Are you deepening in your zazen?
In my monastery there are 22 people from 13 different nations. Doing one sesshin after the next. Of course, I do sit together with everyone in the zendo.
The corona situation is bringing a lot of uncertainty to many people in different countries, it is not allowed to gather in groups, that is how the instructions are. Here in Sogenji we sit In the zendo with the windows open, we keep 1 m distance between everyone in the zendo. That is how far we take it and then gathering each breath in the belly, slowly letting the essence ripen. We are also not allowed to go out, there is actually no need to go out since we are in sesshin, our zazen can develop even further.
Luckily I cannot go abroad right now, thus I am there from morning until night for daily sanzens morning and night, and I can check the essence of everyone. Of course, this training is not only possible in a situation like this. That is how it should be. With so much bad news around, we decide within to sit deeply, that is important. It is as if the outer situation is helping us to deepen even further.
Why do we do zazen? We need to experience it for ourselves.
Seen from the Asian traditional medicine, there is Genki, the source of all energy of the universe. As long as we are alive, we do need to eat. We need to drink water and breathe air. For our body to live we receive food, water and air from the outside and absorb it. Our 6 trillion cells receive the oxygen, this is what supports our body. As long as we have a body we need to give this energy to every single part of the body. This again refreshed us. Food and water is yin energy, while our energy is yang energy. Our belly is the center of this energy. From the time we were walking on four legs until now that we have evolved to walking on two legs, the structure of our body has not changed. Animals kick with their back legs while the front legs grasp and hold, this is life energy. To be able to kick means that our belly is working well.
This belly is giving us our life energy and purpose. When we are too involved in the outside, that energy which should gather in our belly is being used up by the outside. This energy slips away and lets our anxiety increase.
The stronger the exhalation the more vibrant the blood circulation in our body. If this low is not vibrant, the energy can get stuck more easily. We keep working on extending our breath which in return gives us more energy. This is what we focus on not only when sitting but also when walking and working, as if a balloon has been blown up. We feel taught and full in our belly. If we can actually feel this, then no matter what influences us from the outside, we do not get pulled along while not ignoring the situation. We are able to stay centered within, that is the important point.
During zazen we gather this energy which keeps slipping away so that we can rise our essence. When we carry a bucket with water, whatever we do, we add pressure on our belly, when walking as well, with each step we can gather even more energy in our center. If we stay with this focus daily, even when there is a corona virus around with so many people infected, a few percentage will get seriously sick from it, yet most people don´t. The infected numbers are high, but an actually healthy person will not be affected by it much. Please do not get fooled by the numbers, do not get fooled by all the many news. Of course, you need to keep to the instructions. And supporting your own health by not going to a place with bad air flow, where many people gather, do not do unnecessary things. Yet those people who will get the virus will get it. Looking at it in this way, we need to have stronger essence. Not getting confused by the information but rather deepening our essence.
Please do not practice a zazen of form but of essence. Everyone will know this for himself, if we are in our center no matter what news reaches us, we can receive it with a clear and calm mind. We do not become anxious. Now is the time we need to be centered within, not getting stopped at anything. To be able to face the present situation we need to be even more centered within. I would like to ask all of you for you continued efforts.