Lara (15 years old) lives in Amsterdam. She grew up in Zen and now asks the same questions to different masters of the Kosen Sangha. Here are the answers from Master Soko.
- What did you think about Buddhism before you started zazen?
I knew Buddhism through reading and reports, but without having a precise experience of it. Intellectually and spiritually, I was attracted to Buddhist ideals.
- What have you given to your children through your Buddhist practice?
I have a son, you should ask him! For my part I think I have given him a model, an example of another human being, by cultivating values of honesty, sharing and mutual aid, with commitments turned towards the good in general.
- What do you feel when you practice zazen?
I would like to make it clear that zazen is not about trying to feel something special, like a sensation or a state. If I feel, it is through my whole body in posture, my mind concentrated in the present moment, my deep and calm breathing: it is this presence to myself, in myself, that I feel.
- Are there moments in zazen when you get bored?
No. I don't think that we can be bored in zazen. To be bored means that you are not creative. Being bored means that we are waiting for something that will come from outside, to amuse us or to make us pass the time: that is consuming. Zazen is to stop this consumption, zazen is to stop waiting for something from the outside and instead to go and look for it in oneself, to make creativity grow and to know how to enjoy the present moment. The person who is bored does not live in the present moment, he watches the time pass. A person who is bored in zazen is a person who is not concentrated in what he does.
- Is the spirit the same in zazen, yoga and aikido?
I do not practice yoga or aikido, so I cannot answer precisely. What is sure is that these three ways develop the same notions of respect, effort, constancy and humility. I would say that the spirit is the same everywhere and it is up to the human being to incarnate it, to give it a face in his daily life acts.
- Does Zen give an answer to the question: what is the purpose of humans on this planet?
Yes, clearly. Every authentic spiritual path answers this question. We are spiritual beings who are learning about matter: we are here to evolve and progress in knowledge, not at all to live selfishly without awareness of others or the Planet. Doing this inner work is the responsibility of each and everyone.
- What do you think about what comes after death?
In the West, the opposite of death is life. In the East the opposite of death is birth. I don't know what comes after death, others have told us about it after their Near Death Experiences. Anyway I prefer to take care of my life here and now rather than what will be after it: I apply myself to live with consciousness and if I have to die, it is to each of my limited egotistical thoughts.
- How did you meet your Master?
Through zazen, by practicing near him and hearing his teachings. Our relationship is beyond the ordinary human and was built little by little, "naturally unconsciously, automatically".