June 12, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

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What does it mean to die sitting in zazen? Katagiri Roshi discusses the meaning of the line, “In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both un-enlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength of zazen,” using the example of Blue Cliff Record Case 46, “Ching Ch’ing’s Sound of Raindrops.” He talks about life and death, and how to “cease fire” in zazen. There is a story about a machine that reads brain waves, and he discusses whether there are any real Zen teachers in the United States.


Listen to this talk on mnzencenter.org


Katagiri Roshi: Toward the end of Fukanzazengi, as a conclusion, Dogen Zenji explains how important shikantaza is from a different angle, from a various way. So, little by little, we try to learn this. [Dogen writes,]

In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both unenlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength of zazen.

The notes given by Professor Abe (Masao Abe) say about dying while either sitting or standing:

It is written in Keitoku Dentō-roku that Bodhidharma and the fourth, fifth and sixth Chinese Zen patriarchs died sitting in zazen, while the third patriarch died while standing under a large tree. Examples of both are common in the Zen histories.

So [according to] this point, some Zen teachers kept sitting and died. Some teachers died in sitting zazen, or standing under a tree, or standing on the platform while they were giving a lecture. Anyway, various examples from Buddhist history. But it doesn’t mean you should die in sitting or standing; it doesn’t mean that. The point is how important shikantaza is, because they died in sitting, in standing, wherever they may have been; they died in peace and harmony. Whatever they did, wherever they were, they died.

Dogen Zenji really wants to speak about how important zazen is. That zazen is shikantaza. In shikantaza, all delusions drop off from the first. That is dropping off body and mind, body and mind dropping off. That is zazen itself.


Usually in the human world, we constantly persist in our selfishness, ego consciousness, in order to accomplish our own purpose of life. We kick out everybody, adhering to our egoistic sense. And finally, we may be disinterested in human life.

There are some who commit suicide on the verge of life and death, because they are disinterested in human life after persisting in their own selfishness. Because no one pays attention to you if you do that. Finally, those kind of people are completely isolated, and also, they cannot live in the human world in peace and harmony. So finally, it is really true that they are disinterested in human life. So, on the verge of life and death, there are some who commit suicide, kill themselves. Even though they could keep their life longer, they take their own life.

There are some that death compels to die, even though they don’t want to die. There are some that scream right before their death, because they don’t [like it]. I know lots of examples.

I took care of a young man who served in the army. At that time he was 30 years old. At his house, for many, many years, he really adhered to his egoistic sense, and he did as he liked. Whatever happened, he was kicking out everybody; he did everything as he liked. Finally, there was nothing to do which caused him to be interested, so he was disinterested in usual daily life. So he went and entered the army.

He found the army a little bit interesting, a little bit “fun,” because there are lots of chances to kill a person, kill animals, and use guns; lots of fun there, which he had never experienced before. So he enjoyed it very much. But unfortunately, one day he fell down from a tree while he was trimming it with a Japanese hand saw. He fell down from the high tree, and the bottom of his body was completely numb. He couldn’t walk. So, he was in the army hospital.

He was pretty young, 30 years old, so he had lots of energy. Still he couldn’t awaken to himself; still he expressed his ego in order to accomplish his purpose of his life. He was always screaming at the nurses, and hitting somebody, and fighting, even though he [was in a wheelchair]. He screamed at the nurses, and was fighting the nurses and doctors. Whenever I visited there, I always made every possible effort to make him calm. “Keep your mouth shut. Sit down here. Eat breakfast. Eat lunch,” I always told him. But he enjoyed it very much; it was a part of his life.

And then in three years, he got another disease… maybe a kidney didn’t work. If a kidney didn’t work, he couldn’t have urine, so all of a sudden, the poisons went around his whole body. Three days after starting to suffer from this, he died.

But right before he died, he really screamed. He really screamed, with a big voice. No one knew what to do, because here is death. He screamed. And then, when I visited there, he immediately grabbed me, held me here, and he said, “I don’t want to die!”

That was his last scene. He had for so long persisted in his egoistic sense, in order to pursue the purpose of his life. That was concluded. This is very common, very common.

For such people, they never think of the significance of zazen, which causes all delusions to drop off from the first. They never think of glancing even once at such a wonderful world. They don’t care. That is okay. But it is not bad to glance at that wonderful world. If you glance at it even once in your whole life, that’s great. Even if you cannot have a chance to glance at this wonderful world once in your whole life, still, if you want to pursue this, it’s not bad for us. Because life is going on; so life after life, we can do it.


There is a Zen story in the Blue Cliff Record, the forty-sixth case. This is a very famous Zen koan:

Kyosei Zen Master asked a monk, “What sound is that outside the gate?”

The monk said, “The sound of raindrops.”

Kyosei said, “Sentient beings are inverted. They lose themselves and follow after things.”

The monk said, “What about you, Teacher?”

Kyosei said, “I almost don’t lose myself.”

The monk said, “What is the meaning of ‘I almost don’t lose myself’?”

Kyosei said, “Though it should be easy to come out of freedom and say something about it, to merge oneself in freedom and say something about it has to be difficult.”

(From The Blue Cliff Record, translated by Thomas Cleary & J.C. Cleary.)

Kyosei Zen Master’s question is something with which he raked the monk’s mind [to see] how much his practice was going on. He asked, “What sound is that outside the gate?” The monk said, “The sound of raindrops.” But the teacher didn’t ask for the sound of the raindrops; he asked for the raindrops themselves. But he used the words, “What’s the sound outside of the gate?” So the monk said, “That is the sound of raindrops.”

You know the sound: the sound is not the raindrops. Raindrops are raindrops. The sound comes from the raindrops, but the sound is not the raindrops. It’s very clear, don’t you think so? Because raindrops are… raindrops. [I cannot say it.] Raindrops are very active, moving. Becoming one, or the merging of raindrops and Earth and Universe – at that time, this is raindrops. Before you hear the sound of the raindrops, that is the raindrops. But you say, “sound of the raindrops.” That is already something extra, don’t you think so?

You hear the sound. How long does it take to hear the sound from the raindrop? It takes time. The sound of a jet airplane – can you hear the sound? I always hear the sound of a jet airplane, and then maybe I [think], “Oh, [there is an] airplane up here, right above my head,” because the sound of the jet airplane comes right above my head. So I look up – but there is no airplane. The airplane is far from me already. Do you experience this? So how long does it take to hear the sound? That is a sound; and then we say, “Oh, that is a jet airplane.” I don’t think so! The real jet airplane has gone already.

So, the Zen Master asked, “What sound is that outside the gate?” The monk said, “sound of the raindrops.” This is a very straightforward, honest monk. We always do this. Maybe I would say it in the same way: “Rain. The sound of raindrops.”

And then the Zen Master points out: “Well, pay attention! That [answer] is okay, because without this experience you cannot understand real rain drops. So that’s alright. But pay more careful attention to the sound of the raindrops again.”

That’s why the Zen teacher says,


“Sentient beings are inverted. They lose themselves and follow after things.”

Yes, we are inverted. This is really true, don’t you think so?

You’re sitting here. How much can you sit? What is the sound of your shikantaza? You say, “Yes, that is a sound.” What is the sound in you? You say, “the sound of shikantaza” – but it’s too late, because real shikantaza has gone already! And then you catch the sound from the shikantaza, and you grasp it [and say,] “that is shikantaza.” It’s not shikantaza. You are already inverted; don’t you think so? And then you judge it immediately; and then finally, you follow after that, again and again. What happens after that, after following after things? “After things” means sound.

I tell you often that Dogen Zenji says a moment consists of 60 instants. (Transcriber’s Note: Katagiri Roshi says “instances,” but “instants” might be what he meant.) So what you can hear … is the sound of the moment. [He snaps his fingers.] Like this. But, this one moment – [finger snap] – consists of 60 instants. If it is true – what did you hear? What is the moment you have heard? [Snap.] This sound, don’t you think so? But this sound, the moment, is nothing but sort of dregs, after you squeeze the 60 instants. And then you’ve got [a] grip of the raindrops, just the raindrops: “I’ve got it.” But that is one moment – already, you have missed 60 instants! So how can you know?

The same applies to this monk’s answer. That’s why the Zen Master says, “Sentient beings are inverted. They lose themselves and follow after things.” At that time, you completely lose sight of yourself, because you follow after things. [You follow] after the sound of the raindrops, believing, “That is raindrops.” If I say, “No, it’s not raindrops,” you continually persist: “It’s raindrops!” So finally, we fight each-other. But that means you lose sight of yourself.


The monk didn’t understand; that’s why the monk asked, “What about you? How do you understand that?” And then the Zen Master said,

“I almost don’t lose myself.”

That’s pretty good. [He chuckles.] Because, without some raindrop, you cannot listen to [it], you cannot understand the raindrop, what it is. How can you reach the raindrop as it really is? No way. Because it’s huge; before you perceive it, before you hear the sound, that is the real raindrop. How can you realize this? It’s not a dream, it’s real rain – but how can you reach there? Through only one thing. There is only one way you can reach it: through the sound of the raindrop.

But, you shouldn’t lose sight of yourself, and also you shouldn’t follow after that sound of raindrops. Move away! Move away. We always sit on the chair of the sound of the raindrop, insisting that that is the raindrop. But it’s not the raindrop.

So, he doesn’t stay there. He knows the sound of the raindrop is not the raindrop; he knows that pretty well, that’s why he doesn’t stay there. If he doesn’t stay with the sound of the raindrop, he doesn’t lose himself. But without the sound of the raindrop, he cannot understand the raindrops as they are; that’s why he loses sight of himself. That’s why his relationship between the raindrop and his life is always moving dynamically. So he said almost; “I almost don’t lose myself.” Almost means constantly he is free, between raindrops and his life. If you stay even for a moment, you lose. If you ignore the sound of the raindrops, you burn out – you lose. If you completely keep away from sound of the raindrops, your life is frozen; it doesn’t work. And then, if you attach to the sound of raindrops, your life burns up. What should you do? No answer. It really depends on you. But this is true.

The same applies to death. If you attach to death, if you sit down in the chair of death, that death is something extra coming upside; it really scares you. So at that time, you really burn up. So we don’t like it. We say, “I hate death.” But if you completely keep away from death, you forfeit. Your life doesn’t work.

Just imagine if you could live for [a very long time], like a heavenly being. Finally you could be disinterested in [living], because it’s no fun, because fun is always constantly there. There is no need to try to get your desires to have fun, fun is always there; so finally, [there is] no fun; you are disinterested in fun. Do you understand? It is really true. You are supported by air: hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. Your life is supported constantly… but you are disinterested in it. You don’t pay careful attention to it, because you are always basking in air. Only when the continuity is broken up, there is a gap or crack, so you are very confused. But [when] the air and you are communicating very smoothly day after day, [there is] no interest there; you are disinterested. Or, you have no idea [which] you are interested in or are disinterested in; [it is] completely going on.


So the monk asks,

“What is the meaning of, ‘I almost don’t lose myself?’”

The Zen Master says,

“Though it should be easy to come out of freedom and say something about it, …

Because you can hear the sound of raindrops, you believe that is raindrops. But the Zen Master says it is not raindrops: you believe the sound of the raindrops. And then, you understand: “Oh, what are the real raindrops.” That is a kind of enlightenment. So, you can [express that]. If you come out of the [real] understanding of raindrops, which is called enlightenment or freedom, then you can express it.

… to merge oneself in freedom and say something about it has to be difficult.”

But it’s not so easy to say something about freedom itself, raindrops themselves, when you are one with it. No, nothing to say. It’s pretty hard. For instance, you and the air are communicating smoothly, working in themselves very smoothly: how can you say it? How can you think of this situation? No explanation. But if you come out of this situation and look at the air, and look at you, and look at the very smooth functioning of your internal organs – well, we say, “Oh, air! I am basking in the merit of air, constantly.” You say so – but it is still an explanation.


The same applies to shikantaza. Shikantaza is just shikantaza. When you merge yourself in zazen itself, very naturally, all dualisms drop off. All verbal explanations drop off. Nothing to say. “Sound of raindrops” or “real raindrops” or “not real raindrops” – nothing to say. So, all you have to do is just be one with shikantaza itself. At that time, very naturally, your body and mind are really basking in shikantaza, and shikantaza is basking in your body and mind. They don’t bother each other; [they just are] there, constantly. But if for a moment you come out of this shikantaza, you can look at yourself and also many things around you – and then immediately, the mind starts to attach, making noise.

That’s why this morning I told you: cease fire. Completely cease fire. Cease fire doesn’t mean throw away. […] It’s not necessary to do anything particular in order to stop stop firing, stop shooting. Nothing to do; all you have to do is, here is shikantaza. Shikantaza – well, arranging the circumstances, regulating the body and breath, and also regulating mind, based on no sign of becoming Buddha, or whatever it is. Just sit down there. And then finally, you can stop shooting. If you do it, you can stop shooting, very naturally.

Stop shooting immediately. On the other hand, stop shooting “catches” many things. Even a small sound, even the tiny sound of a needle falling onto the floor, you can catch it. That is completely ceasing fire: [when your] surroundings are perfectly calm; at that time, you can catch everything. All you have to do is, you shouldn’t fire, after thinking “sound of raindrops.” All you have to do is, just be one with the raindrops.

What are the raindrops? The raindrops are you. The raindrops are zazen. If you create a gap between you and zazen [or you and raindrops], immediately you can catch the sound you create and raindrops create, and then follow after this sound, and believe “that is raindrops,” or “that is shikantaza.” That is confusion. So, completely cease firing. For this, no way, completely nothing to do. All you have to do is, here is one [thing] which is called shikataza – just do it. Just do.


I always use the example of death, because death is a very good example to explain shikantaza, in which all delusions completely drop off. Right in the middle of death, all delusions drop off. Whether you are qualified to accept death or you are not qualified to accept death, or you are stupid or you are not stupid, it doesn’t matter: just death. Don’t you think so? If you hear the sound from zazen, from [the] practitioner, you say, “I am qualified to be a good Zen teacher [or student],” or, “I am not qualified,” “I am stupid,” “I am not stupid; I am excellent” – but whatever you say, it’s really sounds. But right in the middle of shikantaza itself, it is really exactly the same as death itself. No way; exactly no way.

The gap is something which causes you to see something objectively. In seeing something objectively, it creates lots of things: fear, enjoyment, criticism; judgement, good and bad; many things. But if you are one with exactly death itself – nothing to say. If you’re one.

For instance, if I die. Before dying, I can see my death. It really scares me. I say, “I don’t want to die.” Or I say, “Okay, okay; I can die.” On the other hand, I don’t want to die – but death is coming up to me. So, I discuss with death:

“I like it, but I don’t like it.”

“Are you sure you like death?”

”No, I don’t. But anyway, no way, so I like it.”

“But, it is not honest.”

So, if I continue to ask myself, “Are you sure,” I don’t like it. But if I don’t like it, can I escape from it? No way. Because death is just coming up to me. Death is there, coming up.

But until death reaches me, death is still not real death. It is the sound of death; I always hear the sound of death. Then after the sound of death, it makes me confused: “I like it,” “I don’t like it,” “I like it,” “I don’t like it”… “Oh, I don’t care.” Whatever you say, this is nothing but hearing the sound of death, that’s all. It’s not real death.

But if death reaches me perfectly – there is no death. No suffering, no [prison], no delusions. Completely all delusions drop off.

And then immediately, there is a moment that comes up, which is called “after death.” And then Katagiri says, “Oh! I died.” But if I died… I cannot see [it if I] died. [He laughs.]

But anyway, let’s see the movie. So, I look at death, and then lots of sounds come up, and then I say, criticizing: “Oh, I don’t like it. Oh, poor Katagiri,” patting my head. And also: fighting death, and sometimes shaking hands with death, and sometimes escaping from death, sometimes playing hide and seek with death. But whatever happens, death is continually coming up to me. This is reality; this is [normal].

So finally, whatever I say, that is a dualistic world. Lots of things come up. Stumbling over, whatever I say, finally, what happens? All I have to do is to merge myself in death as it really is, because it’s real.

So finally, death says, “Hi.” If he says, “Hi,” I can answer, “Hi” – because it’s already one. No delusions about what I have to say or what I shouldn’t say; whether I should give an answer to death – “Hi” – or not. Completely all delusions drop off, if I become one with death exactly.

And then, the movie is still going on. That is life. And then …

[Tape change.]

… [I can see] death, coming out of enlightenment. So I can say, “Ah. That is death.” But still, it’s not real death. Do you understand? It’s not real death. That’s why the Zen Master says, it’s not so easy to say death itself, or raindrops itself. While you merge yourself in themself – exactly there, you cannot say anything at all. But the mind is very picky, always picking up. That’s why you don’t know, you’re confused. But death is a very good example; that’s why I always use the example of death.


Recently we have had tragic airplane accidents very often. I always think of the people who are dying there. I always think, if I were them, what should I do? What [would] happen in my life? I can think of lots of things. But whenever I get a solution, through the countless Zen stories, koans, or shikantaza, dropping off body and mind – whatever you say, it’s completely words. Don’t you think so? If you face death, it’s no time to discuss.

And then, [with humility,] what could you do, right in the middle of that situation? [There is a pause.] No guarantee, no guarantee. “I should do this, or that” – no. I don’t have anything to promise you. “I can die in peace and harmony right in the middle of such a situation” – I cannot say so. Or, “I would be completely confused and scream” – I cannot say so. I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know what to do.

This is reality, okay? This is reality. So that’s why we are practicing shikantaza. If you use zazen as a means, it doesn’t work. Right in the middle of the problem, on the verge of life and death, it doesn’t make sense.

For instance, the statement “Zazen gives you lots of strength.” So you are interested in such a zazen. “Through zazen there are ways of regulating breath, there are lots of techniques.” So you follow these techniques, and you can completely take care of your breath, perfectly. And then you say, “Oh, my zazen is perfect.”

And then, still you don’t believe it, so you try to buy the machine for measuring brain waves, connect it, and look at your brain. [There is some shuffling and chuckling.] Let’s start to do zazen: “How about breath, how about body?” – “Body is okay. Yes, okay.” – “How about the breath; breath is okay?” – “Yes, okay.” Well, even though you don’t say it, the machine says it’s okay. “How about the brain and nervous system?” So you plug me into the machine, and the brain is constantly going. And then the machine says, “Oh, your brain is calm now.” [The group laughs.] So you say, “Wow! Wonderful! I am an enlightened person.” That’s interesting. Don’t you think so? That’s great!

So, finally, you cannot stop looking at the machine. [Laughter.] Finally, you try to collect the money to buy that machine. [Laughter.] And connecting the machine, you are sitting zazen right in front of the machine. Without the machine you cannot do zazen, because there is nothing to prove your zazen as a means. So you continue to sit right in front of the machine.

So, every day you sit; every day the machine says, “Your brain is good!” – “Good!” – “Good!” [He laughs.] And then you say, “My zazen is perfect.” And then psychologists compile the data and say: “Katagiri’s zazen is perfect. This is what is called shikantaza: all delusions drop off.” I don’t think so. [Everyone laughs.] And then, next moment, the psychologist says, “May I borrow your machine?” [Laughter.]

And then, I cannot stop sitting, so I have to do zazen without the machine. Well, what should I do? No clue! Immediately my mind is going on: “It’s not perfect!” So I cannot do zazen without a machine.

Well, zazen – shikantaza – is completely nothing. [This was] a good example in San Francisco. Ten years ago, Japanese scholars were interested in checking the brain waves during zazen, so it influenced American scholars, so American scholars started to check Zen teachers and students. And so, I was one of the students, and [this man] was interested in checking my brain. I didn’t like it, but Suzuki Roshi said, “Why don’t you go there?” [Laughter.] But he didn’t go! [Louder laughter.] He didn’t go, but he asked me, “Why don’t you go there,” so I went.

One gentleman was very interested in checking his brain, so he went to the hospital every day because he was so interested. Every day he went there, and the psychology student really appreciated him because he completely offered his brain with his zazen. So he enjoyed it very much. Every day he went, and checked, and checked, and finally there was data, which said: “Your zazen is perfect.”

Well, he couldn’t stop. Still he wanted to go there and check his brain – because he didn’t have his life with confidence without the machine. So finally, he bought it. [He laughs.] He bought the machine. He put the machine on; the machine is saying, “You’re good. Now… Uh-oh, you aren’t!” [Laughter.]

Anyway, it’s very comic what occurs with modern Zen. Sitting in zazen, in back of the screen, completely [a mess]. Even though the zazen machine says, “Your brain is calm” – very neat – but behind the screen, completely a mess, because he doesn’t know what to do. Without the machine, the mess appears in front – [here it is]. [He laughs.] So he’s confused.

If you use zazen as a means like this, it doesn’t make sense. Even though for three years you use zazen and get a strong feeling and spirit in your life, still it doesn’t connect with the problem of life and death. No connection. So finally, forget it. All you have to do is, you have to be one with shikantaza. That’s all! Right now, right here – that’s all you have to do. And then at that time, we can say, all delusions drop off. But that is an explanation; after. Raindrops touch the ground, make a sound, coming out of enlightenment. And then I can say, “that is the sound of raindrops.” But it’s not real raindrops; we’re always here, keeping a distance.

Dogen Zenji says, “Zazen is dropping off body and mind.” Remember this. Your whole life, you should remember: “Zazen is dropping off body and mind.” It means all delusions drop off. That means exactly the same as death. Death is exactly the same as life. So how can I say it? How can I check? My “all delusions” drop off – right in the middle of death, nothing to say. But, when you become one with death, all delusions drop off! Otherwise you cannot become one with death; don’t you think so? It is really true. They completely drop off.

But we don’t do that. Taking away all delusions, and then I want to be one – it’s too late! You cannot do this. You have to be one anyway. If you’re one, all delusions drop off, very naturally. But we don’t believe it, because we get use of always keeping a certain distance and hearing the sound, and believing that is the real one. And we continue to follow after that – that’s why we are inverted, perverted.


If you look at the Zen teachers in the United States, I don’t believe there are any good Zen teachers. If you check all the Zen teachers, according to Dogen and Buddhas: no real Zen teachers. I’m sorry for you. No Zen teacher. Failure of Zen teacher, okay? Failure.

But this is an explanation of Zen teacher, an understanding of Zen teacher. Then if you say, “I am a failure of a Zen teacher” – then why don’t you give it up, and return to normal life? Of course, it’s very reasonable. But I don’t want that, even though you say, “I am a failure of a Zen teacher; I don’t want to come back, I want to be dead” – because, we can do shikantaza.

Shikantaza is really compassion, really compassion. But, this is really strict; no way. All we have to do is, whatever people say – “You are a failure of Zen teacher” or “You are a great Zen teacher” – it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is just listen to the sound of the raindrops. On the other hand, you cannot stay there. All you have to do is you have to stand up there, stand up right in the middle of raindrops as they really are, where all delusions drop off. You are qualified or you are not qualified, it doesn’t matter; anyway, you have to be there. That is real practice. You should do this. And then, you can create great teacher, I can create great teacher. This is important.

If you look at the United States, I promise, there is no good teacher. If some Zen teacher believes, “I am the best” – well, that is fake. If some Zen teacher says, “I am fake, so I don’t want to be a teacher” – this is also fake. Do you understand? [Someone laughs.] This is also fake. But whatever happens, all we have to do is, to be present right in the middle of death itself, life itself, where all delusions drop off. Qualified or not qualified, it doesn’t matter. You cannot ignore it; you should accept it. But all we have to do is, just practice this. At that time, you can find great teacher, finally. Teacher finds great teacher.

So, some teacher says, “I am not qualified to be a teacher,” so he returns to normal life. But what he does then: he does the same things as before. Don’t you think so? Same things. I know several people like this. And also he makes an announcement in public: “I am no longer a priest.” This is wonderful – but what he does is the same thing.


What would you like? There is stinky, muddy water, there is beautiful water – but both are the same. And you can do the same things, wherever you may be: a beautiful, nice smelling place, or here is a muddy, stinky place, and lots of things. That is the samsaric world, and here is another beautiful world – but both are the same, and wherever you may be, you can do the same things. What would you like? What would you be? What would you prefer to be? Do you want be a stinky, muddy [group]? Do you understand?

If you are in a beautiful place, there’s a lot of “barking.” Remember this. Many people bark at you – because you are in a beautiful place, that’s why you can see lots of ugly things if you make a mistake. Lots of things happen, and then immediately you [say], “That is something extra.” If you do this, you never touch the core of human life.

All are Buddha. Muddy water, beautiful water: all Buddha. Wherever you may be, you can do the same things; Buddha’s world. Which would you like? It’s very clear; no one prefers a dirty place. It’s a very simple practice; but if you are in a beautiful place, it’s not so easy. But we should accept it. Wherever you may be, we can do the same thing; all we have to do is shikantaza. Shikantaza, where all delusions drop off from the first. It’s not necessary that you should [make] some order or demand. You cannot say, “Go away.” Even if you say “go away,” [delusions] don’t go away. Even though you say “please stay,” they don’t stay.

That’s why Dogen Zenji says,

We find that transcendence of both unenlightenment or enlightenment…

[“Unenlightenment or enlightenment”] is good or bad, right or wrong, qualified or not qualified; whatever you say.

Transcendence: this is shikantaza itself; transcendence of death and life. And then all you have to do is, be one with death when death comes. That is shikantaza. At that time, you can die while you’re sitting, you can die while you’re standing, very naturally. You can die lying down on your bed. You can die at home, [unintelligible].

… have all depended entirely on the strength of zazen.

This is zazen. Yes it is.

1:10:30 end of recording

This talk was transcribed by Kikan Michael Howard. Audio recordings of Katagiri Roshi are being used with permission of Minnesota Zen Meditation Center.

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