Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We should not try to avoid having goals. When we try to avoid having a goal, we lose our selves and we lose our very life, and when we lose our selves and our very life, it is due to entanglements from having goals.

For example, what exactly did Baso mean when he said, "The aim of just sitting is to become a buddha?" We should clarify what these words meant. Was his aiming to become a buddha the result of his having dropped off body and mind, or was his aiming at becoming a buddha itself the dropping off of body and mind? Is "becoming a buddha" something done by a buddha, or is it something done to a buddha? Or was he saying that becoming a buddha was the emergence of various aspects of a buddha?

Baso may have been saying that becoming a buddha is entangled with one’s aims, despite the fact that becoming a buddha applies to all things. The sutras teach that we become a buddha when we are free of intention. But was Baso saying that the real relation between intention (aiming) and liberated action (becoming a buddha) is more complicated than that?

In every case, sitting in zazen is aiming to become a Buddha. In every case, sitting in zazen is becoming a buddha as aiming. Such an aim can precede becoming a buddha, and it can occur after becoming a buddha, and it can occur at the very moment of becoming a buddha. To question things a bit further, how many instances of becoming a buddha does one such case of aiming entangle?

This entanglement can also become entwined with other entanglements. At such a time, the entanglements involved in cases of completely becoming a buddha are, beyond doubt, directly related to ‘completely becoming a buddha’, and, in every single case, they are due to having a goal.

(adapted from Shobogenzo Zazenshin by Zen Master Dogen, 1242)

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