The potential for Buddhahood is already within your own nature. However, for the reason that the Dharma body of the Buddha has no self, all sentient beings are identical to this body. Bearing witness has to be done by first entering the state of not knowing. However, as soon as you reach this stage, leave it behind. This uncanny fact—radical individuality within the context of shared understanding—seems to be an indelible feature of Zen.
No matter where they ambulate, they step into shit. When you first set out to practice, you will definitely have a goal in mind. However, today the sitting went very poorly. Don’t pay attention to any phenomenon that occurs to the body; if you are concerned with it, problems will arise. Your mind is at rest within activity. To him it would be ideal if they would just do their job and not have to eat. In the end, you will not have achieved a concentrated mind but an attached mind. There is no affirming, no hope of gaining something back, no probing for gratitude, and certainly no probing for control, influence, or potency.
Precisely for the reason that we want to acquire the Buddha’s insight and merits, we are unable to perceive Buddha nature. The most important thing in practice is to be natural and spontaneous.
Zen Koan: “Stingy in Teaching” Parable
A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.
“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”
“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”
“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.
So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.
When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”
This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”
“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”
With such a begining, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive instruction.
Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat your patients with kindness. That is Zen.”
Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A phsisician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of your patients.”
It was not clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on the forth visit he complained: “My friend told me that when one learns Zen one loses his fear of death. Each time I come here you tell me to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you anymore.”
Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind-enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.
Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”
Kusuda continued in concentration for another yet and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern of life and death.
Then he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.
Buddhist Insight on Compassion Ends Separation
One of the fundamental points of the spiritual journey is to endure along the path. After the Buddha was enlightened, he was walking down the road in a very happy state. His compassion terminated the separation. Therefore, you take the attitude that you are willing to dedicate yourself to others. You’re still working with the breath, all these states come, and you try to hold them. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World,
The universe is full of beings, those you know and those who will be forever strangers. The world is made up of those you care for, those who you are indifferent to, and those you fear or dislike. With those you love and care for, your compassion is often unhesitating; you real out to console, support, and encourage without reservation. With those who are strangers, your response may vary. … You listen again to the anguish of the person you resent and find that your history of struggle with him is released, as the hardness of your heart begins to soften. Suddenly you are present in a new way – free of prejudice and fear. It is as if your heart has expanded, revealing all of life in one organism.