I reviewed WAKEFUL pages 26-51 where the practical aspects of meditation are described. The pages after that are focused more on the challenges of meditation once you start practicing. WAKEFUL was Sensei’s expression of traditional Buddhism. Over the years he started focusing more on being than on meditating, saying “be happy and strong” instead of “just meditate”. Still I think we struggle and get in a rut as we learn to be happy and strong, and confrontation as you do in meditation helps us come to our senses with a more accurate self-perspective.


WAKEFUL (pp 1-25): We had an excellent discussion on many ideas and ways of expressing them here. One thought I had about the middle path between the two ways forward that Sensei talked about in this section and the extremes Buddha experienced as a sheltered prince and later as a wilderness ascetic. Should we seek comfort or should we seek to overcome pain? The answer is: that’s irrelevant, we should seek to know ourself. This is much like ‘before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water.’ Daily life continues before and after we know what and who we are and we stop being attached to what we are not. We are so much more than we think. We’ve often settled on being the cheap dragon; of being a comfort-seeking being. There is more to you than that. Dogen Zenji says: “Please, honored followers of Zen. Long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not be suspicious of the true dragon.”


The Buddhist “version” of Santa Claus is the Chinese Buddhist monk, Pu Tai (=Hotei in Japanese), which you see as the common big-bellied Buddha statues. The Happy China-man has a story in 101 Zen Sayings (Zen Flesh Zen Bones). The significance of Jhana (=Zen in Japanese)? stop and pay attention. The realization of Jhana? just continue on. They say before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water. Meaning what you do doesn’t change, it’s how you experience it: without attachment. We’re going to do a book club type study, initially with WAKEFUL starting next week.