Teisho as Dokusan. (Teisho 1314 – 2013)

After Albert’s death, I received many emails and cards from members expressing their love and appreciation for him and the work he had done and, in addition, expressing their wish to help keep the Centre going. The best way to do this is to do zazen. As the Sixth Patriarch said to his students on the day he died: “Live as though I were still here. Do zazen together. When I am gone, just practice correctly according to the Teaching, just as you did during my days with you. Remember, even were I to remain in this world, if you do not follow my teaching my presence among you would be pointless.”

Some people are concerned about dokusan, Albert not being here to give it. Yet, when I listen to his teishos, it is as though I am hearing what is being said in the dokusan room. He says it in one way, he says it in another, but always the same thing: how to practice. The following is a direct excerpt from a teisho that could be said in dokusan:

Seeing into the truth, that what you think is the real you is but a shadow, is the basis of the practice. It is the reason that you ask the question ‘What am I?’ The Prajna Paramita deconstructs the whole sense of self: “No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.” Everything we think of as our own is shown to be empty.

It distresses me when I ask you what you are doing when working on ‘Who am I?’ and you have no idea. Look into that which you think you are, directly at that; it is that which sustains you from the moment you get up in the morning until the time you go to sleep; it is that sense of being, of being a person, someone. I see, I hear, I walk, I talk. So what is this? What do you think you are? You are not what you think you are, but that does not mean to say that you don’t think you are it.

Practice must be a 24-hour job, it isn’t a 9 to5 job. The practice is not only the zazen on the mat, the practice is full-time and that will only be possible if you have the urgent need for the practice to be full-time because you are convinced that the way you are living at the moment is unsatisfactory and constantly causing suffering.

You are getting older, and you are going to get older yet. This is the time when you are really facing it and you need to face it more directly. Now, what is it?

You think there is the question, and over there somewhere is the answer. But it is not like that, the question is already the answer.

Here is another direct excerpt from the teisho, that could be said in dokusan:

Nisargadatta says that the value of regular meditation is that it takes you away from your daily routine and reminds you that you are not what you believe yourself to be.

Is this what meditation does for you? Or are you just sitting there dozing, waiting for the bell to ring?

When you are working on “Who am I?” you must just allow the truth to reveal itself; not look for the truth, but just allowing. You must lend yourself to what is revealed, however difficult that may be. When you see into the non thingness of things, there is a recoil. One must nevertheless go forward for that is the moment when possibility becomes actuality.

The preparation is gradual. Change is sudden and complete. You need patience and courage. The trouble with most people is that they are in a hurry; they haven’t got the patience to let the flower bloom. Your problem is that you are not fully convinced. You would like what I say to be true, but are not convinced. Look at these doubts, find out what they are, what underlies them.

I doubt students would have got such a full explanation in dokusan; that is the benefit of teisho over dokusan. As he says elsewhere, you have to take his words as windows, look through them to the vista beyond. Words cannot say it, but then neither can silence.

Jean Low

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1 Response to Teisho as Dokusan. (Teisho 1314 – 2013)

  1. louis bricault says:

    Thanks again Jean.
    I would like to give a comment on what the sixth Patriarch said to his disciples before he died, as it rings so true to my own ear. “Were I to remain in this world, if you do not follow my teaching my presence among you would be pointless” says the master. If we turn this around, can we not hear : “If you follow my teaching, it is as though I am still present among you” ?
    Even before he left us, the only thing our teacher did, the only thing he could really do was to urge us to do this work ourselves. In so far as we go on, Albert is sitting beside us …

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