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Katagiri Roshi discusses how and why we should devote ourselves to dharma. He says that in Japanese, devotion is kie or kimyo, which mean to return to something true or ultimate, which is universal life. Devotion must be practiced in terms of two points: one is that you have to walk alone, realizing the simplest expression of existence, and the other is that you must be compassionate, open to everything. He relates this to Shakyamuni Buddha’s statement that “you should rely on the self; you should rely on the dharma,” and to passages from Muni Sutta, Khaggavisana Sutta, and Mettā Sutta. And he discusses how to deal with problems in the community while standing in the dharma.

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Good morning. It seems like we haven’t had a talk on a Saturday for a long time. For me, it seems to be for many years. [He laughs.] Anyway, I am very glad to have this opportunity today.

The other day one of the students asked me about devotion. He said we are often “duped” by devotion. I don’t know why, but he said so. I thought it was because he was too involved in his individual personality or individual world; his understanding was not over a wide range. Not only him, but for anyone, if your understanding is very narrow, you are duped by whatever it is: dharma, Buddhism, Christianity, or even the self – you are duped even by the idea of the self. So today I would like to talk about devotion.

In Japanese, devotion is called kie or kimyo. The ki of kimyo is “return”, and myo is “life”. Or kie: the ki of kie is “return”, and e is “where you can depend on”. “Where you can depend on” is not where you are groping for now, but where you are already in; that is “the place where you can depend on”. But usually we are groping for someplace we can depend on; and then if we find it, we attach to it very much, individually or personally, in many ways. That is a problem for us. “The place that you can depend on” is not some place or some thing you are seeking for, because you are already right in it. […] “Depend on” means you are right in it.

That is called devotion in English. I don’t know the original meaning of devotion in English, but in Japanese we call it kimyo: “return to life”. Life means the original, ultimate state of life – in other words universal life, covering a very wide range that you are connected with in some sense. You have to return to that life; this is called kimyo or devotion. Dogen Zenji mentions, “You have to return to something true”; this is called “taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,” or “taking refuge in the Triple Treasure.” Very often we chant, “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in Dharma, I take refuge in Sangha.” Devotion is to return to something true, something ultimate. That’s why devotion is important for us.


In general Buddhism, that something ultimate, or the truth, is called dharma. Generally, the idea of dharma […] has two meanings: one is the principle of ultimate being, the second is all things in the phenomenal word. “In the phenomenal world” means not only the phenomenal world, but also including the ultimate nature of existence too – so, everything.

In this case, we understand dharma in terms of these meanings – the principle of existence or ultimate being, and also all things in the phenomenal world – but those meanings are still ideas created by us. This dharma is nothing but the principle of how all sentient beings exist, how all sentient beings are structured. So dharma is still a principle for you – but on the other hand, dharma must be that dharma which you make as living dharma. In other words, you must make the dharma alive. That is a person’s responsibility. That is you. The principle of ultimate existence or ultimate being is a principle, but a principle is a principle, so you have to make the principal alive; that is your responsibility.

That’s why Shakyamuni Buddha says you should rely on the self, you should rely on the dharma. You should rely on the dharma, but simultaneously that is the principle of ultimate existence, common to everything. What does Buddhism believe in? Dharma. So you should believe in the dharma as a principle of ultimate existence, common to everyone, everything. But faith, so-called belief, is something alive. That is you; you have to make it alive. That’s why Buddha says, “rely on the self”.


From this point, the meaning of the dharma connected with the self is not merely the idea of all things we have usually thought, but kind of everything without exception, which means the internal and external factors that your individual existence is constituted of. In other words, the dharma connected with you is something connected in the wide range. Because without you, “all things” doesn’t make sense. Even though you say “all things”, if “all things” are not connected with you, then “all things” doesn’t make sense, because that is nothing but an idea.

Does Japan exist? Japan exists, or an unknown planet exists, someone says, but you have never seen it. You don’t know what Japan is, because you have never been there. So conceptually you have lots of knowledge, but still this is believing in the principle or idea. Of course, Japan exists on Earth, but still it’s an idea. So, I think without us – if the idea of Japan is not connected with your individual life – the idea of Japan exists, but it doesn’t really make sense for your life. There is still some gap between. But if you taste Japan – or the unknown planet – in some sense, I think Japan is no longer an idea, Japan is something real connected with you. It is that kind of pretty deep flavor you can taste on your tongue, with your body. Flavor is not an idea, flavor is your body. Your ideas, your body, and everything connected: that is flavor.

So the dharma connected with your individual life is not an idea of universal things, common to everything, in which you presume an idea of “all things” in advance. Is that clear? But it is all things which exist in the whole wide range, as long as your individual life is connected with it in some sense, or in many senses. That is called dharma, we say.


So that dharma is what is called “something true you can depend on,” which means you can be right in it, beyond whether you are conscious of it or not. That dharma is very pure and simple. It is very tolerant, soft, and flexible – but very sharp, very sharp, because if you poke your head into it, it’s already dualistic.

For instance, I always say that when you see something wonderful, you say, “Wow!” I think the very beginning of the wow is very pure. And then after wow, you poke your head into it, and research it: “What’s that?” And then that is dualistic. At the beginning of saying wow, it is already dualistic, but it is quite pure; it’s very close to the purity. That’s why you cannot explain what it is. Before you explain it, you have a simple expression that is “wow”; that’s it. Or, sometimes, “Mmm”; that’s it. Or sometimes, “Ah.” From ah or mm or wow, which are very simple, you can express a huge world. That is the huge mansion of the dualistic world, consisting of philosophy, psychology, physics, biology – and brains, and the million, million cells, and many things. Then you can build up huge mansions. But there are not many people who live in them! They are always looking at the mansions, saying “wonderful, wonderful!”; that’s it. They never come back to the first stage of the wow, the first stage of dualism.

Dualism is not bad. Dualism doesn’t have any problem, but an important point is how you can deal with dualism. You have to deal with dualism by returning to the first stage of dualism, the first germination of dualism. That is simple, very simple. That simplicity is very close to the truth, or the universe, eternity. That simplicity occurs where? The moment. Just the moment. Very simple.

So the moment and you come together, creating kind of a momentum of energy. In the momentum of energy, or time, you and the object become one. That’s it. That place is a very simple world; that is a very pure state of human existence in which you can express yourself in the simplest way. So, there are no words. If you want to express it, there is just the very simple, original term, so-called wow.

Or, religiously speaking, you just devote. You just bow; that’s it. Very simple. In a word, you can express it in the simplest way; that is wow, or surprising. Or with your body, just gassho, or just bow. Just [offer] respect. With your thoughts, simply think it, and next, you have to pass by it. That is our practice.

That simplicity in life is very close to the truth as it really is. That is called dharma. So you have to devote yourself to this dharma, which means the simplest state of existence, common to everything: you, trees, birds, winter, spring, summer. Winter is very simple: winter is winter. Wherever you may go, whatever you think, winter is always winter. Winter is never changed by your spiritual power. Even if you become a sage, or even if you can walk on the lake with your feet, you never change winter. Winter is winter. Lake is lake. That’s it. That is very simple; the simplest state of existence.

So belief in this dharma is expressing the simplest way of life. You can believe it in terms of the principle of existence, understanding it through your head. In order to believe it, next you have to be there, and accept that dharma, and deal with it, and then live it: live out your life, right in the middle of dharma. That is not so easy for us. And also, most people don’t know how to deal with it, much less do they know how to be there, how to live in the dharma. Because we are involved so much in the dualistic world. Most people deal with dharma in the dualistic way; they never see the dharma as nondualism, a nondualistic state of existence.

How can you receive and deal with and live in the dharma [in this way]? That is very strict. Or not strict, so much as there is no room for you to comment on, or to analyze, or to excuse. Nothing; because it’s the very simplest. So if you do gassho, just gassho, that’s it. You accept it, and deal with it, and be, live in the gassho, in the simple way. If you believe in God: accept God, and deal with God, and live in God, in the simplest way. That’s all. But if you start to analyze it, you are confused.

That is a point: how you can receive it, and deal with it, and live in it.


The Buddha mentions this. In Sutta Nipāta, which are the oldest Buddhist scriptures, number 213 (1.12; also known as Muni Sutta or “The Sage”) says:

A tranquil sage is he who steadfast walks alone,
unmoved by blame and by praise,
like the lion who is not scared by noises,
the breeze that is not to be caught in a net,
like the lotus that blooms unsullied above the muddy water,
a leader he, not led.

If you believe in the dharma, and receive it and deal with it, and live in it, it is just like this.

A tranquil sage is he

First you must be tranquil, because the six senses must be calmed down, otherwise you don’t see the panoramic picture of existence. In other words, [that is] the panoramic picture of how all consciousness is functioning day to day, moment after moment. Your six senses must be calmed down to become the seventh consciousness, which is called original-self consciousness. Original-self consciousness is very calmed down. And then […] this original-self consciousness calms down again and touches the whole universe. At that time, it is called calm state of consciousness. “The universe” means your consciousness calms down and touches all things without exception which are constantly related with you. This is called “the tranquil sage”. Everyone can become this, even if only for a moment. This is the practice for us.

who steadfast

If you want to receive the dharma, first you have to become tranquil, and then how do you deal with things? Then you have to be steadfast or stable; imperturbable.

walks alone

The tranquil sage walks alone, step by step, because in the moment, you are alone. Life or death occurs in the moment. In other words, life and death are nothing but the moment; that’s it. We don’t believe life is the moment, because in our lives there are lots of choices; but if you see death, immediately you can taste it: death is exactly the moment. Death is not something you can think of objectively. Death is nothing objective; you must be there, exactly. That is a moment.

Death is nothing but the momentum of energy, life is the momentum of energy, connected with all sentient beings without exception. That’s enormous energies; you can never control it. So you have to walk alone, right in the middle of the moment. That’s it; that’s all you can do. Even if I give you a wonderful Buddha’s statement before you die, you can accept it, but still you walk alone.

unmoved by blame and by praise,

Walking alone means “unmoved by blame and by praise”. In other words, you mustn’t be moved by… well, anything. You can see objectively, or you can hear objectively, or you can taste objectively, but you shouldn’t be moved. That means you shouldn’t be tossed away.

Blame and praise are almost the same for us, because whichever you get, we are always tossed away. Particularly blaming: if somebody blames us or abuses us, it’s pretty easy for us to be confused.

In the atmosphere of American Buddhism, many things happen in the sangha: blaming or praising, criticism, confusions, bewilderment. And then we don’t know the meaning of devotion to the dharma, or Buddhism, because we are completely tossed away by them. That’s why we practice calming down. That’s why we need the practice of just sitting, beyond whether you are confused or not. So that is “unmoved by blame and praise.”

like the lion who is not scared by noises,

“Unmoved by blame and praise” is like “the lion who is not scared by noises.” Whatever kind of animal appears, the lion is always calm. And also…

the breeze that is not to be caught in a net,

Air or water are never caught by the net.

like the lotus that blooms unsullied above the muddy water,

This is similar; you know that one.

a leader he, not led.

That is also important. You must always be a leader. Leader means you must be master of yourself, in whatever situation you may be in. You are not led by something.

Particularly in difficulties, it’s very difficult to be a leader for yourself, for all sentient beings. Leader means you must manifest yourself in the simplest way. In other words, don’t change your life so much because of some difficulty. Just walk step by step; this is the basic pace of walking in life when there is not much excitement. [When there is excitement,] you try to scoop the water or air by net. Or sometimes you try to scoop some water from the ocean of knowledge, but your head and body are just like a bamboo basket, always leaking. [He laughs.] That’s what we always do.

Recently I think that people are always very eager to do something exciting and bracing and confusing, and also they struggle so much with fighting. And then everyone without exception is going – where? Where are you going? What is the terminal station for your life? It’s very simple. The terminal station is exactly the end of your life, but simultaneously, that end of your life is the beginning of your life. How can I understand the beginning of life as the end of life? We don’t believe it – we don’t know – but this is the simplest way of life.

People are always struggling, fighting, screaming, and blaming – that’s pretty noisy. And we are very confused by the noises. We are never lions; we become spitzes, dogs: always barking at somebody else. [Laughter.] While the spitz has a host, the spitz enjoys very much barking at somebody else; but if he doesn’t have his host, he cowers and is running away instead of barking. Do you understand? I always say that is a characteristic of spitzes.

If you receive the dharma, and deal with the dharma, and are living the dharma, it is just like this. This is not a dogmatic way of life (so to speak). It’s very strong: you are you. From the beginning to end, you have to be in the moment, you have to take care of the moment, day to day. This is not dogmatic, because next, that self is completely open to everything.


Buddha says,

Practicing benevolence, equanimity, compassion, and sympathy,
seeking release, unobstructed by anything of the world,
roam like the unicorn, alone.

(From Khaggavisana Sutta, translated by G. F. Allen. “Unicorn” probably means rhinoceros.)

So you walk alone like a unicorn. A unicorn has one horn; that is a symbol of aloneness. Everyone has to walk alone in the human world, but that way of life is not dogmatic, because Buddha mentions practicing benevolence. Your presence must be benevolent to everyone or everything, in many ways. Practicing benevolence, you must be equanimous: magnificent, and calm, and steadfast.

And [you must practice] compassion and sympathy. You must express your compassion under all circumstances. Sympathy is expressed when you meet certain circumstances: when somebody feels sad, et cetera, and you can help him out, something like that. But compassion is a little deeper: it must be operating under all circumstances. That is real love. This is the original nature of human being, which everyone has.

[Tape change.]

… everyone is a completely beautiful being, beyond human speculation, because everyone has compassion, which is profound and sublime: sharing his or her life with all sentient beings, without exception.

seeking release,

We are always seeking release. Release means we want to be peaceful. But if you start to seek for peace, then under the beautiful flag of peace, we start to fight. So then peace becomes no longer peace. That always happens. But originally, we are always seeking for peace: release, emancipation. Release from object and subject. Perfect peace.

unobstructed by anything of the world,

You shouldn’t ignore anything of the world; you cannot be alone. “Unobstructed by anything of the world” is your presence. Your presence is already deeply and constantly connected with everything without exception, in some sense, in many ways. That’s why you are alone, but you are compassionate to everything. You have a precious heart spreading to every inch of the world. This is the human heart. No one is a bad guy or a stupid guy. Everyone is completely precious and beautiful, beyond bad or good.

roam like the unicorn, alone.

Walking alone is not dogmatic: walk alone with all sentient beings. If you walk alone, then you can share your life with all sentient beings.


And also, here is another thing which is very interesting.

An all-embracing love for all the universe,
in all its heights and depths and breadth,
an unstinted love, unmarred by hate within,
not rousing enmity.

(This is from the Mettā Sutta, or Sutta Nipata 1.8.)

An all-embracing love

This is compassion. This is your original heart. If you return to the first stage of wow, the expression of your life that is very simple, then you can immediately touch all-embracing love, beyond your perceptions. In other words, all-embracing love penetrates you, if you practice this.

for all the universe,

It’s not just for you; it’s for all the universe.

in all its heights and depths and breadth,

It’s very deep. We don’t know what it is, but we know it; we can experience it. You are already there, in the so-called dharma.

an unstinted love,

Everything is just like that; so you believe in this one dharma, and deal with it, and live it.

unmarred by hate within,

Internally, it’s very easy for us to create hatred or criticism. It’s very easy to be critical, particularly toward others, the outside world. And critical toward the outside is simultaneously critical toward you, because you cannot just see the world in one direction; simultaneously, the world sees you. That is the situation of your life: if you see the world, the world looks at you. There is always communication. So very naturally, if you are critical toward the object, simultaneously that is critical toward you.

I don’t mean you shouldn’t be critical; but if you want to be critical toward others or toward circumstances, I think you should be careful. In a deep sense, in terms of dharma, if you’re critical toward all sentient beings, that’s really helpful for all sentient beings.

not rousing enmity.

Hatred is really distracting the self and the object. You must be careful to deal with hatred. There is always enmity inside.

And also he says:

As you stand, or walk, or sit, or lie,
reflect with all your might on this;
this is deemed the state divine.

“As you stand, or walk, or sit, or lie, reflect with all your might on this” means even though you sleep, or stand, sit, or walk on the street, you try to practice believing in the dharma, receiving the dharma, and living the dharma. Anyway, try. This is the practice.


Devotion must be practiced in terms of two points. One is that you have to walk alone, because the dharma you believe in is the simplest expression of ultimate existence. So you have to walk alone; steadfast, not pessimistically; tranquil and positively. In this way of life, there is no excuse. When the morning comes, morning is morning. When breakfast comes, breakfast is breakfast. When winter comes, winter is winter. So you have to meet winter, and receive it, and live it, without being tossed away so much. A little tossed away is fine. [He laughs.] Because you’re a human being. If you think, “I hate winter,” that’s fine. But you should stop as soon as possible, not creating hatred again and again. Then, finally, you really appreciate winter. That is our practice. No excuse, and no commentary. That is one point.

The other point is that devotion must be compassionate, open to everything. You must practice benevolence, compassion, and sympathy, and that practice must be going in all aspects of your life: sleeping, walking, thinking, whatever you may be doing. Under all circumstances, we have to practice it.

So, devotion is that you have to return to the dharma which is the simplest expression of ultimate existence, and then this dharma must be alive in your life because you deal with it. You have to receive it, and deal with it, and live in it. So you must be simple. That is belief in the dharma: you are a very simple human being that is walking alone. Simultaneously, you are very compassionate, open-hearted. Open-hearted means not to be much tossed away by blame or by praise. This is devotion. Under all circumstances, from the beginning to end, you should devote to dharma.


But as long as you live in the human world, many things occur, as you know pretty well. Not only good things; sometimes bad, or more than bad. There are many things which leave you in bewilderment. At that time, most people quit devoting to dharma, or they have doubts about the truth, about the dharma mentioned by Buddhas and ancestors. Whether you quit or continue depends on you; that’s fine. But if you quit, you never know something deeply; because if you go and change ways, and then get something else, you become a beginner again. So the practice of devotion is to go deeply, from the beginning to the end. Go deeply under all circumstances, and then through the dharma you can see what human beings are. And the human beings which you have tasted through the dharma can show what the dharma is. That’s why Buddha says, “If you see me, you can see dharma; if you see the dharma, you can see me.” This is important for us.

So this person who has some doubt about devotion: in the beginning he may really devote to the triple treasure or dharma, et cetera. Then, you see many people who believe in the same things; but people are always creating some problems. That’s why your devotion becomes very cloudy. What should we devote to? A person? A person is very stinky, apparently. But as a whole, a person is something beautiful beyond human speculation. This is called Buddha, we say. So in order to understand a person, or trust in a person, we must continually devote to the dharma, from the beginning to end. Don’t change the pace of your living which is based on the dharma; continue to believe and trust in this dharma. And then from the dharma, you can see what human beings are, what people are beyond individual personality: general, universal human beings. This is common to trees, birds, et cetera. You really understand it.

Otherwise, how do you create a peaceful world with many different human beings? Here there are thirty or forty people; every one is different. How can you live in peace and harmony? You are listening now to the dharma, so you are completely devoted. You are concealed by the dharma, so that’s why you are sitting in here in peace and harmony now. [He chuckles.] And then if you start to poke your head into everyone’s personality, it’s really confused, don’t you think? The teacher might ask, “How much do you understand Buddha’s teaching?” – “Well, I don’t know.” – “You are not a good student. Get out.” [Some laughter.] “Well, I still want to give you one or two chances. Come up here next Saturday and listen to the Buddha’s teaching, and I will test you.” [He laughs.] Something like that. If you test everyone, really you are confused, don’t you think?

You cannot ignore different personality and different characters. But don’t be hurried, understanding different personalities quickly. You can never be one with different cultures that way. Japanese culture and American culture – how can you be one? No way. But people want to have no Japanese culture, just American culture. I don’t think it is fair. If you want to live in this world, you have to live with different cultures, different human beings, different races, different beings – myriad beings. In order to understand myriad different things, you cannot be hurried in understanding all different things. Anyway, to take best care of your individual life, how do you take care of the self connected with the dharma, day to day? “Connected to the dharma” means a different world, different beings. How do you take care of you? Day to day, you have to do this.

In Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, if you want to believe in the dharma, you should trust in the teacher and devote to the teacher. And then, you are confused: what is the relationship between the teacher and the student? Everyone has questions. Do you? I don’t mean you should ignore or you should close your eyes to a person who has a different personality from you. I don’t mean that. But the main focus, the main target you have to aim at is the dharma.

That dharma must be something alive in you, in individual life. So how do you make the dharma alive? That is the main practice for you. And then through this dharma, you can see the picture of human being; universal human being, not the individual. Of course you can see individual human beings, but you can see the more broad picture of human being, beyond the individual. That is called devotion, or kie: return to life. Which is called faith; belief.

So in Buddhism, faith is to believe in dharma, and in order to believe in dharma, that is devotion. You have to devote yourself to the dharma. But dharma is still a principle, which is very obscure, very vague. It’s big. That’s why you need a certain particular thing, a so-called person, who tells you, who teaches you, who guides you, or something. That is a person who knows the teachings, talking about the dharma. Through the person you have to learn the dharma. But when you see the person, it’s a little bit complicated, so that’s why lots of problems come up. But anyway, devotion is just like that.

Do you have questions?



Buddhism has been handed down to different countries: China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan, et cetera. But when Buddhism becomes part of the culture in each different country, the cultural aspects of Buddhism has lots of complicated stuff. [He chuckles.] That makes you confused.

Like sangha. Originally, sangha is a peaceful world, a peaceful place you live in, and which you show to human society. But sangha becomes part of the culture for us, and then sangha creates lots of problems. Basically, what you have to do is, individually, you have to focus on the meaning of the sangha, so-called peace. Focus on development of the peaceful life, from beginning to end, based on belief in the dharma. That is your individual responsibility. You have to build this up. Then, you can handle many problems, one by one. In other words, you can carry the sangha for the long run.

If you don’t deal with different problems in the sangha, you cannot carry the sangha for the long run. Or on the other hand, if you are very involved in the different problems with your culture in the sangha, strongly attaching with confusions, then you cannot carry the sangha on for the long run. Do you understand? Because then you don’t have any tranquility; no compassion, no benevolence, no sympathy. Then there is no way to carry on this sangha century after century; not only in the United States – everywhere. So you should deal with the sangha like this.

You cannot receive and handle the sangha as pure always. No way. You cannot do it. Someone criticizes this sangha because there are too many troubles in human relationship, and then they say the reason why they criticize the sangha is that the sangha must be pure. People expect the sangha to be pure. Sure, it is, but that purity is nothing but an idea. Everyone understands the idea, but purity must be something alive in your life. It means, your responsibility is how to make the sangha pure, alive, day to day. That is our individual responsibility.

So I can accept your problems and your complaints, but… I cannot do anything. All I can do is always talk about Buddhas. That’s it. And then, whether you make it alive or not is just you; your responsibility.

Anyway, we have to deal with human problems in the sangha – but first, standing in the dharma. Then you can deal with human problems.


In January we will have a “community building workshop”. That’s interesting. I think you will see lots of complaints from individuals at that workshop. But don’t be confused, okay? Just listen. And you should realize, that is human. If you open your heart, how many complaints are there? Millions. [Laughter.] How many satisfactions are there? Just a little bit. [He laughs.] Myriad dissatisfactions there. But you don’t know what the dissatisfactions are. You don’t know from where the dissatisfactions come. That’s why you’re confused. Satisfaction is just a little amount.

If you go to this workshop, I think everyone says their complaints, their ideas, and criticisms and blames; lots of things happen. The abbot shouldn’t be there, because if I am there, people won’t say everything they want to say. So I am not allowed to be there; that’s fine. You should open your basket and take out the many complaints. But don’t be confused. I think you should realize very deeply and carefully, with tranquility, and taste that this is not others’ problem, this is a human problem. This is human, not only a particular person.

And then next, you have to think how to build up this sangha as a peaceful group. Please: I pray for it. [He laughs.]

Do you have some questions? Anything is fine.

Question: The point of the community building working workshop is to try to build up our peaceful sangha.

Katagiri: Right.

Same person: Most of what you said sounds very negative, but actually we don’t know what’s going to happen there.

Katagiri: Yeah, we don’t know. “We don’t know” means there are negative and positive possibilities there.

Same person: Yes, so you should not emphasize the negative possibilities only.

Katagiri: No. But actually, negative thoughts are coming up.

Same person: Maybe; we don’t know.

Katagiri: May be; but that is pretty common. In order to build up a new style of community, very naturally you have to bring up negative stuff, you know? That’s why you have this “family workshop”, something like that. If you don’t have a negative aspect of community, it’s not necessary to have this particular kind of workshop. Most of those who are asked see a little more the negative aspect of the sangha than the positive. That’s why we try to have the workshop. So if you have this workshop, I think the negative is coming up. But I don’t think we’re always negative; positive things come up. If positive things are always coming up, that’s lucky – real lucky. I hope for that.


Question: You were talking about criticism earlier. How does one criticize without criticism leading to conflict? Because sometimes it’s probably necessary to criticize, let’s say somebody you’re working with. How can you do that without that leading to a conflict?

Katagiri: Criticism is not necessary, broadly speaking. No – we don’t know whether we should criticize or not. Basically, we have to walk in the universal aspect of the world, which is called dharma; so there is no criticism at that place. Okay? But that universal world arises constantly in a different moment, or in other words, in different circumstances. So very naturally, you can see A color, B color, C color, et cetera. Then, what color is your life? You are black? Yes, sir. Then the black color sees the white; and then, white cannot be accepted as white; white is always accepted in terms of black. That is conflict coming up.

I think it is not necessary to criticize, basically. If it is necessary, I think you should walk with that person, sharing your good aspect, instead of criticizing. If you see something lacking, give them your hands. […] Try to walk with him or her, and give a hand to them.

In order to walk, you need a peaceful way of life, more or less; because you don’t walk alone, you have to walk with people. And then, conflict comes out not as an idea, conflict comes out as something real; you have to deal with them right now. If they stumble over the rock, then give them a hand, instead of saying, “Your walking is careless.” Give a hand to him or her, and spring back again, and walk.

1:16:23 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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