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