February 26, 2020

The Minimalist Zen of Kodo Sawaki

I have just read an interview with Kodo Sawaki about his life and practice. I always wanted to hear or read this interview but so far it has been only available in Japanese.  Of course, what he says in the interview is not very different from the quotes you can find in Homeless Kodo, a book of short sayings by Kodo Sawaki, but to read this interview helps me to see why he said the things he said, and where his minimalistic approach to dharma comes from. 

From his point of view, and immediately we have a big problem, because Kodo Sawaki says clearly in the interview that there are no points of view in dharma, so from his point of view, there is no point of view in dharma. To make it more logical, Sawaki understood dharma as a state of things where there are no points of view. This is how my teacher transmitted dharma to me - no points of view, just this very thing right here. So to find this superminimalistic approach to Buddhism in the interview with Kodo Sawaki is no surprise to me, and I have been teaching, wait a minute, I have always tried, after zazen, to convey something that simple, during my talks and when nothing seemed to work, I just rang the bowl we use for beginning and ending zazen.

But we all know, that even Kodo Sawaki, and my teacher and all kinds of teachers, talk, or talked, as in the case of Sawaki or master Dogen, about all kinds of things when explaining dharma. But always, it seems, Kodo Sawaki or master Dogen or my teacher, would, at last, point back to the place where there is no point of view. Kodo Sawaki in the interview even says that we should not try to attain satori. We have been discussing - directly or indirectly, openly or not so openly -  this no satori zen for ages within Dogen Sangha. Kodo Sawaki says in the interview that it is more important to just practice than to look for the truth. Then how can people who practice zazen deal with their innate interest in understanding the truth, or even, attaining the truth? And what kind of realization did master Dogen write about and taught? I think Kodo Sawaki, when telling us to forget about satori, tells us just exactly what master Dogen tried to teach, ie. tell us to get over realization, get over wanting to understand, attain, get, master, and while transcending this "I" that wants to attain something, just practice wholeheartedly, live wholeheartedly. How difficult is that?

Well, I think there are two things to look at. To do something physical, wholeheartedly, that doesn't seem to be the problem with many people, all kinds of people, within Buddhism or without, within a religion or without. We have all seen people work hard and sincerely, completely doing a job, I have seen hundreds of people like that. I see that at retreats, too. But we are talking about people who have little idea how valuable a simple, complete action is. There are also many people, who do scientific work, intellectual, academic work, sincerely and wholeheartedly. That is not a problem, either. But again, how many people really understand the value of such simple, sincere attitude? What master Dogen, and Kodo Sawaki suggest, when it comes to attaining the truth, I think they suggest that if we can see the utmost value, the ultimate value in practicing zazen itself, studying dharma itself, teaching dharma itself, cooking itself, going to bed itself, and when we get over the unnecessary complications of our intellect and just do things, manually or intellectually, we have got over the problem of attaining the truth and actually have attained the truth without saying so, because saying so would be like drawing horns to a rabbit.

So basically, Kodo Sawaki, in a seemingly cold, severe, indifferent way tries to tell us that whatever our limited self thinks about others and oneself, about dharma and other teachings, about life and death, about enlightenment and delusion, about practice an realization, whatever I , the very limited I, one of the stupidest people there are, say about whatever in the world, or write about something, based on my limited views, that has as a matter of fact, no value  in dharma. Which doesn't mean talking about our personal experience is not valuable. Just opinions based on thinking mean nothing face to face to dharma. What I am trying to write here is supposed to be based on that which is not my personal opinion. And no one's personal opinion, in fact.  In other words, Kodo Sawaki suggests that we look at ourselves and laugh. And quickly, he tells us, not only that, not only realize how limited the small self, the small ego is, rather we should immediately put on okesa - or at least something clean and appropriate -  and practice the practice of buddhas and ancestors. So Kodo Sawaki encourages us to forget about our silly ideas and become buddhas immediately by wearing okesa, looking dignified, sit down, clean and balanced, respectfully, sit down, stop talking and just practice that which is not within words or ideas. Just practice that dignity of buddhas, who have nothing to say, but a lot to do.

This world around us, is very strange, and complicated and often silly. And we often find the same mess inside our brains. Kodo Sawaki suggests that we close the door, forget about this strange world, inside and outside, and just practice that which is out of this world, and in accord with the simplest thing there is, dharma.

Maybe we tend to think that what Sawaki suggests is a good idea, but it is really not an idea. It is something that is right here, something to be done completely. It is very difficult to be so simple and beyond that rigid self, beyond this world and beyond oneself, but I am afraid that if we really want to practice the simplicity, the simple truth Kodo Sawaki teaches, we have to realize that our ego -the limited self - is not a good guide. No matter how often it will take over our body and mind, there is an opportunity to let go, wear okesa, or whatever you find dignified, practice a dignified form, and attain that which is impossible to talk about but is possible to do. The most optimistic about this all to me is that ultimately, none of us is someone we should look down to, and no one is someone we should look up to. We just need some help from people who have transcended the self, and found the simplicity of dharma in their lives, no matter how often these people act strangely and do strange things. (Not that it is always OK). This is not about becoming a great person. This is about transcending a person and acting out what is necessary to act out every day.

February 11, 2020

Zen Comes from the Deep Silence of the Universe


Zen doesn't mean that we "just" see things as they are. A monk asked: "What is the Buddhist truth?" And Joshu answered: "A cypress tree in the yard."  So I could logically say: "There's a glass of Port on the table".  So I'm a buddha because I can see it clearly. But Zen isn't that primitive. Let's have a look at the problem.  

When children are small, parents accompany them around the country and say: "This is a sparrow. This is an aspen tree.  And there's a stack over there." But no child in the world has been awakened by objective learning about the things around them. "A cypress tree in the yard" is not a lesson for a child. A cypress tree in the yard - grasped completely - is not only what we see in front of us, but also the deep truth of the universe that is invisible to our eyes. Imagine that a cypress tree in the yard would be a mere phenomenon, an object of our sight or touch. But the universe is not just what we see or hear. The truth is not just what we perceive with our senses, let alone what we understand by reason. Therefore, the truth cannot be recognized simply by reading books or attending lectures. And it is not possible to recognize it by looking at something or by listening to something, either. The Buddhist truth transcends objective and subjective, yet there is experience of it, when the division of subject and object drop. So the truth cannot be recognized by simply observing things in nature and saying, oh, that's beautiful. A Chinese Zen master said that if you want to know the deepest truth of Buddhism, listen to the sound of the creek in the valley. But he didn't mean that only that sound was the truth that the Buddha found. Anyone who hasn't lost hearing can hear the sound of the creek. But not many people can forget themselves while listening to it. When we forget ourselves and the creek as two separate things, then there's awakening, which is expressed by the sound of the creek itself. 

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by all sorts of things. I walked around the world like a lunatic. What's this? What's that over there? I saw this witch and the devil over there. Sometimes an angel. But was I able to see Dharma? No. My life was just a dream. Of course, it was a dream based on reality, but subjectively it was dreaming and dreaming. I remember riding a bike, it was nothing like the way I feel when riding a bike these days. So having eyes or ears is not the same as waking up. Indeed, the Buddha discovered the secret he called dharma. When in his fingers he turned the flower on Vulture Peak, Mahakashyapa smiled. Were the others blind? From this story we can see that it was not enough to see the flower Buddha held in his fingers. Everybody saw the flower but only one person smiled. Only Mahakasyapa penetrated the essence of Buddha's simple action.  So Buddha said to him: "You alone understood". Although there is dharma, for example in the form of a flower turned in the fingers, we do not understand it because it cannot be understood by reason. We can't see the dharma, because our eyes alone can't see the dharma. We can't hear the dharma, because our ears alone can't hear it. And yet dharma is here. 

In order to know the meaning of turning a flower in Buddha's fingers, which is dharma itself, we have to stop seeing things two-dimensionally, that is, divided by subject and object, myself and the other... me versus the flower. Me versus the teacher. But the teacher tells us - put down these two-dimensional glasses. The truth is not just what is seen outside, objectively. The truth necessarily contains the inner dimension, the "spirit", the unknown. At the same time, the truth is obvious. It is as it is, and cannot be captured by words, understood by reason, yet it is there. If it wasn't, clear and bright as the most precious jewel, there would be no Buddhism and no buddhas and ancestors. While words or senses can awaken us to the truth, in that awakening itself reason shuts up - we are stunned in a way - and the senses are no longer just a subjective experience. We have to realize that the secret of the flower that the Buddha turned in his fingers is not a secret in the sense that only the Buddha or an enlightened person knows it. The secret is also the brightest thing in the world.

So called suchness in Zen is not simply to see or do something. To wake up is to reach for and pull from the deepest depths of the universe that which is paradoxically right here. And it is bright and clear. A cypress tree in the yard comes out from its own essence. If not, then it's just a subject of botany research. How meaningful is to see a beautiful rose, when we do not see how deep and pure is its essence?  Shunryu Suzuki told his students that "it is very important to believe in nothingness of all things". Nothingness. From this "nothing" or clear essence everything arises. When I say "the universe", it is very misleading because most people imagine that I am talking about an astronomic object. But in Buddhism the universe is understood as the original emptiness of all things and a simple flower here and now at the same time. 

So if a Zen person does not understand the origin of things, then they won't treat things as infinitely valuable. They won't treat themselves as infinitely valuable appearance in the midst of the universe. I don't mean we should go crazy and bow in front of every piece of junk and bow to ourselves every morning and call ourselves perfectly holy. I mean we often forget how infinitely valuable the universe itself is, and all its parts. And we, and all the parts of the universe, are not divided, originally. So to treat a piece of junk as if it was our own hand is necessary and to treat our hands as if it was junk or dust is also important. So we are all very important, and all our body parts are important, but at the same time, everything in the universe has basically the same value. From this understanding we don't have to see ourselves as absolutely different from others or better or worse than others. We should just see how we could help. 

There is dirt and evil and injustice in the world. And there are a lot of things we want to get rid of. From an annoying mosquito to an Islamic terrorist. Of course there is suffering and misery in the world. But where did these things come from? The universe is originally perfect. So they cannot be from the universal storehouse.  Misery and suffering came with the broken mind of a civilized person, several thousand years ago. This person, He began to distinguish and began to choose what he wanted and what he did not want. So he began stealing, originally a free, natural savage, started to see differences between good and bad, expensive and cheap, this person started to steal, kill, wage wars, but also build walls, temples and amazing cities.  This person began to boast or humiliate himself or herself. They began to start a career or fall down to the bottom of the society. There was nothing like this before. Although wolves form a pack with a strict hierarchy, they do not have an opinion. The wolf that is at the bottom of the pack does not dream about becoming alpha. They are perfectly content where they are and what they are. Unlike animals, our civilized person could think and learn to find the truth and meaning of life, but usually could not see the original brightness and purity of all things. This newly educated person couldn't understand that the scent of grass was as precious as a well crafted diamond. That an old stray dog was as important as the most powerful emperor in the world. 

In this world, which we do not understand at all in its depth and complexity, no one is equal to anyone. But in this world, permeated with the purity of Dharma, the last villain deserves the same attention as a wise preacher. The smallest fly deserves the same attention as the tallest building in the world. People can do huge things. Fly to the moon. Study bacteria. They're interested in everything. And often very, very honestly. But almost nobody cares about the true meaning of all things - where they all came from. Christians believe in Christ. Christ, as he is not a person only, but a God, is perfect. Christ, because having the perfect wisdom beyond thinking of civilized people, makes no distinction between a fly and a king, between a cripple and an emperor. Because  he understands the origin of things with his whole being. So he tells people - go back to God. That is, go back to where you came from. Go back to the essential principle. Kodo Sawaki said that practicing zazen is not a task, as we have to return to our mother's womb. To return to God, according to Christianity, is the most important meaning of one's life. For Sawaki, it seems practicing zazen was the most important thing. So we can notice this urgent suggestion about where we should go if we don't want to spend our life in a cinema. 

But the place where we meet God, or return to our mother's womb, is not necessarily a beautiful garden or a pebble beach with pristine clear water or a thousand-year-old temple. The place where we encounter our essential principle, is necessarily partly in our heart and partly in external things, but these two have to become one. So we who are interested in Zen have to go beyond the limits of reason, the limits of words, and the limits of ourselves - this silly, limited Roman or whatever your name is - to reach the essential principle and meaning of things. Only there can we find the dharma of past buddhas and ancestors. Before we get there, we may intellectually understand Dharma, but our heart won't be its true home.  At the same time, now when  we do not close the gates of the heart and accept the bright quality of the universe, and have this transcendental experience, and completely forget ourselves, we have replaced our limited self with the awakened self, because we have discovered which was only partly grasped before. It is not possible to go someplace where dharma does not exist, but it is possible to cover our eyes and ears and heart with some kind of personal hallucination. What Christians call a grave sin is in Zen a kind of raging self which has lost touch with dharma. 

So a Zen person must overcome the limits of self, the limits of things, and penetrate the essence. Similarly, a pious Christian is not so pious unless they understand that all things and people belong to God, come from God and return to God. And this is not only an academic task. We must go to the origin of things with our hearts and show our connection with our everyday actions. It is not enough to lie down on the most beautiful natural beach in the world and breath out with relief and pleasure. We have to take this beach with us to the bank and the cemetery and indeed to our own grave. Then it made sense to lie on it. If you look at your wife's hand, you might find it ordinary. But do you know where that hand came from? When we understand how the whole being is originally innocent and pure, we will kiss this hand for hours and hours. And then we'll realize that it's not just her hand, it's all her body, but then we'll realize it's also a table and a garden and the woods on the horizon.  A flock of ducks. Everyone can appreciate what is obviously beautiful. When we are in the theater, houses and trees appear like a miracle from the darkness of the backstage. Stunning. But that's exactly how things appear in the universe. They come from the backstage of universal architecture and we spit and step on them. Or make them our idols. We will bow to these stones and offer sacrifice. Christians reject idols. Zen says - everything is originally pure. I remember a few years ago, many years after I started practicing zazen, walking in nature I was puzzled why the obvious beauty of the river, the trees, the clouds did not satisfy me.  People want to travel to distant countries, lie down on a hot pebble beach, let the sea tickle their bare feet, touch crabs and shells ... because like that they return to the innocence once lost. But this return doesn't make much sense if we're not able to find it in our own study ... 


It is therefore necessary to notice both the transcendental, mysterious aspect of things as well as their present, immanent form. When we let go of everything, in the mountains or in a quiet room in the middle of a busy city, we should really enjoy those moments. A Christian will think of Christ for a while.  But if we are "just" Zen people, we should practice these moments every day .... and not fall asleep intoxicated by dreams about exotic holidays while actually having exotic holidays.  Zen is realized only after someone hits us in order  to awaken us from the transcendental dizziness. Not from silence to that annoying, complaining, rigid self, but from silence to the true, free, ineffable self. When we practice zazen, no one has to kick us, because our knees hurt or we have a toothache. That is awakening. But then we have to realize how important it is that our knees hurt or teeth ache. That is a clear sign that we are still alive and this here and now is not a dream, it is dharma. Awakened from dreaming about Buddhist ideas, out of silence of zazen, awakened by the bodily functions, we face the dharma. 



October 30, 2019

The Pleasure of Doing Things Properly

In my last article I discussed the problem of suchness versus right and wrong. I said that in Buddhism we learn to see things as such, or "things as it is", quoting Shunryu Suzuki, but we also have to understand that within the world of people, some things are right and some are wrong. So we have to accept that there are these two ways to see things and both are necessary. Today I had done some cleaning at home and noticed this strange kind of pleasure I feel whenever I do things properly. And immediately I realized how I feel a kind of mental mess, or am slightly upset, whenever I don't do things properly. And we all know that Zen centers, Zen teachers, Zen temples, Zen retreats are very much about doing things properly. When I began to practice Zen as a young, bohemian, disorganized intellectual, this obligation to do everything properly got on my nerves, very much, especially when I saw how my fellow practitioners did things much better than I did and kept scolding me. So that was another reason I felt like an oddball in the world of Zen people. At the beginning of my practice and Zen studies, I kind of hoped that Zen would be a mixture of mess and enlightenment, it would be about poetry, sipping tea, listening to the wind in the woods, just like in the Zen books, not that mixture of discipline and everyday life, which Zen is in fact much more than physical and intellectual mess and enlightenment... It took me several years, probably it helped to meet Mike Luetchford, my teacher, to first accept that doing things properly not only makes sense, but later, even that doing things properly is a kind of fun and pleasure. And a few years ago I really started to enjoy doing things properly. At the moment I think I am at a stage when I often fail to do things properly, but I am not discouraged any more, when I mess up. I just feel some hope that it will be okay again tomorrow.

So why is it nice or pleasant, for me, but I suppose for most people, to do things properly? I think that at the moment of doing something properly, we are necessarily in a balanced state of body and mind and we are one with our activity, so obviously, it is a Buddhist state, a state of awakening. Who wouldn't like to be awakened? But we must notice the difference between the idea of awakening, which is absolutely abstract and unreal, and the experience of being fully present and balanced acting here and now, beyond concepts of right and wrong, even proper or improper.  I remember as a little kid I found pleasure in watching people who were busy doing something wholeheartedly, and properly. Let me explain the difference between wholehearted and proper a bit later. Now I was watching, as a kid, these people, like a neighbor who was repairing my bike, or my grandma who was cooking, baking, cleaning, knitting, sewing, washing clothes, gardening and singing all along happily. I deep down was sure that she was perfectly happy and true while being active like that. But I tended, all my life, to do the opposite... to screw up things, mess up, unfinish things, and get furious whenever something went wrong. I would give up almost everything I started... I hardly finished college and I still cannot understand how I was able to finish that school. When I met Mike, I noticed how my old grandma, strangely did things basically just like Mike - just doing it. Mike does not put emphasis on philosophy, he teaches philosophy which puts emphasis on actions. My grandmother did not talk about philosophy or the meaning of life, but she just did things. And when Mike does things, he does not talk about philosophy, either. In that way, to me they represent the same principle. So meeting Mike and seeing him just act without talking kind of helped me understand why I felt so happy and safe in the presence of my active grandma. Of course, she was willing to explain things. She would patiently explain to me how to do this and that, for example I was allowed to help her baking, and when I made a mistake, she laughed and patiently explained why what I had done was not proper stuff. So she did her best, used her skills fully and was willing to teach others what she learned from her mother and others. She did not have dharma transmission, but her mother gave her life transmission, which is at least as important. Paradoxically in Buddhism we learn why such people are our role models and buddhas. That's why I say that life transmission is much more important than academic debates about Buddhism.

This life transmission does not include much philosophy. If we don't understand the meaning of life transmission, the meaning of learning to do things properly from our teachers and parents, studying Buddha's teaching may help. Intellectuals like myself need to transcend their intellect and become someone like my grandmother. Without neglecting their intellectual knowledge, because that knowledge may be helpful or necessary at times. But not when you cook or mend clothes or sew okesa. Now I think it is clear that the balanced state and acting within that state is nice for most people and some of you may really find pleasure in being in that state. I don't mean flow necessarily, I am not sure if doing tedious work, repetitive work, like washing stairs or windows could be a flow. I think flow is fun, but a repetitive, simple actions, are not boring, if we stop judging them, labeling them as boring and ordinary, and just do them. Then we may feel the kind of pleasure I mean.

Now what is the difference between proper and wholehearted. You can see someone who is totally trying to drive a car and failing horribly. They are wholeheartedly committed to it, but it is a complete mess. You want to shout and say, no, not like that, use the clutch, oh, not the second gear, oh, no, stop... Obviously, the person is not driving properly, but they are doing it wholeheartedly. It is a bit different from doing something properly, but indifferently. So you can be a professional driver, you have driven millions of miles, all kinds of cars, but these days you get bored and distracted when driving. You do drive properly, but it is not wholehearted. You couldn't care less, you want to drive a ferrari at least, in order to enjoy driving again. Doing things properly, without care, is just routine, not pleasure at all. I find pleasure in doing things properly and wholeheartedly.

To do things wholeheartedly, but badly, is like making a lot of effort when we practice at our first retreat or when we practice zazen at the beginning. We try hard, we do our best, but we are not sure how to sit properly, how to practice properly. So we make a  lot of effort and we suffer - more or less. I think most people suffer a bit in such a situation. But I have also seen people learning new things, making mistakes, but no worries, just smile and they try again, and again, and again. Wow. I have never been like that. Kudos to them. I think for most people to practice zazen, to study Buddhism must be very difficult at the beginning, the first ten or twenty years, before the whole thing breaks in... but we know very well that there are people who couldn't care less. They just come and go, come and go.
   
In my last article I discussed the problem of right and wrong and said that in order to help this world, and ourselves, and avoid too much suffering, we need to know first what is right and what is wrong. Even what is the right way to cook and what is the wrong way. What is the right way to drive and what is the wrong way. What is the right way to act during a retreat and what is wrong. We have these concepts of right and wrong and then we do things in real life, and others decide or we decide if the actions were right or wrong. How do you install this? Oh, not this way?  I see...

But we must accept that it is not necessary to stick to, try to rigidly dwell in the state of doing everything properly and wholeheartedly. It is the ideal of Zen, but an ideal is not our real life. Our real life is much more important and much more interesting than the ideals of Zen. So if you notice that you feel nice when you stop being a bohemian mess throwing things on the floor and you begin to dust your room once a week and do your errands, etc. If you realize it is natural for you and you feel nice and balanced, that is great. And you can practice zazen the same way, just sit down, sit properly, don't worry about past and future, don't be a Buddhist intellectual, and you may find that there is something deep and true about this kind of simple way of life. Then you can return to this nice state and nice actions over and over again. But you don't want to be a proper maniac. Like some Zen people are. If you do everything perfectly, something is very imperfect about you and you may be a Japanese robot.

So the point is to learn what is right and wrong, how to do different things properly, and then just do your best, no matter how many mistakes you make. Just doing your best, here and now, doing this or that, may begin to feel strangely nice. And if you make it the basis of your life, if you find awakening in that kind of state, you may have discovered the secret of Buddha's teaching.

October 28, 2019

Suchness and the Necessity of Distinction

Have you ever heard things such as: "My zazen today was better than yesterday... or That retreat was better than this retreat. This state is better than that state. An hour of zazen is better than five minutes of zazen. Sitting in full lotus is better than sitting on a chair." Such ideas are pretty common among practitioners. I sometimes feel that it would be better if a retreat was more silent. Or that if I could practice in full lotus it would be better than if I practice in half lotus.  My mind also comes up with ideas like that but I have also learned in Buddhism that it is better to let go of such things and just return to my everyday activities without judging them. Did I just say "better"? Well, explanations of contradictions later, if you please.  

So as our mind wants us to evaluate and compare things all the time, there is this kind of dualism going on even among experienced practitioners of Zen. If you let go of all that dualism, you are holy... Seriously, our mind wants us to look at things in opposite terms, right and wrong, good and bad. So logically our mind tends to think that being twenty years old, slim and fit is better than being a hundred years old and attached to a wheel chair. But what is interesting is that from a strictly Zen point of view, or -  if you like -  from the strictest view of the truth, nothing is better than anything else. Being sick and old is as good as being just born. Having huge tits is as good as having tiny tits, etc. From that point of view sloppy zazen of a beginner is as good as an old zen master's zazen. Rainy day is as good as a sunny day, etc. The thing is, if we do not let go of even  the tiniest bits of dualism, we will be light years away  from the truth. Do you know the Shin Jin Mei, which is traditionally considered a work by the third Zen patriarch Sosan? Here is an excerpt:




The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise
(trans. by D.T. Suzuki)[8]



According to this poem, there is no room for preferences in Zen. Logically, to practice zazen would be as good as killing ants or running around temples and screaming. To study the Way would be as good as gambling. To sleep with several people a week would be as good as living in a monastery. This problem is a very, very important part of Buddhist philosophy. Although the poem Shin Jin Mei tells us over and over again that there is no room for dualism in Zen, it does not tell us that there is the flip side of the coin.  If we stop evaluating things completely, it would be better if we leave the society and live in the mountains eating pine needles, dealing with no people whatsoever. But living in the society we have to take into account, and that is something Buddhism, even the Zen part of it,  has always taken into account, and that is the suffering of the world. So as we live in the world of suffering, or at least the world of conflicts, frustration, lack of wisdom, water or food, we must respect that part of the universe which consists of opposing forces. And from that point of view it is necessary to decide what is right and what is wrong. What is great and what is lousy. Essentially, and that is the point of Shin Jin Mei, practicing Buddha's truth is as good as spitting and coughing. But if it is only that, why bother with poems about Zen? So we must understand that both suchness, in other words no dualism, and opposing aspects of the truth are necessarily part of a sensible approach to the world. But when is it better to let go of opposing views such as right and wrong and when is it necessary to decide what is better? 

I injured my knee a few weeks ago and ever since I haven't been able to sit in half lotus. I have been sitting on a chair since and I hope I will go back to half lotus in a month or so. According to Shin Jin Mei, there is absolutely no difference between sitting on a chair and sitting in half lotus. So how do we get out of this entanglement? We have to learn to accept a kind of dual understanding of things. The usual, or social understanding of things, which says there is right and wrong, good and bad, nice and ugly... there is zazen and gambling and they are not the same. Zazen is great, gambling is bad. Buddhas are great and criminals are horrible. We must follow and accept that this world is somehow black and white - or bad and good - and we want to try to follow the white line, I mean to do good and avoid doing bad. Follow wise people and ignore the words of fools. Do our best and learn from our mistakes. Practice sincerely and admit we are sometimes wrong. On the other hand, the ultimate state is the state Shin Jin Mei describes. In this state at the moment of spilling soup there is no right or wrong. When I sit on a chair, there is no right or wrong, and that sitting isn't better than zazen or worse than zazen. When we bow in front of Buddha, we do not think Buddhism is better than Christianity. Trump is not worse than Gautama Buddha. Coca cola is as good as fresh mint tea. Because right now, at this very moment, things are just what they are. The universe itself, the truth itself , does not judge, and is not right or wrong, it is just what it is.

The thing is we should not stick to ideas about right and wrong, but we need to know what is right and wrong. When we study and practice Buddhism, we learn from teachers what the right understanding of Buddhism is and what the wrong understanding is. There is the right way to sit in zazen, with your spine vertical, shoulders relaxed, you sit straight and you should not move too much. It is wrong to crouch or lie down and say it is the same as zazen and there is no need to sit up straight. But once we sit in zazen, it is necessary to forget right and wrong, and just do our best here and now. We already know how to sit, so now it is time to sit only, without judgment. When I sit on a chair, I do not think it is zazen or it is not zazen, it is good or it is bad, it is better or worse. It is just what it is. But if people say they can practice Buddhism by walking, dancing or cooking, without practicing zazen, it is wrong. Here we deal with wrong directions.

Basically everything Buddhist teachers say, within a dharma talk, are not intellectual opinions, they are directions. And the directions must lead to the truth. Dogen, strictly speaking, he wasn't  telling us his opinions when he discussed dharma. He gave directions. Directions are not opinions. He said yes to a person who said the right things about dharma and no to a person who said the wrong things about dharma. He approved a certain gesture or action and disapproved of another gesture or action. Those were directions, not the truth itself. So teaching Buddhism is not about being right. Zen is not a "good practice" or the right way of life. It is just what it is. But to get there where things are just what they are, beyond human judgment, a very strict, precise, and seemingly dualistic path, or instructions exist. And a very precise kind of practice is necessary. There are many directions, so many approvals on the one hand,  and a lot of  criticism on the other hand, in sayings of Buddhist teachers. Zazen is not something which is good to do or bad to do. Buddhism is not something better than chemistry or knitting. But Buddha Gautama was a guy who noticed it is possible to see the whole mess of human civilization, I mean both mess and its grandeur, from a completely different point of view, actually abandoning all views and just experiencing what cannot be described, practicing what cannot be replaced by words or knowledge.  He discovered reality itself. Reality free from human points of view, free from right and wrong. But discovering this reality he did not say there is no right and wrong, or that directions are not necessary. On the contrary, as soon as he decided to teach the truth, he began to tell people what the path to the truth is and what is not, which is good for others and which is not good... etc. There was a huge burden on his shoulders. In a way, he knew there was not much to say about reality, but people had thousands of questions so he gave thousands of directions, out of pure love and care for his disciples.  

Ultimately, the goal of Buddha's teaching is to liberate people from the ties and bonds of intellect, so that they could experience reality completely here and now, without ignoring the suffering and the causes of suffering of this world. Often it is necessary to reflect on the situation of the world, or somebody's state.  Here and now sipping tea you don't have to worry about the suffering of the world, but when discussing philosophy or religion, it is necessary to reflect on the suffering of this world. There is a huge difference between being trapped in the intellectual thought on the one hand, and using one's intellect to look for, to find or to show the path to freedom and responsibility at the same time - free responsibility and responsible freedom. Freedom from intellectual traps and bonds on the one hand, and responsible attitude towards the problems of this world on the other hand.

What is this free responsibility and responsible freedom? Loads of terrible things and actions and loads of beauty, and not just natural beauty, but also beauty created by human genius happen in this world.  When we see something beautiful, we should forget everything and completely enjoy the experience. When we see something terrible, it is natural to cry or feel frightened. Or do something about it, be it recycling or have a speech or get glued to railing. So enjoy the freedom to be sad or happy, act or not act, according to the situation, according to your true consciousness, but don't forget to enjoy your cup of tea or a cheesecake, despite the suffering going on in this world. If you cannot really see or taste or hear, there is immediately much more suffering in the world, so become an island of wisdom and freedom from intellectual traps and live freely and responsibly, freely responsibly, whenever possible. And forget names and judgment when you sit in zazen, and just sit, without a religion, philosophy, society, past and future. And do not allow even the most beautiful poems and the most terrible things happening in this world steal away the poetry of your own moment here and now.

May 12, 2019

Kids (goats) and What more is there to learn?

note: The following text was translated from my original Czech article using Google Translate plus my editing.

When I think about what I saw at the sesshin at the farm in Komorce, a week later, it is quite evident that we all very, very often express the true self, Buddha, whatever you call it. All the participants but also Vanda, my brother, dogs, goats, etc. express their true self very often. Of course, goat kids have the least problem with being themselves. We people often have a big problem with it. That's why Buddha Shakyamuni asked - who am I? And he practiced and then one day he found out. He didn't become himself that day, but he understood who he had been so far and most importantly, who he had been essentially, not that he became a new person, a buddha, no, he realized how he had already been buddha before, which is a big difference. He noticed that he often used to cover his true self. Now it was clear to him who he essentially was. So others began to call him Buddha, awakened.

We are often like the goat kids, completely ourselves, at a sesshin. There is no problem expressing our true selves at an event like this. Even if we ask a question, we express ourselves freely as long as  we do not have a shadow of doubt at the same time - am I asking a stupid question? Wouldn't it look stupid if I ask such a question? Or a senior participant may feel very confident... "no need to ask, I know already." A beginner has no problem asking, I mean, the fact that he or she asks a question does not mean the true self is not expressed. Quite the contrary. If a beginner has a single doubt, no problem. He doubts clearly and without a doubt. E.g. she may have a sincere doubt about being a buddha. Am I really a buddha? So she asks the teacher. When she asks clearly and honestly, it is obvious that she is a buddha. But if it is a very complicated question and the student's mind is very complicated at the time of asking, then true self cannot be expressed. As I said, it is easy for a goat kid to be itself, but for an intelligent, well-educated person it can be a big problem.

Frankly, until the beginning of 2017 I was suffering from a major inferiority complex. I had never realized it, I thought it was just me... I didn't even know it was feeling inferior, I just thought some of my colleagues or peers were much better and I underestimated myself and my abilities, obviously, this was just my feeling. It was clearly a mental disorder. When I had to talk to the others, in front of others about something important and everyone was listening, I was very nervous. When somebody criticized me publicly in front of others, I felt like I was being sent directly to hell.  It was a terrible feeling. It was very complicated, so it often interfered with my true self. I remember I wrote an article about Buddha several years ago and Mike wrote something very positive about it. When you have this inferiority complex, and someone you admire praises your work, it is like a junkie getting a dose at last. Aaaah... in heaven again. So just like a junkie you go down to hell and up to heaven over and over again, never realizing what your personal value realistically is.  Zen is a bit cruel to a person who suffers from this complex. Because it keeps telling you, be yourself, find courage, self-esteem, go straight ahead, don't give up, don't worry if others criticize you. But you just can't. And you think it is just not Zen enough... to admire others and look down on yourself or tell others Look, how great I am because I did so and so... you know this is not the way you are trying to follow.

At a sesshin the people may have all kinds of personal problems, who doesn't? But they still most of the time come across as self-confident. Anyway, about two years ago - I really don't know how it happened, but probably twenty five years of every day zazen and regular input from Mike and possibly some kind of success at work and a newly required respect from my colleagues, not sure which of these things or if all of them contributed to overcoming my mental sickness ,but at last I felt free from it. I feel much more relaxed about myself these days, at work and in situations that used to be horrible for me in the past.  So what happened two years ago made my life much easier. At last I feel like I'm a just another guy, just another guy, at times making a mistake, another time succeeding, nothing much better or worse than others. Just another participant at another retreat. Of course, I know I am different, very different, but not much worse or much better than anyone anywhere in this world...  it is still nice when I get a positive feedback and unpleasant when criticized, but I am not a junkie any more. My life doesn't depend on whether someone says I am an idiot or a sage. I'd rather have a nice cup of coffee.

... But back to the true self. Does this mean that when you overcome an inferiority complex, you automatically become your true self? Well, most people do not suffer from this mental disorder, and yet cover their true self with all kinds of ideas, dreams, opinions, attitudes... I don't believe Zen is supposed to work as psychotherapy, but we can't deny that zazen has an impact on our psyche, a big effect, that's for sure. However, the task of zazen is not to cure our mental disorders, but to let the true self appear. In other words, stop obstructing your true self.  When I was suffering from the complex, it didn't mean I was never my true self. For example, when freely swimming in the ocean, there was nothing that would prevent me from expressing myself freely.  And I saw this free expression with all the sesshin participants. You almost always show your true self - if you just do something, or simply ask, or just tell someone that the shower is busy. It is our most ordinary, essential experience that we express in a most essential, ordinary way. In a noble way, it is called the Buddha. Or simply our "everyday experience". But it's the same. Buddha or everyday experience.  So what else should we learn if we express our true selves so often and if it is not important if we sometimes forget who we truly are?

I think that at some stage of our practice it is our primary task to learn to distinguish between what I am essentially and what is my shadow. We can ask sincerely and simply, and not in a complicated way, hiding our true questions. I write long articles about Buddhism. But if they don't point to what is essential, then these articles are useless. If they do not encourage us to let go of complicated ideas and philosophies, they are useless. If they suggest that thinking is more important than acting, they are useless. If they suggest understanding is more important than honest actions, then they are wrong. So the first stage of practice - is it really me? Am I this? Is this my essence? And in the second stage, when we have already clarified what we are essentially, we may wonder how the complications of mind and life prevent us from expressing ourselves completely and truly. And we together with zazen and other people work on this never ending task of everyday life and everyday zazen practice. Then every day is a new task. If possible go to the present moment. If possible. If not, don't worry, try again later. Sometimes angry, sometimes sad, sometimes clear, sometimes cheerful, sometimes mischievous...

Kodo Sawaki said he was deluded and only thanks to zazen he saw his delusions clearly. I am not saying that we should be deluded, I am saying that we should see our weaknesses and delusions. And zazen is a very simple way to see ourselves. The Buddha does not mean you are not ordinary, but damn well you know and practice and realize in your real life that ordinary Buddha. Goat kids do this naturally. But it's amazing that someone like Buddha figured out the key to our original nature. And that although we can't do it all the time, we can often be ourselves. There's always a lot to learn. And when we like to learn and do it honestly, we immediately express our true self. What is that? I want to know! A kid goat. It is running away. It is scared. Running to its Mom.

May 11, 2019

Kůzlata a co se ještě můžeme učit?

Po delší době mám zase jednou chuť psát česky. Na posledním sesshinu vlastně jen dva lidi neuměli česky, lépe řečeno nerozuměli, ale skoro všichni rozumíme česky. Moje čeština je čím dál horší, protože většinu času trávím četbou textů v angličtině. Česky moc nečtu. Ale k věci. Když se tak zamyslím po týdnu nad tím, co jsem viděl na sesshinu na farmě Komorce, tak je zcela evidentní, že všichni velice, velice často vyjadřujeme pravé já, buddhu, jakkoliv to nazvete, true self. Každý účastník sesshinu, plus Vanda, můj bratr, psi, kozy, atd. Samozřejmě kůzlata mají nejmenší problém s tím být sami sebou. My lidé s tím máme často velký problém. A proto se Buddha Šákjamuni ptal - kdo vlastně jsem?  A cvičil a pak na to jednoho dne přišel. Nestal se toho dne sám sebou, ale pochopil, kdo je, což je velký rozdíl. Pochopil, že měl ve zvyku často překrývat svou pravou podstatu. Nyní mu bylo jasné, kdo opravdu je. Tak mu začali říkat Buddha, probuzený.

My na sesshinu jsme často jako ta kůzlata, sami sebou. Není problém vyjádřit sebe sama cele. I když se na něco ptáme, jsme sami sebou, pokud současně s tou otázkou nemáme nějaký stín pochybností - neptám se na blbost? Nebude to vypadat hloupě, když se zeptám? Začátečník nemá problém s tím, že by se musel ptát, chci říct, že to, že se začátečník ptá, nesvědčí o tom, že není sám sebou, ba právě naopak. Pokud začátečník pochybuje o svých otázkách, o sobě, o buddhismu, může tu být jeden druh pochybností a ten je v pořádku. Pochybuje jasně a bez pochybností. Např. může mít upřímné pochybnosti o tom, že je buddhou. Jsem opravdu buddhou? Tak se zeptá učitele. Když se takto jasně a upřímně ptá, je jasné, že je buddhou. Když má ale nějaké postranní úmysly nebo je jeho mysl v okamžiku otázky plná dalších otázek a odpovědí, pak nevyjadřuje své pravé já.  Jak už jsem říkal, pro kůzle je jednoduché být samo sebou, pro inteligentního, vzdělaného člověka to může být velký problém, pokud je jeho mysl plná nejrůznějších komplikací a pochybností. Jedna pochybnost - jeden buddha. Mnoho pochybností, mnoho mraků, které zakrývají slunce pravého já.

Upřímně řečeno, asi do roku 2017 jsem trpěl pocitem méněcennosti. Nikdy jsem si to neuvědomoval, protože jsem to považoval za součást mé osobnosti, nevěděl jsem ani, že to je nějaký pocit méněcennosti, myslel jsem si, že to jsem já. Ale byla to psychická porucha. Když jsem měl mluvit před ostatními, na schůzi, na sesshinu, třásl se mi hlas. Když mě někdo kritizoval před ostatními veřejně, měl jsem pocit, že mě svazují a hážou do pytle a odvezou do pekla. Byl to strašný pocit. Bylo to velmi komplikované, takže moje pravé já byla rdoušeno a nemohlo se uvolnit, projevit. Pamatuju si, jak jsem před lety napsal článek o Buddhovi a Mike mi ten článek pochválil. Když máte pocit méněcennosti, chvála druhých vyvažuje váš strašný pocit vlastní nedostatečnosti a špatnosti. Ano, chvála druhých lidí, kterých jsem si vážil, mi dávala odvahu bojovat s mým životem, který byl poznamenán pocitem méněcennosti.  Jenže to bylo pořád skopce do kopce. Když mě někdo kritizoval, propadal jsem se na dno, když mě někdo pochválil, zase jsem se na chvíli vznesl a mohl dýchat. Čerpal jsem z toho na další aktivity.  Zen je pro člověka, který trpí pocitem méněcennosti, trochu krutý. Protože mu pořád říká, buď sám sebou, najdi odvahu, sebevědomí, jdi pořád rovně, nevytahuj se, ani nepadej pod tíhou kritiky. Vidím na sesshinu lidi, kteří můžou mít nejrůznější osobní problémy, ale působí pořád sebevědomě a klidně. Každopádně jsem asi před dvěma roky - opravdu nevím, jak se to stalo, ale nepochybuju o tom, že to mj. ovlivnila moje dlouholetá praxe zazenu a studium filozofie a živý kontakt s Mikem, prostě ne okamžitě, ale asi během týdne tak nějak odpadlo to břemeno, které jsem nosil možná od pěti let v sobě. Že nejsem hoden... nejsem stejně dobrej jako vy ostatní. A tak mi nezbývá než na sebe upozornit, hele, co jsem napsal, hele, jakou hudbu jsem složil, hele, co jsem namaloval. Když máte pocit méněcennosti, prostě potřebujete, aby si někdo všiml, že se vám něco podařilo. Bez toho nemůžete žít. Takže lidi vás považujou za nezralého. Proč na sebe potřebuje upozornit? A Zen učí, jen seď, jen pracuj, jen do your best...

Co se stalo před dvěma roky mi nesmírně ulehčilo život. Mám pocit, že už jsem normální, chybující součástí společnosti, normální, chybující součástí společenství lidí na sesshinu...  na schůzích v práci mě pořád ještě udivuje, když něco řeknu a pak si uvědomím, že se mi netřásl hlas, že jsem si nepřipravoval svou otázku nebo odpověď pět minut předem... Je to velmi příjemné a většina z vás to má jako přirozenou součást života. Toto adekvátní sebevědomí... Ale zpátky k pravému já.  Znamená to, že když člověk odhodí pocit méněcennosti, stává se automaticky sám sebou? Je už to pravé já, je od té doby buddha? No přece skoro většina lidí netrpí pocitem méněcennosti, ale jejich pravé já je zastíněno jinými problémy a pocity.  Je to zvláštní - nevěřím, že Zen má fungovat jako psychoterapie, ale nemůžeme popřít, že zazen má vliv na naši psychiku, velký vliv, o tom není sporu.  Nicméně úkolem zazenu není upravovat naši psychiku, ale odkrývat pravé já. Když jsem trpěl pocitem méněcennosti, neznamená to, že jsem nikdy nebyl sám sebou. Právě v okamžicích, kdy jsem nebyl pod tlakem společnosti, kolegů, učitele zenu, kamaráda, který mě před ostatními kritizoval, když jsem byl někde sám nebo se cítil přirozeně se svou přítelkyní, zcela jistě jsem byl sám sebou, projevoval pravé já. A to jsem viděl i u všech účastníků sesshinu. Skoro pořád projevujete své pravé já - když prostě něco děláte, nebo se prostě a jednoduše zeptáte, nebo prostě někomu řeknete, že ve sprše je obsazeno. Je to naše nejelementárnější zkušenost, kterou nejelementárněji vyjadřujeme. Elegantně, vznešeně se tomu říká Buddha. Jednoduše se tomu říká každodenní zkušenost. Ale je totéž.  Co se tedy máme ještě učit, pokud jsme každou chvíli sami sebou, když cílem není chovat se jako buddha celé dny, bez přerušení?

Myslím, že v určitém stádiu praxe je naším prvořadým úkolem naučit se rozlišovat mezi tím, co jsem ve své podstatě, a co k té podstatě zbytečně přidávám. Někdo třeba zažije satori a pak chodí a říká, satori jsem zažil, satori jsem zažil, víte co to je satori? Já jo. A postaví na tom kariéru. Ten člověk sám sebe obelhává. Pokud zažil satori, pak ví, že to není nic, na co by se dalo ukázat. Lépe by udělal, kdyby se choval jako obyčejný člověk.  Takže i když někdo dosáhne takové zkušenosti, může se chovat jako pěkný mamlas a vlastně si kálí do pravého já, když mluví o svém satori. Kodo Sawaki tohle hodně kritizoval. Takže v určitém stadiu praxe bychom měli zkoušet rozlišovat, co opravdu jsme a co nejsme. Ptát se upřímně a jednoduše, a ne komplikovaně a s postranními úmysly. Odpovídat jednoduše a upřímně. Já píšu dlouhatánské články o buddhismu. Pokud mezi řádky není naprostá a elementární prostota, pak k čemu takové články? Pokud neukazují k tomu základnímu, je to k ničemu. Ale občas prostě píšu o nějakém složitém problému. Možná to neznamená, že je v tu chvíli moje mysl zmatená. Takže první stádium praxe - jsem to opravdu já? Jsem tohle já? Je tohle moje podstata? A v druhém stádiu, kdy už se ujasnilo, co vlastně jsme, už jen koukáme, jak se nám do té krásné jednoduchosti pletou komplikace mysli a života. Tady není úkolem s tím něco dělat, snažit se takové mraky odstranit, tady je úkolem vracet se do přítomnosti. Co právě teď děláš? Právě teď jsem naštvanej a nemám náladu se s tebou bavit. Pokud je to tak, budiž. To není problém. Dříve nebo později budeme muset jít na záchod a naše pravé já se objeví. Jinak počůráme prkýnko, nebo holky nevím co - co můžou holky počůrat? To není fair. Vím, že v přírodě to maj těžký, ale my to zase máme těžký na WC.

Ještě mě napadá, může vlastně člověk s nějakým komplexem žít probuzený život? Může, ale musí jasně vidět, co je komplex a co je jeho pocit nebo názor. Například si musí uvědomit - teď budu mít trému, ale to je jedno, prostě něco řeknu. To je pravé já. Vím, že komplex je, tak s ním nebojuju. Falešné já znamená - zkusím předstírat, že mám sebevědomí. Kodo Sawaki říkal, že je oklamaný a že díky zazenu si to uvědomuje. Netvrdím, že nemáme být nikdy oklamaní - ale mít ve zvyku své klamy v zazenu odhalovat. Jsme jenom lidé. Buddha neznamená nebýt obyčejným člověkem, ale sakra dobře vědět, v čem ten "obyčejný člověk" spočívá - a zkoušet to praktikovat ve vlastním životě.  Kůzlata to mají jednoduché. My lidi složité. Ale je úžasné, že někdo jako Buddha přišel na to, že tu je klíč k naší původní přirozenosti. A že i když se nám to nemůže dařit neustále, často můžeme být prostě sami sebou. Pořád je co se učit. A když se to učíme rádi a upřímně, sami sebou opravdu jsme.  Kůzlata to tak dělají a dělají ty ráda.




May 8, 2019

Injustice

A friend of mine is often worried about the injustice of this world. I'll try to have a look at this problem now.

Before the civilized world, was there injustice in the world, in the world of savages and animals? Let's have a look at a familiar scene in wildlife. A lion catches an antelope, or even worse, a baby antelope, and kills it. Is it OK to kill other beings? Or another example, dinosaurs. Dinosaurs disappeared from the world completely. Is that OK? Is that fair? How about various planets, there is no life on Jupiter. If you go there, you will die instantly. It is the most toxic thing ever. Then there is the Sun. Sooner or later, it will explode or whatever it is that it will happen to it. This world is never fair, it seems, everything dies and disappears, sooner or later. And most things or animals have very little power to do something about it. You could say that a lion has a lot of power, but oila, another lion appears and kills the first one. Why? Everything in the world of nature changes, the concept of justice does not exist before the civilization is born.

As the first civilizations were born, there were first ideals. Law, justice, truth, grace, hierarchy, education, culture, beauty... all these things were hitherto unknown in the universe. Civilized people came with these ideals only to destruct them through horrible actions. Injustice was born, born out of hunger for power, for sex, for money, for fame, more land. As soon as people came with the concept of truth, lie was born. As soon as people came up with the concept of justice, injustice came immediately. As soon as there was wealth, poverty appeared next to it. Ugly next to beautiful, success next to failure. Until then, pain was a natural part of a savage's life, but now pain was something to be avoided. Killing and dying was natural, before the fist civilizations, but now killing was established as wrong and dying as terrible. People began to fear pain, death, poverty, failure, shame, suffering. All these things were, up to then, natural part of the life of animals or primitive humans. But now it was clear these things were negative. Philosophy and religion was born. They were born as civilized people wanted to deal with these problems, this suffering, this pain and injustice.  

For example, there was Jesus Christ. And he came up with solutions to these things. And even before Jesus Christ, there was Buddha and he came up with solutions to these things. He talked about suffering and injustice and came up with some ideas and practice. He came up with a philosophical structure and practice of zazen.  But neither Jesus, nor Buddha changed the civilized world. Injustice is still here, suffering is still here, people still kill each other and die. Buddha did not expect to change the world. He maybe hoped people could be wiser and treat each other better. But he did not expect naively that everyone would change and turn into a perfectly wise and compassionate being.

Now we cannot revert to primitive humans and stop worrying about pain, killing and dying. We already are civilized and educated enough that we know it is great that there are laws, medicine, hospitals, charities, etc. We just cannot go back to the jungle. So what can we do about the injustice going on in this world?

There are three ways to deal with it. Objective, subjective and realistic. The objective attitude means that we go and help where we can. We participate in activities that deal with injustice. We can study law, help to point to those who cause injustice, tell the society who is unjust, we can become politicians, detectives, police officers, etc. It is great when people actively help. It is objective help. It is very good to help like this. Then there is subjective method. We focus on transforming our mind. We want to change the way we see this world. So we pray, we meditate, we read the Bible, we hug dogs and cats, we plant trees and play with kids. We decide to stop worrying about the suffering in this world and instead we just focus on our personal, intimately experienced life. We make tea, sip it slowly, close our eyes and go to bed calm. Because the injustice will never stop as long as there is this civilized world. This is a very nice way to deal with injustice, too.  Finally, there is a realistic approach, I am not saying that it is better or worse, just I would call it realistic, based on the teachings of Buddhism. Of course, there is the concept of compassion in Buddhism, and helping others is always great. There is also a concept of focused practice and transforming mind in Buddhism, practicing zazen even alone every day is great. But the most important thing in Buddhism is transcending the objective and subjective view and just do something every day sincerely. It is interesting, but it seems, objectively, living like this does not help the world much. Subjectively, living like this , does not help one much, we may still experience pain and suffering anyway, but realistically, living like this means to wake up over and over and over an over again and wake up together with the whole universe over and over and over again. Like this, living our everyday life, transcending objective and subjective, we transcend just and unjust, right and wrong, and just wake up with the whole world. At the moment of just doing something here and now, the whole universe is just what it is. Neither just, nor unjust, neither good, nor bad. Just what it is. And then, when we, in the world of culture and educated people, we notice something unfair, we cry. Or protest. Or go and help. But even going and helping will be just one action after another, without the concept of unjust.

Just going and helping, no concept, no right and wrong. Just go and help. So the action is important, more important than the concept of right or wrong, or the idea of justice and injustice. The action of here and now means the whole universe is liberated as there is no me or others, no separation between me and others, no separation between here and there, inside and outside. The action of here and now beyond concepts of right and wrong means to liberate and be liberated at the same time, not just one person, not many people, not everyone, not a few, not nobody. It is just liberation and it is just this universe before we think about it.