November 4, 2010
Most people believe that Buddhism's principal goal is to make a great person, someone with great values, great behavior, great character, someone detached and caring at the same time. But when we practice zazen thinking that zazen could help us achieve something like that, then we are not really practicing zazen or Buddhism. Instead we are trapped in some kind of idealistic philosophy. When we practice zazen, we just sit, it is a simple action. So a simple action, zazen, is the basis of all Buddhist philosophy. And besides zazen it is all what we do, simply, stupidly, in a way, like getting up in the morning, taking a shower, driving, all done simply and kind of stupidly, without thinking about great human values.
But that does not mean that Buddhism is not something great. Buddhism is great but not because it stresses great values, but because it stresses simple actions. The greatness of Buddhism lies in stressing the simplest, the actual experience that has to be done in the present moment. So there is something extremely stupid about Buddhism and at the same time this stupid character of Buddhism is wonderful. It is wonderful to just act, stupidly.
As we know, there are hundreds of theories in Buddhist philosophy. So we cannot say that there is nothing intellectual or nothing civilized about Buddhism. Those theories have their own values, they are tools, philosophical categories and help to understand the human life from the Buddhist point of view. Buddhism is a great part of human civilization, it is a kind of wonderful culture. But when we study it thoroughly, practice it every day in zazen, when we learn it from a real, honest person, we gradually begin to understand that the secret of Buddhism is the ultimate simplicity ot the present action. When we understand that the secret of Buddhism lies in the ultimate simplicity of the present action, we let go of urgent or mixed up intellectual ideas and go back to our simple, kind of stupid life and find complete satisfaction and the truth itself there.
So to sit zazen stupidly every day and do all kinds of everyday activities simply, without worrying about their intellectual or spiritual values, is the best way how to practice and study the secret of Buddhism.