Zen in daily life

Zen teacher Dogen and the Soto approach to Zen

Zen Today

By zen master Danny Waxman

Zen existed before the era of Shakyamoni Buddha. Its aim has always been to balance the suffering realm, the world of life and death. The life of a Zen person is an alternative path to the materialistic values of this world. He or she guides his community towards the growth of the soul and enabling people to develop and mature creativity and enhancing humanistic reasoning. In that way, Zen has survived through two thousand and five hundred years of wars, famine and harsh decrees.

Year 1200 was the time when Zen teacher Dogen was born. Already a child, he understood that there was nothing in the world that stood still without change. He realized that all the things were constantly moving. He learned Zen from the best Zen teachers in Japan and then decided to go to China in a search of a true Zen teacher. After a long search, he finally found Zen teacher Tendo Niyojo. He studied with him days and nights for two years, achieving at the end of his stay an original enlightenment.

In the 20th century in Japan, Zen Master Prof. Masunaga Reiho was born. He was a brilliant Zen disciple that found his true self when he was still very young. He was also a great scholar that soon became leading Professor of Buddhist studies in Komazawa University. He had a deep understanding of Dogen's Zen and he succeeded in adapting it to the current modern era. Prof. Masunaga emphasized that all people have the ability to achieve an original enlightenment, a goal everyone should strive for. He also made a great effort to clear the "Problem of Time" as Dogen explained it in his monumental work, Shobogenzo.

Dogen and Masunaga explained that every human being is born with an inherited true self. In order for it to fully emerge one has to practice by sitting Zazen (the quiet peaceful sitting), getting guidance from a true Zen teacher. In order to find your True-self, you should refrain from the chase after fame and profit. The moment you are practicing Zazen is an actualization of original enlightenment. Enlightenment is embodied in Zazen sitting. Zazen practice is the evolving process of the harmony of your internal organs, your heart your brain and the process of breathing. This harmony is the source of jijiuzamai – happiness that originates from within.

Humanity should understand that most of human problems stem from within them, and cannot be solved by chasing things/solutions that are external. Therefore, every human being should practice Zazen, reach balance and harmony from within, and by that reach balance and harmony with the universe.