White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 118: When Eating

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, November 5th, 2011



feel the breath moving in and out of the bodymind...

How can you see it?

Well, if you're paying attention,

if you're noticing,

you can notice that everything changes

with the movement of each breath into the bodymind:
how the skeleton is arranged,

how the muscles are arranged,

how the eyes are seeing,
s all subtly changed as little movements,

little muscles that change and open. 


there it is,

the breath that's breathing you,

moving in and out,

whistling through the caverns of the nasal passages,

inflating the lungs,

inflating those little bags that make up the lungs,

then the mysterious process of gases going across membranes...

Well, it's a good thing that the the thing you think of as you
doesn't have to know all the steps in order for that to happen
because none of us would make it

if we had to be responsible,

set into motion

what needs to be done
to keep the bodymind breathing. 

Now one of the things that we know that we have to do,
and all beings need to do,

is that we have to nourish the bodymind,

so that leads us quite neatly,
in my opinion, to the verse: 

When eating,

"May all beings

Be nourished by joyful practice
And filled with delight in Reality." 

Now what do we mean by "joyful"?

What do we mean by "joy"?

Often, what we understand to be joy is something external to us
that distracts attention away from

our usual thoughts and feelings

about who we are and how the world is and what's going on. 

So we become involved in all sorts of concentration states,
which we may classify as "joyous", or "joyful", or giving us joy.
Does this mean that we have to go the other way
and give up anything from which we extract a feeling that we interpret as joy? 

No, of course not.
We can learn, though, to recognize that there's a constant interplay
between bodymind and the world.
Bodymind is how anything at all is known, and we are really and truly
the Knowing of what is happening with the bodymind,

the Knowing of the Reality of the experiences of the bodymind in each moment.
That's what you're practising. 

I came across kind of a neat word:

to feel appropriate enjoyment when participating in practice,

the joy of engaging in beneficial activity,

including ceremonies and other formal practice activities.

This is from Chapter 18 of The Lotus Sutra, The Merit of Appropriate Joy,
which describes the zuiki of the bodhisattva upon hearing the Dharma
or upon seeing others' good deeds or resultant happiness. 

In the sutra, the bodhisattva Maitraya says to Nagata,
"after the World-Honored one's passage into extinction, if there is one who hears this scripture, and if one can rejoice appropriately, how much happiness shall be obtained?" 

...so the recognition that when one person has a moment of seeing, knowing Reality,

we've spoken already about how each known,

each dharma is equal to each and every other dharma or moment of Reality. 

In the Dharma for Taking Food, the Fushukuhampo, it says:

"If you can remain the same with food, all dharmas also remain the same. If all dharmas are the same, then also with food you will remain the same."

This is from a text called "Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community". 

Now, that is also something that was translated by the Roshi in
"Cooking Zen, Zen Master Dogen's Instructions to the Kitchen Master, and on How to Use Your Bowls". 

Another sutra says: "Name and Reality are both equal. All are equal in stainlessness." 

Zen Master Mazu said:

In looking at the Total Field of all Possibilities, there is nothing but this Total Field. The same can be said of Suchness, the Ultimate Nature, and the sheer facticity of things. This kind of equal is not a matter of how one thing is related to another, but of what is utterly so through unequaled and utter Awakening. 

So, remember the first of the Three Jewels:
"Awareness is the only condition". 

Knowing, which is what you are,
Knowing of knowns is knowing Reality,
is knowing dharma,
many moments of Reality,
without distinction, without separation. 

"All that is arises as the display of Awareness."

So every known, every dharma,
every moment of experience shows you
that Awareness is the only condition
and this is the fact that you are practising. 

This is awakening to the utter seamlessness of Primordial Reality
and each and every thing.
This kind of equality which holds that all things are the display of Truth
is only grasped completely in the Transmission between Buddhas and Buddhas
through radical investigation of the true form of all things. 

And this is what you are doing right now,

you are engaged in radical investigation into the True Form of all Things.
You are the Knowing.

Each time you notice any known whatsoever and

use that moment to feel the breath,

to practise the whole bodymind,

which is effortless, 
the more that you do it...

the more you will have opportunity to delight in Reality,
no matter what's going on. 

When you are eating food,

when you are walking here and there

when you are listening to music,

when you are talking to someone else,

when you are raising your hands in a bow,

you are experiencing,

and will delight in Reality

when you start to see that no matter what story is present,

it's not a problem,

the problem is stepping into the story
and putting it on like a very tight, uncomfortable suit
and believing that

that is all of the reality of the moment. 

That is simply not true.

And you prove it to yourself each time you
feel the breath and sit up straight. 

Thus meals are the naked display of all things,
which is grasped completely only through the transmission between Buddhas and Buddhas.
When eating is intimate with all things
then the nature, embodiment, effect, activity,
primary causes and secondary conditions of Suchness are here
in this naked presencing of the truth. 

All things are eating and the other way 'round.
All things are the transmission between Buddha and Buddha.
Through the Teachings and practice, "food" is that which flows as joy. 

So the verse: 

When eating,

"May all beings

Be nourished by joyful practice
And filled with delight in Reality." 

So allow yourself to be eaten up by Reality,
allow that contraction into a self

with its little fabricated views

of how things are, 
how you are,

how the world is,

allow it to be eaten up

by the breath,

by the bodymind moving,

by seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, feeling, smelling... and may you have

joyful practice. 

(And I know sometimes that's hard to believe...) 

But fortunately,
you don't have to believe it.
The moment you remember to

feel the breath,

sit up straight, 
and open the eye gaze,
you can experience it. 

So keep on doing as you're doing. And eat up each moment of Reality. 

Thank you for listening.