How Seeing Things as They Really Are is Zazen Sitting Zazen

For me, memories of Suzuki Roshi are things I think about in the past, but I find different ways of bringing him present. Like, how would you put on your socks if Suzuki Roshi were standing right there? Or how would you do anything?

(Brit Pyland, from an interview by David Chadwick, here)

Pyland points to what he felt in Shunryu Suzuki’s presence, that being a keen awareness of action, of what is being done and how it’s being done.

Blanche Hartman quotes Shunryu Suzuki as saying, “Don’t ever think that you can sit zazen! That’s a big mistake! Zazen sits zazen!” (in her interview, here). I myself heard Kobun say, “you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around.” Is it any wonder that Shunryu Suzuki’s presence inspired an awareness of action, of the what and how of action, when for Suzuki zazen sat zazen?

Herein lies the difficulty with teachings that have no practice:  there’s no way to convey that being just as I am, where I am, acts (for such a teaching, see Advaita and Zen, by Steven Bodian). On the other hand, teachings that have a practice appear on the surface to advocate something in addition to being just as I am, where I am, and that, as Suzuki pointed out, is “a big mistake!”.

My approach now is to look to waking up and falling asleep as I am where I am. What I find is that when I am just as I am where I am, I am in fact waking up or falling asleep in action. This is how seeing things as they really are is zazen sitting zazen, or zazen getting up and walking around.

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