Question

Je pratique zazen depuis deux ans au dojo de Paris, et mon problème est le suivant, je ne peux m'empêcher de dormir pendant la première partie qui précède kinin, alors que j'arrive bien à me concentrer sur la posture pendant la deuxième partie de zazen; je pratique surtout en semaine après le boulot.
Comment faire pour remédier à cette somnolence ?

Philippe V.

Answer from Master Kosen



Right, how to dive in the unconsciousness without going to sleep is a very important point in zazen. The consciousness which observes zazen is very important. Every day, each practice, each week, each month, each year we understand more, deeper, what the zazen is.

But from the beginning, from the first time when we practice, zazen is already zazen. Attitudes in yourself, awakenings in yourself are already here from a long time even if you do not realize it fully. By continuing the practice, we rediscover, as if it was the first time, things which are the intimacy of our being. In fact, we know already everything but we forgot. It is why we say "coming back to our original nature", because God or Buddha is ourselves. We never lost it, we know it from long, it is our eternal nature but we forget.

So one night in the dojo of the temple of Master Nyojo in China, disciples were practicing zazen, it must have been two o'clock in the morning - zazen with a great master is always intense - and Master Nyojo is a great master. Among all his disciples there was Master Dogen, the future Master Dogen who was going to transmit zen in Japan from China. He always practiced with enthusiasm, always the first one in the dojo, sitting in zazen before every one.
During this long nightly meditation, suddenly Master Nyojo blew up: "You should not sleep during zazen!". He jumps out of his seat - he is a good master, he would stand up from his seat, not like me who, once in zazen, does not like to move. He stands up and, with his shoe, he pokes his neighbor right on the left of Master Dogen and shouts: "Shinjin datsu raku!". You must abandon body and mind.
With these words, frighten, surprised, Master Dogen feels his body vibrating, his heart beating, his sweat springing out of his forehead and fchiit! he leaves his body. When zazen is finished he goes rapidly in the room of his master
. His master brings him in, he does sampai, bows before the feet of the Master and tells him "Master I experienced shinjin datsu raku, how to abandon body and mind."
Master Nyojo answers him "datsu raku shinjin". That means: if you abandoned body and mind, abandon the abandonment of body and mind, cast aside, continue, abandon, shinjin datsu raku always.

At the end of his life, Master Kodo Sawaki, the master of Master Deshimaru was also saying "All my life, instant after instant, I always abandoned my body mind, at each moment". Later Master Dogen was saying that it was the essential, the most important point in zazen: the shinjin datsu raku, datsu raku shinjin, it is very important. That is not only to leave the body in a spectacular way, that is why the master answers him: "Datsu raku shinjin!". Shinjin datsu raku it is the spectacular, to leave our body during zazen. Datsu raku shinjin, it is more subtle, it is something that we need to discover and master by ourselves, at each instant, not only during zazen.

What a magnificent teaching Master Nyojo gave, who grasped the phenomenon of the monk who was asleep. However, when we sleep, we could say that we abandon the body and mind, but I spoke about the mind which observes during zazen, which does not move, which observes. This mind should stay vigilant. If you fall asleep this mind escapes. You see how subtle the world of zazen is, the world of Buddha. Some of you think that they come here to practice a kind of yoga or gymnastics. That is what we understand from zazen or we understand what Buddhism is, ceremonies and the whole tralala, we understand a lot of things which are not essential.

The practice of zazen is really the way to become Buddha again. So I will talk to you about datsu raku shinjin, namely about the datsu raku shinjin of each instant, how to discover it. Of course, to discover it, you need this observer which is inside you. You need to learn to be aware of any sensation that you have during your life and amplify it to the extreme. That is datsu raku shinjin.
In particular, if you pass for example from warm to cold or from cold to warm, if you are thirsty and that you drink or if you are hungry and that you eat, these moments are shinjin datsu.

So if you are hungry, if you are so lucky that you are hungry - if you are not hungry enough you can fast a bit - with the first mouthful that you will swallow, chew, taste, then amplify totally your sensations to the vibration. If you eat a vegetable after you have fasted, feel this fabulous taste, this "completeness" of the taste, for example the one of a leek, indefinable, so marvelous, so pure, the sensation that you have in your mouth, in your body, the sensation of the stomach which receives this thing, let yourself go up to dying, to the extreme.

In general, there is a sensation of pleasure when you abandon things, even with the pain. At the moment when you abandon, you listen, you amplify or you live any sensation, so there is this sensation of freedom or pleasure. When you fall asleep also it is very important, this sensation you should live through it, be conscious about it, amplify it. At the time where you go to bed, you are tired, you let yourself go, your consciousness relaxes itself and you can reproduce the sensation to go asleep at any time, even when you are awake.

Shinjin datsu raku, when we heard about it or when we read stories, Kodo Sawaki says "all my life I cated aside my body and my mind", we get the impression of someone who martyrizes himself, who tortures himself, of austerity. But not at all. This is not a question of a conscious effort, of the will of the ordinary man. In fact our conscious mind, our will has only a very little power on ourselves. If the unconscious mind wants something, if our conscious mind wants another thing, the unconscious mind always wins. So, we should act with our unconscious mind to always win. This unconscious mind, it is datsu raku.

You see, it is hishiryo, the absolute thought.









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