The wisdom of Dogen

by Michael Kilman,, Nov 18, 2008

Denver, CO (USA) -- Dogen Kigen (1200-1253) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher born in Kyoto, and the founder of the Soto school of Zen in Japan. He was a leading religious figure of his time, as well as being an important philosopher. Zenji is a title meaning " Zen master", while the name Dogen means roughly "Source of the Way". (From Wikipedia)

The school of Zen Buddhism that Dogen found taught that meditation is in itself enlightenment. He realized that the very practice of meditation brought peace and mindfulness to the mind of the practitioner. He saw the power that meditation brought into his life and to the lives of those he taught.

When I read some of his teachings I was astonished. I realized that everything I was seeking was already in my meditation. In my meditation practice, I am peaceful, mindful, and patient, as well as many other qualities that I sometimes forget. As I read this I realized that achieving enlightenment only means making your everyday life a form of meditation.

A passage from Dogen's writings states, " Yet this is not all that zazen (meaning sitting in meditation) does. It is like the hammer striking emptiness, the bell's melodious sound continues to resonate as it echoes, endlessly before and after. It is not limited to this moment. Not only that, but all things are endowed with original practice within the original face, which is impossible to measure. You should know that even if all the Buddhas in the ten directions, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, together engage the full power of their Buddha wisdom, they could never reach the limit, or measure or comprehend the virtue, of one person's zazen."

Each time we meditate we drop something, thus we are striking the bell. Each time we meditate we open the door to become the peace that is meditation. Dogen tells us that all we need to do is sit in meditation to understand the profound wisdom we can find hidden within our everyday life. Practicing meditation is nothing more then training for the everyday world.

What does this mean? Anyone can sit in meditation. Anyone can open the door to a world of peace that has been hidden inside of them all along. What you believe in does not matter, meditation has no agenda other then bringing peace and stability to our lives. One could meditate on the teachings of Jesus by asking themselves during meditation if they really were trying to show love and compassion to their neighbor. One could meditate on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, or The Tao Te Ching.

It does not matter what you meditate on. The focus of meditation is letting go of the self and realizing our own flaws in a mindful way, so that we can attempt to fix them the next time we are given the opportunity to do so. If we pay attention to how we are living our lives, and our actions, if we focus every moment on how we can better ourselves the world will naturally begin to follow.

Just take time to sit and open yourself. All you need do is sit and breathe and patiently watch our own thoughts. If you do so, you open the doors to peace entering your heart.

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