by Taisen Deshimaru Roshi
Gyoji, dokan are very difficult to practice. You must get up early in the morning. The alarm clock will always ring; machines are very exact. Our mind is not so exact. Our body changes every day. This is mujo. When you go to bed at two or three o’clock in the morning, it is very difficult to wake up the next day.
Definitely, on the great Way of Buddha and the patriarchs, the highest practice consists in not breaking dokan: to practice exactly like an unending ring, and to do so right up to the coffin – not only for one, two or three years, not only for seven years.
Between beginner’s mind, decision, practice, satori, certification and nirvana, there is not the slightest gap nor the slightest lapse of time.
It is very difficult to come every morning. When we come every morning, we are not moved by our own will, nor by our own action, nor by the strength of others, but by the action of mushotoku, unconsciously, naturally, automatically.
Coming to zazen is not a requirement or order. But if you don’t come to zazen, you will not be satisfied. You must not do zazen, gyoji, as if it were your obligation or as if somebody ordered you to do so. I don’t order anyone to do zazen. Do as you like. If you don’t come, no one will punish you. If you do zazen because of orders, someone else’s action, it is imperfect.
Kant said, “We should not perform good deeds because of external constraint.” The Pope said the same thing and added, “In religion, you must act by yourself.” The order must come from the self.
But in true Buddhism and true Zen, we should not even be moved by our will, because sometimes we don’t want to do zazen. So what do we do? Because at the same time, we want to follow Sensei. Contradictions, conflicts (katto) appear. Doing zazen under these conditions is not authentic, not mushotoku.
True mushotoku is without conflict, without contradiction, without katto – nothing. Unconsciously, naturally, automatically, you get out of bed. This is true mushotoku. This is gyoji, dokan, true purity: without stain, without bonno, mushotoku, muga (without ego). This is not about “free will”, so it is different from the philosophy of Kant and Christianity.
In the Shobogenzo, Dogen wrote, “Do not practice the bad.” In the same chapter, he also wrote, “In the beginning we should try to not commit bad actions. But ultimately, this effort prolongs the conflict.” Last Sunday, in mondo, a woman said to me, “I want to put an end to my bonnos, but it’s very difficult.” That approach is useless, the mind carries along its own contradiction.
In the end, even if you want to act badly, unconsciously, naturally, automatically, you cannot. At this moment, genjo, power appears in the practice. If you practice every day, it is no longer necessary to think about practice or to want to practice. Repetition is very important. Dokan, gyoji are very important. In the beginning, conscious will and effort are necessary. But if you repeat this action of practicing everyday for two or three years, it becomes dokan, gyoji. You can practice good things, unconsciously, naturally, automatically.
Even if you want to plunge into the bad current, mingle with bad people, even if you submit to bad situations and a harmful environment; through the power of gyoji and dokan, you cannot commit bad actions. This is a very important point. Unconsciously, naturally, automatically, in spite of bad circumstances, we cannot practice the bad.
Mushotoku, muga: this is the true Way, the Dharma; this is the authentic truth, saintliness. This is an essential point in Zen. Mushotoku doesn’t exist in any other religion.
From: Deshimaru, Taisen. Gyoji: Edition Integrale no. 5. AZI-Paris.