Part 7 Zazenshin: Acupuncture Needle of Zazen, by Shohaku Okumura

7th and final installment

Buddhism now

Bamboo in the wind, Yi Jeong (Korean, 1541–1626) © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

[This is the final instalment of Reverend Okumura’s series of talks which
have focused on the famous koan story `Nangaku polishing a tile’.]

We should know that Baso is saying that zazen is without fail `aiming at becoming-buddha.’ If we don’t `aim-at-becoming-buddha’, our zazen is not Buddhist practice. In the original story, Nangaku admonished Baso for sitting to become a buddha, but here Dogen says we should practise `aiming-at-becoming-buddha’ by just sitting and letting go of thoughts.

`Zazen is always the aiming at becoming-buddha.’ Again, this `aiming’ is an illustration or expression of becoming-buddha. I put a hyphen between `becoming’ and `buddha’. Here, `becoming-buddha’ is the name of our buddha as our practice. Sometimes Dogen used the word in this way. Sa-butsu literally means `becoming buddha’, but this `sa-butsu’ is a name for Buddha.

Another expression he used was `gyo-butsu’ in the Shobogenzo. `Gyo-butsu-iigi’, `iigi means…

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