Zen students sometimes seem to think that Zen is a passive process. One just sits and the magic happens. Nonsense!
And Sōtō students sometimes dismiss wholehearted application of the method by attributing “hair on fire” training to Rinzai Zen. Double nonsense!!
Here’s a bit from the Cáodòng/Sōtō master Wànsōng – his preface to Record of Going Easy (J. Shōyōroku), Case 85: “The Appearance of the National Teacher’s Monument.’ Much more about Wansong is available here: Going Through the Mystery’s One Hundred Questions.
It’s Wànsōng teaching about what it takes to truly “go easy:”
Smashing space beneath the blows of a hammer. Breaking open Flower Peak with the base of a lever. Then, for the first time, you’ll arrive where there is no seam or crack, where you don’t see flaws or scars. Yet, who is this way?
So there’s diligent work to be done. Let’s get to it!
Dōshō Port began practicing Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches with his wife, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with Vine of Obstacles Zen, an online training group. Dōshō received dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He is also the author of Keep Me In Your Heart a While: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Record of Empty Hall: One Hundred Classic Koans, was published in 2021 (Shambhala). His third book, Going Through the Mystery’s One Hundred Questions, is now available. Click here to support the teaching practice of Dōshō Rōshi.