May 3, 1986 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

List | Previous | Next | Series: Lay Ordination



Listen to this talk on

This transcript is in rough draft stage.


(The group chants the Sutra-Opening Verse in Japanese and English.)

An unsurpassed, penetrating and perfect dharma
Is rarely met with even in a hundred thousand million kalpas
Having it to see and listen to, remember and accept
I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagatha’s words.


Katagiri Roshi: Today, I would like to explain, one by one, the Ten Prohibitory Precepts. (Transcriber’s Note: The first Prohibitory Precept is discussed in this talk. The second was discussed in a talk that followed this one, which is lost. The third is discussed in Turning the Three Poisons into Wheels.)

I think the Ten Great Prohibitory Precepts mean to actualize the embodiment of living in vow which corresponds to the Three Collective Precepts: the precepts of “all Buddha’s laws and rules,” “collective wholesome dharma,” and “collective inconceivable activity for all beings.”

[First there is] the Triple Treasure. Devoting yourself fully to the Triple Treasure is the Buddhist faith. Using your mind and consciousness, you should devote yourself to the Triple Treasure, regardless of whether you understand or not. All you have to do is to move in the deep course of the Triple Treasure; this is the faith. And then, that faith is [three] of the Precepts.

I told you last time, a Precept is to form a habit of a way of living based on Buddha’s teaching. Constantly, every day, you have to form a habit, a custom; this is a Precept. So [for] the Triple Treasure, if you want to know what faith is, you have to form a habit of a way of living based on Buddha’s teaching; this is called faith. Every day you have to do it like this.

And then, if you have Buddhist faith, next you have to receive the Three Collective Pure Precepts, which means the Buddhist vow. Because habit is not the same meaning as “addiction” or the usual [kind of] habit, which may last only for your lifetime. If you want to practice spiritual life, you have to maintain your habit for the long run, life after life, beyond time and space. Continuing forever to form a habit of a way of living based on Buddha’s teaching is called vow. Vow is continually going, in the realm of eternity, beyond time and space, life after life.

And also, vow is no sense of self-attachment, no desire, no individual interest. Habit in the usual sense has self attachment and object attachment, or individual desires, or interest; always they are involved in the usual sense of a habit. But a vow doesn’t have [that].

And now, we have to put this vow into practice in our everyday life. This is the Ten Prohibitory Precepts.


The first Prohibitory Precept: Abstain from taking life.

The commentary says:

Not taking life facilitates the growth of the Buddha seed. We should succeed to the wisdom life vein of the Buddha. Do not take life.

[…] I mentioned that in terms of terminology, precept – or śīla in Sanskrit – means to form a habit. But on the other hand, the deep meaning of the Precept is Buddha Nature, or we say Truth, with a capital T. Or we can say [that] all myriad dharmas themselves are ultimate reality. So to receive the Precepts is to awaken to the Buddha Nature. Even if you don’t understand what Buddha Nature or the Truth is, to receive is awareness.

In other words, if you don’t understand the value of a diamond, but anyway somebody gives a diamond to you and [you] receive it in your hand, that is already awareness of the value of diamond. It doesn’t “hit” your consciousness, but more-or-less it hits your life, in many ways. To receive the Precepts is awareness of Buddha Nature. That’s why to receive the Precepts is important. So that’s why during the ceremony we ask, “[Will] you observe the Precept?” And we say, “Yes, I will!”

“Yes, I will” really makes sense, because we always try to receive something in terms of the intellectual sense, in terms of individual knowledge, individual level of education, individual degree of understanding yourself and others, and then you can [choose to] receive or [not to] receive [what] happens. But in spiritual life, I think regardless of whether you understand or not, to receive the Precepts means to receive Buddha Nature, Truth. Because you have to help grow the true nature, the Buddha Nature, the Truth, so again and again you have to receive the diamond. Even though you don’t understand what it is, somebody gives it to you; then receive, receive, every day receive it. And then that practice helps grow the seed of true nature.

From this point, practice is simple. But your consciousness is always grumbling, always making complaints. That’s why apparently life becomes very complicated. And also, apparently, life is tossed away by consciousness, the [conceptual] world. But actually, if you want to develop your spiritual life, it’s a very simple life: regardless of whether you understand or not, totally you should receive the diamond as it is. And then, this practice helps grow the seed of Buddha Nature.

So, the Ten Grave Prohibitory Precepts are to actualize the embodiment of living in vow.


In the commentary, there are a few difficult terms there.

Not taking life facilitates the growth of the Buddha seed. We should succeed to the wisdom life vein of the Buddha.

To facilitate, and not taking life, and Buddha seeds, and also wisdom life-vein of Buddha: those terms are a little bit complicated. Not complicated, [but] we are not familiar with them. Even though you study Buddhism, we don’t understand these. “Facilitate growth”: what is the meaning of facilitating the growth? What is the meaning of the Buddha seed? How can you facilitate the growth of Buddha’s seed? Where? How? And then, what is the wisdom life vein of Buddha? How can we maintain the wisdom life vein of Buddha forever? How? And also, how do those terms relate with the meaning of not taking life? What do we mean? Lots of questions come up.

But first of all, we have to understand the Buddha’s world. What is the Buddha’s world? What is the Truth? I don’t want to explain the Truth or Buddha’s world, but I think you can a little bit touch what the Buddha’s world is, what the Truth is we are talking about. And then, in the Buddha’s world, we have to continually form a habit of this precept. Not in the dualistic world. So first of all, what is the Buddha’s world?

Usually we say not taking life means “don’t take life.” It means life is here, and then in the future life will be gone, or life will be extinguished. So “don’t take life” means immediately we think life is extinguished, or life is gone. But really strictly speaking, we never understand the real reality that life is extinguished, we never understand the real reality of life and death. No, we don’t. But we [don’t have to] understand it, we have to taste it, through the practice. That’s why [it’s] a little difficult. We don’t understand it, but we have to taste it; we have to touch that core of the meaning of life itself and death itself.

So let’s say life is going to death, and then that is called “I understand the meaning of life and death.” So at that time you think [of] a certain imaginary world that life is extinguished, or life is being extinguished, or life is being gone. And then we say we understand it. For instance, someone dies, Katagiri dies […] and then we say, “Oh, Katagiri died.” People say, “We understand it. Katagiri – die.” We seem to understand that reality [in] which life is being gone.

But, I want to ask you – do you understand the real reality [in] which life is life-ing, or death is dying? Or extinction is being extinguished? Do you understand this real reality? In other words, extinction itself, life itself. Nothing [can be compared] with life; there is nothing. If you say “life,” you have to understand life as it is. So at that time, do you understand life itself, which is called “life is life-ing?”

For instance, when you awaken from sleep, can you understand the real reality that awakening is awakening? Do you? You say, “I understand awakening” – [what does that mean]? [Let’s imagine that] there is a very thin partition. The left side is A, and the right side is B. And then A is the sleeping world, the sphere of sleeping; and then the sleeping goes through this partition and I enter the B world, so-called awakening. So you say, “I awake from sleep.” Then, what do you mean “awakening”? Which kind of awakening do you understand? Which is A and B; what kind of awakening do you understand? Please tell me.

Question: The transition from one to the other?

Katagiri: Yes. The transition – but what do you mean by transition? Transition is questionable too. [He laughs.] (Transcriber’s Note: This section is difficult to transcribe.) [I may still think] awakening [as the transition] is the result or effect of awakening. In other words, the idea of awakening you understand is just an idea, so-called A and B, before or after real awakening itself; you don’t know real awakening, because real awakening is [that you have to pass through this partition]. Temporarily I say “partition”, but this partition means awakening is awakening. This partition is a world [in] which awakening is awakening constantly. This is called moment.

[…] You say this moment – [finger snap] – is still the idea of moment, idea of time, [that] you can catch. But 2500 years ago, already the Abhidharma talked about the very shortest period of time, so-called 1/75th of a moment, or 1/60th of a moment.

Let’s see the world at the sphere of 1/75th of a moment. At that time, are A and B separated? No, I don’t think A and B are separated. They become very close. Where? In the moment, in the sphere of this partition, so-called 1/75th of a moment. At that time, A and B go very fast, at superspeed. At that time, we don’t know what A is. If you say A, immediately it’s B. If you say B, it’s immediately A. That is A and B working together in the sphere of 1/75th of a moment.

So from this point, how do we know intellectually, or with your consciousness? But we have to taste it, because we are always going through this world, because we are always living from moment to moment. Life is quick, very quick. Now I am talking; next moment, probably, I may die. Very quick. In the conscious world, we always understand before or after this sphere of 1/75th of a moment. So [there is] no way to understand. But we have to understand it.

So in this partition, I think we can say awakening is awakening, Katagiri is Katagiri-ing, sitting is sitting. Talking is talking, zazen is just zazen; that’s it. [If] awakening is just awakening, [can I say] “Katagiri is awake”? No. “Katagiri does zazen”? It’s already dualistic.

So what kind of zazen do you understand? You always understand the idea of zazen, before or after. You always understand zazen, or Katagiri, or you yourself: what kind of world do you live [in], what kind of things do you understand? Always ideas, always the conceptual world. In other words, before and after the sphere of the 1/75th of the moment; this is called the conceptual world or idealistical world. So we always ignore that most important world [that] we pass through.

That’s why Dogen Zenji says, “A pine tree transmits pine tree.” “Buddha knows Buddha,” [or] “only Buddha knows what the Buddha is,” this kind of expression comes up. Who knows enlightenment? Who knows what real Katagiri is? Katagiri knows Katagiri. Katagiri transmits Katagiri. [That] means […] the teaching and responsibility are all right here. What is the meaning of awakening? What is the meaning of the understanding of awakening? Where is it? It is right in the midst of the real reality [in] which awakening is awakening, life is life-ing, death is dying. In that world, there is no room to conceptualize, because it is nothing but practice in dynamism.

That’s why in Shobogenzo [Dogen Zenji] says life is the [full] manifestation of total dynamic working, death is the full manifestation of total dynamic working. That’s it. So what do you mean to die? Please die; that’s it. Whether you scream, or whether you say “I am happy to die,” it doesn’t hit the mark. Cry, scream, or whatever you say – within the screaming, within your feeling, within your experience, there is no responsibility, nothing to do for you. What your real responsibility is [is to be] right in the midst of the real reality in which death is dying; that’s all. It’s very simple. But it’s [so simple it’s] hard, because consciousness doesn’t want to accept it, doesn’t want to know what it is. Because consciousness gets used [to] being with the conscious world, so-called before and after the sphere in which life is life-ing, death is dying.

That moment, that world, is called Truth, or the Buddha’s world, because we don’t know what it is but we are there. Our life is completely embraced by this, or we are present from moment to moment right there. That is called Buddha, Buddha’s world, or Buddha Nature. That truth is not something objective; it is the original nature of the self. So the original nature of the self is not something different from the truth; truth and the original nature of the self are one. Because it’s very close, very close.


That is the Buddha’s world; now let’s [look at] facilitate the growth.

Where is the real facilitation of growth? In the conceptual world? What is the source of energy which helps grow, or what is the source of the sphere where everything is facilitating the growth? Where is it? In the conceptual world? Or A world, or B world? Where is it? Tell me. Tomorrow, or yesterday? Where is it?

Student: It’s wherever it is.

Katagiri: Yes it is. Before you put the name on where we are. Because “where we are” is where-ing we are. [He laughs.] It’s just [that] we are going, so there is no room to say something. It is constantly dynamic working; that’s why Dogen Zenji says that life is the full manifestation of total dynamic working. So [there is] no room to conceptualize; just working. And then, if you want to taste this, it is practice. We have to be right on, be right there, [exactly] present there. We have to be right in harmony with. At that time, what is this? It’s not discussion; [it’s] practice in motion. Just you have to do it.

So that is the source of facilitation of the growth. And also, from that source of facilitation of the growth, then there is a Buddha seed. Because that source of helping the growth, facilitating the growth, is [the] seed of Buddha, the source of your energy, so-called life. So there is a seed. If you are there, very naturally [the] seed grows.


[…] And also he said, “succeed to the wisdom life vein of the Buddha.” But wisdom life vein of the Buddha means that source of facilitating the growth, [which] is, well, I think maybe we can say 1/75th of a moment, or we can say Truth, or we can say Buddha Nature. But it is not the idea of 1/75th of moment; it is more than that. It is nothing but energy in motion. And also, it is going eternally. Regardless of whether the world is born or not, it’s going, constantly. That’s why it is called the wisdom life vein of Buddha. It’s going constantly.

So you have to “succeed [to],” you have to maintain this. In other words, you have to continue to be right on, right there. How can you be right on? Only by practice – in motion, in action, constantly.

So when you do gassho, do gassho, that’s all. [In] gassho, maintain gassho. Gassho is gassho-ing: this is the true picture of the world around the gassho. If you want to taste real Buddha Nature through the form of gassho, all you have to do is maintain this form of gassho, in the pure sense. We call this undefiled practice.


[…] In the realm of the partition […] where awakening is awakening, you don’t know. And then, the Precept comes up: do not take life. What should you do? Not taking life [is] coming up: how do you understand, how do you accept this precept [of] not taking life?

Already before you take this precept of not taking life, immediately your computer starts to work and – [clacking sound effects] – lots of lights coming up, you know? And then, at superspeed, you catch the meaning of the idea of not taking life in terms of morality, ethics, and physics, biology. [He laughs.] Very busy, very busy. But it’s very quick; you can do it.

So Buddha gives you the precept of not taking life, and then immediately your computer starts to work. […] You are participating in where? You are already completely before and after. The computer working means already you are participating in a different world [than] Buddha teaches you; already you slip off. You already miss the most important point [that] everyone has to go through: this is called [the] path, this is called the Way. Everyone, all sentient beings, have to pass [through this]; trees, birds, lions, elephants, all things pass through that world. But human beings always …

[Tape change.]

… your computer. The human computer [is not like a] machinery computer, the human computer is working at superspeed, fantastic, more than a computer. You have it, perfectly [working].

So not to take life means already you receive the idea of not taking life. Already you are participating in the dualistic world; that’s why you seem to understand [that life is extinguished], [do not take] life. Dualistically, you seem to understand it; you receive the precept of not taking life dualistically.

But you don’t understand the real meaning of not taking life: not taking life is completely [that] you cannot take life. You cannot take life. Because it’s Buddha’s world. [There is] no room to let your head poke into it, because [it is] just energy in motion, dynamic motion. Awakening is awakening: how do you know this? All you can do is just go through this.

So you have to understand [the] taking life which is taking life is doing taking life. That means not taking life itself. You simply cannot take [the] life [of] anything. That is Buddha Nature, Buddha’s world. So finally, how can you [practice] it? You just be right on, that moment.

So finally, the commentary says, “Do not take life.” That’s it; Dogen Zenji says “do not take life.” [There is] no meaning, no meaning. But you want to have a meaning. [He laughs.] Don’t you? You want to have a meaning. But strictly speaking, [it’s] “Do not take life” – “Yes, sir!” – that’s it. No meaning. And then from this, lots of meaning comes up. That actually is Buddha’s seed, it is a source of energies, so very naturally it grows, many things grow.

But we are always understanding from [the] dualistic world, participating in the completely different world from [what] Buddha mentions. We also understand the Buddha’s teaching itself from a different angle, so we never know the Buddha’s teaching as it really is. That’s why we have to teach real Buddha’s teaching: how do you practice Buddha’s teaching? Even though it seems to be difficult, we have to practice this. Because your life is already like that.


So from this point, the main purpose of Buddhism is not to attain enlightenment. No, I don’t think so. The main purpose of practice is to form a habit as a vow, forever. That is just like taking a journey in the universe. Day by day, step by step, you should move. Like walking in the mist: you don’t what the mist is, you don’t know here you are walking, you don’t know what the merit is. All you have to do is just walk. But everything is a blur. And then somebody comes: “Please, come here. Let’s walk hand in hand.” That is Buddhist practice, okay?

But people understand the main purpose of Buddhism or Zen is to attain enlightenment. That is a false practice, because you already participate in where? [He laughs.] Do you know? Already the conceptual world. Before and after, missing the most important point! If you miss the most important point, you never understand what human life is, you always just understand the surface. But it makes you enjoy, because it is the usual way. [He laughs.] That’s why people enjoy it very much. But they [aren’t satisfied with] that way of life. They have lots of questions. They don’t know how to practice, they don’t know to touch that main important point. That’s why usually everyone [says], “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Better life, better life.” They don’t trust, they don’t feel it is the right way of life. They don’t know how to [practice], that’s why they are always living there [in the conceptual] A or B world, and always going, “Better life, better life, better life.” Do you understand? Let’s develop physics, and then [find out] what’s going on in the human world. [He laughs.] Because they are missing the most important point.

This is the Zen Precepts. The Zen Precepts are difficult to understand. But it’s not necessary to try to understand; I think you should receive it, and form a habit, as a vow. If you have guidance, that’s fine. So Buddha’s teaching, ancestors, and living teachers have to walk hand in hand. This is important, because we don’t know how to practice it, how to maintain [it], [how] to form a habit of a way of living based on the Buddha’s way. We don’t know. That’s why we need guidance.

Do you have questions?


Question: I’ve always understood what we’re doing here, in that we’re trying to get beyond this compulsive choice making that is being encapsulated by dualism…

Katagiri: Mmm.

Question: … But you seem to say more than that, and that is that we’re not even aware of the stream of events or the context in which things are occurring. And it strikes me that the mind inevitably must deal with each individual event or object within a context, …

Katagiri: Yes.

Question: … that is, nothing has meaning unless it’s seen in a stream of events, or as a set of a larger group of objects. It’d be like watching a television program frame by frame, without seeing where things came from and where they’re going. And so it seems to me that unless we deal with individual things within a larger context that we just become ignorant. And then we have to have somebody tell us what to do.

So I guess for me I don’t quite understand the distinction between dualism and what you seem to be saying, not being aware of the context of events.

Katagiri: That’s why I mentioned as an example the A and B. A and B are dualistic world. But if you want to know A and B, A and B both go through this, the world of the 1/75th of a moment. So you cannot ignore the A and B. The point is, you have to understand where you are, from where you understand A and B.

Question: Well, is it then seeing A and B as part of a set?

Katagiri: A and B is kind of a flower, and branches, and leaves. But without the stem, without the root, it’s impossible to grow. What you have to do is, [see] where you are standing. We have to stand up [in] this partition, this world, and see clearly as best as we can where we are standing, and then we can see the A and B in the universal perspective, and we can deal with it. But usually, people stand up [in] A world, or B world, and then understand or deal with only B world. And then A world tries to join into the B world, and then people are fighting and struggling, et cetera. Because they don’t stand up here, [in the partition]. This is the source of your energies, so-called moment. Moment means you have to go through [it]. In order to understand sleep and awakening from sleep, you have passed through this moment. That moment is, I said, awakening is awakening.

Question: Can you fully experience the present moment and still be aware of the context in which it exists?

Katagiri: Yes [you can].

Question: Okay.

Katagiri: That is the zazen we do. That’s why in zazen, we say “throw away all worldly affairs, good and bad, right and wrong.” [He laughs.] We say so, because if you are involved in the [conceptual] world, you already stand up [in] A and B world, dualistic world. So you never sit down here; you are always looking at zazen in terms of either A world or in terms of B world – before, or after. That’s why you don’t know zazen itself.

[Zazen itself] is called shikantaza. Shikan – we say wholeheartedness. But even though you don’t understand it, if you practice following the suggestions, then you can exactly experience it, you can touch it. So that’s why all we have to do is continually to be right on there, right on there, right on there. This is the way of “facilitating the growth of the Buddha seed.” Naturally, it’s growth. But intellectually, we don’t understand it, consciousness doesn’t accept it easily. Because it’s far from it, but it’s too close to know.


Question: Hojo-san? I was just wondering about you using the word moment. [Maybe it’s a] small point here, but I was thinking maybe the word instant would be a better choice of words.

Katagiri: Oh. Okay.

Question: Because the moment sometimes can be like I say, “one moment, please,” and then you wait… [Katagiri laughs] [But you’re] talking about 1/75th of an instant. Because you mean something very brief, no duration.

Katagiri: I see. Okay.


Question: Hojo-san, when you say zazen, sometimes the image I get of zazen is a place where there is no awareness. But I remember Narasaki Roshi’s image of the transparent pyramid. I was thinking of this in terms of [the previous] question.

Katagiri: Transparent?

Question: The transparent pyramid, in which we have thinking, non-thinking, and not thinking, are the three sides of the pyramid.

Katagiri: Mmm-hmm. Yes.

Question: And each is seen through the transparency of the other.

Katagiri: Mmm-hmm.

Question: That’s how in the moment, we do not lose contact.

Katagiri: Mmm-hmm. That means interdependent, interpenetration, something like that. A and B are constantly interdependent, interpenetrating at superspeed. You can see that, if you stand up in this instant world, instant sphere. Instant doesn’t mean instant, okay? [He chuckles.] Instant means eternal world, the vastness of existence. But it is a source of your life. That’s why I say instant or moment. Let me say instant, do you think? [He laughs.] Instant: right there.

And if you stand up there, there are two things and more than two, because around the A world many beings exist, around the B world many beings exist, and those are interdependent, interpenetrating at superspeed. So you can see the really beautiful panoramic pictures.

That is so-called “I use the twenty-four hours instead of being used by the twenty-four hours.” (Transcriber’s Note: This is probably a reference to a saying by Yunmen Wenyan; see The Awakening of Faith: Two Kinds of Nowness.) Usually a human being is used by A and B, they don’t know how to use A and B. So if you want to properly use [the] A and B dualistic world, you have to stand up there, as clear as you can. This is awareness. But if you stand up there, awareness is simultaneously no awareness, [it] drops off. But simultaneously awareness is there. So awareness and no awareness are always interdependent.

Question: Then the important thing is how you respond to the awareness. If you’re at the partition and you know there’s A and B, the dualistic way is to say, “Oh, I have to be at A,” and get all upset, but the way that you’re talking about is to instead put your consciousness into the moment that you’re in, and accept both A and B.

Katagiri: Yes. But – you should accept, but you shouldn’t be excited too much, you shouldn’t be disappointed too much. Not too pessimistic, not too optimistic. [We call that] the Middle Way. You should accept A and B because immediately you can see beautiful pictures, but at that time, that is called you can use it, you can handle it. But don’t be excited too much. You cannot be optimistic, you cannot be pessimistic… you cannot be neutral. [He laughs.] Totally you have to be fully alive, every day, from moment to moment. That’s why [Yun Men] says “Every day is a good day.” (Transcriber’s Note: This is probably a reference to Blue Cliff Record Case 6.) “Every day is a good day” means from moment to moment you have to be alive, just like a leaping fish. But more or less, we feel pessimistic, and then we are bogged down with pessimism. We love the optimistic world, so next moment we are rushing to the other side, and then we’re excited. [He laughs.] So we are always missing this most important point: the Middle Way.

I don’t mean you should always [be] “calm”. [He laughs.] Excitement is always coming up, but within the excitement, how much do you excite? This is a question. How much? I don’t know. [He laughs.] It’s natural for excitement to come up; I don’t mean you shouldn’t make excitement. You can see the excitement naturally, because it’s dualistic. But a question is, how do you accept excitement to the minimum – in other words simply, as simple as you can.


Question: Hojo-san? In what you’re saying about being with the moment rather than attaching with A or with B, how does it fit in with the sense of sometimes needing ideas to guide you, or ideals? Or imagining, say, a social situation in a different kind of way, and working toward that? Is that…

Katagiri: Ideal image? What do you mean?

Another person: Kind of your problem solving.

Katagiri: Oh, problem. Well, [there are] many problems, so it depends on the problem. Sometimes a small problem and sometimes a big problem, and sometimes you can find the solution by yourself, but sometimes you cannot. Maybe you have to find the solution together with people; sometimes it takes a long time. Lots of kinds of problems. But even though it takes a long time to solve, anyway from moment to moment, basically the base where you stand up is constantly that sphere I mentioned, that sphere where you are neither excited too much nor pessimistic too much.

Question: But in that process is there a place for your imagination of an idea?

Katagiri: Sure, you can use lots of imagination.

For instance, in my case, I have to [give a] talk in English, you know? And then if look at myself, this is big problem for me, still a problem. And then, how can I find a solution to this? But basically, I have to stand up always in that Middle Way, constantly stand up. And then, I can use lots of ideas. [A] beautiful image, so-called “eternal possibility.” [He laughs.]

Do you understand “eternal possibility”? [I say that because] a friend said to me, “Katagiri, you are stupid, because you are always awake only when you’re reading a book in English.” Not in Japanese; if I read the book in Japanese, I started to sleep. [Laughter.] But [reading it] in English, I was pretty busy with looking at the dictionary, so I was awakening! [He and everyone laughs.] So my friend said, “You are stupid.” He put me down; and then next he scooped [me] up again and said, “But, your capability of English is eternal possibility.” [Everyone laughs.] Do you understand? I didn’t understand at the time. [Everyone laughs.] So it’s not criticizing, but it’s not good. But it’s not bad. So constantly the Middle Way. [He laughs.]

So I can think. I can think of a beautiful, ideal image of my life. I don’t think I should handle my life in terms of certain ideas, so-called “I am stupid,” or “I am a particular person”; I don’t think it’s necessary to do that. Constantly we have to think something; we have to stand up in the middle, and also use the [wellspring of] ideas. But if you start to use ideas, people are always excited too much, or pessimistic, so you cannot do it. But [you] experience excitement, many things.

1:07:32 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.

List | Previous | Next | Series: Lay Ordination