- their lives. There’s nothing left over.
Once, when we were sitting, there were two bangs on the large glass frontage to the dojo. Two birds had flown straight at us. One, striking the window, had broken his neck. The other, striking the window, had flown away.
Our tragedy as human beings is that we’re not like this. Often, the moment is only half combusted. And sometimes, for each of us, it is as if these half burnt fragments lodge like ash in our throat. We can’t swallow them. We can’t spit them out.
Zazen is like a great fire.