Kôdô Sawaki Roshi offering his experience and encouragement to practice Zen (awakening to Reality) said to those at a university in Japan, though it could be said anywhere...
"As a True human being, you can walk freely in any direction you choose. As a True human being, whatever you do, you should do it in a way that can’t be repeated a second time. What can be repeated is best left to the robots.
Life doesn’t run on tracks. Birds don’t sing in major or minor. Bodhidharma’s teaching doesn’t fit on lined paper. The buddha-dharma is wide, spontaneous and unlimited. When you try to hold it still, you’ve missed it. It isn’t dried cod, but a live fish. Living fish have no fixed form and neither do We.
In a soldier’s handbook it says that in war you must be prepared for a thousand different possibilities. That doesn’t just go for war – there’s no rule book that fully captures the Reality of what's possible or can happen, through our Life. It there as, it would be a book of lies. When we try to live our life according to a manual [especially someone else's bible], we’re sure to fail and miss the mark. [It's a setup]. It goes without saying that you have to be on your guard when everything runs according to the book.
The wild geese leave no traces, yet no matter where they fly, they never lose their Way. There are no footprints on the Way of the bird. It’s not the same as a steam engine that runs on tracks or an ox’s well-worn path, held in place by a ring attached to its nose. The sad thing about people is that they can’t stray even a single step away from their habits. Don’t we live life from moment to moment? How could we possibly take life, analyze it, systematize it and file it away?
We buy [into] strange things. We constantly let ourselves be distracted by details. Some of us are chasing after qualifications, credentials, degrees, people to fix us or make us whole, power and authority over others, to validate our worthiness to exist. What is it to harm ourselves and others in such a way?
Do we not see the flow of Life and Reality are bigger than the River Ganges, yet we try to manipulate it in such a way and in our delusion try to turn it into a tiny creek that we trying to conveniently place it in our back yard? Fascinating!
However much you accomplish in this life with our body, you can’t escape death. There's no lottery ticket to the afterlife. What a thing to die, stripped of things that cannot travel with us, once the body is dropped. In the end, there will be nothing left for you to do besides let go.
Actually, “studying” [Training in Zen] means gaining insight into Reality. You’ve got to stand on solid feet, no matter what direction the wind might blow. Isn’t it evident that the greatest purpose and happiness consists in Living as an authentic human-being? Not wasting your time in life means sitting stably in the right place at the right time – not missing the precise moment. Your life shouldn’t be just one defeat after the other, constantly on the run until your last hideout is found.
There as a day when Daichi (trans. Profound Wisdom's) Zenji said “I’m a True person of leisure who has made the whole universe his own. Now I’ve reached the point where I can finally leave the world behind me!" That’s quite another way to live.
Daichi Zenji's realization could be the catalyst that moves the boulder of small self, stuck in its coffin like position, into action, as we're still alive. It enables you to do zazen. Look! Look! Look! Can depend on anything, beyond the fact that you will someday die? The value of things changes. This insight is what motivated Shakyamuni to renounce his King’s title, to leave his wife and son and become a monk. Please awaken. Please live life as a Buddha rather than a robot slave to individual and societal conditioning and delusions. There is no magic to this practice. But there is our own effort. We are powerless over many many many things. We are however not powerless in how we may respond. Respond as Buddha, rather than bumpkin! Confirm what I am saying for yourself."
Given Kôdô Sawaki Roshi's encouragement, the opportunity we have in our day-to-day life could be used to actually live, instead of pretending to. Going through the motions of living are going through the motion, without True arriving. Million's of human-beings play a sad and deceitful game, existing more a machine parts in the production plant of countries economic endeavors played out of trading boards that place arbitrary value on what we are worth.
一We Are the Practice Itself