Hashimoto Roshi, one of Katagiri Roshi’s teachers, said:
The way we (Japanese)
cook is to prepare each ingredient separately. Rice is here and pickles are over there. But when you put them in your stomach,
you don’t know which is which. The
soup, rice, pickles, and everything get mixed up. That is the world of the
absolute. As long as soup, rice,
pickles remain separate, they are not working. You are not being
nourished. That is like your
intellectual understanding or book knowledge – it remains separate from your
“Not Always So” Shunryu Suzuki page 127
Our intellectual understanding is full of categorization,
good and bad, right and wrong, ordinary and sacred. When leading your life from these types of categorizations,
you are not nourished. You are
always seeking for something that is “other” or “better” then what is happening
right in front of you, your real life.
That’s too bad, isn’t it? I
came to a spiritual life filled with wishing things were different in my life
then the way they were. I had
great hope for finding nirvana, which I hoped, would take me away from my
life. Nirvana and happiness seemed
separate from what was actually happening. I rejected or hated my karma, my history, the stories from
childhood, my personality and so on.
From this point of view, everything is always dissatisfactory which is
Buddha’s first noble truth.
The more I have embraced and studied what it means to have a
spiritual life, the more I see that it has nothing to do with the outer
circumstances, and most to do with my mind and my actions. Spiritual life is not stuck in
perfection. It especially doesn’t
demand that things go my way. The
food we eat doesn’t need to be perfectly aesthetic. The rice and soup and
pickles could be separated and beautiful but once it hits the stomach, the fire
of combustion mixes everything up.
All the foods are interrelated in order to make the energy of our
life. The outside and the inside
are working together. It does not
correspond to the categories of our thinking.
We don’t know which is
which. Is this good or
bad? Is this spiritual or
materialistic? Is this form or
spirit? Is this my life or the
sangha’s life? Are my sons a
“them”? Am I ugly or
beautiful? Thinking like that, you are not being nourished. The
categorization is not helping you see the combustion of your life. Our Buddha-nature is always happening
in the center of this moment. If
you are not connected with the mystery, which is the true source of nurturance,
you are forever frustrated with life.
I have the opportunity to be alive, to practice, to connect
with the mystery and beauty of life in each day, in each moment, no matter what
is happening externally. Or even,
because of what is happening externally, I am under pressure to connect with
the true source and not the conditions, even more. Even the worst condition can become the source of pushing us
into realizing nowness. Even
though no one wants a bad, painful circumstance, our reaction to it and our
acceptance of it produces the spiritual quality of equanimity which can handle
a bad circumstance. This
combustion in our stomach, of mixing things up, is the true maturity of a human
being. We are combusting with our
karma and with our Buddha-nature.
The absolute and the relative are totally mixed up.
Suzuki Roshi writes (page 130)
Wherever you are,
enlightenment is there. If you
stand up right where you are, that is enlightenment. This is called I-don’t-know zazen. We don’t know what zazen is anymore. I don’t know who I am. To find complete composure when you
don’t know who you are or where you are, that is to accept things as they are. ….. Here we find the joy of life in our
composure, we don’t know what it is, we don’t understand anything, but our mind
is very great, and very wide.”
To accept things as they are and to dig underneath the
appearance of our life and find the mystery in all circumstances, is to
practice Zen. This is the
expression of great composure with our karmic life. In digesting deeply our karma, we can find the spirit of joy,
gratitude and happiness within human suffering. Our hearts can be opened. This is an attitude that is larger
than our self-centered point of view and is expressed in the very mundane,
day-to-day acts of a human life.
What a turn around from wanting to escape my life. Now I see that my life is all I have
and it is imbued with enlightenment if I open myself to it.
Labels: "Not always so", Buddhist Equanimity, First noble truth, Hashimoto Roshi, Karma, nirvana and samsara, Shunryu Suzuki roshi