Sankon Zazen Setsu

(Three Kinds of Zazen Practitioners)

by Keizan Jōkin

The [natural] person whose zazen is of the most profound type has no interest in why the Buddhas appeared in this present world. Such a one doesn’t speculate about truths which cannot even be transmitted by the Buddhas and Ancestors. She doesn’t doctrinalize about [teachings such as] “all things are the expression of the self” for she is beyond “enlightenment” and “delusion”. Since her views never fall into dualistic angles, nothing obstructs her, even when distinctions appear. She just eats when she is hungry. She just sleeps when she is tired.

The person whose zazen is of a medium type forsakes all things and cuts off all [worldly] relations. Throughout the entire day she is never idle and so every moment of life, every breath, is practice of the Dharma. Or else she might concentrate on a koan, eyes fixed, her view in one place such as the tip of the nose. Considerations of life and death, going and staying, are not seen on her face. The mind of discrimination can never see into the deepest unchanging truth, nor can it understand the Buddhamind. Since there is no dualistic thoughts, she is enlightened. From the far past up to right now, wisdom is always brillliant, clear, shining. The whole universe throughout the ten directions is illuminated suddenly from her brow, all things are seen in detail within her body.

The person whose zazen is just ordinary views all things [boundlessly] from all sides and frees herself from good and bad conditions. The mind naturally expresses the Actual Nature of all the Buddhas because Buddha rests right where your own feet rest. Thus wrong action does not arise. The hands are held in Reality mudra and do not hold onto any scriptures. The mouth is tightly closed, as if the lips were sealed, and no word of doctrine is spoken. The eyes are neither wide open nor shut. Nothing is ever seen from the point of view of fragmentation and good and evil words are left unheard. The nose [in equanimity] doesn’t choose one smell as good, another as bad. The body is not propped up and all delusion is ended. Since delusion does not disturb the mind, [in this equanimity] sorrow and joy both drops away. Shaped just like a wooden carving of the Buddha, both the substance and the form are true. Worldly thoughts might arise [during Zazen] but they do not disturb because the mind is a bright mirror with no trace of shadows.

The Precepts arise naturally from zazen whether they are the five, eight, the Great Bodhisattva Precepts, the monastic Precepts, the three thousand rules of deportment, the eighty thousand Teachings, or the supreme Dharma of the Buddhas and Awakened Ancestors. No practice whatsover can be measured against zazen.

Should only one merit be gained from the practice of zazen, it is vaster than the construction of a hundred, a thousand or a limitless number of monasteries. Practice Zazen, just sitting ceaselessly. Doing so we are liberated from birth and death and realise our own hidden Buddhanature.

In perfect ease go, stay, sit and lie down. Seeing, hearing, understanding and knowing are all the natural display of the Actual Nature. From first to last, mind is mind, beyond any arguments about knowledge and ignorance. Just do zazen with all of who and what you are. Never stray from it or lose it.

[Anzan & Yasuda Translation, with small adjustments incorporating Masunaga and Kennett]

%d bloggers like this: