The Way of Receiving and Using the Self (Jijuyo Zanmai or Jijuyu Zanmai) is one of Dogen’s most important works. It’s the second section of an essay called Bendowa, which means something like A Talk About Practicing the Way (of Zazen).
On my current tour of Europe, I have decided that every talk I do will be about Jijuyo Zanmai. One of the problems I encountered right away is that most English language translations are very difficult grammatically. This is because the translators are trying to capture the style in which Dogen composed it. Classical Japanese is full of crazy long sentences. By the time you get to the end of a sentence that’s ten miles long, you have probably already forgotten the beginning.
If you want to see what I mean, here is the version they use at San Francisco Zen Center. And here are ten different translations side-by-side, including the one by my teacher Gudo Nishijima and his student Mike Cross.
Jijuyo Zanmai is already difficult. Most of my audiences here speak English, but English is not their first language. I wanted to have a version of Jijuyo Zanmai that was close to the original, but was easier in terms of grammar. I did rewrite it for my book Don’t Be a Jerk, but that version was a bit too… I dunno… It was a bit too Brad Warner-ish. I wanted one that was more like Dogen, but less like classical Japanese writing.
I’ve been working on this as I’ve been traveling. Here is my first attempt:
The samadhi of receiving and using the self is the true path. It is the way of opening up to enlightenment. All of our ancestors and all of the Buddhas of the past practiced the way of upright sitting.
In India and China, those who came before us on this path have followed the way of zazen. This is because all teachers have intimately transmitted this subtle method. Their students have received and maintained its true spirit. It has been directly transmitted one-to-one from teacher to student.
This upright sitting is the simple and sincere Buddha dharma. It is the most supreme of the supreme. From the time you meet a teacher and begin this practice, no other practices are necessary. You do not need to burn incense, bow, chant, repent, or read sutras. Just sit and drop off body and mind.
When you practice zazen with the whole body, speech, and mind, even for a short time, the entire universe immediately becomes the posture of Buddha. The whole sky immediately becomes enlightenment. It enables all beings everywhere, in Heaven, on Earth, or in Hell, to increase their dharma joy. This dharma joy is their original nature. It enables all beings to be Buddhas. It renews their awakening.
Together, all beings in every direction and in every realm become clear in body and mind. They realize great liberation. Their original face appears.
All things together awaken to supreme enlightenment. They use the Buddha body. They immediately go beyond perfect and complete awakening. They sit upright under the Bodhi tree. They turn the great dharma wheel. They express the ultimate profound wisdom, which is true not false.
Thus, the supreme, complete, and perfect awakening of all things returns to you when you sit zazen. You and this awakening assist each other intimately in ways that cannot be perceived. You drop off body and mind absolutely and without fail.
All of your mistaken beliefs fall away. You awaken true Buddha dharma. You universally help the Buddha work in infinite places where Buddhas practice. You widely influence all who practice. You assist all of those who go beyond Buddha. You praise and proclaim the dharma that goes beyond Buddha.
At this time grass, trees, walls, tiles, and fences carry out Buddha work. Everyone and everything receives the benefits of the movement of wind and water caused by this practice of zazen. The influence of Buddha helps them realize the enlightenment that they already possess. Although they do not perceive this, it is true.
All of you who receive this wind and fire spread the Buddha influence of original enlightenment. All who live and talk with you also share this virtue. They too spread and circulate this truth throughout the universe. This truth is limitless. It never ceases. It cannot be understood. It cannot be measured.
However, when you are sitting zazen you do not notice this. Your perceptions do not interfere with it. This is because this stillness is not something you have created. You directly experience the stillness that already exists. Within this stillness, you are enlightenment itself.
Many believe that practice and enlightenment are two different things. They think that practice and enlightenment can be perceived separately. They are not. Enlightenment is not associated with perception. Our human thoughts and our human feelings are deluded. They cannot reach the standard of enlightenment.
Mind and object appear and disappear within stillness. This takes place in the realm of the samadhi of receiving and using the self. Not even a speck of dust is moved. Nothing is destroyed. And yet buddha work and buddha influence occur. Grasses, trees, and soil are affected by this activity. They radiate brilliance. They express the deep and wondrous truth eternally.
Grass, trees, and walls praise and proclaim this truth for the sake of living beings. It does not matter whether these living beings are ordinary or saintly. In turn, all living beings praise and proclaim the truth for the sake of grass, trees, and walls. It does not matter whether these grasses, trees, and walls are ordinary or saintly.
Awareness of self lacks nothing. Awareness of the external world lacks nothing. Both are concrete, real experience. Both are always happening. Realization occurs at every moment. Realization is practiced endlessly.
If only one person sits zazen even for a short time, zazen is one with all existence and completely fills all of time. It is mystical cooperation. It guides all beings and all things in the past, present, and future.
Each moment you sit zazen is complete practice and complete realization. The practice continues not only during sitting, but also before and after. It is like a hammer striking emptiness. The sound continues forever both before and after. All things show their original face. It is impossible to measure.
If all of the Buddhas came together and combined all of their wisdom to try to calculate the goodness of one person sitting zazen for one moment they could never come close.
EUROPEAN (Jijuyu Zanmai) TOUR 2018
May 30, 2018 VIENNA, AUSTRIA: Hardcore Zen Dharmatalk
June 1, 2018 MUNICH, GERMANY TALK
June 2, 2018 MUNICH, GERMANY DAY-LONG RETREAT
June 3-8, 2018 BENEDIKTUSHOF RETREAT near WURZBURG, GERMANY
June 10-13, 2018 DOMICILIUM RETREAT near MUNICH, GERMANY
June 17-20, 2018 HEBDEN BRIDGE, ENGLAND RETREAT
June 21, 2018 LONDON, ENGLAND TALK
June 23, 2018 LONDON, ENGLAND DAY-LONG RETREAT
The Angel City Zen Center is running a fundraiser right now to keep the center going. Please help them out!
* * *
IT CAME FROM BEYOND ZEN and SEX SIN AND ZEN are now available as audiobooks from Audible.com! You can also get Don’t Be a Jerk, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up and There is No God and He is Always With You in audio form — all read by me, Brad Warner!
Every Monday at 7:30pm there’s zazen at Angel City Zen Center (NEW TIME, NEW PLACE!) 1407 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 10:00 am there’s zazen at the Angel City Zen Center (NEW PLACE!) 1407 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!
* * *
* * *
I have a YouTube channel now! Check it out!
I’ll get donations while I’m on tour, but they mostly cover travel expenses. Your donations directly to me are still important! That’s how I pay my rent. Every little bit helps. Those $5 and $1 dollar contributions add up!
Thank you very much for making this blog possible! Your donations are my main means of supporting my teaching. If you find a little bit of truth in what I’m saying remember that even a small donation helps. Thank you!