In his instructions on how to do zazen, the late John Daido Loori states that the practice of zazen (sitting meditaiton) is the most important teaching Zen has to offer. "It's fundamental to Zen Buddhism," Loori explains.
However, to those unfamiliar with Zen teaching, it may seem like it's all about pursuing some state or condition that we've conjured up in our mind, or else losing ourselves in some esoteric meditation practice. Not to take anything away from the importance of zazen, but seeking after some kind of idle escapism or self-intoxication is far from the truth of the teaching.
Joshu earnestly asked, "What is the Way?" Kosho Uchiyama once wrote that "the Way of the Buddha means to actually put our bodies to work, vividly living in every moment of our lives." Zen Master Dogen called this "the whole-hearted way" (bendo-wa).
Yet, we are pulled by the tendency not to function with clear or undivided minds toward the present situation. Instead, we are constantly running around fantasizing about our dissatisfactions and irritations, which only results in the vividness of our lives being clouded over. With our muddled minds, we encounter muddled and ambiguous situations.
But by whole-heartedly living in every moment of our lives and throwing our full life force into whatever it is that we are doing, "every situation literally comes to life and that in turn generates clarity and vividness" (Uchiyama).
"When the situation is full of life, we become more alive as a result. This means, then, that our life force has breathed a vividness into the situation. I feel very deeply that each of us must look clearly at this point for ourselves and then practice diligently with both our bodies and minds."The practice of zazen is our training for this whole-hearted way of living.