Zen Training Sekida

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<p>ZEN TRAINING ZEN Katsuki Sekida TRAINING METHODS AND PHILOSOPHY edited, with an introduction, b A. V. Grimstone New York WEATHERHILL Toko Te cover design incorporates an i paintin, "Cirle, Trianle, Square," by t Japanese Zn prest and artst Senai (1750-1837), courtesy of the Ideitsu A Galery, Tok. Publishd by Wethl, Inc. 420 Madison Avenue, 15th Aor Ne York, N.Y 10017 1985 by Katsuk Sd and A.V Grtone. Al rights rsered First edition, 1975 Tenth printin, 1992 Ubrry of Cons Catalo in Publication Data: Sd Katsuki, 1893-/ Z t. / A epanded Enlish version of A intrduction to Zn for beginners, originally witten in Japanese. / Includes bibliographical rfernce and index. / 1. Meditaton (Z Buddsm) 2. Z BuddhismDiscipline. / 1. T itle. / BQ9288.S4313 / 294.3'4'43 / 75-17573 / ISBN 0-8348-0111-6/ ISBN 0-8348-0114-0 pbk. Contents Preface 7 Editor's Introduction 9 1 Orientations 29 2 Zazen Posture 38 3 The Physiology of Attention 47 4 Breathing in Zazen 53 5 Counting and Following the Breat 60 6 Working on Mu 66 7 The Tanden 83 8 Samadhi 91 9 Koans 98 10 Three Nen-Actions and One-Eon Nen 108 11 Existence and Mood 128 12 Laughter and Zen 147 13 Pure Existence 160 1 Pure Cognition and Kensho 173 15 Kensho Experiences 193 16 A Personal Narrative 17 Stages in Zen Training Reference Notes Index 207 223 253 255 Preface I SHOULD LIKE to expres$ here my thanks to all those who have helped and encouraged me in the writing and publishing of this book. Parts of it originally appeared in Diamond Sanaha. the publication of the Zen group of Honolulu, and I must frst express my feeling of gratitude to Mr. Robert Aitken, who initially edited my articles and prepared them for publication in Diamond Sanaha. and to Mrs. Anne Aitken, who typed my manuscripts and generally spared no efort in the work of getting them printed. Without their helping hands, encouragement, and the hospitality of the pages of Diamond Sanaha, those articles would never have appeared. This also is the place to express my gratitude to the readers of Diamond Sanaha for their steady encouragement; it has meant much to me. The articles that appeared at that time were independent of each other and were published separately. The work of organizing those articles into book form, of editing the material that I added later, and of writing the introduction was undertaken by Dr. A. V. Grimstone, in Cambridge, England. I wish to thank him most warmly for the care he has devoted to. the task, and for his many helpful suggestions. He has worked on the book as if it were his own. I also wish to thank Miss Debra Graynom, of the Maui Zendo, who helped me by typing some parts of the manuscript, and more generally I want to express my gratitude for the encouragement given me by the members of the Zen groups of Honolulu and Maui, and the mem-7 PREFACE bers of the London Zen Society. Among the latter I particularly want to thank Mr. Geofrey Hargett for suggesting Figure 20. I hope that this book will be of interest and help to those who wish to study Zen. Good luck in your Zen practice! KATSUKI SEKIDA Kochi Prefecture, Japan, 1975 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author and editor wish to express their gratitude to the following for granting permission to reprint published material: Chatto and Windus, Random House, and the literary estate of C. K. ScottMoncrief for extracts from Scott-Moncrief's translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way and Within a Buddino Grove; the University of Illinois Press for a fgure from the American Journal Pscholo8; R. D. Laing and Penguin Books for an extract from The Politics Experience and The Bird Paradise, 1967 by R. D. Laing; David Magarshack and Penguin Books for passages from the former's translations of Dostoevski's The Idiot and The Devils, 1953, 1955 by David Magarshack; A. C. Guy ton and W. B. Saunders Company for material from Function the Human Body; Iris Murdoch and Routledge and Kegan Paul for passages from The Sovereiono Good; Manchester University Press and the University of Chicago Press for an extract from Karl Jaspers' General Pschopatholo8, translated by J. Hoenig and Marian W. Hamilton; and Macmillan Publishing Company and AlIen and Unwin for a passage from Edmund Husserl's Idea i Phenomenolo8, translated by W. P. Alston and G. Nakhnikian in Readinos in Twentieth-Centur Philosophy. 8 Editor's Introduction THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK, Katsuki Sekida, was born in Kochi, a town in the southwest of Japan, in 1893. He began the practice and study of Zen in his early twenties, in circumstances that are partly described in chapter 16 of this book, and has continued this uninterrupted ever since. His experience therefore extends over almost sixty years. Although his study and practice of Zen have been intense and profound, and although he lived and studied for some years in a Zen monastery, Ryutaku-ji, he has always remained a layman, earing his living as a schoolteacher until his retirement in 1945. In his later years he has become greatly respected as a teacher of Zen. These few biographical facts are important to the reader, I believe, since they help to establish that this book is the work of a man who can write of Zen with the authority of prolonged experience and deep study. In 1963, Mr. Sekida accepted an invitation to go to Honolulu to join a Zen group that had been founded there at the initiative of Robert Aitken, and he remained in Hawaii until 1970. It was in Honolulu that Mr. Sekida began working on an expanded English version of a book he had written in Japanese, An Introduction to Zen for Beginners, and early drafts of various chapters of this book were circulated with a newsletter, Diamond Sangha, published by the Honolulu Zen group. I met Mr. Sekida in 1968, when I was working in Honolulu for a time, and again in 1971, when he came to England for several months at the invitation of the London Zen Society. At that time he asked me ifI would assist him in the fnal preparation of his manuscript 9 EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION for publication. I gladly agreed to do this, since it seems to me that his ideas are interesting and important and his book is a most valuable one. I can claim no profound knowledge or experience of Zen myself, but in the course of my professional activities as a scientist I have acquired a certain experience of writing and editing, and it seemed to me that it was this that Mr. Sekida chiefy needed, rather than a deep knowledge of his subject. Mr. Sekida completed his manuscript in 1972, and the fnal version is now before the reader. Mr. Sekida also asked if, in addition to editing the book, I would write an introduction to it. With some difdence, I agreed to do this. The book is, I believe, well able to stand by itself, and the reader will lose little if he proceeds straight to chapter 1. However, Mr. Sekida's view of Zen is diferent in many respects from that which has previously been presented to Western readers, and a few words of explanation at te outset may help some readers to orient themselves in unfamiliar territory and to relate what is said here to what is to be found in other books. In particular, I think it may be useful to state explicitly some of the things that Mr. Sekida takes for granted and does not comment on. For Mr. Sekida the unquestioned basis of any serious practice of Zen is zazen, the exercise in which the student sits and lears to control his body and mind. A substantial part of the book is devoted to describing how zazen is performed and what its efects are. Perhaps for some readers this concentration on zazen will need justifcation, for in Daisetz T. Suzuki' s writings, which were chiefy responsible for introducing Zen to the West, no such emphasis is to be found, and this inevitably infuenced those introductory books on Zen that were largely based on his work.1 Suzuki wrote about Zen largely from a theoretical ad cultural viewpoint a nd was not much concerned with the practical aspects of Zen training. Traditionally, the practice of Zen has been taught to students personally, usually in a monastery. Suzuki took this for granted and perhaps assumed that it would always be the case. At any rate, his books contain little mention of zazen, and certainly nothing by way of instructions on how to perform it. It needs, therefore, to be emphasized at the outset that the experi-10 EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION ences and insights that Suzuki described are, and always have been, gined by the assiduous practice of zazen. This point has already been made by Philip Kapleau,2 whose book went further than any that had hitherto appeared-in the West, at least-in describing how Zen is actually practiced. Kapleau's book is undoubtedly a most valuable and interesting one. Largely consisting of translations of lectures and other material by contemporary Zen teachers, some older Zen texts, and autobiographical accounts by a number of Zen students, it comes nearer than any other book in English to describing how Zen functions as a religion. But still it falls short of being the book that is so badly needed in the West: nowhere does it give the reader the kind of precise instrctions for performing zazen that he will need if he is to practice-as most Westemers inevitably will-without the guidance of a Zen teacher. Like Suzuki and the writers of the classical Zen texts, the authors of the material that Kapleau translates did not see the necessity of giving highly detailed practical instructions of this kind. As far as I know, such information has not so far been published in any European language. The frst great merit of Mr. Sekida's book, then, is that it tells us exactly how zazen is to be performed. When we read what Mr. Sekida has to say on this topic, however, we discover that he is not content to confne himself to the essential practical requirements. He goes far beyond this, for he undertakes a remarkable analysis of the whole exercise of zazen, conducted largely in physiological terms. Posture, breathing, the fnction of the abdomjnal muscles, muscle tone, the mechanisms of wakefulness and attention-all are discussed in detail in the language of the physiologist. The value of this, it seems to me, is twofold. In the frst place, it helps the student to understand what he is trying to do when he sits doing zazen. He is not merely instructed to sit and concentrate on, shall we say, counting his breath or saying "Mu," but is told precisely why, if he manipulates his body in certain ways, he will fnd himself better able to carry out such an exercise. Secondly-and for some people this will be even more important-Mr. Sekida's analysis, logical and scientifc as it is, helps to make the whole matter of practicing zazen more reasonable. For many people, and especially those with any 11 EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION sort of scientifc or philosophical training, the seeming irrationality of Zen, as it has so often been presented, constitutes a formidable barrier. It is a decided help to fnd that an experienced Zen teacher is prepared to discuss the basic form of Zen practice in such cool terms. This analysis of zazen is, however, only the start of what Mr. Sekida has in store for us. For having provided the frst clear description of how to do zazen, he goes on to present an account of the aims of zazen, and of Zen training in general, that difers markedly from most of those we have hitherto been ofered. To appreciate this we must pause for a moment to consider what other writers on Zen-and here I am again thinking of writers in European languages-have in general considered to be te principal aims of Zen practice. I think it would be hard to deny that the impression given by much of the literatre on Zen is that the overriding aim of the student must be to achieve enlightenent-to experience kenshi, or satri, in which one "sees into one's ow nature" in the deepest sense. For many Western readers, Zen is identifed as the Buddhist school characterized by its emphaSiS on "sudden enlightenment." The emphasis in Mr. Sekida's account of Zen is signifcantly different. As will be seen, he by no means ignores or belittles kensho, but he does not place it before the student as something he must strive for in his practice of zazen. It is not merely that, like some oter writers on Zen, he regards kensho as something that must be allowed to come naturally, in its own time, rather than be sought or induced by artifcial methods. For Mr. Sekida the primary, initial aim of zazen is the attainment of the state of absolute samadhi: the condition of total stillness, in which "body and mind are fallen of," no thought stirs, the mind is empty, yet we are in a state of extreme wakeflness. "In this stillness, or emptiness, the source of all kinds of activity is latent. It is this state that we call pure existence." The discussion of samadhi is in itself one of the most valuable features of Mr. Sekida's book. It is a term that has been used in a confsing variety of ways. Mr. Sekida helps to clarify the situation by making a distinction between two kinds of samadhi. The term has customarily been applied to the condition in which t...</p>