June 6, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

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This transcript is in rough draft stage.

Listen to this talk on mnzencenter.org


Katagiri Roshi: […] [In the previous talk] I mentioned enlightenment and salvation. Enlightenment and salvation, or wisdom and compassion, [are] never separate from each other. You should understand deeply the merging 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 a particular realm of human life; in every single form of human life. [In the] form of standing up, and the form of sitting, the form of talking, the form of washing, there is salvation. If you don’t realize this, no matter how long you study Buddhism, understanding [it] deeply, [still] Buddhism doesn’t make sense for you [as] a human being.

That’s why Dogen Zenji presents [a] very deep understanding [and] also how to take care of everyday life: that is Eihei Shingi. If you ignore Eihei Shingi, Buddhism doesn’t make sense for human beings. If you ignore it, of course religion exists, Buddhism exists, but it is nothing but you are still playing with religion or Buddhism in the world of conceptualization, that’s all. In the world of conceptualization, there is 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 harmony? You have to realize. You have to research. You have to continually make thorough investigation into this salvation.

You understand salvation in a traditional sense, as you mentioned yesterday, but that is that. Salvation for me is to stand up right now, right here, in peace and harmony. That is salvation. 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 [has] really deep meaning for us. Where is compassion?


So today, I would like to say a little more about human consciousness.

Human consciousness is classified into eight kinds of consciousnesses. The first six are called the six senses. The six consciousnesses are the pretty usual senses: a sense of eye, a sense of ear, a sense of nose, a sense of tongue, a sense of body, a sense of mind. Sense of mind means mind has its own object in the broad scale. The sense of mind has everything, visibly or invisibly, as its own object, called dharma. So dharma is the object for the sense of mind.

Those are the six consciousnesses. The first consciousness is a sense of eye. Second, a sense of ears. Third, a sense of nose; smelling something. 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 [are] the same consciousness, but [the] 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 the broad area; not only a particular area called sense of eye, ear, nose, but in every area. So, thinking and visible area, invisible area; and area of science fiction, and area of [prana], which you have never known. [Those things are the object of the] sense of mind, sense of consciousness. That is the 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.] 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 prana. [He chuckles.] You can do it. How broad your mind is working!


And then the seventh consciousness is called manas: manas-vijnana. Vijnana is consciousness in Sanskrit. So, manas consciousness.

Manas consciousness is one the unconsciousness[es], regarded as a foundation for the six consciousnesses. If you translate it into English, manas means ego consciousness. That ego consciousness is a very deep kind consciousness.

Next, the eighth consciousness is called alayavijñāna. Alayavijñāna means seed consciousness or store consciousness in English. It means the fruit of your past life, with lots of seeds of your actions which you have accumulated [from the] beginningless past; that’s why it is [called] seed consciousness. And also, store consciousness means those seeds are stored in alayavijñāna.

So from this point, I think the idea of alayavijñāna is related a little bit with the idea of karma, but alayavijñāna is kind of a karmic consciousness. But on the other hand, if you see [it] deeply, alayavijñāna or karmic consciousness is not the [kind of karma by] which you are apt to fall into fatalism. In other words, the bottom of the eighth consciousness is something more than karmic consciousness. Karmic consciousness is something which you have made, but the very deep bottom of the eighth consciousness is something more than you have made. That is called tathāgatagarbha.

Tathāgata means just going and coming; the energy of just going and coming, going and coming, at super-speed. Literally, tathāgata is called […] Buddha. The characteristic of Buddha is tathāgata: the person who is just going and coming, going and coming, very smoothly. That’s why Buddha is called Tathāgata. And garbha means womb.

So alaya consciousness is kind of a karmic consciousness, but if you really deeply realize it, it’s not alayavijñāna as karmic life, but it is tathāgatagarbha. So, [it is] change. 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, the universal perspective, alayavijñāna turns into tathāgatagarbha. How? It’s not theoretical. [He laughs.] You have to do it. Okay?

So, the interesting point that I want to know and you want to know is how alayavijñāna turns into tathāgatagarbha. But, it is impossible to know it, because it is too quick. When and how alayavijñāna as karmic life turns into tathāgatagarbha, we don’t know. 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 cold air blows in; and then you create lots of fears and instabilities, or uneasiness. So finally, what you have to do is [resolve], “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 a storehouse, store consciousness, and seed consciousness. And then, how does alayavijñāna, the eighth consciousness, become karmic consciousness? You have to understand it in relation with manas consciousness, ego consciousness.

Ego consciousness is a very interesting consciousness. When I was in college, I wrote a thesis on manas consciousness. [He chuckles.] I was very interested in this consciousness, instead of alayavijñāna, so I focused on this one. It’s very interesting.

Manas is related with the six consciousnesses. In other words, manas has the six consciousnesses as its own object. Manas as one of the unconsciousness[es] always appears on the surface of human life, [the] so-called six consciousnesses. That is one point. So always there is a very deep unconsciousness there called ego consciousness, in the bottom of the six senses which you can usually see. And the other point is, manas has the 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 manas: manas, and six consciousnesses. And also the object of the sixth consciousness, usually called the sense of mind, [which is] all dharmas; the sense of mind has all dharmas as its own object. That’s why alayavijñāna has everything as the object, not only manas.

So, manas [has] alayavijñāna as its own object. Is that clear? So, manas has two things, the six consciousnesses and alayavijñāna, as its own object. In other words, manas (Transcriber’s note: he says alayavijñāna here, but probably means manas) has an object in the narrow sense, connected with the usual human life, and on the other hand, it’s connected a little bit with the unconsciousness world.

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

Katagiri: Manas, yes; connected. Alayavijñāna is including the past, present future; so, all things. Ālayavijñāna has everything as its object, and then manas has alayavijñāna as its object.

In other words, if you say consciousness, consciousness should have its own object; otherwise, you cannot say consciousness. [He chuckles.] Because consciousness is characterized by to recognize or to know. How to know? You have to have an object. So very naturally, manas as a consciousness should have its own object: that is the six consciousnesses, and also alayavijñāna. So, the visible world and also the invisible world. Do you understand?

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

Question: Epistemology?

Katagiri: Epistemology. So, ego consciousness is a very minute vibration of consciousness, to separate, to dichotomize – simultaneously, all of a sudden. (Transcriber’s note: By simultaneously, he may mean instantaneously.) Automatically, beyond your speculation. This is what is always happening. When I see this table, immediately I see this table, and then next, ego consciousness always [has] lots of energies. [It is] not only the capacity to separate everything, but also it has lots of energy to continue to contact with the object. In other words, [it is] the “stickiness” to the object.

So that is ego consciousness: separation, and also attachment there. That is very deep, very deep.

How do you know this manas-vijnana, ego consciousness? You cannot realize it through the six senses, because the world of the six senses is very busy, very busy. So, in order to realize the ego consciousness as a basic state of consciousness, you have to make the sixth consciousnesses calm; very calmed down. Ego consciousness is the basic state of consciousness, always supporting the six consciousnesses, so in order to know ego consciousness, you have to make your six senses, six consciousnesses, calm down. That is meditation. Through meditation, then you can touch manas, ego consciousness. That is a realization of how minutely your ego is working. [He chuckles] You can notice [it is] completely something beyond your control. You realize it.

Maybe yesterday I mentioned instinct. Instinct is kind of like this. Basically, instinct is immediate 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; if you realize who you are, simultaneously, you are everybody. So, you’re really deeply who you are, based on ego consciousness.


If you meditate, then you can feel directly who you are, and then very naturally you can behave as simply as you can. Yesterday I mentioned that you should learn the 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 is connected and very sticky – connected with the six consciousnesses. That’s why if you don’t behave in a simple way, the ego consciousness is constantly going, you know? So finally you are confused. So if you really touch ego consciousness through meditation, in other words knowing who you are, then very naturally your life becomes simpler and simpler.

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, you can feel this, you can know. Then naturally, it affects [your] everyday life. So, your life becomes a little simpler.


Yesterday I mentioned that human beings should learn the simplest way of living in the human world from birds and animals, et cetera. Do you remember? And then [someone] asked me, what is the advantage of the practice for human beings? […] That is most important.

What is the advantage of practice for a human being? If you learn the simplest way to live in this world from the birds, why do you have to practice? Why don’t you [just] be friends with the birds, with the animals? That’s why in the ten categories of existence in Buddhism, there is pratyekabuddha, a person who attains enlightenment through realization of the rhythm of nature: listening to the trees, listening to the birds, listening to the creek; that is a Pratyekabuddha. But still there is the Bodhisattva category, and also the category of Buddhas there.

So if the simplest way to live is all that we have to learn, from the birds, from the creek, from nature, you become pratyekabuddha. But it’s not all. That’s not the advantage of practice for human beings. The advantage of practice for human beings is to learn something from the Bodhisattva category, and the Buddhas category. So in other words, you have to learn something more than the birds or animals possess, animal instinct. Animals’ instinct works very simply; that’s why we feel [it is] beautiful. But it’s still killing, and anyway, it’s still dualistic. It is still nothing but behavior always occurring in the realm of the seven consciousnesses. [It is] still all this I want. “I need animals,” so kill it. Still it is a miserable situation. But if you learn something from the Bodhisattva category and Buddha category, then that is not miserable. [It is] completely perfect peace and harmony. Just the 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 the stream of energy, flow of energies. What [about] karmic life? Karmic life is constantly going at super-speed; at that time, karmic life loses 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 the flow of energies going at super-speed; then that is called tathāgatagarbha. That is a bit super-pure, super-good. Super-good means beyond good or bad as human evaluation.

But how do we experience that? We are living in the world of human values, 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 is very close to the 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. But if you kill something, I think, you can go far from it. Because 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 the famous statement of Buddha’s teaching [is], “Do something wholesome; do not do something unwholesome.” That purifies your mind. This is Buddha’s teaching; it’s a very simple practice. We believe it is a moral sense, but it is something more than moral sense. The meaning of that verse is really supported by the 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 nature. But [then] still you are a pratyekabuddha, so what you have to do as a human being [is] you have to go farther. That is, you have to really realize alayavijñāna and tathāgatagarbha. Because, alayavijñāna and tathāgatagarbha is the basis of the seventh consciousness, manas.

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 meditation you realize the manas, and also the moment when you see the manas, you simultaneously see something more than 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 the ego is working, influencing your everyday life, [the world of the] six consciousnesses. And then we 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. You can see something broad or cosmic.

Why do you want to behave in a simple way when you realize manas? Because manas already has its own place, called alayavijñāna, called cosmic, cosmic state of existence. And then, very naturally, you can feel this. If you feel this, very naturally you want to practice it. So, expressing a simple way of life. Why? Because consciously or unconsciously, you realize, you feel directly, alayavijñāna behind behind manas. You don’t know what it is, but you feel it; that’s why you want to express it. […]

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

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


Question: Hojo-san, you said alayavijñāna is 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 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.

Same person: 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 seed – but, it’s there. Do you understand? That is called, whatever you say: atoms, and particles… [He laughs.] Alayavijñāna is kind of a huge black hole in the Universe. [He laughs.] I don’t know. Anyway, those myriad things working at super-speed. That is, Buddhism says, 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 the stream of a waterfall.” Constantly going.

Constantly going means something permanent. There are three meanings of the permanent in Buddhism. One is the essence of nature, essence of existence, is going permanently. That is understandable. The 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.

Tomorrow, I want to get into the Genjokoan a little bit, as a whole. But in Genjokoan Dogen Zenji mentions that before and after is cut off. But, before and after are coming together. It’s complicated, but that is called intermittence 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 consistently, still we are caught by the concept. It’s not a constant; it’s still intermittent there. Behind the word so-called constantly, your thinking is cut off in pieces. So still you don’t know exactly what the permanent is. That’s why Buddhism mentions three meanings of permanence. So permanence is not permanent; simultaneously you can say that permanence is impermanent. So, impermanence must be found in permanence. Permanence must be found in impermanence. Because, this is reality. That’s why this is a little bit different from the usual sense of permanence.

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

Katagiri: The essential nature of existence is going permanently.

[Tape change.]


Question: […]

Katagiri: No, that’s a different term.

Question: Is there a Japanese term for manas?

Katagiri: Manas is the seventh consciousness.

Question: There is no Japanese for manas?

Katagiri: No. For manas, we say manas.


Question: Hojo-san, when you’re mentioning that 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 that you realize that that’s ego coming in, is that manas?

Katagiri: Yes, ego.

Question: Realizing that it’s ego?

Katagiri: Yes; ego is still working there. Even though you do zazen and are constantly seeing and feeling who you are, how ego is working very deeply, still ego is working. So that’s why very naturally pride is coming up; it’s very difficult to be patient, or it’s very difficult to be humble. Always there is the ego. Even though you see the truth, [the more you see it,] the more you attach to it, because it’s very beneficial to you. Ego consciousness realizes how beneficial realization of alayavijñāna is, and then attaches to it. [He laughs.] And then manas brings that attachment into the six consciousness world.

And then, at that time, manas really forces you to get everyone to believe something you have.That’s why, if you believe something religiously, you’re always forcing people, in many ways: “You should believe this; if you don’t, you are stupid.” [He laughs.] […]

Not only the religious world. [But] 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 does it, you know? “You should express your ego”; “If you ever […] you should express it.” If you don’t feel good: scream, scream. Everyone screams, so, the whole room is screaming. So even though only one person screams, everyone says, “Oh, you’re screaming.” That’s it. So your screaming doesn’t hurt so much, because everyone does it. [He laughs.] The religious world is more complicated. And if you see the religious word, so called peace and harmony, through belief, then you attach strongly. And also the problem is, no one experiences it; everyone behaves in a different way from you. That’s why you strongly believe the truth after practicing hard for many, many years. And then you really attach to your experience, or career, and belief. And finally you put everyone down, because everyone is doing a completely different way. So very naturally, if you want to save people, help people, you force them. If people don’t follow, you fight. That always happens. It’s very dangerous. Spiritual fighting is really miserable. So that’s why we have to realize ego consciousness through meditation, 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.

How can you take care of your life? Sometimes, there is no way. Katagiri is Katagiri; no matter how long I study Buddhism, still something smells. I can’t escape it. But, this is a way for Katagiri. [He laughs.] But I don’t [mean] it is a goal I have to do best. I have to go farther, deeper, until, realizing alayavijñāna as tathāgatagarbha, means, completely you have to touch the base of manas. You should experience stream energy directly. Directly, okay? In other words, you must be on there. You must be right there, instead of understanding through conceptualization – no. Unconsciously you always understand in a conceptualized [way], but it is not the experience of alayavijñāna. You have to directly be right there, beyond the world of conceptualization. Where you should be present is right there. That is the stream of energy, the flow of energy. Then, at that time, this is really 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 [there is] nothing to hurt. If you hurt something, you fall away from it. So that is the Bodhisattva category and Buddhas category; you should learn this. This is the advantage of practice for human beings.

If you are a priest, you should taste and chew and digest what I told you today again and again. And then read this Genjokoan; then you can really feel the spirit. Tomorrow I want to get into this.

One more thing. Usually people say, “You should attain enlightenment. You should be aware. If you’re not 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 the Buddhistic way; no. It’s a complete misunderstanding. Alright?

So, please [try to] understand what I have said today again and again. And then, if you understand what I said: […] even though you attain enlightenment, originally where [are you]? Originally means very basically, profoundly, where [are you] standing. You are standing in the realm of six consciousnesses, or seventh consciousness. Yes, you are. But simultaneously, the very source of your presence is alayavijñāna, tathāgatagarbha. What is that? That is just the flow of energies, which is very pure and clear. So that is called you are Buddha, where all sentient beings exist just like that. We should learn that, okay? Basically, profoundly, you are already present there. That’s why even though you attain enlightenment, still there is opportunity, possibility to manifest this. So how is that? 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. 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, it’s a little bit easier to understand. So tomorrow I want to get into it.

Do you have a question?


Question: Hojo-san, 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 imply 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 [is] attached to the six senses, and also eighth consciousness. So in other words, manas [is] attached to the phenomenal world you live in, and also the not-phenomenal world, so called alayavijñāna. In other words, attached to the cosmic state of existence.

But alayavijñāna itself is completely beyond attachment created by manas, because [is is] constant flow of energies. Alayavijñāna itself is constantly going; [it is] energy in perpetual series. So, even though manas tries to attach, [there is] nothing to attach [to]. It’s impossible. So finally, you can deeply see alayavijñāna; you can really be free from manas.

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

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 that’s […] there, 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 alayavijñāna as karmic consciousness, including the karma in the past, present, future. This is characteristic of alayavijñāna. And also, those seeds and 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 the colors become one. No matter how many seeds are in the store, the whole storage spins, and then all colors become one. It’s not mixed up; each color exists. But right in the middle of flow of activity, all colors become one. So that means a perpetual series. That’s why all karma, different karma, works together, creating the 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 the 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 for the future. [He laughs.]

Question: Since 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 down a stream 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, 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 some great energy beyond your speculation, or judgement, evaluations. What is that energy? From where does it come?

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

Katagiri: Yes! You can feel this!

For instance, in the Second World War, […] 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, the same applied to me. Then I always was ready to die, anytime, anywhere. But when the bomb came, I ran away! [Much laughter; Katagiri laughs.] And chanting the name of Amitaba: “Help, please!” Do you understand this?

Question: [Unintelligible.]


Katagiri: So whatever it is, always there is a great energy to live, beyond your evaluation or judgement from your karma. So what is this great energy? It is just like a white piece of paper, which is always working, coming from the beginningless past. That’s why you want to do it.

But, you want to know how; that’s why [we have] the explanation of alayavijñāna, et cetera; [so] psychologically we understand. But [in reality], everyone experiences [this great energy], simply speaking. That’s why that 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, […] psychologically you may really despair, but at 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. A spinning top. So that’s why it supports your life. It’s not a concept, separate from you; it’s always supporting you, from the bottom. That’s why you want to live, consciously or unconsciously. So then you behave [some way]; that is creating karma, right now.

For instance, when the bombs fell, I ran away and chanted the name of Amitaba, asking him to help me. That is my karma. [He laughs.] I don’t know how to create this karma intellectually. All of a sudden, I do it.


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

Katagiri: All three are connected to each other, but if I explain [them] separately, I think that awareness (kaku) is based on the six consciousnesses.

Question: That’s what you sometimes call awakening?

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

And then shō, originally verification, means the eighth consciousness turning into tathāgatagarbha.

Those three: verification, satori, awareness, are connected, working together.


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

Katagiri: Yes. Yes. That’s why six consciousnesses [are] connected with manas, and also the six consciousnesses are controlled by alayavijñāna. So alayavijñāna is kind of a general in the army. [He chuckles.] Manas is the sergeant. Always giving orders: “you should do it.” And the six consciousnesses are the soldiers. [Laughter.] Okay? Kind of like that. So always the sergeant should get the information from the general, and then order the six consciousnesses, the soldiers: “You should do this, you should do that, such and such,” you know? And then finally, the soldiers realize where the general is. And then, you have to go back to the general and [say], “I’m finished, my duty is over.” Like that.

So, [they are] always connected, something like that.

1:11:38 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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