White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 92: Seeing People Unarmed

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, November 27th, 2010

Breathing in and out,

in the bright, clear morning of the Hatto,
a little bit of snow has fallen outside and light reflected off the snow brightens the day even further.

So you're breathing in and out, you're alive...
for now.

But since now is what's going on, feel that breath,
sit up straight,
open that eye gaze,
notice seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, feeling, smelling, the clothes on your body,

this moment:
right now.

The verse:

Seeing people unarmed,
"May all beings
Always be free of
Acting out of contraction."

Now chances are that in our day to day experience,
we're not going to see people who are carrying weapons,
that's just not what this group we call Canadians, on the whole, do.
There are certain specialized circumstances where people may be armed
and responsible for what they're doing,
but on the whole, most of the people who we see most of the time will be unarmed.

Now, if I were a betting kind of monk,
I would bet there is no one in this room who is carrying heat... [students laugh]

So, when we see each other, when we encounter each other in the monastery,
we can remind ourselves that all beings could experience this type of freedom,
the freedom from harm,
but we don't want to get all airy-fairy and Pollyanna-ish about the issue.

I think a point of clarification may be necessary for future generations:
unarmed in this context means without weapons.
I say this because in colloquial expression,
big biceps and triceps, big muscular arms are starting to be referred to as "guns",

[O-sensei and students laugh] so there could be the possibility of some confusion in the future.
So, seeing people who are not carrying weapons...

"May all beings
Always be free of
Acting out of contraction."

And as we all know, when we contract in on ourselves,
when human beings contract around a concept, an idea or a state,
it gets bigger and horrible things can and do happen.

It's not necessary.
It's not inherent to being a human being.

So as you're sitting and you notice a moment of contraction with a little belief,
the belief can be "this is great!",
it doesn't matter,
that moment of contraction,
that little wisp of a thought that may not be fully formed
is a moment when you can practise the whole bodymind in this moment.

It's not that the thought or contraction is bad or good,
we don't need to do that,
we don't need to get into labelling,
but what we're doing is recognizing
we don't need to carry any excess baggage of any sort whatsoever,
and from the looks of things, it's something that human beings like to do.

But we don't have to do it,
it uses up our energy,
it eats up and closes down that freedom,
the freedom of lightness of movement and spirit.

So when you notice anything at all about your experience,
practise mindfulness in that moment.

The verse again:

Seeing people unarmed,
"May all beings
Always be free of
Acting out of contraction."

Thank you for listening.