great ocean zen center has adopted the practice guidelines of its parent community: sanshin-ji. soto zen teaches devotion to the daily practice of buddhadharma (the teachings and world of the buddha) through zazen (meditation). dogen zenji (1200-1253) held that the essential art of zazen was to “think of not thinking” or “beyond thinking”. uchiyama-roshi called this “opening the hand of thought”. opening the hand of thought is shikantaza, or “just sitting”. a unique meditation in buddhism it avoids techniques such as counting breaths or meditating on koans, and emphasizes sitting in the upright posture, breathing deeply, and letting go of thoughts. this is, in itself, the realization of the buddhadharma.
dogen zenji recommended that a person working to benefit buddha's family, or sangha, should maintain three mental attitudes: magnanimous mind, nurturing mind, and joyful mind.
magnanimous mind is like an ocean or a mountain: calm and steady, yet accepting and nourishing countless beings and situations without differentiation. the ocean is serene because it accepts many rivers without resisting.
nurturing mind, literally “old mind”, is akin to the attitude of a kindly grandmother or parent who delights in caring for others. it is the spirit of the bodhisattva, the fully mature person who vows to end the suffering of others.
joyful mind is the joy that comes from deep in our hearts even in the midst of difficulty. it arises from the insight of zazen, that we live together with all beings and are not separate.
together, the three minds form the basis of a buddhist sangha. when grounded in zazen, these three mental attitudes show us how to live and work in harmony with others at all times.
some important points of practice offered by kosho uchiyama-roshi in the last formal talk he gave at antai-ji, on february 23, 1975.
- study and practice the buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma, not for the sake of human emotions and worldly ideas.
- zazen is the most venerable and only true teacher.
- zazen must work concretely in our daily lives as the two practices (vow and repentance), the three minds (magnanimous, nurturing, and joyful), and as the realization of the saying, “gaining is delusion, losing is enlightenment.”
- live by vow and root it deeply.
- realizing that development and backsliding are your responsibility alone, endeavor to practice and develop.