March 9, 1983 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

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Katagiri Roshi discusses the rhythm of causation, which is not falling into cause and effect and not ignoring cause and effect. Representing cause and effect is Layman P’ang; representing freedom from cause and effect or emptiness is the monk Ch’uan. If you understand emptiness, you can become sick of emptiness. To avoid Zen sickness, offer a turning word. Also: Teaching without doing is not a good deal.


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(Transcriber’s Note: The Case is included here for reference. Probably Katagiri Roshi read it, but the recording starts a bit late.)

When Layman P’ang took leave of Yao Shan, Shan ordered ten Ch’an travellers to escort him to the gate. The Layman pointed to the snow in the air and said, “Good snowflakes—they don’t fall in any other place.”

At the time one of the Ch’an travellers named Ch’uan said, “Where do they fall?” The Layman slapped him once. Ch’uan said, “Even a layman shouldn’t be so coarse.” The Layman said, “Though you call yourself a Ch’an traveller this way, the King of Death still won’t let you go.” Ch’uan said, “How about you, Layman?” Again the Layman slapped him and said, “Your eyes see like a blind man, your mouth speaks like a mute.”

Hsueh Tou said besides, “When P’ang first spoke I just would have made a snowball and hit him with it.”

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


Katagiri Roshi: … transiency and impermanence is moving and changing. Everything is moving and changing, but they don’t move at random. There is some reason why everything moves and changes. That is the law of causation: cause and effect.

So you have to understand cause and effect. Simply speaking, cause and effect is… well, through cause and effect we have to understand human karmic life: personal karmic life and also common, non-personal karmic life – common retribution [and] personal retribution through the law of causation. Personal retribution is if you do something good, you can get something good as a result. But common retribution [is that] if you do something, your behavior really affects others, affects society. So through the teaching of the cause and effect we have to understand personal karmic life and also common, not-personal karmic life, [which is] influencing everybody, and also society, and nations, and birds and trees. That is a very important teaching.

But anyway, today I want to say a little bit [more] about this cause and effect, because cause and effect also has its own rhythm. That rhythm is not falling into cause and effect, but not evading or ignoring cause and effect. Simply speaking, you cannot ignore cause and effect, but on the other hand you cannot be bogged down with cause and effect, you must be free from cause and effect. This is a very important [matter].


So two things: not falling into [cause and effect], but not ignoring cause and effect. These two aspects of cause and effect are always moving simultaneously, showing front, showing back, just like a piece of paper with two aspects, front and back. This is causation. So you cannot ignore the causation, but you cannot really attach to causation, you have to be free from it.

According to [the first] point, in Buddhism, cause and effect are the same, not different. For instance, according to this koan,

“Good snowflakes—they don’t fall in any other place.”

Temporarily, let’s think in this way: snow is cause, ground is effect. So the cause is snow, and the effect is the ground, so very naturally, if snow falls, the snow goes to the ground. If you think like this, the cause is different from the effect, the effect is different from the cause. But in Buddhism, cause and effect are the same, because the cause – snow – is nothing but energy, [and the effect] – ground – is nothing but energy.

According to Einstein’s theories, whatever [you consider] – not only spiritual life, not only the air, not only energy itself, but even these kind of fixed, solid beings – if you see deeply into solid beings, you come to reach at the ultimate point, which is called energy. Solid beings turn into energy. What are solid beings? Tape recorder, these notes, this table. All are completely energy. Or in Buddhism we say Buddha, or dharma nature. Dharma nature is a little bit philosophical term; if you experience it personally through your daily living, dharma nature is called Buddha, Buddha Nature.

So what is snow? Snow is energy. Finally snow as a cause is energy, strictly speaking. Ground, as effect, is also nothing but energy. So from this point [of view], cause and effect are the same.

Energy is a sort of power […] which makes a thing what it really is, which lets things become in as-it-is-ness. In other words, energy is something [in] which what is just is. From this point, snow and snowflakes and ground are not different, they are exactly energy; the cause and effect are the same. From this point, you never fall into causation, you can be free from it. That is called “snowflake is Buddha,” “ground is Buddha,” “sky is Buddha,” “clouds are Buddha.”

So from this point, you cannot fall into causation, because effect and cause are the same. But we have to think about this energy or Buddha, because it is power which makes a thing what it just is. That means Katagiri becomes Katagiri. A woman becomes a woman as she really is; a man becomes a man as he really is.

Katagiri was born in 1928, then studied and graduated from university, became a monk, and also I have had to practice and study Buddhism up to now, et cetera. But according to not falling into causation, cause and effect, baby [Katagiri] and Katagiri now [are] not different; Katagiri is Katagiri, no difference. That means always from moment to moment everything turns into energies. That means from moment to moment Katagiri becomes Katagiri, Katagiri becomes [working] as I really am. That’s all I have to do.

So in terms of the kind of motion or action called to become, or to function, or to work – or according to this koan, to fall – that means the snowflakes move to another place, a special place. Or Katagiri becomes Katagiri means Katagiri [transforms into] another Katagiri. [Or] woman becomes woman; at that time woman becomes real woman. What is this? [For example,] a mother. Mother is not an idea, mother is [the] function [or working] of a woman, not a category. Anyway, in order to become a mother, you have to become a woman as she really is. What is this? To give birth; to become a mother from moment to moment. But what is it to become a mother? To become a mother is not something particular, because just a woman becomes just a woman, that’s all. But what do I mean a woman becomes a woman? That is, in order to understand woman [transforming into] real woman, at that time you have to know the truth which you cannot ignore, cause and effect. What do I mean? That is you have to give birth; the woman can have a baby.

In terms of function or work, so-called becoming, I become what I really am, that means I [transform into] real I. That means already cause and effect. How should I do it? I should transform [into] real Katagiri as Katagiri, as teacher of Minnesota Zen Center. From this point, this is cause and effect.

So very naturally, according to the function [or] the work of the snow, that means fall. In terms of the action called fall, snow is working on the basis of causation, because it’s moving: so-called snow and ground. What do I mean? If you don’t ignore cause and effect, that means snow becomes snow as it really is, and then at that time very naturally there is cause and effect; you cannot ignore. But simultaneously, snow becomes snow is snow becomes snow. No causation. So when you become really you, there is cause and effect – but simultaneously there is no cause and effect. That is the rhythm of causation.

Like zazen. If you do zazen, this is zazen. But according to not falling into causation, all you have to do is [just] zazen is energies, you are energies. So from this point, zazen is what? Buddha. Katagiri is what? Buddha. So regardless of whether you sit or not, you are Buddha. But according to the function of Katagiri, the function of zazen, zazen moves to real zazen. Katagiri becomes real Katagiri as I am. At that time, there is causation, very naturally. Well, there is causation, but it is not the usual [sense of] causation, because in the rhythm of causation all you have to do is just achieve continuation of movement. Because from moment to moment you have to become you, what you are. This moment, and next moment, you have to become what you are. To become what you are is to not ignore causation but simultaneously not fall into causation, because you [are] just you. You are just you is just energy, Buddha.

So [in terms of] zazen, sitting in zazen is zazen becomes zazen, you become you; that is called zabutsu, which means sitting buddha. That is in terms of not falling into causation, because zazen is energy, zazen is Buddha, [and] you are Buddha already. So Buddha sits in the seat of the Buddha, Katagiri sits in Katagiri’s seat, but this is nothing but Buddha, [or a] Buddha [act]. So Buddha becomes Buddha. That means according to becoming, there is cause and effect. But […] what is the cause? That is a Buddha cause. That’s why when you sit down in zazen, that is zabutsu, meaning sitting buddha.

So you become you, zazen becomes zazen. At that time it is called zabutsu: sitting buddha. And also next moment there is cause and effect: that effect is [satsbutsu], which means killing buddha. That means [at the time of] you become you, zazen becomes zazen it is called oneness. Katagiri becomes exactly Katagiri, [so] it’s not necessary for me to emphasize [myself]; I am here. [If] I am really present with aplomb and dignity and imperturbability, I don’t think it’s necessary to carry the placard of my existence, you know, in order to get people’s attention. All I have to do is just let the flower of life force bloom; just like the tiny flowers blooming in the heart of the mountains even though people don’t pay attention. So all I have to do is I become I. That means no trace of Katagiri; [just] oneness. So sitting buddha is, next moment as a result, killing buddha. So I becomes I, what I am, is really no I. This is the effect.

So finally all we have to do is what? Shikantaza: just sit down.


You remember, Huang Po Zen Master bowed to the Buddha in the Buddha Hall, chanting the triple treasure: “I take refuge in the Buddha, dharma, sangha.” By chance a monk passed by the Buddha hall, and he asked, “Buddha’s teaching doesn’t mention you should expect anything from the triple treasure. Why do you bow to the Buddha?” Huang Po immediately slapped his face, and then said, “I don’t expect anything from the triple treasure.” From this point, cause and effect completely become zero. No causation.

But nevertheless, the monk didn’t understand, that’s why he asked, “But you are bowing! Why do you bow?” Then [Huang Po] slapped him again and said, “I just bow like this.” It means function, just function. In the realm of function, there is cause and effect, naturally [coming] into existence.

So that is called not ignoring cause and effect. But simultaneously, you cannot be bogged down with the idea of causation. What do I mean? From moment to moment, you have to let the flower of your life force bloom. That’s all you have to do. That is called you are not falling into causation, but simultaneously it is not ignoring, not evading causation.

That’s why [in this case] the monk next says,

“Where do they fall?”

This question is already, “Where do they fall?” Where are the snowflakes heading for? To the ground? Or the middle, between heaven and ground? Or some part of space? Where are they heading for? That question is pointing to nothing but the function of the snow, just the function. Because in terms of energy, snow becomes snow, snow is just snow – because snow is not snow, snow is energy, ground is energies. So, no cause and effect. That no cause and effect means snow becomes just snow as it really is. And that means function of the snow. In terms of the function of the snow, naturally you can see the rhythm of causation.

So real causation – freedom of causation or respect of causation – is the rhythm, the function of your life. If you don’t make your life work, it’s [dull]. Completely it doesn’t work, because you ignore cause and effect. So whatever happens, you have to make your life work, because this is the rhythm of the universe, the rhythm of life, called cause and effect.

Simply speaking, this rhythm of cause and effect is impermanence, transiency. Transiency is not pessimistic, emotional, sentimental feelings. That’s why you have to understand carefully, with sharp eyes and sharp mind, seeing deeply into the structure of human existence. That is the moment. All human lives are completely condensed into the moment. Within the moment, all sentient beings exist. This is the philosophy according to Abhidharma. You have to understand [this] with your whole body and mind, not only with your head. You have to understand and make it clear, seeing this until it’s the bottom of the ocean, the bottom of the river. This is [a start]. Regardless of whether you understand or not, day by day you have to study, think, contemplate some aspect of Buddhism. Because this is the best way of taking care of your life, according to not falling into cause and effect. Because everything is energy. So all you have to do is to return to the source, return home. What is home? That is energy.

That is zazen. [It is a] simple form, simple practice: let’s return home. That’s why zazen is return home and sit in peace and harmony. What is home? Home is just energy. In Buddhist terminology, it is Buddha.


Dogen Zenji comments […] on the statement, “Supernatural powers and their wondrous functioning: hauling water and carrying firewood.” (Transcriber’s Note: This is in Shobogenzo Jinzū: “On the Marvelous Spiritual Abilities”. The statement is from a verse by Layman P’ang.)

Hauling water and carrying firewood are nothing but daily living. Hauling water and carrying firewood are not something you do, they are nothing but tuning into the rhythm of the universe – not only tuning in to the rhythm of your life, but also the rhythm of the universe. That is energy. So hauling water is hauling water you do, but hauling water is the manifestation of Buddha. That is called supernatural power or spiritual power.

But Dogen Zenji says we don’t understand this; no one understands this. That’s why we don’t pay attention to it. But even though we don’t understand, it is really true. So we have to move toward this.

For instance, we wear the okesa, or rakusu, Buddhist robe. We know the meaning of the rakusu and robe, but when you walk in the countryside, lots of frogs and crickets in the fields or country land, they don’t understand the robe. The robe is the robe of great liberation, compassion! But they don’t understand. Immediately they jump up, to escape from your robe. Bird, dog, cat, never understand it. We understand it – a little bit. But still we don’t understand that this robe is the total manifestation of Buddha’s compassion and wisdom; we don’t understand this. If you understand, sometimes you misunderstand, because you expect something extra from this Buddhist robe – called wondrous light, called wisdom, or Buddha’s compassion, or magic. I don’t think so.

So people don’t understand this. Sometimes people understand the rakusu and robe as mysticism – mysterious stuff. [But] the robe appears as compassion when you become what you are, and then at that time your mirror can accept the robe as compassion. At that time the robe becomes compassion! But when your mirror doesn’t accept the robe, at that time the robe becomes nothing but a piece of cloth.

So only when you see Buddha’s robe as Buddha, it becomes Buddha, Buddha’s compassion. But you don’t see it; that’s why you cannot have any opportunity to see that the robe is Buddha’s compassion. But whether you understand or you don’t understand, Buddha’s robe is nothing but Buddha’s compassion. That’s why in the Lotus Sutra [it says] you should wear the robe when you teach, because wearing the robe is the practice of patience. The practice of patience is total acceptance. Total acceptance is total response of the whole universe. That is called supernatural power, but we don’t understand this. That’s why we always ignore it, and sometimes we are really mad at this.

[Tape change.]

… [But it is] really true. So if you don’t understand, we have to move toward that. This is everyday practice.

So Dogen Zenji says that people don’t understand. Not only the crickets or frogs or snakes; when you come across [people] on the road, they don’t understand the meaning of the robe, the meaning of the compassion human beings possess. But human beings possess compassion and wisdom, and peace and harmony are there, even though they don’t understand. Even though dog or bird tries to escape from you, you always say, “Come on, I won’t bite you. Please, stay here, in peace and harmony.” You continue to tell them, but they don’t understand. And also they don’t have any idea, any power, or any intention to move toward that [compassion], even though they don’t understand it. But a human being, if we don’t understand, we try to know. That’s pretty good. So if you don’t understand, try to move toward that. This is everyday life.

So, “Where do they fall?” – that question is really a key point. This [question] is always nothing but function itself. You have to make your life work, from moment to moment, without falling into causation and without ignoring causation. What is that? Just functioning. Just make your life function. That is the question, “Where do they fall?”

So this monk Ch’uan’s question is pretty good. Seemingly that question means that he is really dumb, but I don’t think he’s dumb; he knows pretty well. His question is a pretty good question, manifesting how we should live. How we should accept the snow, how we should accept cold, how we should accept ground. How we should haul water, carry firewood.


And then,

The Layman slapped him once. Ch’uan said, “Even a layman shouldn’t be so coarse.”

This is the story. So apparently, [Ch’uan says,] “Don’t do that, you’re very rude.” But (as the note says), this is kind of a dead man’s blinking in the casket. It doesn’t work. [He laughs.] It means what are the snowflakes heading for? We don’t know. But we know pretty well. The question itself has lots of meaning, anyway. We don’t know because [maybe] snowflakes melt before they touch the ground, or sometimes the wind blows and then they’re blown away. They are not always [reaching] the ground, so we don’t know where they are heading for. But there is cause and effect: falling down.

“A dead man is blinking his eyes in the casket” means it stinks of uselessness, but in uselessness there is some function there. [Your life is really a dead body means] your life doesn’t work, you don’t know what life is. You don’t know what is [aliveness]. Why do you live? What’s the purpose of your life? Can you know that? Even though you do zazen seriously: what is zazen? Still you don’t know. You do, but that doing is kind of always a question – you know, “What is zazen? What is the purpose of zazen? What’s the purpose of life? Why should I help human beings?” Always we do that, you know? That question is nothing but the blinking: appears, disappears. Is that blinking the real person blinking? No, it’s dead, because we don’t know, we never catch it. We never catch it means is the dead man aware, is he really in the functioning world? No, it’s really a casket. It doesn’t work. […] Whatever you see, whatever part of your life you pick up, you don’t understand it. You do, but that you do means just blinking. But it’s not real blinking; you’re dead. The dead person is just blinking in the casket. So finally you are disappointed.

But anyway, in the casket you have to be alive. There is aliveness, there is a leaping fish – not in a particular place, out of the casket or inside of the casket, no. You are already in the casket. If so, in the casket we have to find a leaping fish. You can do it. How do we do it? No matter how long you think, it doesn’t work. You should leap. You should move.



The Layman said, “Though you call yourself a Ch’an traveller this way, the King of Death still won’t let you go.

… because there is no particular way to go. Because wherever you may go, everything turns into energy. Is there a particular place you have to go? No place. In space? In the ground? No space. Even on the verge of life and death, there is no other way to go. Should I jump off the top of a cliff? If you jump, you die. But can you stay there on the top of the cliff? You can’t. What should you do?

Intellectually, there is no way. Not intellectually – actually, according to the law of causation, there is no way to go! But you cannot stay on the top of the cliff. You have to move. That movement or practice is completely “one, two, three, jump!” No other way. Because you become you, what you are right now. In gassho, gassho must be reflected in your mirror, in your mind, in your life; at that time, gassho becomes real gassho. But if you don’t understand gassho, if you don’t understand zazen, questioning and complaining about it, well you cannot do zazen. So whether you understand or not, you just jump into it. At that time, that functioning of your life very naturally creates not ignoring cause and effect, because you just achieve continuation of movement, practice. That leads you to connect with tomorrow, very naturally; development, very naturally; deepening, very naturally; depth of your personality, manifestation of personality, very naturally. But we don’t know! Because it’s big. But there is nothing else to do. So you have to do it like this.

Temporarily, we say that is called supernatural power.

So, even “the King of Death still won’t let you go”. There is nowhere to go.


Ch’uan said, “How about you, Layman?” Again the Layman slapped him and said, “Your eyes see like a blind man, your mouth speaks like a mute.”

“Your eyes see” your object. It means, if you see zazen, become one with zazen, at that time zazen melts into you, becomes one. At that time, you are not you in zazen; just zazen is blooming. So at that time you are just like a blind man. So it says “Your eyes see like a blind man’s.” It seems to be criticism, but it’s not criticizing in the deep sense.

“Your mouth speaks like a mute.” When you hear the sound, you become one with the sound, very naturally, if your ears work. Because the sense organ of your ear accepts its object and assimilates it simultaneously. That is called the whole world becomes one. […] Sound and ear, that is causation. But simultaneously around the sound, around the ears, there are many conditions there, in space, in time. So when you hear what you hear, the sound, what your sense organ of your ear assimilated with its object means [it is] assimilated with the whole world.

And then next moment, consciousness joins with it, and then we don’t understand. Consciousness [is] very narrow. But physically, just a ping, just like touching a guitar string. Whoever you are, if you touch the guitar string, you can make a sound. This is really physical rhythm, physical world. But if consciousness joins this function of the sense organ or the ear and its object, so-called sound, and then judges it, [with] consciousness you really pick up one [thing], forgetting everything. So you don’t understand it.

But intuition is wonderful, because [with] intuition you immediately get the total picture of this room, including you and the gong, et cetera. Everything – visible and invisible. Intuition is not only consciousness, [it is] something more than consciousness. [Intuition is] communicating with your mind, communicating with your physical situation, through the past, to the future. That is intuition; completely beyond control.

But intuition is still intuition, still part of consciousness. Function is a little different.

So if consciousness joins with the function of the sense organs, sense object, then consciousness makes everything narrow, for consciousness just focuses on one thing. And then we say, “Aha. That is the sound of the gong.” That is a judgement, evaluation. Next moment, immediately, do you like it? Or don’t you like it? [You say,] “I don’t like it.” But you have to be here, so you cannot escape from hearing the sound. So you hate it, you hate it, you hate it… finally, you scream. If you scream, screaming leads you into bewilderment, so you cannot stay here. So finally, you leave. Something like this is stumbling, always. That is human suffering, constantly.

So all you have to do is, if you hear the sound, you become one. You become one with the sound in terms of functioning itself. At that time, the functioning of your ear [is communicating] with not only your object, but also the whole world. This is the function of your sense organs. [It is] very natural.

So at that time, you become one with the sound. At that time, just the sound there. So your ear doesn’t manifest itself, but it’s behind [the sound]. So it’s like a mute. But the sound is alive, with you, simultaneously.

So this sentence is kind of a criticism, but it’s not criticism, it is really praise, admiring this monk.


And then,

Hsueh Tou said besides, “When P’ang first spoke I just would have made a snowball and hit him with it.”

“I just would have made a snowball and hit him with it” means just the snow. It means snow becomes snow! It means let snow become as snow really is. When you see the snow, you become one with the snow, that’s all you have to do. This is function.

By functioning, there is naturally [the] truth of not ignoring cause and effect. Very naturally within the functioning of your life with the snow, very naturally there is the development of your life. And also the functioning of your feeling, and emotions, and consciousness, your physical situation – all works there. So first of all, you have to grab the snow, becoming one with it. That’s all we have to do.

And then, “hit him,” throwing [the snowball], means show it. That is supernatural power: just show it. It’s not necessary to hit him, it’s show. Hit means directly, without wobbling, just show it. Just like mountains: just sit down, show.

That is Hsueh Tou’s comment, “When P’ang first spoke I just would have made a snowball and hit him with it.”

Do you have some questions?


Question: Could you give an example of falling into cause and effect?

Katagiri: […] You cannot fall into it, anyway. [He chuckles.] If you fall into causation, you don’t understand causation. So you cannot fall into it.

On the other hand, you cannot fall into it doesn’t mean you should completely ignore causation. So you cannot ignore it; it doesn’t mean ignore. That is the real meaning of causation.

For instance, my wallet or purse falls on the ground. There is not much money, anyway. [Laughter.] Anyway, my wallet is my wallet: if my wallet falls on the ground, I have to pick it up and put it in my pocket. But let’s look at this very simple example. (Transcriber’s Note: Katagiri Roshi actually says “purse” most of the time in this example, but since he talks about putting it in his pocket, I assume he meant “wallet”.)

According to not falling into causation, both my wallet and my wallet on the ground [are mine]. The wallet I had or the wallet on the ground are [both] money. So from this point, the wallet I had and the wallet falls on the ground in relation with cause and effect, but [both] are money. So finally, all I have to do is, I have to take care of the wallet [as money,] as my life. So from this point, I cannot fall into causation; cause and effect are the same […] because they belong to me. But what do I mean? How do we understand this? We understand through the function, so-called fall and pick up. It falls, that’s why I have to pick it up.

That is fall, pick up. But fall and pick up are also I [drop], and I pick up. So fall and pickup are the same, not others. I [drop it], I pick it up. But according to not ignoring cause and effect, if I don’t pick it up, someone will pick it up. Someone will pick it up means someone will get some trouble. So I have to take responsibility for my actions: I [drop it], so I have to pick it up, instead of leave it there.

Everything is just like this. Do you understand?

The two wallets are the same, and [drop] and pick up all belong to me. So everything [is the] same thing; so cause and effect [are] the same. From this point, you cannot fall into causation. That means equality.

But you cannot mix up everything. Because, I [dropped it]. It’s functioning; wallet is functioning, going down to the ground; and going up from the ground to me, that is picking up. Everything is function. In terms of functioning, all I have to do is I must be I, as I really am, in relation with the wallet. How? I should be one with the wallet. What is that? Pick it up. Just pick it up. Why do you have to pick it up? Because if you don’t pick it up, you give people trouble. So you have to pick it up. That is cause and effect. You cannot ignore cause and effect, because you live with all sentient beings.

But on the other hand, there is no cause and effect, because everything belongs to me. You don’t care; it’s not your business! So if I want to pick it up, I can pick it up; if I don’t want to pick it up, I don’t want to pick it up! But that is completely ignoring the rhythm of cause and effect, so you [give] people trouble.

You cannot ignore cause and effect, that’s why you have to just be one as wallet. I have to be what I am. What do I mean? I becomes one with the wallet. To become one with the wallet means pick it up. Why do I pick it up? Because I have to live with all sentient beings. I cannot give any trouble to anybody. Regardless of whether my motivation is good or bad, someone picking it up and putting in their pocket is already trouble. So you have to pick it up. This is life according to cause and effect.

But on the other hand, everything is yours. Everything is yours means you can [do] whatever you do. You can go everywhere.

But you cannot go everywhere, because every day, you drop something and you have to pick it up. Because drop means that you act every day. You act means you drop something, you leave your trace. So you have to pick it up. If you don’t, you give trouble to people.

From moment to moment, you have to take responsibility for your life like this, but on the other hand, every moment you are free. So you can go anywhere, you can do anything, as you like. But on the other hand, there is [that] you cannot do as you like, because you have to live with all sentient beings.


Question: Hojo-san? In that example, you dropping your wallet, if you got mad and just dropped it and it was a problem to pick it up, or somebody else might pick it up instead, is that a form of falling into causality?

Katagiri: Somebody [picks] it up. [He laughs.] [Laughter.]

Question: If you get angry because of the inconvenience?

Katagiri: If you’re angry with somebody?

Question: Angry at the wallet.

Katagiri: Angry… at the wallet. [Laughter.] You’re angry?

Question: Yes, angry! [Laughter]

Katagiri: [Chuckles.] Well, angry is not the angry you think. Angry is nothing but energy, because you cannot control it, don’t you think so? It just comes up. [He laughs.] Anger is energy. From this point, did you make the anger? No. You didn’t make it. You don’t know exactly from where it comes. But it comes because under the conditions, it comes up. So in terms of this function of the anger, only when the time is right, conditions arranged, very naturally there is cause and effect. Okay? Immediate cause and effect, because conditions are there, and anger comes up. That is the function of anger.

So according to the function of that anger, that means anger becomes anger. What do I mean? Anger becomes anger means it’s beyond your control, and that means anger is nothing but energy.

Question: Yeah, I see that. I guess I was looking at it as maybe an indication of somebody falling into cause and effect… of losing… Maybe I’m not sure exactly what it means to fall into cause and effect.

Katagiri: Fall into cause and effect means you just see the one-sided idea of cause and effect. But cause and effect is not an idea or concept which your life can be molded into. No. So very naturally cause and effect becomes a kind of a symbol of a controller. Do you understand? That control is coming from you, but it’s not a controller. So if you see the cause and effect as a controller, you become sick: sick of cause and effect, sick of causation.

For instance, zazen. Zen is just do it. And then you’re always saying, “Just do it. Just do it.” Just do it becomes conceptualized. [He laughs.] That is called sick of zen (or perhaps Zen sickness). So we have to show something else, a different one. If you fall into sick of Zen, sick of “just doing,” you have to show something. That is study. Keep your mouth shut, study. Use your head. That is called ittengo, which means one turning word. So that is not falling into, but not ignoring: add a turning word.

We are always […] becoming sick. If you understand emptiness, you become sick of emptiness! [He laughs.] Particularly if you understand emptiness and it works in your life, you really become sick. Oh my goodness, it’s worse! [So you say,] “You should do it, you should do it!” Teaching is already you become sick, you know? If you become sick, then you can teach, anyway. [He laughs.] That’s why the teacher must be careful. Do you understand this? [He chuckles some more.]

Well, the important point is that you do, you [initiate]; that is best. But if [you are] teaching [first] and then you do, that is not good.

For instance, if you initiate to do something, you can get eighty percent of the merit, anyway. [He laughs.] But if I teach you and then do, you can get eighty percent of the merit, but I can get [only] twenty percent of the merit. So teaching is not a good job. If I’m always teaching and you do something, then I get twenty percent of the merit; you get eighty percent of it. That’s pretty good (for you). [Laughter.] So initiatively, you have to do it, you know?

For instance, Takuan Zen Master, who […] trained and cultivated Miyamoto Musashi? He taught swordsmanship. [One winter, the student] asked a question, [something like,] “What kind of merit can a teacher get?” So Takuan Zen Master called his servant: “Come here, servant. Would you wipe away that snow in the tree?” And then [the servant] went under the tree and shook the tree and brushed away the snow. And then the snow fell on his head, and he yelled, “Oh! Cold!” [He laughs.] And then Takuan said, “That’s enough. Thanks very much.” So the swordsman [student] returned to the point and wanted to ask the same thing, but Takuan said, “I already gave the answer.” Because teaching is I teach, I order the servant to brush away the snow, but [the snow falls on the servant] – that means eighty percent of the merit. [Laughter.] So he said, “That’s enough; thanks!” [He laughs.] But he taught, he asked him to do that, that’s why got twenty percent of the merit. [He laughs.] Do you understand this?

Well, forget it. [Laughter.]

(Transcriber’s Note: I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible the above story is from a Samurai movie. According to Wikipedia, that is where Takuan is portrayed as the mentor of Miyamoto Musashi.)

Well, that is a little bit going away [from the point]. [He chuckles.] But function is very important, anyway. You should do.

1:12:52 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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