Thusness and I think Zen Master Hogen's writings are a clear expression of Maha total exertion.

"It was on the fifth night of the intensive training session in December, when I was 25 years old, that I sat in a graveyard behind the temple, uttering 'muh, muh, muh' in a very loud voice. As I was engaged in the whole-hearted utterance of 'muh', I discovered that heaven and earth became 'muh' altogether. When I uttered 'muh' I discovered that the universe became 'muh'. When I uttered 'uhh' the whole universe became 'uhh'. All things became settled in that experience. As you are, so is the universe. The whole universe responds to your act. When you go to the bathroom, you have the universe of the bathroom. You have no other universe than this. There is no origin and no occasion for the creation of a new universe other than this place and this occasion. Between heaven and earth there is only this event. We stand at the creation of this universe. There is nothing less and nothing more than this."

"When a lotus flower opens, all the surrounding muddy water is contained in it. When a fruit has ripened, the roots, tree trunk, branches, leaves, soil, all the surroundings, the whole earth, are all actualized and happy in this fruit (of THIS!). Each of us is THIS! Falling leaves is a shooting sprout, a shooting sprout is falling leaves."

"Throughout this process, we are inter-relating, life after life, within all our relations with everything, so deeply interdependently ¾ this is nothing but emptiness. This is the real meaning of emptiness. Please do not misunderstand about emptiness which is not empty, nor vacant, nor "no-substance", but is, in fact, full of life and everything, selflessly.

This one penetration of our own lives and deaths through so many reincarnations, is nothing but the long process of our own self-realisation of our deepest life-meaning. This is our self-substance or self-essence which is formed, supported, influenced, nurtured interdependently with all others, not able to exist by itself. Therefore, it is emptiness, we all are emptiness, as everything is. All our reincarnations and transmigrations are possible, in reality, because of the emptiness of ourselves. We (everything) are not fixed entities."

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form;
Every formation (substance, essence) and all our reincarnations (transmigrations) are emptiness,
Emptiness is every formation (essence, substance) and all our reincarnations (transmigrations)."

"Zazen, running, conversation, reading, considering (and taking responsibility for) the problems of the world, having dinner or taking a bath... whatever you are doing now - that is the daily reality for you: do not try to escape it.

Each thing we are doing or facing now is our true reality, our true encounter. This is exactly the point. Whatever you are doing now, do it. Just do it. Don't avoid it. If you escape from this, you are always escaping towards some future, from the cradle to the grave."

"The realization of life is nothing more than the realization of death. Doing something with all your heart and forgetting yourself in it is the ultimate truth."

"This morning, I happened to look at a leaf of a tree. In that leaf I discovered the detailed reality of our existence. I had never before truly seen the miraculous nature of our life. I looked at the leaf in deep silence, with eyes full of tears. Thus I sat, in the depth of a special serenity and peace."

"Our daily life is, thus, nothing but miracles."

"How am I doing it?" Examine this only."

"As long as we practise sitting in order to gain something special or to satisfy our own intentions or purposes, zazen is never deepened, nor is it possible to enter a state of samadhi."

"The harder we try to clarify muddy water, the muddier it becomes. It is best to leave it alone."

"Every living creature is unique and meaningful, an indispensable link in the universal circle. When I observe closely a dry leaf, a blade of grass, an earthworm, I am struck by the deep wonder of the sacred universe. These small things may seem to be useless, but in truth nothing is useless. We are all descendents of the beginning of the universe."

"I am always being supported by you, by air, by water, by the sunlight, by people who live all over the world, by clothes, by soil, by the earth, stars, time, and space. In the end, the whole cosmos is allowing me to exist. You are also being supported by everything else in the universe. Therefore, we cannot consider ourselves to be separate; we cannot exist independently of any other thing."

"Listen to the birds singing outside. But they are not outside. There is no border between them and us: no separation. Everything, all living creatures, and the whole cosmos are the same body. We are not individuals.

Look at my hands. They appear to be separate, but in reality they are not. Both are part of the same body. When I sit, I am the tip of the iceberg. All of my ancestors are actualizing here within me. Everything is actualizing here. So, when you experience a deep transformation, the whole cosmos is also changed: because truly there is no separation."

"You speak of a breathing method and say, "It might be useful," but what is useful? The concept of usefulness can only exist in a world of techniques, and Zen is not a technique. It is the practice of the Buddha, the realization of the Way. When you are aiming for a goal, you consider the question of usefulness. In zazen, however, we do not need to progress efficiently towards any goal. Therefore, there is no method in Zen. Only sitting exists and it is everything."

"How can we attain the Buddha's Way? Do you have some special method to attain it? Is that why we do zazen, yoga, chanting, running? No, these are not ways to attain it. They are, each of them, Buddha's life itself. They are the ultimate attainment in themselves, not ways or means to reach some other goal."

"Try to combine your breathing with the rhythm of the universe. It will cause you to awaken to the truth that there is nothing but the breath of the cosmos within you, coming from an immaculate origin."

"A true Zen practitioner is a person who sees reality, who is deeply related to the world - to people, animals, plants, rocks, the sea - and through this connection is reborn with each encounter."

"Carried by the current of deep life, we are naturally led to sit. Here is the opening of a new encounter in sitting. This sitting is no longer your own."

"Zazen begins only at the point where you cast off everything."

"(a) Wisdom without compassion is too cold to feel the pain of others

(b) Compassion without understanding is blind love and cannot function in the real world
(c) Emptiness without the experience of love is a mere vacant concept with no energy to love anyone or anything in this muddy universe
(d) Zen without basic precepts is like a very refined and highly developed flower of Buddhism without stable roots. Zen masters without basic precepts are like high demons with zen disease as described in the book "Zen at War""
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