To sit in meditation is not the only method of practicing Zazen. "We
practice Dhyana in sitting, in standing, and in walking," says one of the
Japanese Zenists. Lin Tsi (Rinzai) also says: " To concentrate one's mind,
or to dislike noisy places, and seek only for stillness, is the characteristic of
heterodox Dhyana." It is easy to keep self-possession in a place of
tranquillity, yet it is by no means easy to keep mind undisturbed a mid of
the actual life. It is true Dhyana that makes our mind sunny while the
storms of strife rage around us. It is true Dhyana that secures the harmony
of heart, while the surges of struggle toss us violently. It is true Dhyana that
makes us bloom and smile, while the winter of life covets us with frost and
"Idle thoughts come and go over unenlightened minds six hundred and fifty
times in a snap of one's fingers," writes an Indian teacher, "and thirteen
hundred million times every twenty-four hours." This might be an
exaggeration, yet we cannot but acknowledge that one idle thought after
another ceaselessly bubbles up in the stream of consciousness. "Dhyana is
the letting go," continues the writer--"that is to say, the letting go of the
thirteen hundred million of idle thoughts." The very root of these thirteen
hundred million idle thoughts is an illusion about one's self. He is indeed
the poorest creature, even if he be in heaven, who thinks himself poor. On
the contrary, he is an angel who thinks himself hopeful and happy, even
though he be in hell.
" Pray to free me," said a sinner to Sang Tsung (Sosan). "Who ties you up?"
was the reply. You tie yourself up day and night with the fine thread of idle
thoughts, and build a cocoon of environment from which you have no way
of escape. "'There is no rope, yet you imagine yourself bound." Who could
put fetters on your mind but your mind itself? Who could chain your will
but your own will? Who could blind your spiritual eyes, unless you yourself
shut them up? Who could prevent you from enjoying moral food, unless
you yourself refuse to eat? "
"There are many," said Süeh Fung (Sep-po) on one occasion, "who starve in
spite of their sitting in a large basket full of victuals. There are many who
thirst in spite of seating themselves on the shore of a sea." "Yes, Sir,"
replied Hüen Sha (Gensha), "there are many who starve in spite of putting
their heads into the basket full of victuals. There are many who thirst in
spite of putting their heads into the waters of the sea." Who could cheer him
up who abandons himself to selfcreated misery? Who could save him who
denies his own salvation?"