A wooden horse romps in spring, swift and unbridled. It’s playful. Vibrant. Completely immersed, but not involved. This is not the same as not caring, or keeping your distance, or turning away— and it’s very important that we understand this. The commentary says, “This eulogizes not being involved in myriad circumstances,” and goes on to say that, “One might say that skillful action has no tracks.” When we’re skillful, we don’t leave a trace. When we get involved, our self gets in the way. One of the things that senior students are taught is how to give instruction—if it’s skillful, which means it’s meeting that person, then there’s no self being brought into it. When the senior moves away, there’s no trace.

The commentary says, “If you want both eyes to be perfectly clear, then you must not dwell in the realm of the body and mind, but you cannot negate body and mind. You must not get involved in myriad circumstances, but don’t turn away from anything. To realize this you must hang the moon and the sun high in the shadowless forest, implicitly discern the spring and autumn on the budless branches.” Why is it a “shadowless” forest? Shadows are cast when there’s a point of light illuminating an object, casting a shadow. But what if everything is light? Then there is no shadow. Don’t obstruct the light that illuminates in all directions. Don’t dwell, don’t negate; don’t get involved, don’t turn away. This is our practice of zazen.

When we let things rest, what’s unleashed is a heroic power [that] smashes the double enclosure. The “double enclosure” is everything that opposes, every thing that stands in opposition to every or any other thing—an object, a force, an idea, an energy, a feeling. Anything. It’s here, in this resting—in this non-effort—that our self-centered, deluded activity can yield to what Dogen describes as “vast Buddha activity.” All of it comes down to how to be in this world without hin- drance, in complete harmony and equanimity, using all of our ability and our skill and our living and our joy to smash that double enclosure for everyone.

So we come back to the fundamental question: How to be in this world? How to live this life? How, fundamentally, to be this person? If we take care of this, what is not addressed? How do we take this up? Zazen. We turn inward. We breathe in. And then we turn around, we breathe out. Ultimately, we see that breathing in and breathing out are unified aspects of one complete truth. Inner and outer, you and I, no distinction.

Dogen taught, “The zazen of even one person at one moment imperceptibly accords with all things and fully resonates through all time.” Really take that in. He’s talking about you.

The Book of Serenity is a collection of one hundred koans compiled during the 12th century and commented on by Master Wansong with poems by Master Hongzhi, both teachers in the Caodong (Soto) school of Zen.