Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Throw Yourself into the Great Universe

"The power of knowing actually performing within us is Buddha. This is our God. We worship this. We do not bow down to worship this Buddha. We meditate upon it. We do not call it's name; we do not look up into the sky or peep down into the earth to find it. It is in us ... just sit down and meditate. Throw yourself into the great universe. Don't put a little tag "I" on yourself. Peel the label off and throw yourself into the great universe."

Shigetsu Sasaki (1882 - 1945), also known as Sokei-an, was the first Zen master to settle permanently in America, eventually landing in New York and founding the First Zen Institute of America in 1930. His work is overshadowed by the more popular later Zen teachers like Suzuki and Katagiri, but I think it's worth going back to the those who came to the U.S. long before the word Zen became popular with hippies, dropouts, and literary folks. Sokei-an also was one of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants interned in camps by the U.S. government during World War II. In fact, his health weakened during the time he spent in the camps, and it's possible this valuable early 20th century Zen teacher's life was shorted by the terrible injustice of internment.

What energy his words have. "Throw yourself" into it - this life! I can almost hear him saying "don't be half-assed," too! And drop any notions about an "I" who is doing all this. It's not there. A great reminder for sure.

Check out the archive of newsletters with Sokei-an lectures in them on the website above for more.

1 comment:

Marguerite Manteau-Rao said...

Thank you, Nathan. Yes, this journey is a passionate one, and as far as I am concerned the only worth pursuing, really. May your faith, and my faith keep on shining, bright.