When Buddhism first came to this country there were many problems in various centers with students and teachers involved in myriad sexual relations. Over these years, and in large part because of those problems, much has changed. A great deal of maturing has taken place within individuals, within teachers, and within communities, about how to practice in a country and a society that is very different from Japan or China or India. A great deal has been learned, and in fact, most teachers and sanghas are healthy and thriving. At the same time, throughout the entirety of our own spiritual journey, it’s always up to us as individuals to insist on our own integrity. It really just comes down to that. What else is there? We must demand more of ourselves than others may demand of us. We must be sincere and persevering and fiercely honest and accountable. This means that we always have to be in a place and position where our actions are seen and can be held accountable. Everyone is answerable to everyone; this is the great web of interdependence.

Vimalakirti said that we should be singularly interested in the dharma, rather than in gaining power, wealth and fame, or needless to say, pleasure. Because in the end, when we betray or disappoint one person in this dharma, we’re turning against everyone. And this action of betrayal, ultimately, is of our own choosing. In that moment, our earlier sincere interest in the dharma has been eclipsed by some other interest, a desire arising from and for the self. When we see this in a teacher, particularly someone we’ve respected, it’s easy to become jaded or cynical. But I would say, don’t let anyone or anything dampen your own love for this dharma and your own aspiration for awakening. No one can take that away from you; so why would you yourself turn away from it due to another’s action? Daido Roshi says, “Tell me, right now, how do you manifest it in your life?” As Buddhist practitioners, this is always our challenge. Other people have their own practice to take care of. I am responsible for my practice. How do we genuinely bring it forth in this life?

We should appreciate that this dharma is an extremely powerful legacy that has been passed down to us. It is a vast, bottomless wisdom. It reaches everywhere and transcends all of time and space. Within this boundlessness, all things are equal and without discrimination. And it appears⎯due to conditions⎯in ten thousand forms. We are unique individuals with our own karma, our own practice and realization. Some will be steady in the Way, some will wander. Wandering, some will return to the true path while others will not. Some will manifest the great heart of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, casting off their own body and mind for others. Some will hold on to that body and mind and call it “mine.”

The more honestly and eagerly we practice this dharma, the more we see. The more we see, the more we are naturally in awe and wonder. Then it’s easy to be a beginner. Dogen said, “When the dharma does not fill your body and mind, it’s easy to think it’s already sufficient. When the dharma fills your body and mind, you understand something is missing.” When we forget this truth, waves begin to gather on the calm sea.

Pure jeweled eyes, virtuous arms—
formless and selfless they enter the fray.
This great function works in all ways—
These hands and eyes are the whole thing.

Isn’t this our vow—to realize over and over, deeper and deeper, that these hands and eyes of great compassion are the whole thing, the whole of our lives? Please, do not betray another. Do not betray yourself


True Dharma Eye: Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans is a complete, modern English translation of Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koan Shobogenzo. This collection, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Daido Loori, is accompanied by John Daido Loori's commentary, capping verse, and footnotes. (Shambhala Publications, 2005.)

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