“As long as demons exist in the world, they have their own reason to exist. The reason is completely beyond our human speculation, but demons exist in Buddha’s world. So we have to find the realm of buddhas within the realm of demons. In other words, in the realm of pain and suffering, we have to find the realm of peace and harmony. This is religious practice. You cannot find any peace by escaping from human pain and suffering; you have to find peace and harmony rights in the midst of human pain. That is the purpose of spiritual life.”
— Katagiri Roshi
It’s hard for American’s to use the mythological word “demons”, but trouble always exists in our world. Greed, anger and ignorance arise endlessly from our four Bodhisattva Vows. We have to find the realm of buddhas within the realm of demons. In other words, in the realm of pain and suffering, we have to find the realm of peace and harmony. This is religious practice.
We have to find a way to accept on life’s terms what is happening in our karmic, historic life AND to knead it or ventilate it with our understanding of Buddha nature, that which is complete and whole no matter what is happening on the surface and in the appearance of our life. How does that wholeness or dynamic function of form and emptiness work on a daily basis to help us stay upright with equanimity through the hurricanes and tornadoes of our karmic life?
One way is to stay in touch with the total dynamic functioning of life through daily prayer and meditation. So that our experience of freedom or universal perspective as Katagiri Roshi called it, is not very far away from our daily consciousness.
Another way is to take very profoundly the teaching that Every moment is complete. Every appearance is the expression of the source. I have been having a feeling of connectedness with the source in my daily life by using two mindfulness practices.
I have been trying to pause at doorways. Sometimes I do it as poorly as catching 15% of doorways on a given day, and other days I might go up to 60%. But no matter how well I do, it definitely has invited me more into presence. I take an inhale and then I say what I see on the other half of the doorway. I’m in the kitchen. I’m in the parking lot. I’m in my office. I’m in the zendo. Often I add, this moment is enlightenment. This has really been great! It is getting me into thinking of enlightenment not as a certain state but as a continuous line of immediacy.
The other mindfulness practice I have been doing is a body practice where you feel the backside of your body during activity, especially for me, during public speaking or when I feel anxious (which is often :)). I slightly pull myself back into my body, noticing the back half of my body and it just automatically changes the energy of my “pushing to accomplish something” or “my wanting a certain result to my activity.” It really centers me.
In order to have demons and buddhas live in the same complete moment as the transformative process of spiritual life, one has to have no preferences. “The way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose” (from Trust in Mind). That means, through our religious practice, we are building our capacity to maintain our equanimity or uprightness no matter if the present appearance is either side of the “8 worldly winds”:
- Pleasure or pain
- Gain or loss
- Praise or blame
- Success or failure
This is why Katagiri Roshi writes:
You cannot find any peace by escaping from human pain and suffering; you have to find peace and harmony rights in the midst of human pain. That is the purpose of spiritual life.