Treeleaf Zen


In this section of Bendowa, Master Dogen is using some powerful images to describe a kind of chain reaction brought about by Zazen …

The person who sits Zazen “drops body and mind”, thus attaining, experiencing and understanding the natural and pure mind of a Buddha. At that point, the person also, in her life, in countless ways [“the innumerable seats of truth of the Buddhas”], may rise from the Zafu and do “the Buddha’s work” and have effect on so many other persons and events in this world (Uchiyama Roshi translates this as “The zazen person … universally helps the buddha work in each place, as numerous as atoms, where buddha-tathagatas teach and practice“]. At that time too, she might truly see that the whole world …  from the grass and trees to earth and stones … also is part of this work, mutually connected, each doing what it does to support the whole [“everything in the universe in the ten directions … performs the Buddha’s work“].

The “non-self” fulfilling prophesy is realized!

In other words, we first deemed and tasted that a moment of sitting Zazen is theBuddha herself acting perfectly Buddha-like right there … that the very sitting of Zazen  –is– all the world right, justthe way it should be …

Then, by seeing all things as such, we allowed the mind to quiet, dropping thoughts and divisions … whereby all the world is rendered quiet and whole.

Then, we rose from the cushion to live with that view, perhaps to help others via the wisdom of Buddhism … perhaps to fix some wrongs in this world and make them right, and to teach the Buddha’s wisdom to others so that they may know that same quiet and wholeness.

… thereby working to make the world right, even as we see it is alright.

… bringing peace and realization to others, even as we taste peace and realization.

… sensing that the whole world, every blade of grass and stone and grain of sand, is part of the game too.


These balanced and right states of realization alsowork the other way, following paths of intimate and mystical cooperation, sothat this person who sits in Zazen steadfastly gets free of body and mind, cutsaway miscellaneous impure views and thoughts [accumulated] from the past, andthus experiences and understands the natural and pure Buddha-Dharma. Throughouteach of the infinitesimal, innumerable seats of truth of the buddha-tathagatas,[the practitioner] promotes the Buddha’s work and spreads its influence far andwide over those who have the ascendant makings of a buddha, thus vividly upliftingthe ascendant real state of buddha. At this time, everything in the universe inten directions – soil, earth, grass, and trees; fences, walls, tiles, andpebbles – performs the Buddha’s work.

From: Bendowa – A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  – Nishijima-Cross

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

To subscribe to “Treeleaf Zen” click here.



Previous Posts
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus