Dogen says you have to practice it 3,000 times in the morning and 800 times at night. This is moment-to-moment practice. You could also call it life. Dogen is telling us not to separate our life from practice. The very thought of practice as something that we do, or of the training center as someplace that we go, creates a sense of practice as distinct from life. And in that separation we should observe within ourselves how we are excluding practice from life, how we are excluding life from practice. Dogen is asking us to make our life, our practice, one unbroken awareness, one bright pearl. To let go into miraculous awareness. This is miraculous power. Total activity. Undivided attention. One moment, one action.
This is zazen. Zazen is not 35 minutes of sitting. It’s one undivided moment. One breath, one awareness. No before, no after. No accumulating, no collecting, no writing of memoirs, no predicting the future, no good, no bad. When you just inhale, there’s one breath. Is one breath better than another? From a distance it might appear that way—one breath isn’t long enough, not deep enough, a little too tense. Even if the next one is better, it’s not going to help you because it will never be good enough and you can’t possess it. It’s this way of thinking and living that leads us to experience our lives as consistently “not good enough.” Trying to “fix” this is the endless cycle of desire and disappointment: samsara.
Daowu said, “Those who travel together know it.” The student asks, “Do you know it?” Daowu says, “No.” Dogen says a buddha’s miraculous power arises with buddhas but is not known by buddhas. This traceless, miraculous power is not conditioned—it’s not personal. You can’t create it, so in realizing it, there’s no pride. And yet it has the power to heal all suffering, nourish all beings, illuminate all darkness. Daido Roshi’s commentary quotes Master Baizhang saying, “‘When the moment is not hindered by being and nonbeing or reliance on knowing and not knowing, this is called miraculous power. Not being attached to this miraculous power is called being without miraculous power.’” Not having gained it, you can’t lose it. Not being able to lose it, you’re not afraid. Not being afraid, you can truly see and serve others.