It should be obvious from such quotes that Sawaki cherished Satori ... he also did not give a rat's ass about Satori. Sawaki (and his descendants) will often sit for 15 or more hours per day in Sesshin, no talks and no ceremonies, all to achieve what cannot be achieved.Zazen isn’t like a thermometer where the temperature slowly rises: “Just a little more … yeah … that’s it! Now, I’ve got satori!” Zazen never becomes anything special, no matter how long you practice. If it becomes something special, you must have a screw lose somewhere. ... We don’t practice in order to get satori. It’s satori that pulls our practice. We practice, being dragged all over by satori. ... You study, you do sports, and you’re fixated on satori and illusion. So that even zazen becomes a marathon for you, with satori as the finish line. Yet because you’re trying to grab it, you’re missing it completely. Only when you stop meddling like this does your original, cosmic nature realize itself. ... We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal. ... Don’t take pride in your practice. It’s clear that any satori you take pride in is a lie.... You’ve got it backwards if you talk about stages of practice. Practice is satori. ... Satori is like a thief breaking into an empty house. He breaks in but there’s nothing to steal. No reason to flee. No one who chases him. So there’s nothing which could satisfy him either. ... Aren’t a huge pile of crazy ideas dumped on us humans, ideas that go by the names of “faith”, “satori” and so on? ... Master Dôgen “returned with empty hands” [Eihei Kôroku]. When he came back from Japan, he didn’t show off some satori the way others show off their tattoos. The story of his empty-handed return completely relaxes our hold on any sort of fixed idea like achieving satori through zazen. ...
http://antaiji.org/archives/eng/kodo-sa ... -you.shtml
... all to achieve what cannot and need not be achieved, as always present. Always present, yet not here unless we live and act and make it come alive (Dogen's "Practice-Realization" or "Continuous Realization")
Many folks use expressions like "until Kensho" "before Satori." In fact, what is realized in Kensho is that there is no "before or after," and only all reality pouring into this moment. While there may be a "before" and "after" the realization of that fact, in Soto doctrine, "Satori" is not the destination or crossed border of some trip, but the whole trip itself.
Many forms of meditation focus on reaching rather intense, extra-ordinary and highly concentrated mind states. Having such experiences is wonderful and powerful when such occur, and each can be a great insight into and piercing of the "self-other divide", "Emptiness" and impermanence, the underlying light, peace and harmony which can be found when the divisive mind is put aside. Koan centered Zazen with a heavy emphasis on reaching a radical "Kensho" is another way. In Shikantaza too, one may sometimes experience such perspectives (because subject-object is transcended, we might better speak of "non-perspective-perspectives"), and they are important and to be cherished when they occur. However, reaching so is not the emphasis or central point. In fact, reaching makes the present diamond appear falsely ever more out of reach.
Dogen typically spoke of "Enlightenment" ... not as some momentary experience to attain ... but as "Practice-Enlightenment", emphasizing that how we make Buddha Wisdom and Compassion manifest in our actual words, thoughts and deeds in this life is the real "Kensho".
These momentary Kensho or other experiences can be light and deep and beyond light or deep. Sometimes there is just wonder and awe. Sometimes there is that which is so much more profound and enveloping. Bottomless, Boundless, pouring in and out of all things. HOWEVER, that does not matter because, generally in Soto, we consider all such experiences as passing scenery ... just a visit to the wonders of the Grand Canyon. In Shikantaza, the great insight into and piercing of the "self-other divide", "Emptiness" and impermanence, the underlying light, peace and harmony etc. fills life and arises from our marrow in a more subtle way. The best analogy I have for this is a universal "bus trip to visit the Grand Canyon":
One cannot stay there, as lovely as it is. Nice and educational place to visit ... would not, should not, could not truly live there. One can even live perfectly well never having visited the vast Canyon at all. The most important thing is to get on the bus, get on with the trip, get on with life from there. In our Soto Way, the WHOLE TRIP is Enlightenment when realized as such (that is the True "Kensho"!) ... not some momentary stop or passing scene of wonder or some final destination .
The following is important, so BOLDFACE and UNDERLINE ...
Different folks approach and define all this in their own way. In our Soto View, some folks (not all "Koan Introspection" folks, but some ... the "Three Pillars of Zen" crowd particularly) way way way overvalue an experience of timelessly momentary "Kensho" ... as the be all and end all (beyond being or ending) of "Enlightenment" ... and chase after it like some gold ring on the merry go round. For Soto folks, that is like missing the point of the trip. For Soto Folks, when we realize such ... every moment of the Buddha-Bus trip, the scenery out the windows (both what we encounter as beautiful and what appears ugly), the moments of good health and moments of passing illness, the highway, the seats and windows, all the other passengers on the Bus who appear to be riding with us, when we board and someday when we are let off ... the whole Trip ... is all the Buddha-Bus, all Enlightenment and Kensho, all the "destination" beyond "coming" or "going" or "getting there", when realized as such (Kensho). This ride is what we make it. The bus just us and us the bus.
In a nutshell, a wondrous and important experience perhaps, but in "Zen Enlightenment" one comes to realize that even this ordinary, dusty, confining, sometimes joyous and sometimes ugly world is just as miraculous, wondrous, and "holy" as anything like that. The "Grand Canyon" or "Top of Mt. Everest" is a wonderful place to visit, but wouldn't want to live there. Scratching one's nose, taking out the trash, feeding the baby ... when we come to perceive this world as such ... is all as much the "Buddhaland" as anything with rainbow colored trees and cotton candy castles in the sky. In fact, the canyon vistas and the mountain top are ever before your eyes even now ... in the trash, the very tip of the nose, in the hungry baby [(even in Mara!)]... although maybe hard to see. The most "boring and ordinary, beautiful or ugly" of this world is Extraordinary and Beautiful when properly understood.
In the violence, ugliness, anger, greed and clutching, divisive thoughts and frictions of the world, this fact can be hidden, so hard to see. Thus, a key aspect of our Practice is to see and live free of the violence, anger, greed, clutching and all the rest to see this fact more clearly ... and even to realize it was there all along, though so hidden by the storm.
Most folks just don't pierce that fact and are lost in delusion about the Nature of the trip. Most sentient being "passengers" on this ride just don't realize that, feeling homesick, car sick, separated from all the other passengers, revolted or attracted to what they see ... filling the whole trip with thoughts of greed and anger, spoiling the journey, making a mess of the bus and harming themselves and the other riders, unhappy until they get to the "promised destination" somewhere down the road. They may even get to the Grand Canyon, snap a picture and buy a sovenier, then wonder "is that all it is"?
I once wrote this on such Kensho (Seeing One's Nature) experiences ...
That is why many Soto folks, like Sawaki Roshi above, think "Kensho Schmensho" ... running after some timelessly momentary fireworky experience of "Kensho" is not True "Grocking the Nature" Buddha-Bus Kensho. He says ...For Kensho is, in fact, special as special ever has been or could be … a sacred jewel, key to the path, life’s vitality realized … nothing other than special!
Yet Kensho is “nothing special” in that each and all facets of this life-world-self, bar none, are vital, sacred, a unique treasure – and every step of the path is central to the path. The “ordinary and mundane” is never ordinary. Every moment and any encounter, each breeze and blade of grass is special, sacred, a jewel in Indra’s Net. Thus, I do not mean to lower the import of Kensho in the least, but just to RAISE UP all of life, and every instant of practice, to one and the same par with Kensho, for such is the wholeness, intimacy, unity that is KENSHO’d in KENSHO.
Realizing that fact – that the most “ordinary” is sacred and whole and unbroken – is at the heart of Kensho! Failing to see Kensho as extraordinary insight into the extra-ordinariness and sacredness of both the sacred and ordinary is not to see “Kensho.”
You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?
Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.
Something like that.