White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 137: Awakening From Sleep

Dharma Talk Presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, July 14h, 2012

The good news:

each and every one of you

woke up this morning...

put one foot in front of the other
to come and practise

the practice of Waking Up

to the Reality of your life,
Waking Up

to this moment. 

As long as there's breath moving that bodymind in and out,
you can practise, 
you can be present for your own life. 

Isn't that amazing?

Isn't it amazing how we tend not to think about things like that,
before we start to practise,

perfectly obvious things

such as

"this moment is the only moment that is going on". 

We are reaching the end of the Every Breath You Take series.

Today we are looking at the last verse, in fact, from "The Practice of Purity": 

Awakening from sleep, 
"May all beings

Realize each thing as it is,
Pervading the ten directions." 

And last week, the verse was "When Going to Sleep at Night".
The arrangement is interesting.

It presents a presumption that in fact

you are going to wake up the next morning. 

"When Going to Sleep at Night"
might have given the presumption
that you are not going to wake up in the morning

and that if you didn't,

something: the breath, the soul,
whatever you want to call it
might have been taken away from you. 

But no, we have: 

Awakening from sleep,

"May all beings

Realize each thing as it is,
Pervading the ten directions." 

Now each thing does make everything else what it is.
That has always been the case,

that is the case

and that will continue to be the case 
and that's not just our silly little understandings
about who we are

and how the world is

and our little concerns about our place in things
and whether we're being one upped 

or whether we are one upping,

whether we're more intelligent than or less intelligent than,
taller than,

smarter than,

and so on...

and on and on

with all the things that a contraction into a sense of a self
with a belief about how it is and how the world is

would like to hang on its person

as little charm bracelets

or merit badges

or signals of some sort of status. 

So each thing does make everything else what it is and this verse,

again written in a land far, far away,

many many many, 
1600 years ago approximately, is still chanted.



By whom?

By those attending sesshin or O-sesshin.
We chant it first thing in the morning.
We gather in the Zendo. 

In the wintertime,
there's no light, really to speak of,
it's very dark out and we chant: 

As we wake this morning,
may all beings

realize each dharma as it is
pervading the ten directions. 

So this chant is a reminder of the Reality of experiencing in this moment. 

We wish that all beings realize the nature of Reality completely.
Each and every one of course

from their own ten directions,

from north and south and east and west, 
northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest,

up, down,

because the ten directions are not a solid and stable thing
that originate in one point,

but as with the three times,

are part of your life in this moment of your experiencing. 

you can if you would like to set the course for your day,
recite this little verse to yourself as soon as you wake up.
Wake up!

You can do it in bed if you like, 
have it running in your mind, in your thoughts,

through the whole bodymind: 

As we wake this morning,
"May all beings

realize each dharma as it is
pervading the ten directions." 

which at that moment is you reminding yourself
of what it is that you're practising,

which is the Reality of experiencing,

which is, as Joshu roshi said, 

practising to be a real human being,

not to be swayed by the stories and thoughts and beliefs and unquestioned assumptions

about how you are and how the world is. 

So it's there, use it,

it's another little tool to help you open your practice further. 

But you know how it is, huh?

Self-image comes up:

"Well you know, I'm just, I have to have a cup of coffee before I can do anything..." 

That's bullshit

as are all of the stories that we tell ourselves.
You know,

you know how it goes,

we've all done it. 

"Well, I really want to practise every day,
I really want to do it, but you know,
I have a very demanding job
and I get tired and so I can't sit still and upright for 30 minutes." 

That's bullshit

because practice is something you can do up to the point of death.
You can be lying there waiting,

as it were,

for that last breath to leave,

and you can still practise. 

So there's no excuse. 

What it is,

as with anything,

it's a matter of doing it,

seeing all the things that get in the way of you doing,

and you'll start to notice that they are, oh,

castles, walls, barricades made out of nothing.

They can seem to be

and have been recognized throughout the history of Dharma,
they can seem to be solid,

they're called obstructions and obscurations,

but when you start to see them for what they are:


that's it. 

There is no thought that can come up and strongarm you
and make you do anything. 

There is the illusion that this can happen,

and today SCIENCE, the MEDICAL FIELD are saying

you know, mindfulness practice can help us with a lot of the things that plague us,
a lot of the ills that plague us.

So, hey, 2600 years, that's not too long, is it?

Better late than never. 

So people are starting to realize:

yes, thoughts can be perpetuated

or not.

When you see them you can do something or not 
so there is a choice.

We need reminders, however,
that's just the case, we're training,

we are training ourselves. 

Now, we can have a little pocket full of treats if we want,
as long as we don't bring it into the Hatto or the Zendo,
so each time you—

or during your formal sitting at home— 

each time you notice a thought is a thought,
give yourself a little treat. [O-sensei laughs]

But the actual treat presents itself,

the treat of open experiencing, 

the treat of this moment as rich and full as it is

no matter what's going on. 

So treat yourself to that. 

And I'll be quite willing to make available the text for the Verse of Awakening
for anyone who would like it.
They can have it handy on a little card near where they sleep,
you don't have to do it out loud,
but it can set the tone for your understanding of who you are
and what you're doing.

It can be quite helpful. 

So the verse again: 

Awakening from sleep,

"May all beings

Realize each thing as it is,
Pervading the ten directions." 

Have fun with it!

Thank you for listening.