Teisho: Case 62, Book of Equanimity: Beiko’s “Enlightenment”

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“… even satori disappears. There is no more consciousness of being enlightened. When you stand, there is just standing; when you sit, there is just sitting.” Enlightenment is gone—just this ...”

tree no satori 

Description: This talk explores the koan, “Beiko’s “Enlightenment,” from the Book of Equanimity. Beiko sends a monk to ask Kyôzan, “Do people these days really need enlightenment or not?” This can be seen as a reference to that which is expressed in Hakuin Zenji’s Song of Zazen in the phrase, “All beings are by nature Buddha.” One may ask if all beings are already Buddha and there is nothing to realize, then why bother to practice at all. Do we need it if we already have it? This is the very question that plagued Dogen. After years of practice, his question was answered. Kyôzan’s reply affirms that there is such a thing as enlightenment. He says, “It is not that there is no enlightenment, but how can it be helped that it falls into the second class?” Henry reads a passage from Yamada Kôun Roshi to give us a sense of how he sees Kyôzan’s answer. “Even though we may realize satori, concepts may remain.” Essentially, we may still have some idea about enlightenment—this is the second class. There is a Japanese phrase that means to return to your original, unadorned self. “When you reach that stage, even satori disappears. There is no more consciousness of being enlightened. When you stand, there is just standing; when you sit, there is just sitting.” Enlightenment is gone—just this. From this perspective, every “class” or level or stage of practice is already the fact of great awakening and nothing needs to be any different than it is.

Post & Featured image: Tree by rihaijCCO Public Domain.


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