Awakening to the character of our individuality

He saw all the five aggregates to be Emptiness, and passed beyond suffering.

This is illumined vision, seeing things as they really are. Satori is when the real character of everything is seen. When renunciation of self is complete, the absolute, the state free from all conditions, in which at present we are putting our faith, will actually be realized. The world of faith is to act entrusting all to Kannon. Religion is not logic and all that. To entrust all to Kannon means to have merged self in the state of Kannon. By the power of my self I can do nothing, not even check one tear or one impulse to anger, but when I have pierced to the truth at the bottom of that self, the holy form of the Bodhisattva Kannon appears, which rescues the I into the absolute unconditioned. Surely this is the true world of faith also.

Faith is not just worshipping Buddha, but rather realization of the truth of one’s self, Zen master Dogen is always telling us to learn how to withdraw by turning the light and shining it back. This light, this illumination, is the radiating mind, the mind released towards objects. When a sound is heard, the mind is released to that sound, we are attracted by the sound. Or, when a form is seen, the mind transfers to it and we are attracted by the form. The light, the mind which is attracted to objective things, we are to pull back, and the training of the Zen school is this withdrawing a step and considering. What after all is this anger, this impulse to greed? The first condition of spiritual training is to withdraw and come to realize the truth of one’s self. He speaks of with-drawing, not of advancing; it is the meditation of withdrawal which is important. There are different currents in the one Zen sect, but the doctrine of the Master Dogen is indeed a true doctrine. To go charging headlong to another place cannot be called training. Today people are apt to be hotheaded in rushing around. Perhaps some of them that life is an arena of competition and this charging about is the thing to do. They have the impression that they need only discard all human illusions and charge forward to conquer everything, and so sweep all before them in the human arena.

But the method of Buddhism is not like that, not just rushing out to objects. Its basis is at every step to withdraw and realize fully the truth of what is called self The trick of withdrawal is the basis of the Buddhist training.

When the truth of selfhood is known, the world of faith manifests clearly, that faith which entrusts everything to Kannon. It is illumined vision, and with it comes the entering into faith, namely realization. When the life of faith manifests, it is the life of satori. He who enters into the state of faith is one who verily has entered the state of satori. He is awakened. And then, the I who was saved soon becomes the I who saves. I who was saved by Kannon, who was merged in the world of liberation, am now no different from Kannon. Saved by Kannon, that one becomes holy Kannon, and must now be active for the salvation of all. Saved by Kannon, merged in Kannon, being Kannon, is the state of satori and awakening. The state of entering faith and the state of satori cannot be different. The meaning of illumined vision is that the saved must soon become the saviour; the state of awakening is that the self saved by Kannon must become Kannon. It is in this that satori must reveal itself. The condition of entering faith, of enlightenment, of awakening to the truth about one’s body and mind, is the realization that the five aggregates are all Emptiness. Enlightenment is fully grasping this. Hitherto the five have not been Emptiness, but now there is a clear understanding of what they are.


by Abbot Obora of the Soto Zen sect

Similar Posts