Mondo with Taisen Deshimaru

Mondo is a question-and-answer dialogue between a Zen master and their students. Questions and Answers with Taisen Deshimaru Roshi.

Yes. Every day you practise, your mind changes. But what is progress? Heading for the "summit", the satori? Say to yourself:"I give myself a year, ten years to achieve it"? Zen is nothing like that. If you are truly free of purpose and aim, you are united with your deep, pure nature, nature without duality. It is very difficult to give up any sense of purpose, any desire for profit. Whoever sees you may say,"He's crazy. Giving up his desires is inhuman. . ." You have to find your own posture, get to know your weak and strong points, find your original and most beautiful posture. Thus your face becomes peaceful and you reach your personal originality.
That's a deep philosophy. "Here and now" means to be fully committed to what you are doing and not to think about the past or the future, forgetting the present moment. If you're not happy here and now, you never will be.
No! No, I don't think so. This is a development. The newborn baby is attracted by its mother's breast, the adult chases after joy, money, power and awards. The day he tries to look into himself, he begins to become a spiritual being. This is not a flight, but an extremely realistic step, an extension of the field of consciousness, a development, a revolution.
Everyone must be able to earn a living. And it is not necessary to become a monk! Furthermore, I constantly stress the importance of work and concentration in everyday life. Zen education is strong and is aimed at people who are already strong. But it is different for everyone, it works soft and adaptable and yet deep at the same time. In a society, a handful of strong and pure people is enough to have a healing influence.
That's probably the problem of civilization in general. Did people live better before they were civilized? As you know, the inner part of the brain was originally very active. In the course of civilization, only the cerebral cortex was used intensively. The exterior has thus evolved unilaterally, while the interior has remained underemployed. Such a disturbance of balance can only cause neurasthenia, nervousness and frustration - both for the individual and for the whole humanity.

I visited the frescoes of Lascaux and Tassili. Thousands of years ago, people left their pictures on the rocks in these caves. These are powerful works of art nourished by cosmic consciousness. Which painter could create the equivalent today? I cannot express a general opinion on the form in which human development has taken place, nor can I decide which would be the best. Intelligence has developed strongly since the Renaissance and cultures have become intellectualized. But what happened to wisdom? I can assure you the following: By practicing zazen, our brain can regain its normal and original state and return to the cosmic order. New energy penetrates into people, a strong activity develops, pure creative power reveals itself in them, and the ability to concentrate intuitively becomes a matter of course.

I don't know. If one asks someone: "Are you a good person?" and he answers with yes, then it is very likely that he is not as good as he pretends to be, otherwise his answer would have turned out to be more modest, for example: "Not so much", or "I don't know anything about it".
One must not want the satori and not search for it. Anyone who asks such a question will certainly want to preserve satori. Dogen in particular emphasizes that satori already exists in us, in fact even before our birth. So if we already have satori, why try to get it?
But when our life is full of passions and desires, when it is complicated, we must practice zazen to return to the normal. Zazen itself is satori. The return to the normal state is achieved through good posture, correct breathing and silence. Asking the question whether I have satori means that one has not understood what true Zen is. The right answer can only be: "No, I don't have satori, but I practice zazen, because zazen itself is already satori."

These are translated extracts from: Taisen Deshimaru-Roshi: ZA-ZEN Die Praxis des Zen, Kristkeitz Verlag, 1978, p.51ff