accept all changes: zen

letting go

Excerpt from  the Chapter ATTACHMENT, NON-ATTACHMENT – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki (bold highlights are mine)

“That we are attached to some beauty is also

Buddha’s activity.”


Dogen-zenji said, “Even though it is midnight, dawn is here;

even though dawn comes, it is nighttime.” This kind of

statement conveys the understanding transmitted from Buddha

to the Patriarchs, and from the Patriarchs to Dogen,

and to us. Nighttime and daytime are not different. The

same thing is sometimes called nighttime, sometimes called

daytime. They are one thing.


Zazen practice and everyday activity are one thing. We

call zazen everyday life, and everyday life zazen. But usually

we think, “Now zazen is over, and we will go about our

everyday activity.” But this is not the right understanding.

They are the same thing. We have nowhere to escape. So

in activity there should be calmness, and in calmness there

should be activity. Calmness and activity are not different.

Each existence depends on something else. Strictly speaking,

there are no separate individual existences. There are

just many names for one existence. Sometimes people put

stress on oneness, but this is not our understanding. We do

not emphasize any point in particular, even oneness. Oneness

is valuable, but variety is also wonderful. Ignoring

variety, people emphasize the one absolute existence, but

this is a one-sided understanding. In this understanding there

is a gap between variety and oneness. But oneness and variety

are the same thing, so oneness should be appreciated in each

existence. That is why we emphasize everyday life rather

than some particular state of mind. We should find the

reality in each moment, and in each phenomenon. This is a

very important point.


Dogen-zenji said, “Although everything has Buddha nature,

we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds.”


This is true of human nature. But that we are attached to

some beauty is itself Buddha’s activity. That we do not care

for weeds is also Buddha’s activity. We should know that.

If you know that, it is all right to attach to something. If it

is Buddha’s attachment, that is non-attachment. So in love

there should be hate, or non-attachment. And in hate there

should be love, or acceptance. Love and hate are one thing.

We should not attach to love alone. We should accept hate.

We should accept weeds, despite how we feel about them.

If you do not care for them, do not love them; if you love

them, then love them.


Usually you criticize yourself for being unfair to your

surroundings; you criticize your unaccepting attitude. But

there is a very subtle difference between the usual way of

accepting and our way of accepting things, although they

may seem exactly the same. We have been taught that there

is no gap between nighttime and daytime, no gap between

you and I. This means oneness. But we do not emphasize

even oneness. If it is one, there is no need to emphasize one.


Dogen said, “To learn something is to know yourself; to

study Buddhism is to study yourself,” To learn something

is not to acquire something which you did not know before.

You know something before you learn it. There is no gap

between the “I” before you know something and the “I”

after you know something. There is no gap between the

ignorant and the wise. A foolish person is a wise person; a

wise person is a foolish person. But usually we think, “He

is foolish and / am wise,” or “I was foolish, but now I am

wise.” How can we be wise if we are foolish? But the understanding

transmitted from Buddha to us is that there is no

difference whatsoever between the foolish man and the wise

man. It is so. But if I say this people may think that I am

emphasizing oneness. This is not so. We do not emphasize

anything. All we want to do is to know things just as they

are. If we know things as they are, there is nothing to point

at; there is no way to grasp anything; there is no thing to

grasp. We cannot put emphasis on any point. Nevertheless,

as Dogen said, “A flower falls, even though we love it; and

a weed grows, even though we do not love i t .” Even though

it is so, this is our life.


In this way our life should be understood. Then there is

no problem. Because we put emphasis on some particular

point, we always have trouble. We should accept things just

as they are. This is how we understand everything, and how

we live in this world. This kind of experience is something

beyond our thinking. In the thinking realm there is a difference

between oneness and variety; but in actual experience,

variety and unity are the same. Because you create some idea

of unity or variety, you are caught by the idea. And you have

to continue the endless thinking, although actually there is

no need to think.


Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems

are not actual problems; they are something created; they

are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or

views. Because we point out something, there are problems.


But actually it is not possible to point out anything in particular.

Happiness is sorrow; sorrow is happiness. There is

happiness in difficulty; difficulty in happiness. Even though

the ways we feel are different, they are not really different,

in essence they are the same. This is the true understanding

transmitted from Buddha to us.

2 thoughts on “accept all changes: zen

  1. Pingback: I don’t mind – Mooji | New Earth Heartbeat

  2. Great point! Oneness is only relative to something else, which we conceptually understand by contrasting thought. Dropping all thoughts of reality, what is IS. Like images reflecting off the mirror of our mind, we may respond accordingly – or not.
    Osho says something similar: samsara is nirvana, our mind delineates but there’s no real distinction except for our perception of reality. What is before us is for us to experience, why deny?
    Thanks for sharing the lesson from Master Dogen. How are you and Alia doing, well I hope. 🙂 Blessings to all♥

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