Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A History of Samurai and Zen (12)

THE FIRST STEP IN THE MENTAL TRAINING
 

Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supreme
enlightenment after the practice of meditation for one week, some for one
day, some for a score of years, and some for a few months. The practice of
meditation, however, is not simply a means for enlightenment, as is usually
supposed, but also it is the enjoyment of nirvana, or the beatitude of Zen. It
is a matter, of course, that we have fully to understand the doctrine of Zen,
and that we have to go through the mental training peculiar to Zen in order
to be enlightened.

The first step in the mental training is to become the master of external
things. He who is addicted to worldly pleasures, however learned or
ignorant he may be, however high or low his social position may be, is a
servant to mere things. He cannot adapt the external world to his own end,
but he adapts himself to it. He is constantly employed, ordered, driven by
sensual objects. Instead of taking possession of wealth, he is possessed by
wealth. Instead of drinking liquors, he is swallowed up by his liquors. Balls
and music bid him to run mad. Games and shows order him not to stay at
home. Houses, furniture, pictures, watches, chains, hats, bonnets, rings,
bracelets, shoes in short, everything has a word to command him. How can
such a person be the master of things? ToJu (Nakae) says: "There is a great
jail, not a jail for criminals, that contains the world in it. Fame, gain, pride,
and bigotry form its four walls. Those who are confined in it, fall a prey to
sorrow and sigh for ever."

To be the ruler of things we have first to shut up all our senses, and turn the
current thoughts inward, and see ourselves as the center of the world, and
meditate that we are the beings of highest intelligence; that Buddha never
puts us at the mercy of natural forces; that the earth is in our possession;
that everything on earth is to be made use of for our noble ends; that fire,
water, air, grass, trees, rivers, hills, thunder, cloud, stars, the moon, the sun,
are at our command; that we are the law givers of the natural phenomena;
that we are the makers of the phenomenal world; that it is we that appoint a
mission through life, and determine the fate of man.

~Kaiten Nukariya