What is that knowing of the breath breathing itself? Of the shortness knowing the shortness? Of intimacy with the vicissitudes of our lives? There is the breath, and there is the clarity within the breath. There is that clear recognition at every bifurcation of our zazen that we have a choice. Do we stay knowing the breath or do we end up knowing through our thinking, through establishing a solid understanding of reality? Do we let go into selflessness or hold on and reassert ourselves in our fame and fortune?

 

photo by Staci Schoenfeld

 

Someone told me how much she loves zazen, but how difficult it is to move from zazen into everyday life. So I asked the obvious: “What precisely do you love about zazen?” The solitude? The quiet? The room? That particular constellation of vicissitudes? Or is it possible that what zazen is asking us to do is to learn how to love the feeling? To the degree to which we are able to recognize and commit to that, it doesn’t make a difference if our breath is long or short, or we’re choking in grief, or panting in ecstasy. We’re home. We’re going straightforward on that narrow path with the ninety-three turns.

Everything in the dharma supports us precisely in this and only in this complete commitment. There is truly nothing extra. No mistakes, nothing that’s been left out. We’ll be challenged to accept this statement, to trust it. The spirit of everything that we encounter is simply about finding how it is that we are within this breath, this period, this challenge, this training moment, this moment of life.

There is turbulence—earthquakes, weather, illness, business problems, challenges of time, challenges of personalities. It’s endless. There are the continuous challenges of the mind, of the thoughts that toss us around from inside. And yet there is the possibility of complete liberation, of noticing the long breath on the in-breath, noticing the long breath on the out-breath. We frequently see that turbulence as our enemy, as an insult, as something that stands in the way. But the fact is that the only real enemy in all this is my belief in myself. The only enemy is that continuous drifting away from the straightforwardness of complete dedication to this practice.

Buddha said, “I have seen all that is to be seen. I have done all that is to be done.” What then? He just kept fanning himself


Konrad Ryushin Maharaj, Osho is vice-abbot and Director of Operations of Zen Mountain Monastery. He received Denkai (priestly transmission) from Daido Roshi in 2005.