So when Zhaozhou said, “It’s like tossing a ball on swift-flowing water,” he was “turning smoothly.” When you toss a ball into swift-flowing waters, in the blink of an eye it’s gone. The monastic also asked Touzi, “What’s the meaning of tossing a ball on swift-flowing water?” Touzi said, “Moment to moment, non-stop flow.” No clinging, no holding, no grasping, no conceptual thinking. Don’t-know mind. The knower and the thing that the knower knows are completely forgotten.
What do we want from this life? Peace, joy, no pain, confidence. We need to let go. Let go of wanting, and then there’s just this life. This life is peace and joy. Just let go of grasping. We create this life with our mind. We create the barriers and the joy. We create the pain and the ease. It all has to do with how we use our minds.
The question is what will we create? The prisoner wants to be free. The cripple wants to walk. The rejected lover wants to die. The student wants to realize herself. Wants to, wants to, wants to. That’s separation. Because we’ve locked ourselves into this skin bag and we’ve placed everything else outside of it, there is this want—what we call greed.
Get rid of that want. When you walk, just walk. When you sit, just sit. When you live, just live. When you die, just die. Whether you like it or not, whether you agree or not, whether you cling or not, that’s the way it is.
See this for yourself. When you go against this truth, all the barriers appear, and pain and misfortune are created. It doesn’t have to be this way. When it rains, open an umbrella. If you don’t have an umbrella, you’ll get wet. Perfect and complete, just as it is. Like tossing a ball on swift-flowing water, moment to moment, non-stop flow.
The question is, how do we do it? Zazen. Simple zazen. The first thing you learn in practice. Moment-to-moment zazen. Moment-to-moment letting go and coming back, again and again, to the breath, to the koan, to awareness. Be the great perfect mirror of samadhi. It doesn’t just happen. You need to do it, and you need to do it now, not tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn’t exist. By its very nature it doesn’t exist. There’s only now.
So please, do it now. Your practice is right now. Your life is right now. If you miss right now, you miss the whole thing. Be free. Realize that you are free. That freedom is inherent in the life of each one of us. Somehow along the way we’ve buried it, we’ve lost it in that maze of stuff that we’ve created for ourselves. Unload the baggage, take off the blinders. Manifest your life in the ten directions. Realize that your life is the ten directions, from the very beginning, lacking nothing
John Daido Loori, Roshi is the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery. A successor to Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi, Roshi, Daido Roshi trained in rigorous koan Zen and in the subtle teachings of Master Dogen, and is a lineage holder in the Soto and Rinzai schools of Zen.