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Shobogenzo: Genjokoan – Talk 1, Part 2

June 6, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Transcribed by Kikan Michael Howard

This transcript is still in rough draft form.

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Buddha’s teaching. In other words, I mentioned, enlightenment and salvation. Enlightenment and salvation, or wisdom and compassion, (are) never separate from each other. So, you should understand deeply the emerging of enlightenment and salvation.

I think enlightenment is seeing deeply into the human world, human beings, and next, salvation is to realize how to put enlightenment into practice. In other words, how to save yourself. How to get peace and harmony, in every single form of your life. Not in the particular realm of human life; in every single form of human life. Stand up, position of stand up, form of standing up, and form of sitting, form of talking, form of washing; anyway, there is salvation. If you don’t realize this one, no matter how long you study Buddhism, understanding deeply, Buddhism doesn’t make sense for you, for a human being. So that’s why Dogen Zenji presents very deep understanding, and also everyday life, how to take care of everyday life; that is Eihei Shingi. If you ignore Eihei Shingi, Buddhism doesn’t make sense for human beings. But if you ignore: of course, religion exists, Buddhism exists; but it is nothing but still you are playing with religion or Buddhism in the world of conceptualization; that’s it. In the world of conceptualization, no end of fighting. Constantly fighting, constantly arguing, constantly struggling for human life. Always. So, you have to know where is salvation, where is peace. Where is peace? Where is harmony? You have to realize. You have to research. You have to continually make thorough investigation into this salvation.


… Traditionally you understand salvation, you mentioned yesterday - but that is that. But salvation for me is to stand up right now, right here, in peace and harmony. That is salvation. From this, from that state of existence, you can really take a deep, slow, long breath. And then you can make a big space, where you can really accept all sentient beings. That is salvation; so called compassion, we say. So compassion is really deep meaning for us. Where is the compassion?


So today, I would like to say a little more about the human consciousness. Human consciousness classified into eight kinds of consciousnesses. The first six are called six senses. The six consciousnesses are pretty usual senses: eye sense, ear sense; a sense of ear, a sense of nose, a sense of tongue, a sense of body, a sense of mind. I think sense of mind means … mind has its own object in the broad scale. Anything. A sense of mind has object; you know the sense of mind has everything, visibly, invisibly, as its own object, called dharma. So, dharma is object for sense of mind. That is the sixth consciousness.

The first consciousness is a sense of eye. Second, a sense of ears. Third, a sense of nose; tasting something… no excuse me, smelling something. And fourth, sense of tongue. Fifth, sense of body; touching. Sense of tangibility, kind of like that. And then sixth is sense of mind, sense of consciousness.

All the same consciousness, but consciousness appears in a different area; in the area of the eye, area of vision, area of auditory… something like that. So, at that time it is called sense of eye, sense of ear, et cetera. But in sense of consciousness, it is really the working in broad area, not only particular area called sense of eye, ear, nose… in every area. So, thinking and visible area, invisible area, and area of scientific vision; and area of pranic, which you have never known. (Prana on Wikipedia) So those stuff are its own object. That is called sense of mind, sense of consciousness. That is sixth consciousness.

So that’s why your mind is working very broadly, very broadly. Even though you’re sitting there, your mind is working everywhere - don’t you think so? You can go any place. [Laughter.] In heaven, hell… All of a sudden, you can go to heaven. All of a sudden, you can go to hell. All of a sudden you are daydreaming, playing with angels, in unknown pranic. You can do it. So mind, how broad your mind is working. That is the sixth consciousness.


And then seventh consciousness is called manas: manas-vijnana. (Manas-vijnana on Wikipedia) Vijnana is consciousness in Sanskrit. So, manas consciousness. Manas consciousness is one the unconsciousness(es); regarded as, what would you say, a foundation? A foundation for six consciousnesses. Is that clear? Foundation from where six consciousness exist; that is a foundation. So manas means ego consciousness. If you translate it into English, you say ‘ego consciousness’. That ego consciousness is a very deep kind of ego consciousness. So called manas-vijnana as one of the unconsciousness.


Next is eighth consciousnesses, called alayavijñāna. So alaya is seed consciousness or store consciousness in English. Alayavijñāna means seed consciousness or store consciousness. Seed consciousness, alayavijñāna means the fruit of your past life. Fruit of your past life; with lots and lots of seeds of your actions. So alayavijñāna has lots of seeds of your actions which you have accumulated; beginning-less past. That’s why it is alayavijñāna; seeds consciousness. And also, “store consciousness” means those seeds are stored in alayavijñāna. So that is eight consciousness.

So from this point, I think the idea of alayavijñāna is related a little bit with karma, idea of karma. But this is, the alayavijñāna is kind of a karmic consciousness. But on the other hand, in a deep sense, if you see deeply, alayavijñāna or karmic consciousness - it is not the consciousness which you are … the act which you fall into fatalism.(?) In other words, the bottom of the eight consciousness is something more than karmic consciousness. Karmic consciousness is something which you have made. But very deep bottom of eighth consciousness is something more than you have made. So that is called tathāgatagarbha. Tathāgata means just going and coming; energy of just going and coming, going and coming at the super-speed. We call tathāgata, literally, that is called ??? or buddha. Characteristic of buddha is tathāgata: a person who is just going and coming, just going and coming, very smoothly. That’s why Buddha’s name is called Tathāgata. And garbha means the womb. So, everyone, the eye consciousness is kind of karmic consciousness, but if you really deeply realize it, it’s not alayavijñāna as karmic life, but it is tathāgatagarbha. So, change. So little bit… that’s why, in other words, if you continually see human life in terms of human life, your life is always alayavijñāna, karmic life. Karmic life, constantly karmic life. But if you see your life in terms of Buddha’s eye, universal perspective, alayavijñāna turns into tathāgatagarbha. How? It’s not theoretical. [He laughs.] You do it. You have to do it. Okay?


So, between how alayavijñāna turns into tathāgatagarbha: that is the interesting point I want to know, and you want to know. But, impossible to know it - because, too quick. Too quick. When, how, alayavijñāna as karmic life turns into tathāgatagarbha, we don’t know. But it’s really something which exists day to day, if you do it. But if you think of it, it’s impossible. Always there is a crack between, through which all this cold air blows in; and then you create lots of fears and instabilities, or uneasiness. So finally, what you have to do is: “I will do it,” just do it. That is your final determination.

So that is alayavijñāna, okay? Let’s understand alayavijñāna like this.

So, alayavijñāna is the eighth consciousness, regarded as a karmic structure for your life. How? They say because, this is straw house … store consciousness, and seed consciousness. And then, how alayavijñāna, eighth consciousness, becomes karmic consciousness? You have to understand it in the relation with manas: manas consciousness, ego consciousness.

So, ego consciousness is very interesting consciousness. When I was college age(?), I wrote a thesis on manas consciousness. [He chuckles.] I was very interested in that consciousness, instead of alayavijñāna, so I focus on this way. It’s very interesting.

… Manas is related with six consciousnesses. In other words, manas has six consciousnesses as its own object. In other words, manas … unconsciousness always appears on the surface of human life, called six consciousnesses. Alright? This is one point. So always there is a very deep unconscious ego consciousness… very deep unconsciousness there, called ego consciousness, in the bottom of your six senses, which you can see usually. And the other one is, manas as eighth consciousness, alayavijñāna as its own object, too.


Question: What’s the object of alayavijñāna? Manas?

Katagiri: … [He laughs.] Yes, manas. Alayavijñāna has not only the manas. Manas, and six consciousness. And also the object of the sixth consciousness, called a sense of mind, usually. All dharmas… the sixth consciousness, sense of mind, has all dharma as its own object. That’s why alayavijñāna has everything as the object, not only the manas. So, manas is alayavijñāna as its own object. Is that clear? So, manas has two things. Six consciousnesses, and alayavijñāna, as its own object. In other words, alayavijñāna has object in the narrow sense. Connected with human life, usual human life. On the other hand, it’s connected with, a little bit, unconsciousness world.


Question: That’s manas you’re talking about?

Katagiri: Manas, yes. Connected. So, alayavijñāna is including the past, present future. So, all things. Ālayavijñāna has everything as object. And then manas has alayavijñāna as object. In other words, if you say consciousness, consciousness should have its own object; otherwise, you cannot say consciousness. Because consciousness is characterized by “to recognize”, or “to know”. So, how to know? You have to have object. So very naturally, manas as a consciousness should have its own object. That is the six consciousnesses, and also alayavijñāna. So, visible world and also invisible world. Do you understand?

That’s why manas is very interesting; because, it is foundation of ego, foundation of six consciousnesses. Manas is ego consciousness, means… how can I say… The first stage of conscious vibration. Conscious vibration means to make separate; to separate everything, simultaneously. That is … well, philosophically, what would you say? I forgot term… that is the one of the philosophy; to know, to recognize; study of recognizing.

person: Epistemology?

Katagiri: Epistemologies. So, the ego consciousness is very minute vibration of consciousness, to separate, to dichotomize, simultaneously. All of a sudden; automatically. Beyond your speculation. That is (what) always happens. When I see this table, immediately I see this table. And then, next, ego consciousness, always lots of energies. Not only the capacity to separate everything, but also to have energy; it has a lot of energy to continue to contact with object. In other words, sticky character to object.


So that is ego consciousness. Separation; and also attachment there. That is very deep. Very deep. So that’s why… how do you know? How do you know this manas, manas vijnana, ego consciousness? You cannot know; you cannot realize through the six senses. Because the world of the six senses are very busy, very busy. So, in order to realize the ego consciousness as basic state of consciousness, you have to make sixth consciousness calm; very calmed down. Because, ego consciousness is basic state of consciousness, always supporting six consciousnesses, okay? So in order to know ego consciousness, you have to make your six senses, six consciousnesses, calm down. That is meditation. Through the meditation, then you can touch the… manas, ego consciousness. That is a realization of how minutely your ego working. You can notice. Completely something beyond your control; you realize it.


Maybe yesterday I mentioned instinct. Instinct is kind of like this. Basically, instinct is immediately ego consciousness; manas. But if you realize manas as ego consciousness, you can feel very deeply who you are. Not only you, but including others. Same. If you realize who you are, simultaneously, you are everybody. So, you’re really deeply who you are, based on ego consciousness.

And… Oh, where am I (in the presentation)…


Question: You said that ego consciousness is the same as everyone. Is that what you mean to say?

Katagiri: Mmm, no, something else. I want to say something else…

Question: When you touch this… Can you touch this self that you’re talking about? Or is there an object that you can sense it in a way?

Katagiri: ???

Question: You were talking about meditation calming your mind?

Katagiri: Yeah, okay. If you meditate, and then you can feel directly who you are, and then very naturally you can behave as simple as you can. Yesterday I mentioned you should learn simplest way of life, from birds and animals, et cetera. So if you really touch ego consciousness, you can know a way to behave or to act in the simplest way. Because, it’s very deeply connected. Ego consciousness connected and very sticky - connected with the six consciousnesses. That’s why if you don’t behave in simple way, the ego consciousness constantly going, you know? Finally you are confused. So through the meditation, if you really touch ego consciousness, in other words, knowing who you are, very naturally your life becomes simpler and simpler. Okay?

That’s why meditation is very interesting for us. If you do it, very naturally you know, you realize it. Even though you cannot explain it, but you can feel this one; you can know. Then naturally it affects into everyday life. So, your life becomes even simpler.


Yesterday I mentioned human beings should learn the simplest way of living in the human world, from birds and animal, et cetera; I mentioned, do you remember? And then the ??? asked me, what is the advantage of the practice for human being? Then next, that is most important. What is the advantage of practice for human being? If you learn simplest way to live in this world from the birds, why do you have to practice, you know? Why don’t you learn, why don’t you befriend with the birds, with animals? That’s why in the category of existence in Buddhism, there is pratyekabuddha. Pratyekabuddha, a person who attains enlightenment through realization of nature; listening to the trees, listening to the birds, listening to the creek. That is a Pratyekabuddha. But still there is a Bodhisattva category, and also Buddhas category there. So if it is all which we have to learn, simplest way to live, from the birds, from the creek, from nature - you become pratyekabuddha. But it’s not all. It’s not advantage of practice for human beings. Advantage of practice for human beings is to learn something from the Bodhisattva category, and Buddhas category. So in other words, you have to learn there’s something more than birds. Birds possession. Possession? Or animals possession, animal instinct. The animals instinct works very simply; that’s why we feel (it is) beautiful. But it’s still killing and … anyway, it’s still dualistic. Still it is nothing but the behavior of … occur in the realm of seven consciousnesses. Still all this “I want”. So “I need animals,” so, kill it. So still it is a miserable situation. But if you learn something from Bodhisattva category and Buddha’s category, then that is not miserable. Completely perfect peace, harmony. Just energy of life going, beyond good or bad, right and wrong. That’s why, if you realize the alayavijñāna as tathāgatagarbha, alayavijñāna can be seen as just stream of energy, flow of energies. What karmic life? Karmic life is constantly going at super-speed; at that time, karmic life uses its own flame, because it goes fast. So very naturally, if you see very deeply through the practice of meditation again and again, then alayavijñāna can be seen very deeply as nothing but flow of energies going at super-speed. Then, that is called tathāgatagarbha. That is a bit super-pure. Super-pure; super-good. Super-good means beyond good or bad as a human evaluation. But how do we experience that one? Because we are living in the world of human value, based on good or bad, right and wrong; how do we approach to it? That’s why tathāgatagarbha’s world is super-pure, and the super-pure which is very close to ethical, moral world we belong to.

So if you do something good, you come near to this. Not exactly, but you can come near to it, you can approach nearly to it. That’s why… But if you kill something, think, you can go far from it. Because that tathāgatagarbha’s world is very pure and clear. So, if you do something good, you can come close to this, but if you do something wrong, you can go back, opposite. That’s why famous statement of Buddha’s teaching: “Do something wholesome; do not do something unwholesome.” That purifies your mind; this is Buddha’s teaching. It’s a very simple practice. But, we believe it is a moral sense. But something more than moral sense. Meaning of that verse is really supported by very deep meaning of religious teaching.


That is alayavijñāna. If you realize the ego consciousness, you can learn how to behave, how to act in the simplest way. So, very naturally you can share your life with the birds, and trees, and you love, and nature. But still, you are pratyekabuddha. So what you have to do as a human being, you have to go father. That is, you have to really realize alayavijñāna and tathāgatagarbha. Because, alayavijñāna and tathāgatagarbha is basis of seventh consciousness, manas.

So… manas doesn’t exist alone. Because, manas always has alayavijñāna as object. That’s why manas always sees something deep, some deep things. So, through the meditation, and then you realize the manas. And also, the moment, the way you see the manas, you see simultaneously something more than the manas. Something beautiful behind the manas. You don’t know yet, at that time. If you go deeply, you can touch the manas; that is ego consciousness - how minutely ego is working, influencing your everyday life, six conscious worlds. And then you realize, “We should behave in the simplest way.” Just like a stream of water. Why? Because behind it, there is something beautiful. You don’t know what it is… but, something. So you can see something broad or cosmic. You can see.


Why you want to behave in simple way when you realize manas? Because manas has already its own base. Place. What is called alayavijñāna, called ‘cosmic’. Cosmic state of existence. Then, very naturally, you can feel this. If you feel that, very naturally, you want to practice it. So, expressing simple way of life. Why? Because, consciously or unconsciously, you realize, you feel directly alayavijñāna behind. Behind manas there is alayavijñāna. You don’t know what it is, but you feel it; that’s why you want to express it. Manas.

And then, very naturally, people proud of themselves. “I am saint.” That is ego. [Laughter.] And then, you must be free from idea of saint. That is, experience directly alayavijñāna. Then alayavijñāna turns into tathāgatagarbha.

Okay? Is that clear? [He chuckles.] Little bit complicated, huh?


Question: Hojo-san, is alayavijñāna… you said it’s the fruit of your past actions, it includes the seeds of your future. It’s also the fruit of the cosmic aspect?

Katagiri: Yes. Yes, that’s true. Everything. Everything has it. But - how those hinge, in the past, in the present, in the future, is stored in that consciousness, how it works. At super-speed.

Question: So it’s consciousness of that, of how it works, when you’re in alayavijñāna.

Katagiri. Yes. That’s right. So, without leaving any trace of each single phase(?) - but, it’s there. Do you understand? That is called, whatever you say - atoms, and particles… *[He laughs.]* Alayavijñāna is kind of a big, huge black hole in the Universe. [He laughs.] I don’t know. Anyway, those mediate things working at super-speed. That is Buddhism, so it’s interdependent co-origination.

Question: So, in that consciousness, you perceive the whole stream of karma.

Katagiri: Yes. Stream; that’s why in Buddhist psychology, the definition of alayavijñāna is “just like a stream of water fall”. Constantly going. Constantly going means something permanent. (There are) three meaning of the permanent in Buddhism. One is: essence of nature, essence of existence, is going permanently. That is understandable. Second: change. As origination, and extinction, origination, extinction, origination; appearance, disappearance… are going in perpetual series. That is the second meaning. In other words, change is going in perpetual series. Third: intermittence. Intermittence is going in perpetual series. Okay? That’s why, tomorrow, I want to get into the Genjokoan a little bit, as a whole. But the Genjokoan that Dogen Zenji mentions, before and after is cut, cut off. But, the before and after coming together. Well, it’s complicated. That is called intermittent of time. Is going in perpetual series. At that time, intermittence is not longer intermittent; it’s permanent, because it’s going, constantly. But even though you say the consistently, still we are caught by the concept. So it’s not a constant. It’s still intermittent there. By the word so called “constantly”, your thinking is cut off in pieces. So still you don’t know; you don’t know exactly what the permanent is. So that’s why Buddhism mentions three meanings of permanence. So permanence is not permanent; permanence is impermanent. Simultaneously, you can say. So, impermanence must be found in permanence. Permanence must be found in impermanence. Because, this is reality. This is a little bit different from the usual sense of permanence.

Question: Sorry, I missed the first of the three components…

Katagiri: Essence, essential nature of existence, is going permanently.

[Tape change.]


Question: …

Katagiri: No, that’s a different term.

Question: Is that the Japanese term for manas?

Katagiri: Manas is seventh consciousness.

Question: There is no Japanese for manas?

Katagiri: For manas; we say ‘manas’. No.

Question: Hojo-san, when you’re mentioning, when you’re behaving morally and ethically, you say “I’m very good boy,” “good saint” and so forth, and then that’s ego. At the moment you realize that that’s ego coming in, is that manas?

Katagiri: Yes, ego.


Question: Realizing that it’s ego?

Katagiri: Yes; ego still working there. Even though you do zazen, and constantly seeing, feeling who you are, how ego working very deeply; but still, ego working. So that’s why, very naturally, pride coming up; it’s very difficult to be patient, or it’s very difficult to (be) humble. So always there is the ego. Even though you see the truth, the more you attach to it, because it’s very beneficial to you. [He chuckles.] The ego consciousness understands, realizes how beneficial realization of alayavijñāna is; then, attach it. [He laughs.] And then, manas brings that attachment into six conscious world. And then, at that time, manas really force you to get anyone who should believe something you have. Do you understand?

That’s why, if you believe something religiously, you’re always saying, force(ing) people, in many ways, “You should believe this one; if you don’t, you are stupid.” [He laughs.] So … Okay? Not only religious world. If you deal with religion, it’s very dangerous because you don’t realize how hurt people get, through this ego. But in the usual sense, it’s very quick, and everyone expresses ego; that’s why you don’t feel how much you hurt people. Because, everyone do it, you know? “You should express your ego,” if you ever… you should express it. If you don’t feel good: scream, scream. Everyone scream. So, the whole room is screaming. So even though only one person scream, everyone says, “you’re screaming.” That’s it. So your screaming doesn’t hurt so much, because everyone do it. [He laughs.] Religious world is more complicated. And if you see religious word, so called peace and harmony, through the belief; then you attach strongly. And also the problem is, no one experience(s) it. Everyone behave in a different way from you. That’s why you believe strongly the truth after practicing hard for many, many years. Then, you really attach to your experience or career and belief. And finally, you put everyone down, because everyone doing completely different way. So, very naturally, if you want to save the people, help people, you force them. If people don’t follow, you fight. That always happens. It’s very dangerous. Spiritual fight is really miserable. So that’s why we have to realize through the meditation, ego consciousness, and then, you can feel directly who you are. And then, manas, ego consciousness, has alayavijñāna as object, which means you feel karmic life, through realization of manas. You can see. Karmic life.


How can you take care of your life? Sometimes, no way. Katagiri is Katagiri. No matter how long I study the Buddhism, still, something smells. I can’t escape it. But, this is Katagiri’s; this is a way for Katagiri’s. But I don’t mean it is a goal I have to do best. I have to go more farther, deep. Until, realizing alayavijñāna as tathāgatagarbha, means, completely you have to touch, in a base of manas. You should feel directly, or experience directly, stream energy. Directly, okay? Directly. In other words, you must be on there. You must be right there. Instead of understanding through the conceptualization - no. Unconsciously you always understand in conceptualized; but it is not the experience of alayavijñāna. You have to directly, anyway, right be there. Beyond the world of conceptualization. That’s why, what you should realize, where you should be present: right there. That is stream of energy, flow of energy. Then, at that time, this is really cosmic. Cosmic. So whatever you may be, all you have to do is just be there, and go. But that is nothing to hurt anything, because in that realm of the world, all sentient beings are included. So, nothing to hurt. If you hurt something, you fall away from it. So, that is bodhisattva category and buddhas category; you should learn. This is advantage of practice for human being.

Is that okay? Is that alright?


Then, if you (are a) priest, again and again you should taste and chew and digest this, what I told today. Again and again. And then, read this Genjokoan; you can really feel the spirit. So tomorrow, I want to get into this one.

So… one more thing. Usually people say, “You should attain enlightenment. You should aware. If you don’t aware, if you don’t realize, if you don’t attain enlightenment, you are not Buddhist.” You are a stupid guy. [Laughter] That is not Buddhistic way; no. It’s completely misunderstanding. Alright?

So, please understand what I said today, again and again. And then, if you understand what I said, I think, very naturally, even though you attain enlightenment… originally where you are. Okay? Where you are. Originally mean very basically, very profoundly, where you are standing. You are standing in the realm of six consciousnesses, or seventh consciousness. Yes, you are; but simultaneously, very source of your presence is alayavijñāna, tathāgatagarbha. What is that? That is just flow of energies, which is pure and clear, very pure and clear. So that is called, “You are Buddha”. Where all sentient beings exist, just like that. We should learn that one, okay? So basically, profoundly, you are already present there; that’s why even though you attain enlightenment, still (there is) opportunity, possibility to manifest this one. So how that is? That’s why I say, finally: when you do gassho, please do gassho. That’s it.


Dogen Zenji mentions, from the beginning just like this. That’s why it’s a little bit difficult to understand. That’s why you should digest what I said again and again; then, if you get into this Genjokoan, a little bit easier to understand. So tomorrow I want to get into.

Do you have a question?

Question: I have a question about manas. You said back here that it leads you to act in a simple way, deeply connected and sticky. Sticky seems to apply attachment. And perhaps I’m being hung up on a word, but it seems like attachment’s what we’re supposed to think about not doing. So what is manas attachment to?

Katagiri: Manas attached to the six senses, and also eighth consciousness. So in other words, manas attached to the phenomenal world you live, and also not-phenomenal world, so called alayavijñāna. In other words, attached to cosmic state of existence. Okay?

But alayavijñāna itself is completely beyond manas, attachment created by manas; because constant flow of energies. Alayavijñāna itself is constant… constantly going. Energy in perpetual series. So, even though manas try to attach - nothing to attach. It’s impossible. So finally, you can really see, deeply, alayavijñāna. You can be free from manas.

But manas is always, we have alayavijñāna as object; that’s why all we have to do is, finally, what? Experience alayavijñāna - cosmic world. Then, don’t attach to it. Constantly deepening your experience. Don’t stay with it. So, always deepening, deepening, deepening. Constantly going deeply, deeply, constantly. So, forever. You have to do it.

Question: That means let go of it rather than sticking to it.

Katagiri: Right.

Question: But then return to it.

Katagiri: Yes.


Question: Hojo-san: in that context, the context of past, present, future karma, is all stream, is all connected, is always, always there, it can’t not be there. How can we create karma? We talk about all “all the karma we’ve ever created,” that sort of thing. But if we’re just part of that stream, how do we create karma? I don’t quite understand that.

Katagiri: How do you create the karma in the past, or in the future?

Question: In your life.

Katagiri: In your life? In the present?

Question: Right now. How are we creating karma now. How did we create karma.


Katagiri: Because of the, I think, alayavijñāna as karmic consciousness, including the karma in the past, present, future. This is characteristic of alayavijñāna. And also, those seeds of karma, come together, working together, creating what? Just this flow of energy. That’s it. Like a spinning top, with lots of colors on the top. When the top spins, all color become one. No matter how long, how many seeds in the store, in the whole store, spin. And then, all colors become one. But it’s not mixed up. Each color exists. But right in the middle of flow of activity, all color become one. So that means a series, perpetual series. So that’s why karma, all karma, different karma, working together, creating flow of energy in perpetual series. At that time, you don’t know what the karma is. So that means, basically, you have a karmic life, but basis of karmic life is just like a white paper. Exactly white paper. That’s why whatever you want to do, you can do it. And then you can put the new seed there. So the future… okay…

Question: I still sense that we’re, basically, what we perceive as our consciousness, our ego, is circumstantial to everything else. I still don’t quite grasp how we create karma then. It would be like a twig going downstream, deciding where it was going. It doesn’t really decide anything, there’s no… so, what are you saying, we just observe the karma?

Katagiri: That’s why I said the example, the spinning top, with lots of color? Yes. So, I think the … look at your energy to live. Plainly speaking, look at the energy to live. Whatever you think from your karmic life: you want to stop living, or you don’t want to stop living, or, so-so. Whatever you think, there is something, great energy beyond your speculation, judgement, evaluations. What is that energy? From where it comes?

Question: So does that pertain specifically to what you think is your self?

Katagiri: Yes! You can feel this one. For instance, in Second World War, I was electrician in Japan. Before I went to the Air Force, I had decided to die anytime, anywhere, for Japan. [He laughs.] That’s human beings. You can have a strong patriotism for America, you know? You have it, otherwise you are not American. [He laughs.] So, same applied to me. Then, I always am ready to die, anytime, anywhere. But when the bomb comes, I run away! [Much laughter; Katagiri laughs] And chanting the name of Amitaba: “Help, please!” Do you understand this one?

Question: ….



Katagiri: So, whatever it is, always there is a great energy to live, beyond your evaluation, judgement from your karma. So what is this great energy? Great energy is just like white piece of paper, which is always working, coming from the beginning-less past. That’s why you want to do it. But, you want to know how; that’s why this is explanation of alayavijñāna et cetera. Psychologically, we understand. Realistically, everyone experience like this. Simply speaking, like that. That’s why, that strong energy, great energy is just like a white piece of paper. You can put anything. Under all circumstances, you want to live. In the middle of a situation, still you want. Psychologically you really despair, but in the bottom, still you want to live. Because as long as you feel despair, that despair is backed by great energy to live. Otherwise, you don’t feel despair. Do you understand? So, great energy is just like a white piece of paper, beyond your speculation. But it is not a concept called “white piece of paper”. It is just total working of energy. Spinning top. So that’s why it supports your life. It’s not concept, separate from you. It’s supporting you always, from the bottom. That’s why you want to live. Beyond conscious or unconscious. So then, you behave; that is creating karma, right now.

For instance, I run away when the bombs fell, and then I run away and chant the name of Amitaba, asking him to help me. That is my karma. [Laughs.] I don’t know how to create this karma; not intellectually. All of a sudden, I do it.


Question: But you talked about three kinds of enlightenment: awakening, satori and shō(?). Would you take about those three in terms of the eight consciousnesses?

Katagiri: I think the awareness, ??? awareness, … all three connected to each other. But if, separately, if I explain. Awareness is based on six consciousnesses. Awareness.

Question: That’s what you call sometimes awakening?

Katagiri: Awakening. Awareness. Understanding; something like that. And then, satori is to feel directly manas. That is satori. Very deeply you feel who you are, as well as feeling other people. You can feel an experience of something more than you. Okay? Through you. That is satori.

And then shō(?), originally verification, means eighth consciousness; turning into alayavijñāna; no, no, no; turning into tathāgatagarbha. That is shō. Those three: verification, satori, awareness; connected, working together.

Any others?


Question: Hojo-san? Can some of the first consciousnesses you talked about, like the ear, also be connected to the very deep level of the stream of consciousness?

Katagiri: Yes, yes. That’s why six consciousnesses. Six consciousnesses connected with manas; and also, the six consciousness is controlled by alayavijñāna. So alayavijñāna is kind of a general, in the army. General. [He laughs.] Manas is the sergeant. Always orders; you should do it. And six consciousnesses is the soldiers. Okay? [Laughter.] Kind of like that. So always sergeant should the information from the general, and then order the six consciousness, the soldiers: “you should do this, you should do that, such and such.” And then finally, the soldiers realize where is the general. And then, you have to go back to the general and finish, “my duty is over,” like this.

So, always connected. Something like that.

end of recording

Next Talk: Shobogenzo: Genjokoan – Talk 2