White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 125: In the Heat of the Day

Dharma Talk Presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, January 21st, 2012

In the heat of the day,

"May all beings

Cast away countless afflictions,
Allowing them all to end." 

In the heat of the day... well... [O-sensei and students laugh a little] 

I'm sure you all have a memory of what it was like to be outside
just a few minutes ago when we experienced cold, very cold,

and in this room sit people who are entering into their third decade of life on this planet
and everything in between 
up until entering into the eighth decade,

so between the bunch of us we've experienced all sorts of conditions. 

Now, self-image,

that contraction into a sense of a self with stories,
many stories about how it is and how the world is,
likes to think that its story is unique,

that its story is different from everyone else's story. 

Now, the details as to time and place and who was involved

and what you look like
when you look in the mirror 
and see in photographs
or on a piece of film,

now all of those things might be slightly different... 

but basically,


they're pretty much all the same,

and that can be deflating for self-image to recognize
that no matter what the story is that's getting in its way,
it's not unique. 

Self-image likes to believe that

it is having the most difficult time of all with practice,
everyone else in the room is just sailing along, tickety boo,

it however,

because of its circumstance is having the worst possible time, after all,
everything rests on its shoulder,

it has to do everything for everybody else,

it actually is the smartest,

but no one's really recognized that,

everyone else is so fracking stupid they can't see the merit,
the stellar qualities,

the absolute perfection of



That's what causes the obstructions,

the afflictions that crop up

when we allow attention to fall into them,
get in our way, 
causing endless problems. 

You know, if you start to look into the content,

not to analyze

but just to say jot down in a repertorial way

the content of some of those stories that afflict you,

you might just surprise yourself at how quickly bored you'll get
because the stories really are not very interesting 
and they're based in basic dissatisfaction,
that's the story, that's the main story:
bad space

basic unsatisfactoriness. 

"Well, everything's great, it really is,
I'm really getting it, yeah, but maybe if my hair were a different colour,
maybe then things would fall into place even better,
yeah that's it! That's what I'll do!" 

"Everything's great, I'm really having a nice time today practising,
everything's really open, it's very, very open—"
and the gong goes and we realize we haven't actually practised
because attention has become so interested i
n the attainment of this marvellous openness
that there has been no attention left,
as it were, to notice what's actually going on. 

So really,

we were sitting there fantasizing,

afflicting ourselves

with this story of something that we had attained,
but now we've lost... 

and it's all such bullshit. 

Thoughts are thoughts,

doesn't matter what the content is, the moment you notice it: 

feel the breath,
sit up straight 

THAT's all you have to do,

and that's a rather long way of saying:

feel the breath,

feel the whole bodymind in the whole moment,
which happens in a snap,

that's what you are building on. 

So, whether the weather is cold or hot,
whether it's freezing

or you're melting because of the heat

you can always do this very simple practice. 

What is that?

Who's having this thought? 

"Yeah, it's easy for you to say it's simple...."

Anyone in here having such a thought [twitters from students]
Oh, it must be left over from years before... 

Wait, wait a minute! I used to do that!
I used to get terribly reactive when I used to hear the Roshi say:
"this easy and joyful practice"... expletive deleted... 

But, we're learning to see how these things happen,
how any movement,

anything that comes in contact with the bodymind,
including the bodymind itself 
produces an effect. 

Certain situations may become routine

because we become so used to the effect that they produce. 

Practice is about waking up to this moment,
and you practise that

by recognizing a moment of waking up from anything 
a thought
a feeling 
a colour

a sound


seeing a portion of reality:

practise that moment of clear seeing, and 

you'll have more of them. 

So, in the heat of the day, in the cold of the day,

in the heat of contraction, in the coolness of opening, 
you can practise, 
and through that practice


the things that get in our way,

the things that seem to wrap around us like seaweed,
can open

and fall away 

and once they fall away completely,
they don't come back. 

So, in "The Practice of Purity" it says: 

In the heat of the day,

"May all beings

Cast away countless afflictions,
Allowing them all to end." 

As I've said before,

it would be great if every being practised, there would be an end to all kinds of,

at the very mildest,

unseemly acts,

and there would be a lot more room for everything and everybody

to unfold. 

But that's not going to happen,
but each one of you can notice and practise,

that's what you're learning to do... 

And have fun with it!

Thank you for showing up today. 

Thank you for listening.