Practice & Sutras

Zazen Uchiyama Style circa 1966

Excerpt from “Zen Seeds” by Rev. Shundo Aoyama :

Pg. 153 “Yet it is impossible to sleep for five days. Your eyes open even though you may not want them to, and you must come face to face with yourself. For the first time, I came to know real zazen, in which people must be led with true kindness. After all, living is neither something that other people can help you do nor something that you can have them do in your place. You are completely on your own. You sit in a state of awareness, straightening your back and confronting that fact. Zazen as practiced at Antai-ji is the true way human beings should live. It is ideal zazen. ” Pg 152 “Before meals we did not chant the sutras as usual, nor did we perform the ritual of removing the cloth covers around our bowls as is customary at other temples. Still, every part of the day was strictly regulated. The foreigners and other beginners were not yet familiar with the temple routine and were apt to forget that silence was to be observed. Sometimes they were noisy. Had I been in charge, I would have told them to be quiet, but Zen Master Uchiyama and the trainee monks pretended not to notice. Later, Zen Master Uchiyama explained, “Not saying anything at such times is also part of one’s spiritual practice. You are tempted to say ‘Be quiet!” but should you do so, that would be the end of it. People would merely be  obsessed with being quiet. If zazen is truly practiced, it naturally happens that no sounds are made. Until this comes about, you must guide people kindly in their zazen.”


“Meditation is not a way to enlightenment, nor is it a method of achieving anything at all. It is peace and blessedness itself. It is the actualization of wisdom, the ultimate truth of the oneness of all things.” – Dogen Zenji 1200-1253


My first supervisor when I was promoted to management some 56 years ago, had a mantra; “Because God gave you two(2) ears and one(1) mouth is a good indication that you should LISTEN twice as much as you SPEAK.” Mournfully, I did not adhere to that concept over the years. I spoke (out of turn) more than a few times. You would think a person could learn. However, every thing comes at its own time and fortunately, I have come to a better place. I recall my shakuhachi teacher in Kawaguchi would always encourage me with, “Renshu, renshu.”  The kanji for that is 練習 which translates as “practice.” Recently, I read of a concept known as “ShuSho” which in itself is a combination of the kanj; 聞思修証 (Mon Shi Shu Sho) meaning: “Hear, Think, Practice, Verification” ( I like better this kanji for ‘practice’. Notice how the three bottom stokes remind you of polishing an object in your hand.修) The kanji 証(sho) is synonymous with  覚(Kaku) & 悟(Go), “awaken & enlighten”; sometimes these three are used interchange-ably when discussing enlightenment . I have stylized the first three kanji of this concept and printed myself a small reminder to hang above my work space. (an image of this appears to the left) I am pleased to report that this concept along with prodding from my teachers* have already started me on a better path in my practice.

*Everyone is a teacher

Verses, Chants and Poems

“All Buddhist Centers have Rituals, Services and ceremonies. At All most all such functions we chant verses, poems or sutras and Dedications of Merit. Each Center has a collection of these writings, often called a Sutra Book, used in daily practice.” -“Living by Vow” / Shohaku Okumura