Chapter 1: Meditation: The Breath of the Soul
Then Buddha said, “So I can take leave of you. Goodbye.”
And he closed his eyes, sat in a lotus posture, and started moving toward the other shore.
It is said: the first step was that he left his body, the second step was that he left his mind, the third step was that he left his heart, the fourth step was that he left his soul. He disappeared into the universal so peacefully, so silently, so joyously. The birds were chirping; it was early morning - the sun was still on the horizon. And ten thousand sannyasins were sitting and watching Buddha dying with such grace! They forgot completely that this was death. There was nothing of death as they had always conceived it. It was such an extraordinary experience.
So much meditative energy was released that many became enlightened that very day, that very moment. Those who were just on the verge were pushed into the unknown. Thousands, it is said, became enlightened through Buddha’s beautiful death.
We don’t call it death, we call it mahaparinirvana, dissolving into the absolute - just like an ice cube melting, dissolving into the ocean. He lived in meditation, he died in meditation.
It is because of Yoka that I have chosen this title Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen. In this simple phrase, the whole experience of all the awakened ones is condensed.
Yoka also says:
The fearless thought of Zen is like the powerful roaring of a lion, striking terror into the hearts of all other animals. Even the king of the elephants runs off forgetting his dignity. Disciples of good heart, they alone, like the old dragon hear that roaring with calm delight.
Yes, Zen is like the roar of a lion. All other religions speak in a way that does not hurt so much. They are compromising; they compromise with your sleep. Zen is noncompromising. It does not care about your sleep and your beautiful dreams. It shocks you, it shatters you. Its whole effort is to wake you, whatsoever the cost. Yes, it is like a lion’s roar.
Only disciples of good heart, they alone, like the old dragon hear that roaring with calm delight.