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by Brian Taylor

The following is an example of how I sometimes like to digest writings by Zen teachers. While reading one or more books written by a particular teacher, I copy short passages that strike me, putting them in verse form. Later, I rearrange these short verses from various chapters or books in a new order, so that the resulting piece communicates something of the teacher’s spirit. This is my response to Dainin Katigiri’s published dharma talks. 

up from the ground

completely beyond what we like or dislike
in the deepest reaches of human life
there is a vague disconsolate pain
a silent lamentation

facing it is a kind of impasse
where we cannot move an inch
there is nothing to say or do about it
only to sit down and touch it, and wait  

finally we say Please
please make me simple
please make me free

when we do this
the one who is calling upon something
is simultaneously what one is looking for

it is like a mother hen and her baby chick
the chick taps its shell from the inside
and the hen taps the shell from the outside
Bwaak! the baby chick is born

penetrating this point gradually and deeply
something sneaks in, invading our life
just like spring water coming up from the ground
turning our effort into great energy

even though we don’t know what it is
we can feel it
because our presence and the presence of the universe
are exactly in the same place

that is the point we are always seeking
this is called faith

very naturally
even before we’re conscious of it
the source of existence penetrates us
like the wetness that soaks our clothes
when we walk in the mist

you are all beings

if you want to learn what human life really is
and know the truth of Buddha’s teachings
there is no other way than learning what the self is

it is the one thing that you can depend on
the only thing you can trust in

sitting zazen, expressing aliveness,
the original energy inheres in you,
raindrops, trees, birds, and all beings,
this transient world is your whole life

the whole world blooms
within your human body
the vast universe appears
as your body, your mind
as the content of your life

so you are not you
you are all beings
all that exists, animate and inanimate

in this way your big, quiet self
can take care of your small, noisy self
by standing up in the depth of existence
and taking a deep breath there

there, your life is very calm
you can get up in the morning
with stability and imperturbability

and take care of your everyday life
by acting wholeheartedly,
by remaining in that stream of great energy

whatever the situation
live quietly
and walk step by step

that is the Zen way
it is a wonderful practice for us


all things will start to talk with you

even if we don’t understand Zen teaching
we can pay kind, compassionate attention
to the things around us

we can deal with a vegetable with warm-heartedness
expressing the lively energy of our life
and respecting the lively energy the vegetable also possesses

in Zen practice we approach the activity of each moment
with a clear and open mind,
our own life interrelating with the life
of all beings in the universe

because this moment is unified,
all living beings become the furniture of our mind
at that time we realize our true self

so we pay careful attention to every aspect of daily life:
getting up in the morning, washing our face,
having breakfast, and walking on the street
this is called creating our life
and is very important

we don’t know why,
but in living this way
something penetrates our life
we can feel it

that is maturity
maturity lets us live together with all sentient beings
in peace and harmony

so just take one step in this moment with wholeheartedness
allow all things to come and reside with your heart and mind
and they will function together as a whole
all things will open up and start to talk with you

this wonderful feeling is experienced beyond ideas and thoughts