Wednesday 13th November
Zazen 7: 30 a.m
In Buddhism, the study of Zen, the Zen line, is the line of direct study. What does direct mean? It means straight trough your body and spirit, straight trough your own life; in a direct relation to phenomena, to reality. That is the sense of direct. It is different from stories, books, dogma. In Zen you have to practice.
Zazen 8: 30 p.m
This morning I talked about Zen, saying that it is the experimental side of Buddhism. To sit like this, in zazen, in such an ancient posture as this is, it's to really go back to a unique intimacy with ourselves. It's not a mental or intelectual intimacy, but an intimacy from the whole body, the whole mind, the whole spirit. This intimacy helps us to discover our true nature. Such a nature is not to be discovered through logical thinking, but it's rather experienced in a direct manner. Religion, in general, and I think that also in Zen, is the relationship between man and God. But, what is God? Usually religions are about man looking at God or in search of Him: "O my God, please, answer me !" Such is man's relationship with a hypothetical divine presence.
It's true that the conscious human being needs help, love, protection, self-certification, answers and, sometimes, somebody to communicate with. Thus man for millions of years has conformed or built an image of God; just like children play to have a baby or a puppet. This image of God is very childlish.
In Zen it's a little different; everyone has the freedom to believe in and create his own faith, to believe in what he wants; but in Zen, faith is creative.
In the same way that children play to be daddy and mummy, thus re-creating truth, adults feel sometimes a similar need.
It is said that if you believe in anything, this thing exists. Thus in the heaven of human imagination there are thousands of gods and bodhisattvas. And some others, at times, pray to their grandmother or their father. Such things can happen.
In general, when we want…for instance: does God exist or not? If he exists, I believe, if he doesn't I don't. It's different in Zen: God exists but he doesn't exist. To believe is an energy of good health. The human being is the creator of the whole of his cosmos. In the end, the human being himself is a representation of God, specially when he sits in zazen. When this guy sits in zazen, we show him the posture. The guy sits down and says: "I see no Buddha or that sort of things, but my legs ache a lot, the body is stiff, I have pain in my back, I want to move…I just don't understand what's so trascendental about this". But, who is loking at this? That's an interesting question.
Who is looking at this suffering human being?
So, it seems that zazen is the other way around of the common prayer, with this guy calling God: "Please God, answer me!".
When the human being looks at the sky, he's looking for God.
And zazen seems to be God looking at he human being.
Master Kodo Sawaki, as he started practising zazen, went to the Soji-ji Temple, in Japan. But, not being the son of a monk, found it difficult to go inside the temple, or the dojo; he could just go into the kitchen and so he spent all day working, carrying out the heaviest tasks, the humblest jobs. And one night he stays in the kitchen and sits in zazen, alone, on some rice bags. At that very moment, the temple's shusso goes in the kitchen and looks at Kodo Sawaki and stays in gassho in sign of great respect. And he said: "What a beatiful posture, how strong!". It was the first time that somebody showed respect for him in the temple, because until that moment everybody just said: "Kodo Sawaki do this, Kodo Sawaki do that". And for the first time an important guy from the temple does gassho at him. And instantly Kodo Sawaki understands that zazen is the most importan thing, that it's something beyond his comprehension. He understand that something of the highest nature goes on during zazen. That very night Kodo Sawaki takes a decision: from this moment on, zazen is the most important thing in my life, the most respectable thing.
Thursday 14th November
Zazen 5:35 p.m.
Sekito was an important master in the transmission of the Soto Zen lineage. Sekito started to practice when he was twelve years old, being a disciple of the 6th Patriarch Eno. When he asked Sekito: "Why do you want to practice Zen Buddhism?".
Sekito: I don't know.
Eno: If you practice you will become as ugly as me.
Sekito: I like that.
After some years, the 6th Patriarch dies and before dying Sekito asks him: "And when you die, who is going to teach me?". The master answers: "Look for the deepest thinking, for that kind of thinking which is beyond." Sekito thinks that this is zazen, so he stays one year doing zazen by the grave of the 6th Patriarch. One day, another disciple went to visit the master's grave and he finds Sekito doing zazen and he asks him: "Sekito, what are you doing here?" Sekito answers: "The master told me to look for the deepest thinking". "You, stupid!" he answered back: "The deepest thinking is Seigen, you have to follow his teaching and here, on your own, that cannot be!".
That is how Sekito visits his elder brother Seigen and with him, he awakes. Then he leaves and builds a small wooden hut and does zazen all day sitting on a stone, hence his name Stone Head. Thus, the first phrase of the San Do Kai says:
"The spirit of the great sage of India has been transmitted from East to West". Many texts begin like that, from Buddha to Buddha, from patriarch to patriarch, from master to master; that is how Zen is transmitted.
Zazen 8:30 p.m.
The spirit of the great sage of India is transmitted from East to West. This spirit lies in everything, in cosmos, it's beyond thinking, beyond personality. But as far as the Zen spirit is concerned, it is important to discover the nature of one's own being, one's own ego
Yesterday I talked about God; his existence is certain, science nowadays can prove it, more than ever before, through biology, medicine, chemistry, etc. Through science it's possible to discover this, as well as the void that is described in the Hannya Shingyo.
God used to be seen in a different light, like something that talks to man; many prophets listen to God's voice, receiving messages from God. But when in zazen you discover your own nature, you can realize that this God is personal, that he exists in ourselves, because our own self, our own ego is not different or apart from the cosmic unity and in this respect, the human being has the consciousness, the word, memory, creativity, the nature of Buddha. Only the human being can acquire the nature of God, the Budha nature.
The Buddha nature is in everything. It is important because it is also the human being who has more possibilities to accomplish his own nature, his own divine personality, but only a few are interested in this. The rest are too busy looking at phenomena, quarreling, fighting and they don't take some time to sit in zazen.
Sunday 17th November
Zazen 5:00 p.m.
I go on with the San Do Kai.
" In every human being intelligence and sensibility are different, but in the Way the South and the North do not exist".
This story makes reference to the 5th Patriarch and Eno. In that time the 5th Patriarch was old and says in his temple to his disciples that he desires to transmit the Dharma to one of them. All the monks inmediately think that he is going to transmit the Dharma to one disciple, Jinshu, for he knows very well all the sutras, he is very clever and they say: "Most surely it's Jinshu." But it was not like that.
It was Eno, who was in the kitchen, the one that in the end receives the transmission from the master.
Master Konin says: "Well, those disciples who think they can receive the Dharma transmission must write a poem". Then, all of them say: "No, Jinshu, you write the poem, we won't compete with you. You are the oldest, the most intelligent". Jinshu was very excited, he could not even sleep and the following day, he writes this poem on a wall:
Our body is the Bodhi tree
Our spirit is like a mirror
We must clean it everyday
To wipe the dust away from it.
Everybody reads the poem: "Very well, how profound!". But Eno passes by and the disciples ask: "What do you think about this poem?". Eno doesn't know how to read or write and says: "I don't know how to read, if you please read to me the poem, I shall tell you if I agree or not". They read it to him and he says: "This poem is not so profound, could you please write down my comments to it?".
"You're crazy! Jinshu is the oldest disciple and he most important". At that very moment Konin walks by and says: "No, write down his poem".
So says Eno:
There is no body nor Bodhi tree
There is no mirror to clean
Everything is emptiness, there's no place
Where the dust can go.
The disciples say: "O, such a strong poem! What do you think about it?". The 5th Patriarch does not answer. He just walks away. "Jinshu's poem is right", says in the end. But he secretly visits Eno, who was cleaning rice in the kitchen, just as it's done in Cuba, to take away the dust and the dirt. The 5th Patriarch says to Eno: "The rice is ready". Eno answers: "Yes, now it's completely ready". The master takes the instrument to shell the rice, which is like a nunchaku; the master strikes three times in the mortar. Eno understands that he must pay a visit to the master at 3:00 a.m. The master transmits to him the Dharma and gives him his bowl and his kesa and says: "It's very dangerous for you to stay, the others are jealous, they are going to kill you". And they both leave on a ship. The 5th Patriarch disappears and Eno goes away with his bowl and his kesa.
Zazen 8:30 p.m.
Te 6th Patriarch has been hiding for fifteen years, fishing, cleaning the streets, selling wood. After fifteen years he had not received his monk's ordainment. He went to see a monk and asks him for the ordainment. That master realizes that Eno is very intelligent and tells him: "You are the 6th Patriarch", and from that moment the 6th Patriarch founds his school in the south of China. But Jinshu also had a school in the north of China, which was also very strong. So Jinshu's disciples and those of the 6th Patriarch fight with each other. That is the reason why Sekito writes that in the end the schools of the north and the south do not exist. Jinshu's school affirms that we have to go on with zazen day by day, month after month, year after year, cleaning the spirit. The 6th Patriarch's comprehension went further, he says that there is nothing to clean, our nature is pure from the very beginning. All the phenomena are emptiness. Zazen itself is the Buddha nature, from the moment you sit in zazen, the awakening is accomplished. Generally speaking, both viewpoints are complementary, they are not in opposition.
There are different schools: Hinayana, the small vehicle and Mahayana, the great vehicle; Southern School, Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen. Men always want to be in opposition, they want to fight, to be the best, to compare.
The following phrase says:
"The spiritual source shines from the inside of light, the affluents flow down in the darkness and take on things. Certainly, it's an illusion, but to understand it is not yet enlightment".
When I talk about the spiritual source, I talk about the zazen consciousness. The Buddha consciousness is just light, silent clearness; there is no complication, yet it's very difficult for a human being to describe this zazen consciousness.
This source is apart from the luminous source inherent to all teachings, all masters and Buddha in particular.
In relation to this source, one cannot argue or be in opposition. But afterwards, the teaching is carried out through words, with words it is possible to doubt. It's possible to understand, but also to get complicated in your head. Whatever the conception might be, it's different from the true source.
In the Hokyo Zan Mai there is another famous sutra: the five Go I of the human relationship with Buddha or God.
The human being is the human being, the god is the god. The human being looks at the god, the god looks at the human being. And in the end god and human being are unity. In such religions as Christianism, Islam, Santeria and things like that, it's the human being who tries to look at, to talk to God:"Please God, come, come".
Man is inferior and supplicates to the god to show himself, to talk, to manifest himself. And sometimes he can see something, he can hear something.
This is the human being looking at God, but in zazen, as the 6th Patriarch says, right from the moment that you do zazen, Buddha is manifested. Zazen is Buddha looking at man. Zazen is to look at yourself from the point of view of Buddha, but what you can see is yourself, your own body, thought, consciousness. Yet, it is Buddha who is looking.
But Buddha cannot see himself, because Buddha is already the Buddha. This source is not something that you can taste, it has no taste, its taste is no taste. That's why it is said: after knowing the truth, it's not yet the true enlightment. We always think that truth is something to be comprehended, to be obtained, but in Buddhism comprehension is placed beyond our capacity to comprehend, beyond our thinking and our lifetime. That's why people have trouble to understand the dimension of zazen, to accept that this dimension is beyond our human conceptions.
Monday 18th November
Zazen 7:30 a.m.
The spiritual force shines in the light, the afluents in the darkness. To attach to phenomena is cause of illusion, but to go on finding the truth within is not wholly the true satori. I have written a book and it's called "The inner revolution" (La revolution interieure). In fact, the way of true Buddhism, of true Zen, is a complete revolution of our human functioning. Sometimes I feel very lonely because my way of seeing things is quite different from what it's practised nowadays in the world (Laughter), and always in my sangha, with the disciples, the erroneous way of seeing things is based on mistakes as to practice. The other day we talked about the ideal world, about the different systems, communism in Russia, capitalism in America and at the end of the xx Century we realize that none of them works, but mankind, man always thinks that truth is something that one can see and comprehend, meditate, describe, explain. It's not like that, though, in Buddhism; truth goes beyond ourselves, beyond our mind: marvelous source beyond any description. Everything comes from this source.
That's why the human mentality in relation to practice is erroneous and selfish. In the practice that my master taught, he transmitted to his disciples that practising zazen is beyond ourselves, to practice zazen for the others is the boddhisattva practice. But surely the others are not separate from our intimate being. Everything that exists, everything that can be perceived…exists at the same time within your conscience and within your thinking.
To only see things from the outside is the stupid vision of the animal-man, the man-dog: "Ah, I cannot go to practice because it's too windy". Practice in itself is perfect. We have to practice the boddhisattva practice, the Mahayana practice. He who practices for himself, runs away when it hurts, when it's painful. The bodhisattva does not care about how his zazen is, he does not care about anything, he is not conscious, he does not care about his personal conscience. This is the Mahayana zazen. The Hinayana zazen seeks personal progress, it's very different. But most people don't understand the Mayahana vision of zazen. One every ten thousand people understands. Yet the true Mahayana Buddhism is exactly revolutionary. It's what every human idealist has been looking for and they cannot realize it due to their limited consciousness. The true monk does not act like the rest, people are amazed about the way he acts, how he thinks. The true source exists beyond words, beyond thinking, beyond personal consciousness.
Zazen 8:45 p.m.
Let's talk about breathing control. There are several ways of thinking.
Normally, it is not possible to arrive at a sesshin on the last night. The sesshin is not a supermarket where you can go in, go out and if you've got dollars you can buy anything.
And I say that there are many ways of thinking. And in order to control your breathing, it's better to think with the navel, not with the brain. The navel is very strong. When we are inside the mother's belly, life, breathing go trough the navel. And when we go out of the mother's belly, somebody cuts this navel and we start breathing with the lungs. It's a shock, a very strong suffering and we cry:
During zazen, put your attention in the navel. And first relax the navel and see how important this area of the body is. It is said that it's the root of will (Laughter). Sure, if it's not possible to control laughter, neither is it possible to control your breathing or your navel. Because during zazen it is more about consciousness than it is about thinking. Everything that is alive has a consciousness.
Zazen 5:00 p.m.
Question: Some people don't have a job, they forget about paying or some other thing. I would like to ask you, when it so happens that people frequently don't want to pay, what can we do?
Answer: We are not to doubt: in fact, you have to pay fuse to practice. I think that the price of the Dojo is not very expensive here and it is important not only for the Dojo, but also for yourself, for your own practice and, in general, people who don't want to pay are poor. Because money too is a kind of circulation, and fuse…It is said in every sutra that people who make money, in a previous life have given a lot of fuse. The offering, the fuse are very important. And neither can I understand how people can think that everything is for themselves and they don't have to pay. That's because they don't understand the Zen mind and it's normally very hard to go inside a dojo; and not only in a traditional way, not only giving away a few coins, but even giving away your life, or cutting off your arm. Eka was the first example, he went to visit Bodhidharma and told him: "Please", it was snowing, snowing, snowing, and he says: "I want to practice with you, to be your disciple". And Bodhidharma doesn't move nor answers, and Eka once again came: "Master, I want to be your disciple". Right away Bodhidarma turns like this and says: "You don't have the conditions to practice, you don't have enough determination to practice and continue with zazen". And Eka was here, and the snow keeps on going up, and in the end he grabs his machete and cuts off his arm on the spot, and he says: "I am determined and I pay you with my arm". And at this moment Bodhidharma says: "Well, okay". This is the symbol of Zen, now it's a little bit formalistic…There is a ceremony in the temples, in Japan. There are some people wanting to practice, to go in. They come to the temple and say: "|I want to practice" and the chief of the temple says: "No". And they have to wait outside two or three days, sleeping outside and doing zazen outside. Not smoking a cigar, like this, but doing zazen and at that moment, after three days, the master says: "Well, now you can come in". It's all like this, and one very important disciple in Zen history, he was a disciple of a Rinzai master, comes to practice to the master's temple and the master was very severe. And he comes to practice in the master's dojo, with a couple of friends a little bit hippies, and he comes from very far to practice, it's about one thousand kilometers by foot, like walking all over Cuba from Habana to Santiago de Cuba, walk, walk and finally in the dojo, and the master says: "No, no, no, you can't come inside, I don't want hippies around here". But they stay outside in the garden and after three days the master says: "Okay, you can come in but you practice outside, in the gaetan". And in the morning the master comes with cold water and shh shh shh! And two of them leave and one remains doing zazen and the master tells him: "You didn't leave with your friends". And he says: " I did not walk one thousand kilometers to leave because of some water or some difficulties, I want to practice here. It's very important, I want to you change and all that". The master says: "Ok, you can come in" and he lets him come inside the dojo. And the disciple was very good, very strong and very pure, and after one year the master tells him: "Well, now you can be tenzo". He had to cook for the whole sangha. Well, tenzo is very important in the temple, and this guy was tenzo and all that. But the master was very severe and there was little for the disciples to eat and they say: "Hungry, hungry!" and…"Ah, you come here to eat and to have a place to sleep, Zen is not like that". One day the master goes on a trip, there was very little to eat, he left very little to eat. And the tenzo says: "Well, no, we are very hungry, the monks are hungry". And he goes to the reserves and takes some pasta and he makes spaghetti for the disciples, and he serves and everybody's happy, they can eat. And when the master comes back says: "There's some pasta missing in the reserves". And the tenzo says: "Yes, master, forgive me, but the monks were hungry, you went on a trip and there was not enough to eat". "What! You are a thief, you steal from the reserves. He's a thief! Get out of my temple now!" And the disciple: "Please, forgive me!". "No, get out!" and the monk left. But he left and since he didn't know what to do because he wanted to practice, only to practice, he goes back to the temple and he practiced in the garden. Like this, alone. The master comes: "You cannot practice in my garden, to use my garden you have to pay". The disciple went away to ask for money to be able to do zazen in the garden. And this is a very important disciple, because after he left the temple, it was a Rinzai temple, he meets the successor of the Soto Zen who tells him: "I am very old and I don't have a disciple to continue my succession and you are a very good disciple. Please, I want to give you my transmission". And the disciple tells him: "No, no, no. My master is the temple's master and I have to follow this master of the temple. I can't be your successor". But the Soto Master tells him: "Well, but I'm going to die, and I give you my photograph, I give you my documents, my kesa. When you find a disciple able to follow my transmission, please, transmit these things to him". And so it is that the Soto line is continued. Because there were no disciples. And afterwards the disciple goes back to the temple and does zazen in the garden. And later on, the master comes, looks at him and tells him: "Now you are all right, now you understand. You can be my disciple again". All this is just to explain that Zen is not bullshit, nor people should be able to say in the end: "I don't have to pay for Zen, I have pain in my knees, I don't have to pay". And thus Zen becomes weaker and weaker. It's not possible like that. And people have to understand the reason of Zen for themselves, for their own country, their family, for earth, for the universe. It's such a precious thing to come in a dojo and practice zazen, and they have no idea of what it is and that's why they don't want to pay. And if they don't want to pay, they can get the hell out. It's not a matter of money, but it's also a matter of money. We have to protect this kind of mentality. I am myself forced to teach Zen to everybody, and many people do not understand and don't pay, they are very superficial. And some people tell me: "Ah, I want to go to Cuba". And I say: "No, no, no. I go to Cuba for the Cuban, not for tourism". And there are many who want to come to Cuba for tourism. I am going to do a sesshin in Cuba and they think it is who knows what, but the sesshin in Cuba are like those in Europe, and they are difficult. The food is very simple, it's not very comfortable, sometimes it's cold and, well, there's not much to see. And those who come here for tourism, the foreigners, in reality they don't get in touch with the Cuban mentality.
I don't go to do tourism, yet I find people, real Cuban. And people who are really pure and that interests me. That's why money is important. You pay when you have to pay, you have to say one mantra: "Money wants me and I want money" and pay. In that way money comes (He laughs).
Q: I wanted to ask you, you know, we lost the Dojo and well, we have all kept on practising and we look forward to your teachings and all that. But the fact worries me that, personally speaking, I've felt a lot of anguish, I have feared that the Dojo of Cuba could be lost, and I have also feared that I may not be able to practice, and I feel it's not the right thing to do. Because that anguish itself…my head tells me that I shouldn't be like that, that I have to be calm and I feel I despair and it becomes difficult to accept that something is not possible. And then I wonder how can I control that anguish that comes over me. It's not good for me, nor for my practice. But it's very difficult.
A: I believe that…well, it's about six or seven years that we go on in Cuba, and we left behind the most difficult and now it's going to be easier. But other difficulties are going to come as well. The worst difficulty is people's mentality: when it's easier it's more difficult, when it's more difficult it's easier. That way you don't have to choose sides. Good becomes bad and bad becomes good. But there is one very important kind of mentality and it is that the highest Zen practice is not for yourself but it's very hard to explain. It's for yourself, but it's not for yourself. It's for the others. For example, why do I come to practice here? Sure it's not for myself. It's difficult for me, it costs me money. For me it's very difficult to come to Cuba. I prepare everything in my house, I have to go, I have to cross the ocean, go there and hope I won't get ill. I don't do all this for myself, for instance. But I like to practice and there is something that is very difficult to understand, that your own practice is for the others, to save the others. It's your own practice and your health, your salvation. Other people's salvation is your own salvation, we have to understand this.