How are you doing? We have already April, there are so many different types of news around. It is a fact that the virus is still spreading. More than 47000 people have died with this disease. Soon there will be 1 million people who have been infected by the virus. There are these facts, and then there are all the emotional talks about the situation. Thus we need to make more efforts to stay quiet within.
The breathing method has a 4000 year long history. If there is only mental understanding without a deep breath, we cannot sustain ourselves. Someone who experienced this for himself, is Hakuin Zenji.
Hakuin is teaching the method of introspection. He himself was in a mental unstable place when he receive the guidance by Hakuyu Sennin. Using this name Hakuyu to teach the breathing method which he developed himself. We breathe with our lungs, bringing oxygen and nutrition to all 6 trillion cells of our body. Human beings have become used to sitting a lot and not moving our body enough thus our breathing becomes shallow. This is the reason that the disasters nowadays have become much more intense because our breathing is too weak.
Actually there is no need to learn how to breathe, we do this naturally, but we get too involved in the information from the outside and our inside becomes empty. That is where we get stuck, and only a master of zazen will be able to breathe strongly. Our usual breathing cannot withstand the pressure put on us from the outside.
Hakuin Zenji was a great zen student, yet became sick because of too much pressure during training. From this experience, Hakuin developed the tanden breathing. When practicing introspection, we look within and exhale strongly to invigorate the ki energy. You can read about these in detail in the Yasenkana and Orategama. Yet it depends on our own efforts whether we can actually feel the change.
Now we need this practice in order to respond well to the virus disaster. And that is not all. At the same time we are being faced with many other challenges and a lot of emotional talk all around. The many political and economic regulations become pressure upon us, and our freedom is limited. Living in these circumstances, our condition becomes worse. Thus we need to actually practice. There is no mental understanding needed.
Gathering the energy within, exhaling strongly. The energy in the tanden again strengthens the exhalation and supports the flow of the energy. If we are involved in outside data, this energy rises upwards in the body and we lose our balance. So we need to return to the practice of introspection and settle our energy. This needs to be developed and it needs to ripen. Mental understanding does not help us the slightest bit.
In our life we face many challenges, not only the corona virus but cancer, heart attack, stroke – there are many sicknesses and we need strong inner energy to face these. Please look at this carefully and keep working creatively. I am not saying that you should do zazen but you need to raise your level of energy.
Please each and everyone of you, strengthen your exhalation. Use your willpower to create physical power. Please see this as most important
-Shodo Harada Roshi