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Doing and Being

So, someone walks into the room while YOU are sitting zazen. The person says excuse me for interrupting…what is YOUR response?

Teaching is experience being shaped into a response that offers someone to have a similar experience, yet the experiences are never the same as each experience can only exist in the being-time of the individual. That is, while doing something we have the possibility of “being the doing.” I suggest that being and doing interrelate in the relative and are the same in the absolute. So does one do zazen or is she just being? In Bendowa Dogen has rejoiced in finding the zazen of Ruijing as allowing “non” to arise. “Non,” negates doing invoking “no-thing.” This just sitting connotes “only” as in Absolute.

The most central question Dogen answers with Bendowa, not surprisingly, is why he emphasizes zazen above all else. In other words, why is zazen such a big deal in Soto Zen? One actual question recorded in Bendowa asks, “reading sutras or chanting Buddha’s name of itself must be a cause for enlightenment. How can zazen, just sitting uselessly and doing nothing, be depended upon for attaining enlightenment?”

In his book The Original Frontier, Michael Elliston-Rosh explores Zen in everyday life through compelling examples. That is awareness of starting, implementing, and completing a task is relative. However, having awareness drop away, is seeing through the steps. This non-parcing of the moment is similar to absorption or being-the-whole… less than two. Below Hojo Elliston makes this point:

Verification of your practice is self-manifested in your practice. Being so, it is beyond all consideration of conceptual thinking, let alone the judgment of another person. It is even beyond any application of absolute and relative, parallel classes of truth traditionally posited in Zen. The relative is the many: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The absolute is not asserted to be one, but not-two: no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, in the sense of independently existing entities. The relative is thinking, doing, and interacting. Or not thinking, not doing, not interacting. The absolute is non-thinking, non doing, noninteracting. This kind of doing cannot be done, or not done. It is beyond doing. It may be bare “being.” Dogen then moves on to make it personal:111. Michael Elliston. The Original Frontier (p. 215). Cornell Maritime Press. Kindle Edition.

Elliston-Roshi in his footnote 111, cites Shohaku Okumura-Roshi from a teaching series on Zazenshin as the needle of zazen that punctures the illusion allowing one’s seeing into the Absolute.

Please join us his Tuesday May 24, 2022, at 7:00 PM/EDT, as we explore the times when “doing” has dissolved into being and how zazen allows “being” in your everyday life.

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