To study Zen is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self…

Dogen Zenji


Jean Baby: Sesshin at Bangor. October 1995.

“To practise Zen is to know the self.” It’s to be present to ourselves, to be present to our body, and to all that we are beyond our small dimensions. It’s not a question of denying our personal existence. On the contrary, it’s about ceasing to be obsessed by it. Then, “automatically, naturally, unconsciously”, as Sensei used to say, our small personal consciousness can enlarge itself to what we are in the totality of our being, not separate from all beings and all things. At that level we are one body. Having become aware of this, having forgotten our person for a few hours, a few days, having forgotten our fixations, we can then return to our personal life, enriched by what we have discovered.

And we can make this personal life the most beautiful, the most true, the most useful we can. We can do this because, if only for a few moments, we have been able to know our true dimension, our true being, our true Nature, which we call Buddha Nature. But the name doesn’t matter because in fact, it is without name, beyond all the names that we could give it.

That is what is called awakening. That is what happens during zazen, at least when we are really present at this crossroads which is here and now and at the same time eternal.

It is never acquired once and for all because we change all the time, because we are within impermanence. We have to endlessly renew this presence, staying both as persons, and, at the same time as universal beings that we are, in a continuous movement which never ends, which began long before our birth and which will continue after our death.