Cease from following after sound and form, refrain from going beyond sound and form. Not this. Not that. The spring breeze unknowingly rousts out the hibernating tree frogs—There’s no intent. There’s no agenda. The spring breeze just does what it does. The hibernating tree frogs do what they do. They come to life in the presence of the spring breeze. Cherry blossoms, wordlessly, open a path. Just their presence makes the way clear.
The truth is not to be discerned by conscious cognition of sound and form and it is not going to be found by going beyond it. Then where is it? What is it? These questions all come down to the single question of: Where do you find yourself?
We have a practice, we have a process, but we need to take it up. It’s not a practice that’s dependent upon an institution or teachers or a form, but a real practice that’s our own. We need to engage it, we need to embody it, we need to use it to free ourselves and all sentient beings. Some people will do zazen, some will pray, some will do a hundred and eight bows, some will do good works for the benefit of others. The key to all of it is the heart that propels the practice—“that which is underneath it all.”
Deep within each one of us, the value of this practice lies in our own heart, our own spirit. It’s no small thing, the human spirit. We should use it well and not let this life pass without letting it come alive. Please, take care of it
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.
True Dharma Eye: Master Dogen’s Three Hundred Koans, is a complete, modern English translation of Master Dogen’s Three Hundred Koan or Chinese Shobogenzo. This important collection of koans, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Daido Loori, is accompanied by John Daido Loori’s commentary, capping verse and footnotes (Shambhala Publications, 2005).