Zen & Buddhism Q&As

What is mushotoku?

Kodo Sawaki said Zazen is good for nothing. Unless you fully understand that, it really is good for nothing.

This idea of mushotoku, of sitting without expectation of personal gain, is extremely problematic for us, given our general bean counting perspective. Sometimes we might think of it as disabling the petrifying gaze of the mind, freezing the swirling mass of what isn’t yet fully present, preventing something being born. In that sense enlightenment, like love, is something which can only capture us by surprise.

And also, mushotoku is an overthrowing of our usual way of seeing and being, a way that causes so much of our suffering. If we can sit like this, we can live like this, and then the present is no longer the prisoner of the future.