December 1, 1982 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

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Wandering in the mountains, life flowing freely: how very like the sense of springtime. Katagiri Roshi discusses seeking for the truth, and returning following the falling flowers. What is total communication between you and the mountain? Sages and ordinary people are the same, but what is beyond sage or ordinary person? Movement and practice responding to the rhythm of life. Also: how to get fired from a job in the human world. The caution against falling into the weeds is ironic commentary.


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Katagiri Roshi: Case 36:

One day Ch’ang Sha went wandering in the mountains. Upon returning, when he got to the gate, the head monk asked, “Where are you coming from, Master?”

Sha said, “From wandering in the mountains.”

The head monk asked, “Where did you go?”

Sha said, “First I went pursuing the fragrant grasses; then I returned following the falling flowers.”

The head monk said, “How very much like the sense of springtime.”

Sha said, “It even surpasses the autumn dew dripping on the lotuses.” Hsueh Tou added the remark, “Thanks for your reply.”

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

This case teaches us that Ch’ang Sha Zen Master’s daily life is going really freely. That is the basic nature of human being, so not only Ch’ang Sha, but also everyone can do this.

The full aliveness of human action may be analyzed as three stages, as I told you before. The first stage is that the mountains are mountains. The second stage is that the mountains are not mountains. The third stage is that the mountains are mountains. The third and first are quite different: the attitude, behavior, and function are very different.

Those three are working simultaneously in a moment. Temporarily, if you experience full aliveness of human action, you can really analyze them like this, by three stages – but they are not separate. In the time process, if you want to master something – for instance the tea ceremony, or sports, or calligraphy, or reading, education, whatever – maybe you have to grab them one by one: first stage, second stage, third stage. But that is nothing but the analysis of human action in terms of the time process. Broadly speaking, full aliveness of human action is exactly including all three of those simultaneously. Otherwise, your movement, your daily life, is very shaky, very uneasy – unstable. If you see human action only in terms of time process, it’s very difficult to settle yourself in the self, in your daily living. It’s very difficult.


Anyway, temporarily we can analyze these three stages.

The first stage, mountains are mountains: this is the very common understanding of mountains and you. Between you and the mountains there is a very dualistic aspect of human life there. So first of all, you have to initiate moving toward the mountains through your six consciousnesses: seeing, hearing, communicating, or doing something with the mountains initiatively. You have to move first; otherwise, the mountain doesn’t come up to you, if you wait without doing anything. So you have to do it. That is mountains are mountains.

But this is really a human delusion which no one can escape. Even the bodhisattvas, even the Buddha cannot escape this delusion. That’s why Dogen Zenji says… he says it in a different expression, but if I translate it, he says, “If you move initiatively toward the object, trees, birds, in order to compose a poem of the pine tree or whatever, that is called delusion.” But delusion is important for us. Without delusion, we cannot understand anything! Also we cannot stop deluding, because without delusion we cannot communicate anything. Delusion is a hint where you are, where your actions are. Delusion is a signal to watch, where you are present, what you are doing.

So first of all you have to move toward the pine tree to make a poem [about it], but this is delusion, because still there is some gap between [you and the pine tree]. So you have to completely project yourself into the pine tree. That is called empathy. You have to empathize yourself to the pine tree. But empathy is still a human attitude in terms of psychological viewpoint, so this is nothing but human action taking place at the first stage. Empathy seems to be good, but it’s still at the first stage. For this, in order to empathize you into the pine tree, it really requires your enormous effort, beyond your sense of like or dislike. It really requires enormous effort, enormous attention, enormous energy, to move toward it.

So from this [first] point, no one can escape human effort. Every day, you have to make every possible effort to live in this world.


The second stage is that the mountains are not mountains. That is a very interesting point. If you really move toward the pine tree with enormous energy, enormous attention, at that time there is no sense of so-called “I”, so-called “my doing,” because you have to be completely absorbed by the life of the pine tree, the life of the mountains. You have to be completely absorbed. So that is called egolessness: no self there. No-self is taking place only when you really devote yourself to do something with enormous effort, wholehearted attention. At that time, simultaneously the other side of enormous effort, enormous energy, whole-heartedness, is represented as what is called egolessness.

From the first stage, you move toward object. At the second stage, you are not moving toward object, you are completely drawn into the object. That means the object catches you immediately. You are drawn in by the object, even though you don’t move. Your object brings you into your object, without any effort, without your sense. So that is called egolessness. Egolessness is not a nihilistic understanding; egolessness is really the manifestation of your full energies.

At the second stage that’s where mountains are not mountains because the mountains are not the mountains you are moving at, because the mountains are exactly you – because you are drawn in by the mountains, before you are conscious of the mountains. You can experience this. If you really take care of your job, your occupation, even cleaning the floor, washing the dishes – everyday life – you can really experience this. At that time, the dishes are not dishes, the dishes are exactly you. You are drawn in completely by the dishes: the function of the dishes, the function of the mountains. How can I express this? There is no I, so only the mountains. But the mountains are not the idea of mountains in terms of common sense, so the mountains are not mountains. So the mountains which are not mountains are really identical with the full function of your life.


At the third stage, if you are completely, entirely drawn in by the mountains, the mountains give you lots of information. You very naturally communicate with mountains, and you can learn lots of things. In other words, you can hear the voiceless voice of the mountains speaking to you. The mountains speak to you through the materialistic aspect of the mountains themselves, instead of you wanting to listen. Anyway, the mountains speak to you, so you can learn lots from the mountains if you do this, if you reach this stage.

When you learn something from the mountains’ life, at that time it’s really something wonderful. Something more than joy, but anyway, joy. Or in Zen, maybe that is called enlightenment; satori.

Satori is not something complicated you have to learn. Satori is found in the very simple movement which is exactly fit into the rhythm of life. [You and the mountains] fit together; at that time there is full communication between you and the mountains. That is called kannō-dōkō in Japanese.

Kan means perception, literally. Perception means not only [through] the six senses, not only through consciousness; perception means to receive the mountains with your whole body, which exists in the present and the past and the future. So if you perceive the mountains with your whole body, which has been handed down from generation to generation, from the past to the present to the future, at that time you have really great communication. That is of kannō. means respond. So you have to respond, but respond to the mountains with your whole body.

When your whole body responds to the mountains’ life, at that time it is called inspiration. [It is] something more than you think you want to know, but it is represented as lots of questions in your life, those inspirations. Many things in the world of inspiration are kind of questions, lots of questions you don’t know [the answer to]. Like, “What’s that?” All these questions come up. Those questions are not something you can resolve in the realm of intellect or with intellectual research, but only within movement, only within responding to the rhythm of life which mountains have. If you really respond to this, that response is not a kind of intellectual inspiration, it’s movement. So within the movement, there is full communication there. That is to climb the mountains.

So when you are completely drawn in by the mountains and living with the mountains, your living is exactly identical with that of the mountains, and you have to die exactly with the mountains, be alive with the mountains. If you do this, very naturally within each movement, responding to the voiceless voice that the mountain has, there is wonderful inspiration, so called learning, learning the mountains. It is more than intellectual research. It is not a sort of “big” thing or [fourth] dimension, it’s really simple. Apparently it’s just like the same things: religiously speaking, Katagiri is Katagiri, mountains are mountains, nothing different. But within the materialistic aspect of Katagiri and mountains, there is an enormous function of communication between you and mountains.


The other day Tony recommended that I read a book about mountain climbing. The title is On Ice and Snow and Rock by Gaston Rébuffat (a French mountain guide).

  • (Transcriber’s Note: Here is the entire quote that Katagiri Roshi references below.)*

To climb smoothly between sky and earth, in a succession of precise and efficient movements, induces an inner peace and even a mood of gaiety; it is like a well-regulated ballet, with the roped climbers all in their respective places. A difficulty encountered poses a question; the movements to resolve it give reply. This is the intimate pleasure of communicating with the mountain, not with its grandeur and beauty but, more simply, more directly, with its material self, its substance, as an artist communicates with the wood, the stone, or the iron with which he is working.

There is another balance; mental balance. Climb above all with the head. Consider what you want to do in relation to what you are capable of doing. Mountaineering is above all a matter of integrity.

(From On Ice and Snow and Rock by Gaston Rébuffat, 1971. That book is out of print, but see also Starlight and Storm: The Conquest of the Great North Faces of the Alps.)

It’s a very interesting statement here: “A difficulty constitutes a question.” Difficulty means when you climb the mountains always there are difficulties, so-called questions. If you see the mountain and you have to climb the mountain, then you have to research how you can climb mountains. But still there are lots of questions: how do you climb the mountain, even though you know exactly what to do. Still there are questions how. So:

A difficulty constitutes a question; the movements which resolve it are the reply.

So we have to respond to the rhythm of mountains. You have to learn the mountains intellectually, but simultaneously you have to learn the rhythm of the mountains’ life, which are something beyond mountains as described in a book. That is the life of mountains. But if you want to be a mountaineer, you have to learn this, otherwise you cannot climb.

“The movements which resolve it are the reply.” Within the reply, there is a kind of answer. That answer is not an intellectual answer that appears at the conscious level, because it’s nothing but the movement. So reply is the movement, fitting into the rhythm of the mountains’ life. So he says,

This is the intimate pleasure of communicating with the mountain, not with its grandeur and beauty…

It’s not something specific, so-called beauty and grandeur. If you want to explain, well maybe you can say so, but is not an explanation, it is nothing but movement. So that communication is with what? Communication with mountains. But what you can learn is not a sense of grandeur or beauty,

… but, more simply, more directly, with its material self,

“With its material self” means the material aspect of the mountains which it possesses. It is called substance. Anyway the essence of that is called the rhythm of life that the mountain has. You cannot see it. But the rhythm of life that the mountain has is going on with the clouds and skies, the time process, past, present, and future. So it’s a huge rhythm there. But that is nothing but simple rhythm, simple movement.

with its material self, its substance, as an artist or craftsman communicates with the wood, the stone, or the iron with which he is working.

So the same applies to wood or stone, or paper if you are drawing, or the pine tree you are looking at in order to make a poem, et cetera. Whatever [it is], you have to communicate with it fully. Words or communication still means creating some gap between you and the pine tree, you and the mountains, but full communication is nothing but movement and action, practice; responding from moment to moment to the rhythm of the mountain’s life. And then through this you can really learn something with which you can find a full solution of your questions. Sometimes questions disappear in this movement. At the moment, that is called enlightenment. Enlightenment comes up.

For instance, “Zazen is useless”: you don’t understand this point, because you don’t do anything uselessly. According to common sense you do things always usefully, because human action has its own purpose, [a reason] why you do this. But according to one of the famous Zen masters, “Zazen is useless”: you don’t understand this. But sometimes you can understand this one. That understanding, solution, resolution comes up at the moment, [unintelligible] moment, in a very simple way. It’s not sort of a sense of grandeur, sense of beauty; you can understand zazen as it really is, that’s all. That’s all we have to experience. That is awareness or enlightenment.

So enlightenment is not a religious fascination which you can imagine. You cannot be a celestial being; you are still you. Even though you attain enlightenment or even though you have not attained enlightenment, you are you. But it’s a little bit different; the quality is different. So that’s why it’s said like this.

That is the meaning of the third stage of the full function of human action, human practice. So at that time, at the third stage, your movements are not something different, they are exactly the same movement as other people do. But the quality is different, because that is going on at the third stage. I am here, mountain is there, but they don’t bother each others’ lives, they are just communicating constantly. Full communication takes place constantly, and then I can learn the mountains intellectually and experience the mountains, but I can learn something more than that. That is full communication, so-called kannō-dōkō: spiritual response between the mountains and you. You can really learn the rhythm of life the mountain has, you can really learn what are the mountains. And also if you learn the real life of the mountain, that life of the mountain is exactly the same as the life of the birds, life of you – same thing. So you can learn the human world through the mountains.

So that is called the action or practice of an enlightened person; bodhisattva’s practice. Ch’ang Sha behaves just like this.


One day Ch’ang Sha went wandering in the mountains. Upon returning, when he got to the gate …

If you read this case, this is nothing but an expression of religious enlightenment, which is fully alive in human life every day, in terms of poetical and literary expression. So this is very dramatic, but I don’t think you should imitate this. But you can learn [this], you can do this in your daily life.

Ch’ang Sha’s actions are just like the smooth flow of water, because his life is completely drawn in by the mountains, and the mountains teach him who he is and what he is doing. He learns the mountains’ life, even though he seems to just stroll, just walk, without any particular purpose. But this just walk is not the just walk which takes place at the first stage, this just walk, just stroll is human behavior at the third stage. So it’s very free, very peaceful, very harmonious. That is wandering in the mountains.

… the head monk asked, “Where are you coming from, Master?”

This monk wants to test this Zen master, to see how his spiritual capacity is working with him. That is why he asks, “Where are you coming from, Master?”

Sha said, “From wandering in the mountains.”

This is a very common, smooth answer: “I was just wandering in the mountains.” From the “just wandering in the mountains,” he seems to be very indifferent in his walking. There is no particular point, just wandering in the mountains.

The head monk asked, “Where did you go?”

The head monk still wanted to know what he did, because he answered “just wandering in the mountains.” Can you take care of your life just like this? Because human action has its own purpose, [a reason] why you do this; that’s why you want to know. [Where did you go] means, are you climbing to the top of the mountain? Or are you going down [from] the mountain? Or are you just walking in the middle of the mountains? What did you do? That’s why the head monk asked, “Where did you go?”

Sha said, “First I went pursuing the fragrant grasses; then I returned following the falling flowers.”

It means when I went to the mountains I was just pursuing the fragrant grasses, chasing the wonderful grasses, just walking. When I returned, just following the falling flowers, and just returning, without any particular purpose. So it seems to be careless movement or an easygoing mode of movement: just going, just sitting. But I don’t think so, because this movement takes place at the third stage. If you do this at the first stage, it’s just an easygoing mode of life. But at the third stage, that movement is based on freedom, liberation, peace, harmony.

That’s why he said, “First I went pursuing the fragrant grasses; then I returned following the falling flowers.” “Pursuing the fragrant grasses” means seeking for the truth, climbing to the top of the mountain. If you want to practice Buddhism, whoever you are, completely beyond the good or bad capacity you have or not, “you want to climb the mountain” means you want to reach the top of the mountains. Everyone can want to do this. So that is individual practice: really working hard in order to master something, as a craftsman, or carpentry work, biologist, housewife, cleaning the room, whatever. Anyway you really want to master cleaning the room when you want to clean the room. That is really “pursuing the fragrant grasses.” You cannot ignore this. You cannot live your life just according to the easygoing mode of life which takes place at the first stage; you must understand this more deeply. For this you need the enormous effort and attention to take care of cleaning the room.

And then, “returning following the falling flowers” means on the other hand, you cannot stay always with just one way of seeking the truth. Reaching the highest level of spiritual life; you cannot do this. Simultaneously whatever highest level of spiritual life [you attain] must be alive in your daily life, so you have to return to the human world, you have to descend to the human world, to live your life thinking of others. Thinking of yourself, depending only on yourself, is really idiotic, really idiotic, because it’s egoistic. So you have to think of others. This is called [being a] human being, okay? Not [being an] idiot. [Being a] human being, which is different from animals, and trees, birds. You are a human being. So we have to think of others; in other words we have to live with others. That means to descend to human life.

But you cannot attach to only the one way, so-called descending to the human world, without seeking for the truth, without climbing to the top of the mountains. Practice. One is going out constantly to reach the highest level of spiritual life, or as a mountaineer, or artist, or craftsman – whatever it is, you have to reach the highest level. On the other hand you have to come down to human life, and the highest level of spiritual life must be alive in your life. Craftsman must be alive in your life; the spirit of craftsman must help in your daily life.

So which of two comes first? I don’t know which of the two comes first. Should we completely ignore daily life and just seek for the truth, retreating to the mountains and ignoring human life and isolating from the human world? It’s fine, but you become an idiot, a fool, because you don’t know, you completely keep away from [human life]. But it’s not necessary to be an idiot on purpose, because more or less from the beginning we are idiots. [Some laughter.] So if we are idiots, anyway we have to mend the idiotic, foolish aspect of human life. We have to mend or fix being an idiot. [He laughs.] Mending the idiocy of human life means [learning] how to tune in to every day life with other people. That is fixing the idiocy. If you keep away from human life you become completely an idiot, because its not necessary to think carefully how to fit your daily life into everyday life with the people. It’s not necessary: just live by yourself, thinking of yourself. It seems to be comfortable, but you become an idiot. Dunce. Fool. So you don’t know. And then when you come down to human life you are completely confused.

If you become a saint, it’s wonderful, but a saint is not a particular being. In Buddhism, a saint and an unenlightened person are the same thing! So I don’t think you should be proud of yourself when you become a saint. [To be a] saint means to reach a certain particular level of your life, so-called Ph.D., you know? At that time, you become a saint. It’s called [unintelligible]. [Laughter.] Or, a Zen Master: “Oh, I am a saint.” But what’s different between a Ph.D. and a saint, and delusions and an unenlightened person? They’re the same things, you know? “Same thing” means even the saint is nothing but a part of impermanence. So, sooner or later, a saint becomes “insaint.” [Laughter.] That’s a little better. If you attach to the saint too much, you become “insaint.” So if you attach to the Ph.D. so much, you are not a Ph.D. person, you are greedy person; so no one respects [you] as a Ph.D., as a doctor.

So that is the point that Sha said: “First I went pursuing the fragrant grasses; then I returned following the falling flowers.” Both are walking together. Within the walking, step by step, there is enormous energy to seek for the truth. To seek for the truth means to reveal the enormous energy you have, beyond like or dislike. That means seeking for the truth, simultaneously. That enormous energy must be revealed not [as] a particular place, it is within the one step. If you walk in the mountains, within the one step there is enormous energy, completely beyond your sense of like or dislike. That enormous energy leads you to the seek for the truth, or to reach the top of the mountains, very naturally. So at the moment there is one step, but within one step it is not one step, it is one step and simultaneously it is the top of the mountain, both walking together.

But if you really attach to one side even slightly, seeking for the truth or descending to the human world, or so-called one step, at that time that is a gap. We say [ski]. [Ski] means a crack through which the cold wind blows. That is a state of human action when attention slackens. When you attach to one side, that is slackening; the state of the moment when your attention slackens. So both together simultaneously without creating any gap between, that is so-called freedom or harmony or peace.

That is called beyond saint or ordinary people, or beyond ordinary people or Buddha, because it is nothing but the movement and practice responding to the rhythm of life exactly, day by day. So when you attain enlightenment, when you feel something, the most important point which zazen possesses – right in the middle of zazen, during zazen, you can get a kind of inspiration, so-called enlightenment – that is nothing but movement, fitting into the rhythm of movement.


So both are together working simultaneously, very smoothly. That’s why next,

The head monk said, “How very much like the sense of springtime.”

How wonderful it is! Just like Springtime. It’s very warm feelings, because you can see something shooting up, and the full aliveness of human life, with all sentient beings. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? That means exactly so-called Buddha. And then next,

Sha said, “It even surpasses the autumn dew dripping on the lotuses.”

That means the head monk saying it’s really wonderful walking in the mountains, being alive fully, just like the warmth of springtime – that is one side, one aspect of human life, so-called Buddha’s Way, reaching to the top of the mountains. But on the other hand, you cannot ignore the human world.

The human world is very strict, very strict. If you’re lazy – you’re fired. If you don’t follow the manager of the bookstore, you get fired quickly. I experienced that, anyway. I was just standing watching the bookstore, and one day the manager said, “You should watch this side,” the entrance behind me. So I just stood and watched this area, and the guests came in from behind my back, because the entrance was behind me. But I didn’t see it. I am a very honest person, so I said, “Yes, sir”; I just stood straight looking at a certain area. And then he screamed at me, “Why didn’t you take care of these customers coming from the entrance? You should take care of it!” But how can I see, you know? I don’t have eyes behind [my head]. So next day I was fired. It was the fifth day. [Laughter.] Very strict! Very strict. There is no human warmth! If you make a mistake, you are fired: “I’m sorry.” He didn’t say sorry. [Laughter.] [The manager said not to] come tomorrow, that’s all.

When you come down to the human world, it seems to be warm, but it’s not warm. You cannot handle human life only in terms of human warmness. [Sometimes] it’s very cold: chilly, freezing, and senseless sometimes. So that’s why Sha said, “It even surpasses the autumn dew dripping on the lotuses.” The autumn is pretty cold; and dew dripping on the leaves of the lotus flowers. In the morning in autumn it’s cold, it’s chilly. So this is Sha telling the head monk not to look at only one side, because you have to return, your life must on the ground of human life. What is daily life? Even though you feel good during zazen, that feeling completely disappears and you don’t feel good when you go out of this zendo. It’s pretty cold and chilly. Life is very strict. You cannot always walk in the shadow of human life, you have to walk in the sunshine. Whether it’s hot or it’s chilly, we have to walk.

This is always two aspects there. That means the truth, which no one can escape; you have to seek for the truth. That is really warmness, human warmness. On the other hand you have to come down to the human world – but it’s very strict, chilly, cold. And simple. And impermanent – just like a dewdrop on a lotus flower leaf. The dewdrop drips; next moment, it disappears. It’s very impermanent. It’s very chilly, very cold, senseless sometimes. That’s why Sha said it in that way.

But within his words, apparently his behavior visiting the mountain seems to very comfortable, peaceful, and harmonious, but on the other hand within this walking and visiting the mountain there are enormous energies, sufficient to guide him to reach the top of the mountains. On the other hand, to live his life with all sentient beings; so lots of suffering there. And also, enormous energy there, effort there. But apparently, it’s very peaceful, harmonious. It seems to be no suffering. But lots of energy there. So the quality of this peace and harmony, liberation, is backed by enormous energies, sufficient to reach to the top of the mountains and back, and also to come down to the human world, taking care of human life practically, in a concrete way, whatever you feel. Feeling cold, feeling chilly, feeling impermanent, transiency, whatever: we have to return to this. And also both working together smoothly, that is the point. A bodhisattva has to be in that constantly, without creating any gap. We have to take care of human life with all sentient beings, very smoothly. For this, even though apparently a Bodhisattva’s life is peaceful and harmonious, behind his life there are lots of energies – sufferings, feelings: warm, cold, chilly, impermanent, vast, boundless – wonderful sense there. That’s why Sha said it like this.

Hsueh Tou added the remark, “Thanks for your reply.”

Well no one [says “thank you” in the case], that’s why Hsueh Tou added the remark, “Thanks for your reply.” Hsueh Tou really respects Ch’ang Sha’s answer to the questions in their conversation.

Please read the verse; maybe next time I can say a little bit about the verse. Do you have some questions?


Question: Roshi? I find Ch’ang Sha’s remark, “First I went pursuing the fragrant grasses; then I returned following the falling flowers,” very much like what you told us Tathāgata means in Japanese: just going, just coming. I find a similarity there.

Katagiri: Mmm-hm. True. That’s why just going, just coming is not the just going, just coming you can understand according to your common sense. Just going, just coming is full attention, full energies there. At that time it becomes just coming, just going. That is called Tathāgata.


Question: What does it mean to fall into the weeds?

Katagiri: Falling into the weeds means the implication of descending to the human world. You mean in the notes?

Same Person: In the notes he keeps talking about falling into the weeds. Note one, and note three and note four.

Katagiri: “At first he was falling into the weeds; later he was still falling in the weeds” means before and after he is walking in the mountains in the vastness of existence. Just walking. That’s why only just walking in the human world. So that means first or later, before and [from], same thing, just walking.

Same person: Is seeking the truth existing in the vastness of existence? Is that what seeking the truth is?

Katagiri: No. Seeking for the truth is when your energy is manifested totally. In a moment, from moment to moment, when your energy is manifested or revealed, that is seeking for the truth.

Same person: So then descending to the human world, by contrast, how does that …?

Katagiri: Well, simultaneously there. You cannot separate.

For instance, if you teach dance. You can pay attention to each form of dance. Each form of dance is the implication of each aspect of human life: washing your face, talking with someone, bowing, shaking hands, whatever. That is just falling into the weeds. That is coming down to the human world, taking care of daily life. But simultaneously, a form of dance is not merely a form of dance, because you aren’t satisfied if a form of dance is just a form of dance. Then you don’t want to be a dancer, because there’s really no artistic beauty and grandeur, et cetera. So finally you have to find the true beauty and grandeur and what is the real dance, what is the essence of dance. You have to seek for the essence of dance. But how can you seek for the essence of dance? Every day you have to dance, paying attention to each form of dance. And within this form of dance you are practicing from moment to moment, you have to learn the essence of dance, which is so-called truth. So you need enormous energies to take care of each form of dance. Do you think so?

So the teacher knows pretty well: if your dance slackens, immediately the teacher corrects your form. Even though you don’t like it, you have to do it exactly, you know? As the teacher does it, not according to your own sense. Beyond like or dislike, you have to exactly fit to the teachers’ way. For this, you need lots of energy, don’t you think so? That guides you to develop your dance, and you can learn what dance is.

Learning what the dance is means within the process of dance, you have to have full communication with your whole body, so your whole body catches the dance. That is what? That is movement, dance. So the form of dance is not separate from seeking for the truth of dance. Seeking for the truth of dance is simultaneously taking care of the form of dance. That’s why dance is beautiful.

Same person: So would you say that the form of dance is falling into the weeds?

Katagiri: In a sense, yes, the form of dance is falling into the weeds, yes.

And then if you become a master of dance, both are working very smoothly. Without any attention, it’s working together very naturally. At that time you become a teacher of dance.

Same person: When he said don’t fall into the weeds, why did he say that?

Katagiri: This is ironic commentary. If you emphasize falling into the weeds, in other words if you emphasize always the human aspect of life, it’s pretty easy to be saddened.

Same person: Thank you.


Question: Hojo-san? When you explained that mountain is mountain, you said that we can have total communication with the mountain. Is it possible in the same way to have total communication with human society?

Katagiri: Human society? It is.

Same person: [When it’s human society,] it seems a lot harder.

Katagiri: But I don’t think so. [It’s the] same thing as climbing the mountains.

(Archive Issue: At this point, an earlier part of the recording is repeated for some reason. The remainer of the talk seems to be lost.)

1:15:57 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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