July 18, 1981 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

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Summary

What will we need after we die? What is the meaning of keeping silent? Keeping silent means to take off the “clothes” of our concepts, such as success and failure, pleasure and suffering, life and death. But you cannot stay with the silence; you have to know the person completely unfolded behind the silence. This is how to “light the candle” of human culture. Also: There is no discrimination between the four kinds of horses, which are us. Still, at some point, you need a whip. And then, you can run.

Transcript

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0:00

(Transcriber’s Note: The recording of this talk is nearly inaudible. Transcription errors are likely.)

Katagiri Roshi: Case 18 of Blue Cliff Record:

Emperor Su Tsung asked National Teacher Hui Chung, “After you die, what will you need?”

The National Teacher said, “Build a seamless monument for me.”

The Emperor said, “Please tell me, Master, what the monument would look like.”

The National Teacher was silent for a long time; then he asked, “Do you understand?”

The Emperor said, “I don’t understand.”

The National Teacher said, “I have a disciple to whom I have transmitted the Teaching, Tan Yuan, who is well versed in this matter. Please summon him and ask him about it.”

After the National Teacher passed on, the Emperor summoned Tan Yuan and asked him what the meaning of this was. Tan Yuan said,

(Here is Tan Yuan’s verse without Hsueh Tou’s comments:)

    South of Hsiang, north of T’an;
    In between there is gold sufficient to a nation.
    Beneath the shadowless tree, the community ferryboat;
    Within the crystal palace, there is no one who knows.

(Here is Tan Yuan’s verse with Hseuh Tou’s comments, as Katagiri Roshi read it:)

South of Hsiang, north of T’an;

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “A single hand does not make random sound.”

In between there is gold sufficient to a nation.

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “A rough-hewn staff.”

Beneath the shadowless tree, the community ferryboat;

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “The sea is calm, the rivers are clear.”

Within the crystal palace, there is no one who knows.

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “He has raised it up.”

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

3:05

Emperor Su Tsung asked National Teacher Hui Chung, “After you die, what will you need?”

This is a very common question to a person who is about to die: “What do you want after your death?” Because National Teacher Hui Chung was one of the greatest Zen teachers of those days in China, respected by two emperors in [two] different ages, his disciples and many people expected something specific [for] him (or possibly from him), regardless of whether he was alive or passed away. Anyway, the people really wanted to respect him after his death. So [the Emperor] wanted [him] to have something; that’s why he asked, “What do you need after your death?”

5:01

The National Teacher said, “Build a seamless monument for me.”

A seamless monument is a very common term in Buddhism. (Transcriber’s Note: He might mean it’s a common concept.)

If you go to Eiheiji monastery, in front of the gates there is a [huge] lantern by a small pond, where people let go of fish and turtles, whatever. That is freedom; that pond is a place for the fish and turtles to be free from the dangerous situation in life. So by this pond you have a big lantern. You know the lanterns in the temple? Not like this [little type of] lantern; you can see them in pictures. (Transcriber’s Note: A stone lantern, the size of a monument.)

[In Zen] this is called a seamless lantern. That means that pond is called hosho-ike, which means “let the beings be alive” – just let go of [these beings]. So for this, you cannot have any attachment to fish and turtles you have caught; just let go of them. [So it’s] formless. In Prajnaparamita [Sutra], we say formless, no form: no eyes, no ears, [et cetera].

So a seamless lantern or a seamless monument is not a particular monument or lantern, but this is exactly [the] picture of life and death. Life is really a seamless lantern, seamless monument.

8:07

[When you] take care of life just like a seamless monument, then at that time you can really transmit human culture to the next generation.

Because in our life, what we can perceive is filled with pros and cons, successes and failures, pleasure and suffering. Lots of stuff there, named zazen, and Katagiri, and the trees; and suffering, life and death, old age and sickness, et cetera. Lots of stuff in human life. But this is [to take up] those names. […] You call it life and death. Take off those clothes completely – life and death, old age and sickness, and trees, birds, suffering, et cetera – completely take them [out]. What’s left?

That what’s left is really important, because this is the quality of life. Life is already a name you put on it, but you have to know the quality of life. You say death, but that death is a name of death which you put on it. You have to know the real quality of death. What is the quality of death?

[In] zazen, […] sitting right now, right here means you cannot bring any name, any concept into what you do: so-called “zazen,” or “breath,” or “concentration.” Nothing. While we have even slightly something in zazen, it’s not real zazen. Zazen is exactly touching the real core, the quality of life and death. If you take out all things, what’s left?

That is, Buddhism always says, emptiness. But emptiness is not a nihilistic quality of existence. The quality of existence, so-called emptiness, is really dynamic working. [But] no one can touch it, because it’s really dynamic.

From this point, when you experience success, you feel good – but you cannot [see] success for long, because without human effort you cannot succeed doing anything. So regardless of whether you succeed or not – failure or success – you have to continue to make every possible effort to live. If you have a certain business, constantly you have to take care of it.

So strictly speaking, why don’t you take off the clothes of success and failure, pros and cons. And then, what’s left? Nothing to get in your hand. But is it just silence? Is it just nothing to do? No, I don’t mean that. Nothing, emptiness, dynamic working, means full aliveness of your life. So you have to do something from day to day, beyond success and failure. You have to really devote yourself to taking care of life. This is [the secret of] seamless life – seamless life, seamless death. And then at that time, we can really [weave] so-called human culture.

I told you before, culture is not just to receive [something] from somebody else: “Oh, this is a beautiful culture.” I don’t think this is something you have to do. You should receive the culture from somebody, but culture is not just to receive: you have to light the candle [which is] called culture. How do you light the candle of human culture? Your individual daily life is also human culture, beautiful culture. That beautiful culture of your life is – what? Something that you have to [let] people understand or see?

Beyond whether people can see it or not, real human culture is constantly there. That is seamless human culture.

That’s why I told you before, the real quality of life must be taught by your back. Back [does not mean] back opposite to front. Do you remember [when I talked about this]? My teacher said, a Zen teacher teaches Buddha’s teachings with his back. Back means seamless, formless teaching, constantly. Whoever you are, if you really live your life just like this, people can accept something about how important human life is from you. Not from the right side, left side, or back side, but from the seamless form of your existence, which you have taken care of.

For instance, while my teacher was alive, I really didn’t understand his way and his life, and Zen Buddhism, et cetera. Whether he kept silent, or whether he said something, one word – “Dainin, get up,” “When the people get up, why don’t you get up?” – at that time I got a big experience, but still I didn’t appreciate this. Because human speculation [is] always looking at the front [he chuckles], trying to understand logically and theoretically, you know? If we don’t understand, it’s very hard for us to accept.

If you don’t want to accept, that’s okay – it depends on you, that’s up to you. But you cannot always do it in that way. If you take care of your life just like that, you become a very small scale of human being, isolated from people. Then people don’t understand you, people don’t respect you. Very naturally you are isolated from people, because you cannot live in peace and harmony with all sentient beings. Then finally, you have self-doubt. Self-doubt means [you think], “[…] I am stupid.” You’re not stupid, but finally big doubt comes up.

Now I really understand… or not understand, but I can really touch the core of human existence which my teacher had demonstrated while he was alive. That means not the logical aspect, not the matter of his life is a failure or his life is a success; completely beyond this. As a total picture, you can really feel something.

So now I really appreciate his life; whatever he did, whatever he said to me, I really appreciate. [What] he always taught me is not some teaching in possession of a form, so-called success or failure, or pros and cons. Of course you can see those, but the more important [part] of human life is completely beyond this. From his life as a whole, you can really get something.

That is very common for human beings. When your parents die, when your brothers die, when your sisters die – anyway after people’s death, you really feel something. Don’t you think? This is very true. But while [they] are alive, you’re really ignorant – because we are always looking at the front, trying to understand logically, theoretically. That is a very common human style.

So that’s why the National Teacher said, “Build a seamless monument for me.”

22:08

And then,

The Emperor said, “Please tell me, Master, what the monument would look like.”

[The Emperor] is a very nice person: the National Teacher wants to build a seamless monument, [so he asks,] “What is a seamless monument? Would you tell me what kind of seamless monument you would want to have?”

The National Teacher was silent for a long time; then he asked, “Do you understand?”

The Emperor said, “I don’t understand.”

Well, this “I don’t understand” has two meanings, okay?

Bodhidharma also said this: when Emperor Wu asked him, “Who are you, in front of me,” he said, “I don’t know.” This is also “I don’t [understand].” He knows pretty well; he knows very clearly who he is. [But] becoming one, at that time there is nothing to dichotomize, or contaminate.

For instance, when you really do something with wholeheartedness – cleaning the room, [or] putting the [coins] in the [slot] machine – at that time you don’t know who you are, or you don’t know how fast time is going. You don’t care about the time; you’re really one. At that time if people ask you, “What time is it,” you say, “I don’t know.” But it’s really late, you know?

[Do you know the game Go?] Japanese people like very much playing Go. Go is very wonderful to play, but if you start to do this, you completely forget time and space, you’re really devoted to [the game]. So even at midnight, you can stay late, just playing Go all night. You don’t feel tired, you don’t feel what time it is, you don’t want anything except to play Go. So even though someone asks you what time it is, you don’t know. Time is already with you, so you know the time pretty well, but when you become really one with time, you don’t know time.

When you’re riding an airplane, when you become one with the speed of [the plane], you don’t know how fast the airplane goes; all you have to do is just be there. And then if you are asked by people how fast the plane is going, you don’t know. But it’s really fast. This is also one meaning of “I don’t know.” You know pretty well, but if you are free from “you know,” you don’t know.

So this is all one meaning [of “I don’t know”]. If you know pretty well who you are, you cannot say anything, don’t you think so? While you say, “I am an enlightened person,” still you create lots of space between you and enlightenment. If you’re a really great enlightened person, then there’s only one; there is no space to look at it objectively. So you don’t know.

It’s just like shaking a bottle filled with water. [If] it’s completely one, at that time, you cannot make noise. But if you take a bottle with [just] a little water and shake it, you know, you really make noise. That is [like] you know pretty well how great [you are]. But if you shake the bottle completely filled with water, you don’t know how much it is. No sound: that is really oneness. That is very quiet. But it is really dynamic, and also [it is] total manifestation of dignity or majesty, imperturbability: just this. But, nothing to say.

So that is the “I don’t know” that Bodhidharma said. Or, the other “I don’t know” means completely “I don’t know,” because you have no idea. People ask you what Buddhism is, what zazen is, and you say, “I don’t know.” That is really “I don’t know,” don’t you think so? [He laughs.]

If you say “I don’t know,” you cannot get any spirit to teach [people] or to tell [them], don’t you think? But if you really know what zazen is, even though you cannot say, [or] even though you say “I don’t know” – that “I don’t know” has a really great spirit to teach somebody. So still people feel that point.

The “I don’t know” of Emperor Wu – I don’t know which of the two it was. The Emperor said “I don’t know” [or] “I don’t know” – I don’t know which. [He laughs.] [Whether] he really didn’t know, or he knows pretty well and is free from he knows, and then he says he doesn’t know… I don’t know. No one knows, okay? [Some laughter.] That’s up to you. But anyway, from this story, Emperor Wu was not [a] common [person], he was a great Zen Buddhist.

30:32

So finally, the National Teacher was silent for a long time. Then he said, “Do you understand?”

In Shobogenzo “Four Horses” (Japanese: Shime), Dogen Zenji says, [quoting from a] Saṃyukta Āgama sutra:

The Buddha said to the assembled monks, “There are four kinds of horses. The first kind immediately follows its rider’s will when, in surprise and fear, it sees the shadow of a whip. The second does likewise when the whip strikes its hair. The third, however, does not obey its master until after the whip has struck its flesh. The fourth, finally, does not do so until the whip has reached its very bones.”

(From Zen Master Dogen: An Introduction with Selected Writings, by Yuho Yokoi with Daizen Victoria)

Four kinds of horses. [He chuckles.] I don’t know which of the horses you belong to, but anyway, most people are just like this.

From this, maybe you understand that the horse which really runs the moment when he sees the shadow of the whip, that is the best horse, in comparison with another horse who doesn’t run until the whip reaches the bone. That is a very common understanding. But that is [a] discrimination. If you understand human life just in common sense like this, you never understand how to live in peace and harmony in this human life.

In Buddhism, if the whip touches the hair, strictly speaking you cannot just touch the hair, ignoring the skin, muscle and bones. Touching a hair means exactly touching the skin, muscle and bones. Without the bones, without the muscles and skin, how can you know the whip touches the hair? So to touch the hair means completely to touch the whole body.

In other words, broadly speaking: in Buddhism, when you do gassho, this gassho touches you and others and all sentient beings. This is exactly the truth; but you don’t know, you don’t believe this. That’s why Buddha and Dogen Zenji explain the four kinds of horses. Which of the four are best? Do you think the horse who runs the moment he sees the shadow of the whip, that is the best? No, I don’t think so. The four kinds of horses are exactly living in the realm of no discrimination, because touching the hair is exactly touching the skin, muscle and bones, whole body. And then, at that time, you can run.

For instance, playing piano. I always tell you, you cannot play the piano with just two hands: you have to play the piano with two hands, two feet, two eyes, nose, whole body, composers, and also your past life, and the composer’s life, the composer’s feelings, the composer’s heart; [all the organs], heart, and feelings. And then you can really play. So what do you mean, touch the piano? Touching the piano is not touching the keys, not touching the [human]: to touch the piano is to touch all sentient beings! And then at that time, this is called to touch the keys. That is the Buddhistic understanding.

So your presence is not only your presence but simultaneously the presence of the whole world: trees, birds, and this Zen Center. At that time, you can really take entire responsibility for you life, with gratitude. That is great. So […] that’s why zazen is [not just] for deepening your life, that’s why Dogen’s faith is to do zazen for all sentient beings. That is great compassion. Because to touch you is to touch all sentient beings.

If so, it’s not necessary for the rider who controls the horse to understand the four kinds of horses. Just let go of any kind of horses, without controlling, without getting the whip… [at least not at] first, not yet.

Of course, you need a whip. Remember this. [Why do we need a whip?]

Buddha says even a cat or dog are Buddha. If dogs and cats are Buddha, why was the cat born with his skin, his muscles, as a cat? So a Zen master says that is karmic consciousness – but whatever you say, it doesn’t hit the mark. Anyway, you have to understand [yourself] as a human being, but that human being really stretches into the past, into the future. You have to understand human life for the long, long range.

If you understand your life for the long range, through the past, to the future, you cannot criticize the degree of stinkiness, [he laughs,] how stinky you are. Because this is karmic life. Karmic life is completely beyond your speculation, your understanding. Why am I Japanese? I don’t know. Completely, I don’t know. I know pretty well that I am Japanese because I know my parents and my grandparents; but I don’t know why I am Japanese. Why were you born as American? You don’t know either. You know why, you can explain, but that explanation or reason is really just a speck of dust, don’t you think so? You don’t know, exactly.

So you have to really understand human life for the long range. At that time, whatever makes you how stinky you are, how great you are, that is completely beyond criticism or evaluation, judgement. All you have to do is, just totally accept and take good care of that aspect of human life.

From this point, you need a whip. You need a whip. Shall I touch just a hair? Shall I touch the skin? Shall I touch the bone and the muscles? That’s alright. But this is not discrimination, because your life as karmic life is something you have to accept totally, beyond criticism and evaluation – because your life is really long.

So if you really understand this karmic life, karmic life turns into Buddha’s life. You can really accept. To accept is not just to accept at random; you have to accept, and next, you have to take care of your life in a positive way. That is the meaning of a whip – or practice, constant effort. Human effort is a sort of energy so that you can keep your life as a Buddha.

That is really silence.

43:34

There is a story (at the beginning of “Four Horses”) where Dogen Zenji says, “Haven’t you heard how an outsider asked the Buddha, ‘I don’t ask about the spoken, I don’t ask about the unspoken.’” In other words, completely beyond words or not-words, karmic life or not karmic life – what is life? The outsider – in other words, this means a Brahman – asked the Buddha, “I don’t ask about the spoken, [I don’t ask about the unspoken]” …

[Tape change.]

… If you don’t really attach, if you don’t really dichotomize, that is really a seamless monument for you, right now. That is really teaching from your back. That is teaching coming from life as a whole – not front, not back, not right or left, [but] as a whole. And if you do continue to take care of your life just like this, just like zazen, you really teach to somebody, even though you don’t say anything.

So, that [means] this Brahman really wanted to know what life’s seamless monument is.

The World-honored One remained silent. Just, sit down.

The outsider bowed in homage and cried in praise. He was really surprised to see the Buddha’s silence, just sit down; he really attained, he really touched something. And then he said, “The World-honored One, with greatest mercy and great compassion, has dispersed the clouds of my delusion and caused me to gain entry!”

So after the outsider had left, Ānanda asked the Buddha, “What did the outsider witness, that he said he had gained entry?”

The World-honored One said, “In worldly terms, he’s like a good horse. He goes when he sees the shadow of the whip.”

People often go to the silence for their understanding: “What is there to grasp?” In Buddhism, silence is important – but silence itself, [to keep silent,] is not important. If I [write] the words, “teaching comes from silence” – because many people these days, not only Buddhists but even Western philosophers, say life and human existence is really based on silence – […] then we believe that silence is really the truth of human existence. But I don’t think so. [He chuckles.] Because, [if I tell you] “silence is the truth of human life” – if you believe in that way, you have to always keep silent. How can you keep silent? You cannot stay with the silence constantly.

So you have to know the world completely unfolded beyond silence. If you keep silent, keep silent. But you have to know the somebody unfolded completely behind this silence. Do you understand?

If I sit down and really do zazen, then you believe concentration is the purpose of zazen. But I don’t think this is the purpose of zazen. The purpose of zazen is not to concentrate on breath, not to think something, not to keep out something, not to escape from, not to have a daydream, not to count the breaths.

If so – is zazen just to sit down without doing anything? No, it doesn’t mean that. Because we already have karmic life, so-called karmic “monkey mind.” So we have to accept this, and positively we have to take care of it. That’s why we say, “Why don’t you take care of your breath.” And then, when you take care of your breath, so-called concentration, with wholeheartedness, there is [the] big world absolutely unfolded – beyond the name of concentration, the name of zazen, the name of practicer. That is, Dogen Zenji says, the total manifestation of the whole world. Huge.

That is teaching coming from your back. This is teaching coming from a powerless power [that] you can get from your practice. Behind the effort, there is a great power. Effort is not something [where] you can create power to teach or to understand behind this effort. Behind the effort means the world unfolded totally, beyond the name of concentration, the name of practicer, the name of stinkiness – whatever you say, it doesn’t hit the mark. Anyway, take off any [of these] clothes. And then what’s left? Nothing to say.

So keep silent. Keep silent is what? Keep silent is not just [stumbling toward], it’s really working, which is called zazen. You have to really work. That is Buddhistic silence; really silent. Silence is [to] totally accept your life, including the whole world.

Just like touching a hair: if you touch your hair, that means touching the whole world. It is really true, because from where does your hair come? Does your hair come from you? Or from the function of the organs [in] your body? Of course, but that’s still an explanation. But broadly speaking, your hair comes from where? [Unintelligible.] That’s great. That’s why a single hair is very important. [A single hair] is maybe sort of [like] a person who gets a Ph.D. Maybe so. But is he great if you compare him with a first grade child? No, [he is the] same. Well, maybe we have to give these children a whip until it touches the skin or the muscle. But this is your discrimination; touching the skin is exactly touching the hair and the whole body. So even though the first grade child is great – a wonderful person, human being, and we should totally accept and respect them – that is what? Nothing to say. But right in the middle of silence you have to say something, because this is a human life.

For instance, right in the middle of suffering or pain in zazen, can you say something about pain? You cannot say anything about the pain in zazen. But if you keep silent in pain, does that mean that you have to die with the pain? No; you have to be alive. So silence in pain is really aliveness, dynamically, in pain.

54:47

The National Teacher kept silence and [just sat] for a while, and said, “Do you understand?” The emperor said, “I don’t understand.” And then,

The National Teacher said, “I have a disciple to whom I have transmitted the Teaching, Tan Yuan, who is well versed in this matter. Please summon him and ask him about it.”

So finally the emperor said, “I don’t know.” Whatever kind of meaning of his answer, it doesn’t matter, because there is no way to approach to him. So [the National Teacher] said, well, I have a disciple. So after my death, please ask my disciple what it means.

After the National Teacher passed on, the Emperor summoned Tan Yuan and asked him what the meaning of this was. Tan Yuan said,

56:21

South of Hsiang, north of T’an;

That means: wherever. Life and death is not something limited by name, or concept, or philosophy, or psychology. Life is something which exists wherever. Eternal space, eternal time: this is life.

So, Tan Yuan said, “South of Hsiang, north of T’an”, and,

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “A single hand does not make random sound.”

Well, eternal life, eternal space and time, is what? Can you make a sound? No. No matter how long you shake a bottle completely filled with water, you cannot make a sound, because there are not two: it’s completely one bottle, not a bottle and water. That is “[a single] hand.” One hand cannot make a sound at random.

So that is really [the] total picture of life and death which is called a seamless monument, [which] he really wanted to build up. To build up a seamless monument means not for him, [not] for all sentient beings, [not] for the disciples who are still alive from now on to the future. You have to build a seamless monument – not for me, for you! Just for you.

That’s why Hsueh Tou added the comment, “A single hand does not make random sound.” It’s very simple and clear, and nothing to comment [on].

58:54

In between there is gold sufficient to a nation.

Does “silent, nothing to say” mean [it is] something in vain? No, it’s just like gold – completely filling the whole world. That is the material of the seamless monument, [the quality of the seamless monument]. You have to build up a seamless monument with this gold, [this] quality, life. But we believe the name of life; that is not the quality of life. The quality of life is completely gold, filling the whole world.

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “A rough-hewn staff.”

That gold is not something a person refined; it is just like a rough-hewn staff, directly from the wilderness. Which […] is intact; completely pure and clean, nothing to contaminate. So that’s why Hsueh Tou added the comment, “A rough-hewn staff.”

1:01:10

Beneath the shadowless tree, the community ferryboat;

This is the meaning of eternal time.

When you do zazen, there is eternal space, which is called all sentient beings. Simultaneously you can touch your skin, muscle, the audience, composer, [and] past, present, future – this is touching the keys of the piano. But according to the time process, we don’t understand this. According to the time process, for instance [in] dance, human life is analyzed exactly by the moment after moment. So in one moment, countless beings exist. That is the most important attitude we should take toward human life – because that moment is really the wonderful community ferryboat, a great [gift]. You don’t believe in that way, but it is the most important attitude we should take for [ourselves].

That’s why, day by day in the practice, the gassho, and doing zazen, the chanting, these things are very important. The gassho and zazen and chanting are all seamless monuments, they must be seamless monuments. At that time zazen is handed down from generation to generation as religious culture. But don’t [misunderstand]. Religious culture [as] zazen is not only to accept zazen, but you have to light the candle of zazen as culture. Do you understand to light? To light means you have to be alive, you have to make it alive. You have to animate zazen in your life. That is a culture, human culture.

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “The sea is calm, the rivers are clear.”

That is so-called spiritual security, if you do this. Anyway, on the basis of human existence there is always spiritual security, which is going on constantly, carried on and on, consciously or unconsciously.

But that is not always calm. It’s really alive.

1:04:58

Within the crystal palace, there is no one who knows.

If you believe the seamless monument of human life and death, and human culture, whatever you say, we believe that [it] is something great, wonderful, which has lots of halos, light coming from your body and from your whole spirit. I don’t think so. That (seamless monument) is really a crystal palace, a great palace, because it is spiritual security, [so] we always expect [something], in many ways. But if you really get into it: there is no one who knows. There is no one who knows means spiritual security which lets go of you yourself, as freedom.

If you have somebody who knows, you are stuck in this guy or [this name]. “I know Katagiri”: at that time, I’m really stuck in this guy. So who knows? No one knows. “Know one knows” means you know pretty well, but you must be free from one who knows. Because this is the crystal palace, which I am, which you are. That is everybody.

So if you know, you have to be free from the person who knows. That is original nature, so-called spiritual security. Spiritual security lets you go free, constantly. That is spiritual security. If there is even slightly somebody or something which knows, that is really [suffering].

[…]

In [certain] religion, always there is something we know. Wonderful divinity, holy spirit, inspiration, catechism, [I ching], magic. Spiritual greed; lots of stuff there. That’s fine, if that makes you have fun – but is that really the spiritual security you are looking for? No. Because finally, you are really stuck in there.

The other day someone came to see me and told me about her life, because she was predicted by one of the [great] Indian religious persons. At the time she was not ready to accept that prediction, but recently she started to believe [the power of] his predictions came to be true! [He laughs.] But, not all the predictions he gave; only some. [Those predictions she believed] were mostly something unwholesome, bad. Because people pay really careful attention to something unwholesome or bad; [fate]. If we are happy, we don’t pay attention, because we are happy; we are really infatuated with happiness, that’s why we don’t pay attention. But if you are in unfavorable conditions, you really pay attention to [the prediction], and then, you create nervousness, paying more careful attention, again and again. Finally, you cannot move an inch, right in the middle of prediction.

Prediction is fine, because in a sense it is true, teaching you who you are. In astrology, or I Ching, you can get them to tell you what is your future. Yes, it is – but, don’t believe it. You should believe this, but you shouldn’t be stuck in there. You should be free from the […] prediction, because this is the real process of human life. In other words, still there is a chance you can create your life toward the future, because basically everyone is free. There is nothing to limit your life, nothing to bound your life, tied up with a certain idea.

So even if I Ching or a prediction tells you the truth of your life toward the future – fine, that truth is still the name of the truth. You have to know behind the truth. Don’t be cheated by the name of truth; you have to know the real quality of the truth. Take [up] the name of truth of your life in the future, in the past – that’s fine. But you have to know the real quality. For this, you have to take off the clothes of the name of the truth. That is really our [practice].

That’s why [Tan Yuan] said, “Within the crystal palace, there is no one who knows.”

Hsueh Tou added the comment, “He has raised it up.”

Exactly. Exactly, that is [wholly] understanding life.

1:12:32 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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