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Chapter 7: Live One Day As a Buddha

Dogen wrote:
Practice is identical with expression, and vice versa. To express the way all day is to practice the way all day. In other words, we practice something impracticable and express something inexpressible..
Each day's life should be esteemed; the body should be respected. So if we can really get the buddhist function even in a day, such a single day can be said to be more valuable than countless idle lives.
Therefore, before we have realized the way, we must not idle away even a single day. Such a single day is too precious a treasure to be compared with a fine jewel. Ancient wise persons held it dearer than their body and life.
We must think quietly that a fine jewel and a rare gem, though lost, may be acquired again, but that a single day in a hundred years of life, once lost, never returns. No matter how skillful we may be, it is impossible to bring back even a single day of the past. No history book says that it is possible..
Why does time deprive us of our training, daily and lifelong? Why has time a grudge against us? It is, unfortunately, because we have ever neglected our practice..
Without looking forward to tomorrow every moment, you must think only of this day and this hour. Because tomorrow is difficult and unfixed, and difficult to know, you must think of following the way while you live today.. You must concentrate on Zen practice without wasting time, thinking that there is only this day and this hour. After that, it becomes truly easy. You must forget about the good and the bad of your nature, the strength or weakness of your power.

Maneesha, before I start talking about Dogen I have to make a few statements. One is about Zen master Niskriya. He had fallen so low in the West that yesterday I called him Skinhead, rather than Stonehead. And he had come perfectly dressed, like a Zen master. Today he is not wearing his robe. It does not matter even if you become a skinhead, back here you are again Sekito - the Zen Master Stonehead. So cut your hair and put on your Zen master’s dress, with your staff - it may be needed any time. I have been missing you for so long, there was nobody here to hit people. And you should not do such a thing - growing hair on a stonehead. Be ashamed of yourself.

In Germany nobody may have noticed it, but here everybody will notice, “What happened to Zen Master Sekito?” He got lost. Everybody gets lost, particularly back in Germany where real idiots, very authentic idiots, live. He fell from the heights of being a Zen master into a skinhead.

Just shave your head and be your own self with your Zen stick and Zen master’s robe. You are still a buddha. It does not matter that you traveled to Germany, your buddha-nature is intact. That has been our whole discussion on Dogen’s sutras. You can even go to Germany, even become a member of the German parliament - you cannot fall more than that - still you will be a buddha.

And second, to Zareen. She has been moving around the ashram the whole day in her robe to prove the fact that, yes, she does look like a balloon. I was hoping that she would have courage enough to come here like that, but she has come again here with a sari.

A balloon is beautiful. Just all you need is to make a few windows here and there to see who is inside. She is a great woman, and that’s why she was not afraid. The whole day everybody was talking about the balloon. I was sitting in my room, listening to all kinds of gossip about her coming in a balloon. And here I see she is sitting in her usual dress, looking so beautiful.

The sari has a magic. The people who discovered the sari must have been very aesthetic. They wanted their women to look like Khajuraho statues - round, full.

The idea arose in the West, with women’s liberation, that the woman has to look like a man; she has to wear pants. It proves a strange psychological fact. Because of her dress, she started losing the curves that she always had in the past, even in the West. She started becoming a straight line, flat. Looking at a Western woman with pants and a shirt, with a cigarette in her hand, you have to think for a moment whether she is a woman or a man. That kind of confusion never arises in the East. A woman is a woman, a man is a man. And the woman has not to imitate man; otherwise she will destroy herself. She has to be herself. She is not inferior, she is simply different.

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