Chapter 4: Beyond Life-and-death
From where this life is arising, from the same place death will arise. To be more accurate, life and death both are walking together. They are two wings, or two legs - side by side.
Every day you live, every day you die. It is not that after seventy years, one day suddenly you die. It is not possible so suddenly, for no reason - just lying in your bed and you die. And what have you been doing for seventy years? Seventy years’ training of life ends in a single moment? No, the more accurate account is that you start dying the day you are born.
Every day you are living and dying, living and dying; both processes are together. At a certain point in the journey - seventy years, eighty years, ninety years - the energy that was carrying you is finished. The roots no longer support you, the roots no longer nourish you; you shrink, you close your eyes and you die.
All the meditations are in fact in the search for the roots from where the life has arisen and to where the life goes back - to where? If we can find the roots, we can find from where it is getting its nourishment. And to know the universal life as your nourishment, you have gone beyond life-and-death. This is the authentic Zen experience.
“That root is not something that fell from heaven or sprang up from earth. It is at the center of the functioning of every man, living with his life, dying with his death, becoming a buddha, making a patriarch.”
Whatever you do, at the center of your being is the root that is connecting you with the universal life source.
“These are all in dependence of it, and one who goes into Zen has to pierce and break through this thing.
What is called Zen sitting is not some sort of operation to be performed, and to take it so is wrong. In our line, it is simply realizing what one’s own true heart really is, and it is necessary to pledge oneself to the true heart.
Going into Zen is seeing one’s original nature, and the main thing is to make out what one was before even father or mother were born. For this one must concentrate one’s feeling and purify it, then, eliminating all that weighs on one’s thought and feeling, one must go to grasp the self.
“We are saying that the self seeks to grasp the self, but in fact it is already the self, so why should it go to grasp the self?
It is because in the mass of knowings and perceivings and judgments, the true self is always so wrapped up in the distinctions and exclusivities that it does not emerge to show itself as it is.”
Bukko’s way is very special in the lineage of Zen masters. He ends up in the same place but he follows a very different route.