Here is the text of the passage we read and discussed at our Saturday, 8/19 practice. It is from the newly released and very highly recommended book “Throw Yourself Into the House of the Buddha: The Life & Zen Teachings of Tangen Harada Roshi” translated by Belinda Attaway Yamakawa, edited by Kogen Czarnik.
“The Buddha Way
Even while living lost in ignorance, there remains hidden in the belly of life itself—in your belly—the one who cannot help but seek to know true nature. Dont forget this one, who never lets you forget. This true one is always close by, urging you on, calling upon you to open your eyes. This one prompts you toward a way of being that is genuine, urging you to walk the Buddha Way. The genuine seeks to awaken to the genuine.
There are people who say that it is greedy or wrong to desire the realization of our inherent nature. They say that Shakyamuni Buddha has awakened for us and that is enough, or that our state of mind is not important as long as we physically sit zazen, so there is no need for realization. Those beliefs make the Buddha’s teaching small and insignificant. The passionate desire to know true nature is inherent in all human beings. It is life’s very working. So if you desire to awaken, please never think that is wrong. “I will without fail awaken to true nature”—with this mindset, we walk the Buddha Path. The belief that you cannot attain awakening is a refusal to fulfill the reason for being alive, to repay your gratitude. If you do not practice, you will not awaken to reality, to your very own reality. No one can do it for you. No one can see into truth for you. It is your world, solely your world.
Do you want to continue to live in delusion? If we spend this lifetime only seeking pleasure,singing and dancing, drinking and making merry, when the end comes, we will know that we didn’t resolve this one important matter. It is necessary to clearly resolve and determine to wake up to original life, your true nature.
In our temple, each morning we chant the lineage of buddhas and great teachers who guide us in our practice. Thanks to their great vow, to the great noble intention of each and every one of them, and thanks to their diligent practice, each one was able to hit the mark, to attain the Way. Each of them received the teaching and directly experienced this same truth, just as water is poured directly from one cup to another.
Everyone is able to do the same; no one is left out. Freedom is our essence. If the Dharma weren’t universal, what would be the value in it? If the Dharma were only for the chosen few, where would be the value in pursuing it? If the Dharma could be obtained and lost, I would not be here urging you to deepen your faith beyond all doubt and to let go of body and mind; I would not be here begging you to give it your all. The Dharma is absolute, perfect, all-pervading, all inclusive, all-embracing. Liberation is yours from the beginning. We are altogether in essence free; all-being abides in the radiance of buddha-nature. All-being is the radiant light of buddha. “Together with al beings, sentient or insentient, with grasses and trees, together with the great earth, I attain the Buddha Way, uttered Shakyamuni Buddha. With his great enlightenment, Shakyamuni, the World-Honored One, attained perfect liberation. He came to life, to true life, to liberation—which is our birthright, our essence.
Yet how easily we doubt, how quickly we forget. “I don’t know if I have what it takes to awaken. Maybe I am not ready. Maybe I can’t do it.” Those doubts are utterly unfounded. This one truth is just as true for you as it is for all the buddhas. In the Buddha Way, in reality, there are no exceptions. Each of you now receiving these words is blessed with this sacred reality. It might sound even too good to be true to you. “How can it be that I am so blessed when I don’t even feel good about myself?” I could repeat it for you a million more times, and it would still not even begin to express the absolute perfection with which we are blessed.
Because of upside-down false perceptions, we fail to see this inherent buddha-nature. We are just looking off at the play of our discriminating mind, and that is taken to be the host. For once, realize the true host! Become one with who you really are, and all is well. What a shame for you not to awaken to this wonder, not to prostrate yourself before it, before everything in the universe—not to come to appreciate, to celebrate real life.
For that we are doing our practice. We start with what we have got to do, right here, right now. The aim is to come to awaken, to know yourself, to see what life is really about, and this one-way path is the universal Way, which includes all beings. It is not only for our own small liberation; it is for the liberation of all beings. We start out with this as our aim.”