The household of the Buddha-ancestors is our house.

“The day to day activities in the household of the Buddha-ancestors, is our house, our life and our activity. This doing and not doing, is imbued thoroughly with the total dynamic functioning of moment-to-moment reality. Nothing is left out and there can be great peace and ease in this understanding.”

— Dogen Zenji.

A friend sent me this quote this week and it was a continuation of my last blog. What I’ve been contemplated, particularly in Dogen’s “Uji” is how to manifest the Wisdom of Equality.

The household of the Buddha-ancestors is our house. Our day-to-day activities are the life and activity of the Buddha. Can our concentration and mindfulness be strong enough to make this an expression of our own very life and truth? We need a lot of mental strength (concentration energy) to interrupt our swirling stories in our minds and land us in the experiential sensations of the here and now. To allow our feeling heart/mind to know that this here and now is connected with the whole universe. When we are able to do this, we have relief.

“This doing and not doing ” are BOTH the dynamic functioning of the truth. It’s hard for a human mind not to cling to one side or the other as “right.” 

Our culture is such a “doing” culture. Our values and praise are skewed towards accomplishment. However, a value of non-doing might help alleviate our high stress and anxiety. So for Americans, it’s usually that we need to make spaces for non-doing. We learn to meditate. We allow unbounded openness to touch our day-to-day activities. But either way, concretely producing, or sitting in silence and openness, either way, we are involved in the dynamic functioning of life itself, of the Whole Works. Nothing is left out.

Spirituality and meditation does not land us in a vermillion tower — a heaven that transcends our day-to-day activity. Rather we are encouraged to see our ordinary lives from the view of One mind and the mystery revealed in every form or activity.

There can be great peace and ease in this understanding. This is the beginning of radical acceptance, which can imbue everything with peace. Our karmic lives cannot be escaped. Our karmic life has to be accepted as it is and seen through as impermanent. 

Contrary to what we think Buddha said, the first thing Katagiri Roshi said to me in 1973 was, “You can’t escape pain.” What does that mean in the face of Buddha saying that he came to teach freedom from suffering? So this is our great koan. How can we see our suffering and the activities of our karmic life as the great manifestation of the One Mind? Through that investigation, our karmic consciousness and the Buddha-nature can be seen dynamically functioning together and forming the great household of the Buddha-ancestors. Then, our karmic life is revealed and seen as a household of a Buddha.