In other words, discipline at Eiheiji has nothing to do with attaining supernatural powers or doing special meditation, nor does it entail harsh penance or mortification of the flesh. Rather, it is to be found in the everyday practice of Zen rules. There is no differentiation between means and end. Monastic discipline is not something done in order to gain enlightenment; rather, the faithful observance of monastic discipline is enlightenment, in and of itself. It cannot therefore be left to others, but must be performed with one’s own body and mind.
Zen discipline is not a staircase or a means of getting somewhere; it is rather about the successive moments of life—of existence itself. It means being fully aware in body and spirit of the fact of your life, and continuing to cultivate and practice the best way to live as a human being. This is the meaning of Dogen’s words, “Dignity is itself the Dharma. Propriety is itself the essence of the house.”
There is a Buddhist term “fragrance learning,” which means a kind of unintentional absorption. Just as passing by an incense burner can imbue clothing with fragrance, so we are affected unconsciously by the atmosphere of a place, just by happening to be there.
But for Zen practitioners, work has inherent spiritual value and is integral to the life of discipline.
Before my eyes, time moved in a way I used to know well. In a scene that might have played out anywhere, people were freely crossing the street or lingering to chat and exchange a laugh. All around them time flowed, so clear and transparent that its very existence was forgotten, just as it had once flowed around me. Like air, it had been pervasive and invisible, so natural a part of life that I never gave it a thought. But now from the time I got up till the time I went to bed—no, even while I was in bed—I had not a moment to call my own.Eat Sleep Sit : My Year at Japan's Most Rigorous Zen Temple by Kaoru Nonomura, Juliet Winters Carpenter
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
Click to set custom HTML
Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”