Once a monk asked the master, how did the ancient master finally cease to do no-thing and completely settle down. The master replied, “it was like a thief slipping into a vacant house. He cannot steal anything, no need to escape. Nobody chases him. It’s nothing and please understand it is nothing special.”
Although the thief had difficulty getting in the thief realizes that there is nothing to steal. This is the same as expressing our Buddha nature. We all have Buddha nature. We also all have thief nature too. We always want to get something and make it our own. We often experience both thief and Buddha nature. If we practice our zazen faithfully with zeal our practice is that of our Buddha-nature. However, if we imitate the thief, then we become the thief in nature. Whether we are the thief or Buddha depends upon our zazen practice. So you see our practice of zazen is very important in shaping our character.
When we take to heart the Bodhisattva Vows we grow and become much more mature. We rise like the lotus from the sullied mud into the peerless and pure sunshine above the water and thus realize our Buddha nature.
Many years ago my late Zen master, the Rev. Dr. Soyu Matsuoka-roshi, archbishop of Soto Zen North America, gave a dharma talk. He was talking about our Buddha nature. Matsuoka-roshi said thus, “MOKURAI: Silence is thunder.” Do you grasp the meaning of this saying “silence is thunder”? It means that when we are silently sitting in zazen- being one with all- this silence or stillness of our zazen blossoms naturally on its own accord and we come to realize our true Buddha-nature. We become Buddha, awaken. This is our true nature.
There is another Zen saying. It goes, “one minute zazen- one minute enlightenment”. Of course as our zazen practice matures we also realize that we experience this Buddha-nature in each and every action and not just when we sit in the stillness of our shikan-taza (just-sitting) Zen meditation. Yet without zazen, we cannot grasp it. So please continue your zazen with the utmost sincerity. Practice as if your life depends upon it.
I hope that not only will you continue practicing your zazen daily on your own but would take advantage of joining with other members of our Sarasota Zen Center during our Tuesday and Thursday nights “beginner’s Zen” meditation and tea and discussion.
Buddha said, “If you do not kill it- it will kill you.” Let us ask ourselves with great sincerity this question. “Do I wish to feed my thief nature or my Buddha-nature?