Showing posts with label Zen Master Anzan Hoshin Roshi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zen Master Anzan Hoshin Roshi. Show all posts

Winston Tg shared this with me. Nicely expressed by Anzan Hoshin Roshi. From mirror bright to no mirror (anatman) realisation.

Difficulty, Strangeness, Beauty

Presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi

Zazen-ji, December 13, 1988

Printed in Zanmai #7, Winter 1991 Issue

Good evening. This is the evening of Tuesday, December the 13th, 1988, and it is one day after the ninth year anniversary of the death of my own beloved teacher, Yasuda Joshu Dainen Hakukaze roshi... I think back to the time that I first arrived at Hakukaze-ji, to take up the practice of the Way of Zen under Joshu roshi.

When I arrived at the train station, somebody was there to greet me and to drive me to the monastery. We drove along a dirt road and it was raining. The rain was washing down the windows, and the wind-shield wipers were making their arcs through the path of the drops. After some time, we turned into a lane-way and I could see the farmhouse and the barn, trees and long grasses. The leaves of the trees were bowed under the pressure of the raindrops and the wind was moving the long grasses. I was told to wait there until Joshu roshi sent for me.

I looked for a place that was somewhat dry, to put down my sack. It was raining all around me. I put down the sack, sat on top of it, and waited. The rain fell. I had long hair at that point, and so I had hair in my eyes and I was breathing rain in and out of my nostrils. Since I was quite young, the rain and cold didn't particularly bother me physically, but mentally it did. I was pissed off. I sat there for four hours, because I knew that if Joshu roshi said to wait there, I had to wait there. I also knew, from my brief meeting with him some weeks before, that when he did call me in, he would say something like: “Aren't you even smart enough to come in from the rain?” And so I sat there and waited.

Finally a monk in a rain poncho came out and said “Please come in”. We went in through the back door into the kitchen. Joshu roshi looked at me and said, “Aren't you even smart enough to come in from the rain?”  He threw me a towel. Somehow I laughed.

This practice of Zen is difficult right from the very beginning. Sometimes it is difficult physically; our knees hurt, our back aches, we have to get up so early in the morning. Sometimes it is difficult because our feelings ache. This practice hurts our pride. It hurts our pride because we find ourselves in a situation beyond our control, even though everything is very clean, very sharp, very clear; you sit until the bell rings, then you take care of your zafu and you stand up. Despite the fact that things are so simple and there are so many straight lines in our practice, we find that it is out of our control. Thoughts and feelings come up which we would rather not have to face; thoughts that we've spent a lifetime convincing ourselves are not us; thoughts that we just do not have. We're brought face-to-face, again and again, with all of who and what we are. And so our pride is hurt.

When our pride is hurt, sometimes, this is truly the beginning of healing because, when we drop our pride, when we drop our humbleness, we can begin to find that another quality entirely will manifest: a quality of unshakeable confidence. The confidence of this moment. The confidence of the heart of our lives. This heart of our lives arises as the entirety of what we experience, the vastness and vividness of this present moment without barrier. This confidence that we learn, and we begin to be able to naturally manifest, is not the kind of confidence that arises out of a self-help course, or out of having toughened something up, of “knowing that we can take it”. It is an unconditional confidence. It is unshakeability. And so, when we hear terms like “the iron man”, or “dukkha”, or “the mile high cliff”, we begin to understand.

Sitting in the rain, being drenched by the rain, I began to feel the raindrops, to watch them explode around me as they touched the ground, or entered puddles, the slant of the rain changing with the direction and strength of the wind. This was so beautiful. Despite the fact that our practice is difficult, it is also very beautiful. When I actually noticed the raindrops, I felt and saw and breathed how beautiful they were.

When we begin to notice our lives, when we begin to practise this attention, we begin to understand an unconditional beauty beyond good and bad. We begin to understand our lives. At the moment that we truly drop attempting to understand our lives, when there is “no understanding”, our understanding is complete. When our understanding becomes complete, it is time to drop that and go yet further, because once we realise the unconditional confidence of the “mile high cliff”, it is time to take a step off that cliff.

Taking such a step, there can only be one step. There is no room or time for a second step. This is realizing this single bodymind as the display of all directions, of all times, and dropping this bodymind, dropping all directions, all times, so that one can act freely, can come in and go out, can range throughout the six realms, can dance atop the pile of the five skandhas and realise the Unborn Nature of all conditions.

Zen is not only difficult, not only beautiful, but also a very strange thing to do. When we attend to just how strange a thing it is to do, we are shocked. Yet, despite the fact that it is strange, it makes absolute and complete sense. There is something in us that responds “Yes!”, something in us which recognizes the strange things that the teacher says in dokusan and teisho. There is something in us that recognizes the beauty of this practice and finds itself at great ease in the midst of the difficulty.

It truly becomes very difficult to say anything about this practice. When we try to talk about this Way of Zen, as a whole, what seems difficult at one time, at other times seems easy. It is only when we pick up a particular facet of this practice, that we can say anything about it; but this practice is only a facet of a jewel called Zen. This practice of which we speak, in this moment, is only one of a hundred thousand facets of practice of this jewel of Zen. Our practice is changing from moment to moment. Our practice is turning from moment to moment; sometimes easy, sometimes difficult.

When we find it to be at its most difficult, we must realise that it is self-image that finds it difficult, and it is self-image that makes it difficult. It makes it difficult through wandering and sinking, through obsessing, through playing its games and strategies, through trying to make its deals and then finding that they just don't work, and it finds all of this so difficult it could just scream. But, what is it that is aware of this difficulty?  Where do the games and strategies come from? Where do they go?  When this thought arises, at the moment of its arising, it ceases. When this sound is heard, it is gone. Where is there difficulty in this?  Where is there ease in this?

The place of true practice is really the heart of our lives. The heart of our lives has no shape, has no form. Sometimes it looks like this wall, sometimes it feels like the floor, sometimes it feels like a dream, sometimes it is eating and drinking, sometimes it is driving along a highway, or wandering in the forest, sometimes it is morning and sometimes it is night. This heart of our lives has no form, no shape. It is defined by none of these thoughts and none of these feelings. It is completely unobstructed. The heart of our lives extends in all directions. It is the very direction that we face. It is the faceless face without direction, without time, without expression, without a smile, without a scowl.

The true place of practice is this heart, this Original Face. We practise to glimpse this Original Face. Once we do so, if we continue to practise, we will realise that it was the Original Face which had this glimpse and then, there is only seeing this Original Face. We discover that our life, all worlds, are simply the display of this Faceless Face and all Dharmas are reflections arising on the Mirror of Mind.

If we go yet further, we polish this Mirror, and we begin to realise its vastness and how far it extends in all directions. We realise that it truly is the place in which all dharmas arise. It is the arising of all dharmas. It is the decaying of all dharmas, it is this impermanence, it is this heartbeat, this breath. Going yet further, we see that, that which we were polishing itself shines. Even the dust that is gathered upon this Mirror is bright. We see that even the confusion, the strategies, the deep-rooted tendencies, are simply the display of this Mirror.

Going even further, (Roshi bangs nyoi staff on the floor), we shatter this Mirror, and then we're truly free. Being truly free, we realise that we need be nothing at all. We need not even be everything. We need not even be “one” with the All. It is at this point that we understand JUST THIS. It is at this point that we truly understand the heart of our lives. It is at this point that all understanding drops away, because we can no longer find a knower and a known, and there is just this Knowing.

Sometimes our practice is difficult and sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is shallow and sometimes it is deep, but this practice is the transmission of freedom, it is the transmission of ourselves to ourselves.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things in this practice is realizing that there is nothing that we can give our teacher and nothing that our teacher can give us. The teacher is just like our practice: something that we can't really understand. Our practice, our teacher, the environment of training and the Lineage of Ancestors simply points, simply question us, again and again: Who are you?  What is this body?  This mind? If the realization of the Buddha could be given to you, it could be taken away from you. What is it which cannot be given and cannot be taken?  What is it that you have always had so long? That you do not even have, because it is what you are?

Whether our practice is difficult or easy, this is what we must realise. This is what we must practise. Simply this questioning, this looking, this attending. We must realise what it is that attends and then we will realise the Mind of the Lineage, the Mind of the Buddhas and Dharma Ancestors, the mind of all beings.

Practice always begins now. It begins at the moment of hearing this sound. It begins at the moment of this breath. It begins this cold December evening. Practice begins wherever you are. Right now. Let's not avoid the difficulties of our practice. Let's not avoid the beauty of our practice. Let's not avoid being shocked by our practice. Let's not avoid that which recognizes what is being pointed to.

Please enter into this practice most fully. Enter into your lives most fully. Enter into this breath most fully. Sharpen and clarify your mindfulness of this moment. Live this moment fully, with the whole body. Live in each moment with the whole body until you realise what this living is, and then there will no longer be any question of “whole body”. There will be JUST THIS.

In this moment there is just this: just this moment, just this practice, just this difficulty, just this ease.

Please, practise to your utmost and enjoy yourselves.

The sequel to this transcript is Standing in the Rain (Tangaryo)

Totally agree with Anzan Hoshin Roshi and Dogen on this matter.

Excerpt from

Beyond this is the fact that, no matter how much we like or dislike, or are hurt or maimed by a thought, action or event, our attitudes do not colour the event itself, only our relationship to it. As this is so, no matter how much we stomp or shout or cajole or whine, reality is what it is. In this is sacredness and dignity.

This can extend into territory we might not be comfortable with. Our personal ambitions and dreams and hopes and fears are meaningless, just sounds that don't even find an echo in a universe that extends forever, in all directions. An earthquake that kills ten thousand people is not evil; it is just plates of rock shifting. A bullet is not evil. The universe is simply not conditioned towards our personal convenience. The person who pulls the trigger that kills the mother of three is original purity. But at the same time, we recognize that person as being evil, as being tainted or deranged. There is horror at the memory of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz and Hiroshima , of the fact that the molestation of a child is probably occurring somewhere at this moment. Yet even there, there is intrinsic purity. This is how it is. No one said (at least among the enlightened) that purity is necessarily what is pleasant. The fact that everything, every event, is intrinsically pure does not eliminate the fact of our responsibility. We can't just say. "Oh it's all Buddha Nature", and kick the cat. The fact is Buddha Nature, complete freedom from birth and death; the opposites of samsara and nirvana can both be transcended right here, now, but without that realization and in fact even more so after a good glimpse of it, the issue at point is meaning , and living in a way that honours this fact.

There is a famous koan about a Chinese Chan master called Nanquan or Nanzan, who cut a cat in two in order to teach his students about grasping. It appears in many different koan collections and is the ninth case of the "Shoyoroku" :

"One day the monks of the western and eastern halls of Nanquan's monastery were squabbling over a cat. When Nanquan saw this going on he seized the cat and held it up before them and said, 'Say one true word or I'll cut it.'
"No one could say anything. Nanquan cut the cat in two."

Dogen zenji saw this as an immense failure; he saw it as a Teacher with bloody hands standing before embarrassed, horrified, and confused students. He said that Nanzan may have been able to cut the cat into two, but had no realization at all of being able to cut the cat into one. Bringing together body and mind, self and other, time and space, bringing everything back into its original wholeness and bringing all that we are aware of into Awareness itself through cutting away separateness with the sword of insight, the thin blade of this moment, is cutting the cat into one.

At first kensho, the student sees into Ordinary Mind. So what? If you can't live here, there is no point in standing outside in the flower bed, peering in between the window blinds. It is not a matter of taking some particular moment of practice and setting that up as the entirety of the path. Realization must be embodied and unfolded completely. If you refuse to take responsibility for your body, breath, speech and mind, and unfold each moment as this Original Nature itself, then get the hell out or I'll throw you out. We can't excuse ourselves from true wholehearted practice just because we have a note from our Teacher saying: "Congratulations. Here's inka-shomei, you're a Sensei." How much more so if we have only had one or two satoris and have read too much Alan Watts, or D. T. Suzuki out of context, or buji zen ("doesn't matter zen").

Great Faith is abiding in True Nature as the root of practice so that practice acts to expose us to this True Nature always and in every moment. No experiences, no attainments define or limit this Way. Everything is this Way. Great Doubt shows us the outflows in our practice clearly. Great Practice is coming back to just this, again and again.

The Ten Grave Precepts reflect this. "There is no wrong action" is followed not by "nothing matters", but by "There is only the arising of benefit". Acting fully and responsibly from Awakened Mind, from that which sees tracelessness, is the Buddhaway. From such a mind, not only can wrong action not arise, all that is becomes of benefit to all beings.

Having taken your suffering and delusion seriously, opened it to see what's inside it, you work thoroughly with everything that arises as the world in which you live. As this is so, you recognize that this suffering is true for others, that this dignity and clarity are true for others. Thus, the bodhisattva brings forth benefit clearly and with open hands. A thousand eyes and hands are one's whole body. Free from the klesas of passion, aggression, and ignorance, one's action is clear and truly spontaneous -- not governed by impulse (which the usual mind likes to believe is spontaneity). There is only the benefit of all beings. The universe in which the bodhisattva lives is "all beings", he or she is "all beings", rocks and air and nostril hair are "all beings". Kannon's "thousand eyes and hands" are the whole universe itself.

This benefit is not a matter of self-congratulatory goody-two-shoed-ness, or deprecation of another's essential dignity through pity. It is simply a raw and open heart that does what needs to be done. It does not force others to be what it wants -- it is only a heart, it doesn't want anything. It does not seduce or console or convert. It is simply a raw and open heart.

Traditionally, there are said to be four ways in which the Bodhisattva manifests dana paramita: material benefit; giving what each needs to promote well-being; giving freedom from fear; giving the Teachings. Actually there is no number or limit to this benefit. There is only the benefit of all beings.

 Also See: Zen Master Ven Jinmyo Renge Sensei's Teachings

A compilation of Zen teacher Anzan Hoshin Roshi's teachings I copied from available articles posted in white wind zen community website

Link to compilation:

Anzan Hoshin Roshi is the teacher of Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei, whose teachings John and I also liked.

Those interested in receiving their teachings can join the long distance training program

You can follow these instructions to le your phone or computer read the PDF aloud:

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Soh Wei Yu
Also posted this recently in AtR Blog:
John, Yin Ling and I enjoyed some writings I shared from Soto Zen teacher Anzan Hoshin Roshi, who is also Ven Jinmyo Osho's teacher.
Here's an excerpt from his book Intimate Reality which you can purchase from
SEVEN: Seamlessness
“When the ten thousand dharmas move forward and practice and realize the self, this is awakening.”
Just for this moment: be right where you are, be just as you are. Release all of this pushing and pulling, this subject and object. Don’t fall into pushing against the pushing to get rid of it. Simply don’t push. Just sit. Release this pushing and pulling even slightly, for just one moment, and you will find that something begins to happen. The moment begins to exert itself as the sights and sounds, touch and taste, smells and thoughts and feelings.
You will discover that seeing has its own intelligence which presents itself as the green of leaves, the grey and blue and white of the clouds, the vast blue of the sky. Hearing has its own intelligence. All of the senses are open and the body is alive and knowing itself as the world.
Stand up and take a step. Another step. Each step exerts itself completely and then is gone. The moment exerts itself completely and then is gone, without a trace. There is no trace of that step in this step. There is just this step. There is just hearing, just seeing, just knowing. The ten thousand dharmas exert themselves completely and without effort.
You can grasp at whatever you want to, but there is nowhere that anything is separate from you so that you can take hold of it. Everything arises within the seamlessness of experience. If we enter yet further into this moment and enter directly into the exertion of these ten thousand dharmas, enter directly into how Awareness displays itself as what it is aware of, then something else begins to make itself clear. There aren’t “ten thousand” dharmas. There isn’t even “one” dharma either. There’s just this. This is the moment of dropping body and mind.
Well, where are these “bodies” and “minds” now? Someone, please, show me your body. How would you know about the body if not through the mind? The “body” is perceived by the mind. Is there an itch? A colour? A sound? You look at your hands, you move your thumb, wiggle your fingers. These are all just perceptions arising, dwelling and decaying. Your “body” is all in the mind. Now, where is this “mind”? There is this seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, thinking and feeling — but where is the “mind”? Someone, please, show me your mind.
When there is no separation, no distance to be closed between yourself and your experience, then where are you? The sound of a hammer, the sound of your breath. When there is just this there is no room for a body, no mind, no time, no space. There is just Open Luminosity which can sometimes look like a body, a mind. Everything is released, everything is dropped, everything rises up as it is, everything leaps into and out of itself. In this moment is the arising of all world-systems, in this moment is the vanishing of all world-systems.
Labels: Anatta, Zen, Zen Master Anzan Hoshin Roshi, Zen Master Dogen |
Intimate Reality | White Wind Zen Community
Intimate Reality | White Wind Zen Community
Intimate Reality | White Wind Zen Community
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Soh Wei Yu
I want to compile all of Ven Jinmyo Osho's teachings from website's articles into a pdf file too. If someone wants to volunteer please do so, otherwise will have to wait until I find time
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