This passage may be a bit clearer if we think of the practice of Zazen as  … not really a means to obtain enlightenment … but a “dance of original enlightenment” …

… a dance that both celebrates, and brings to life, the fact of enlightenment in our lives. We may be originally enlightened but, if the dance is not danced, enlightenment is never brought to life.

That dance is just enlightenment itself, and enlightenment is made real by dancing the dance.

Although our dance of Zazen may be for 20 or 30 minutes, finite in time, when seen as the “dance of enlightenment” it truly has no beginning or end … for enlightenment is such without beginning and end.

If we see the Buddha and Ancestors, like us, as dancers of this dance, we can say that they danced the dance … but we can also say that the dance embraces and uses the dancers.

Having been born to dance this dance, how fortunate are you and I to be here to dance it! We are originally enlightened! Wow!

And though there is nothing that is not the dance … that does not mean we should be lax in our dancing! If we just take “enlightenment” for granted, and do not train or practice our dance … the dancing will not go well, and enlightenment will be forgotten.

Now get out there, and start spinning and twirling … just dance this dance. Even forget that one is dancing, naturally lose oneself in the dance … and taste that enlightenment envelopes us. Then forget about “enlightenment”, and all is just the dancing. 


Question Seven (Cont.):

… Because practice is just [enlightenment], the [enlightenment]is endless; and because [enlightenment] is practice, the practice has nobeginning. This is how both the Tathagata Shakyamuni and the VenerablePatriarch Mahakasyapa were received and used by the practice that exists in thestate of [enlightenment]. The Great Master Bodhidharma and the foundingPatriarch Daikan were similarly pulled and driven by the practice that existsin the state of [enlightenment]. The examples of all those who dwelled in andmaintained the Buddha-Dharma are like this. The practice that is never separatefrom [enlightenment] exists already: having fortunately received the one-to-onetransmission of a share of the subtle practice, we who are beginners inpursuing the truth directly possess, in the state without intention, a share oforiginal [enlightenment]. Remember, in order to prevent us from tainting the [enlightenment]that is never separate from practice, the Buddhist patriarchs have repeatedlytaught us not to be lax in practice. When we forget the subtle practice,original [enlightenment] has filled our hands; when the body leaves original [enlightenment]behind, the subtle practice is operating throughout the body.

From: Bendowa – A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  – Nishijima-Cross [with some amendments according to Uchiyama]

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

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