Aspects of Sitting Meditation

Self and Others

To be born on this earth is to have the whole thing. From the beginning there are precise distinctions between thing, but the whole thing is yourself. That is how it started. When we become deeply involved in precise discrimination between things for a long time, we forget our original self. We do not lose that original nature, but we forget. To sit is to recover that original nature fully, and to stay with it for a while. To get up from sitting is to gain excellent relationships with other selves, many dilemmas, people, plant, birds, jobs. Suzuki roshi talks about this original self as the "Big Mind" in which everything exists without exception.

Dogen Zenji said, "To master the Buddha way is to master, to clarify your own self. Through that you can clarify the own-selves of all others." He said your focus is to clarify yourself, you presence. He also said, "It is the greatest living subject, to clarify your own birth and death matter." The subject is so close, pointing to yourself like this. If the subject is outside, we can study it pretty well, but when you start pointing to yourself like this, it is almost impossible. Our fresh eye is opened toward the outside, so the same eye cannot be used for the interior realm. When we turn around and make our interior world an external object, and analyze what's happening, we usually call this psychology or religious studies. But this kind of study of an objectified self is not what we are doing. How to be with the self which rejects analysis in every way is a very important point.

What zazen causes in you is what you already have and how you actually are, not something different from your actual existence. Everyone of us has some deep concern about ourselves, a wish to be a valuable being both for ourselves and for those about whom we are concerned. We want to be truly important being for all. It seems that meditation practice gives some way to clarify yourself as an important being, as a seeker of deep understanding about where and how you exist and what is actually going on.

You came quite naturally to sit, without knowing that this action has some unclear ambition in it; it points to a very natural, unconscious confidence in your being. To desire perfect enlightenment is the biggest ambition you can have. As long as you sit, you have to have such ambition. It is also very ambitious to want to understand other existences.

How do you experience the existence of others? It is very difficult to really know that others exist, are a different existence from yourself. Usually what you see in others is who you are, so what you experience is when and where you existed. Actually we do not care whether others exist or not, but when you reach an ultimate understanding of yourself, a big question appears. Is this just me existing, or are there some people on this earth? The model of primitive experience is children's consciousness when they are two to three years old. Small children don't have a sense of past and future, only the present, and the only existence is themselves. Even though we become a member of society and see and are taught that there are other existences, that children's consciousness stays with us. The turning point comes when we begin loving other people. Do you remember when you began to love beings when you were small? Its was a very big event. It's a kind of opening up of other worlds with your capacity, and opening yourself at the same time, opening up to accept other existences.

A very difficult person to meet with and understand is actually our own self. The whole experience of getting to know others is actually to have a standard to reach to yourself. Endlessly approaching the matter of oneself is the focus of zazen practice. Clarifying your own existence is actually expanding your own self endlessly. Whatever you experience becomes yourself, and you see into yourself with the existence of others, which is not different from yourself.


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