Dai sai gedap-puku
Musou fuku den e
Hi bu noyrai kyo
Kodo shoshu jo
Great robe of liberation,
Virtuous field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tathagatha’s teaching
We vow to save all beings
( from the Sanshinji Chant Book, translated into English from Okumura Roshi )
Every morning, we put our o-kesa on the top of our head and chant this verse. Kaikyo Roby, my first teacher in this lineage, firmly believed that all human beings are boddhisattvas. I believe that, too!
When we practice in this mind, before we start to discriminate, before we divide the world into good and evil, before our habit energies and habitual patterns start to take hold and we begin to separate ourselves, before a gap starts to open between ourselves and the outside – when we sense that all things are interconnected, we catch a glimpse of all-embracing, boundless compassion.
This all-embracing, boundless compassion is often called DAIJIHI (大慈悲) in traditional Japanese.
While I’m writing these lines, I am sitting in a prison waiting room, waiting for an inmate to be brought who I want to visit, to share his suffering in yet another small room, with a glass pane dividing us.
This practice, to stay in the mind before discrimination and to expand it into our daily lives, to widen this field and to share it with others, for the benefit of all beings, is my most important vow.
Genjokoan, an essential part of Shobogenzo, the most important collection of
teachings by Dogen Zenji, the founder of our lineage from 13th
century Japan, Dogen states: “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self.”
When we start to walk this path and to take care of ourselves, when we start to clear our minds, we simultaneously start to care for the well-being of all beings. This process usually begins in our immediate surroundings, our family and friends, and extends from there. It’s like throwing a stone into a quiet lake and watching the emerging waves spread to the shore. In this image, our stone is our most profound practice, sitting in contemplation – zazen.
To share this practice, for the benefit of all beings, is a great opportunity to integrate one’s own practice more fully into everyday life. No matter where, whether we start in our immediate surroundings or in a retirement home, a hospital, a homeless shelter, as a reading tutor at a school; no matter what, be it spending time with people with disabilities, teaching German to refugees, wherever of however support is needed right now. In these constellations, we can create spaces in which we can actually stay in the mind before differentiation, before classifications must be made which entail immediate responses. Here, true reality can unfold and we can grow beyond our limitations!
We want to bear witness to this and have developed a concept to bring all of this into our reality with stronger intent: