These talks were given during a seven-day sesshin in June of 1979.
June 9, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi begins a series of talks on Fukanzazengi, Zen Master Dogen’s universal recommendations for how to practice zazen (seated meditation), by examining the meaning of the critical line, “For you must know that just there, in zazen, the right dharma is manifesting itself, and that from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.” He introduces a six-component system for understanding zazen from a physical and psychological standpoint, and discusses how important it is to arrange circumstances and let go. He also talks about life at Eiheiji monastery.
June 10, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi expands on the six-component system for understanding zazen that he introduced in the previous talk. He further discusses the relationship between regulation of body and mind, samadhi (one-pointedness), egolessness, “no design on having a reward”, and shikantaza (just sitting). The distinction between “religious zazen” and philosophical or psychological zazen is explored. There is an extended question and answer period.
June 11, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi examines the meaning of the line “from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside” from another angle. He talks about three different kinds of zazen (sitting meditation), and why shikantaza is not a means to an end. He also explains what it means to accumulate merit and virtue, how to understand and work with past karma, and why we have to aim at the life after next life. There is a story about a commando who visited the Zen Center. Also: what to do when death taps your back.
June 12, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
What does it mean to die sitting in zazen? Katagiri Roshi discusses the meaning of the line, “In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both un-enlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength of zazen,” in relation to Blue Cliff Record Case 46, “Ching Ch’ing’s Sound of Raindrops”. He talks about life and death, and how to “cease fire” in zazen. There is a story about a machine that reads brain waves, and he discusses whether there are any real Zen teachers in the United States.
June 13, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi talks about the difference between zazen itself and seeing zazen before zazen or after zazen, using the example of Gensha Shibi in “One Bright Pearl.” In an extended question and answer period, he explains the difference between physical and psychological exhaustion, how to work with the “vomit” of the mind, and why we should do zazen for future generations. Does the world disappear during zazen? Are there techniques in Zen? And is Zen the simplest, most “pure” way?
June 14, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi talks about body and mind dropping off from a psychological point of view. This talk focuses on samskara, which is usually translated as impulses, one of the five skandhas or aggregates. Here he discusses samskara as the “together-maker,” and also as a sort of a bridge or door which enables you to take mind to either the dualistic world or the non-dualistic world, because samskara itself is completely free. In relation to this, he explains a key line from Dogen’s Genjokoan: “Oneness is not like moon reflected in the water; when one is bright, the other one is dark.” He also discusses the lines from Fukanzazengi, “It cannot be fully known by the practicing or realizing of supernatural power either,” and “Is it not the principle that is prior to knowledge and perceptions?” During a challenging discussion on the “forces” of prāpti and aprāpti, he tells a story about the 1948 Fukui earthquake in Japan.
June 15, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
The conclusion to the series of talks on Fukanzazengi takes place during a dramatic thunderstorm, the sounds of which Katagiri Roshi integrates into the talk. The Buddha does zazen during a thunderstorm, but he is not disturbed by the sound of the thunder. Katagiri Roshi discusses why the purpose of zazen is not to reach a state of no consciousness, and the meaning of the term jijuyu (usually translated as “self-fulfillment”) in Bendowa. Also: How to play guitar with two hands and two feet. A Rinzai Zen Master plays a Bach concerto in the zendo. And what does Manjushri do, anyway?