Hammering without a Hammer, Sweeping without a Broom, Arriving without a Train …..
In Zazen, a balanced posture and natural breath are encouraged, but one should not use the posture or the breath as tools or vehicles to reach a goal or to seek some state. Many people use the posture, the breath and Zazen itself as a tool or vehicle in order to get some result or effect or to reach some illuminated state. So many people wish to use their Zazen to get some payoff. By doing so, they miss the most special of special Jewels always in hand, and run right past the Wisdom which is Shikantaza.
There are many forms of meditation which can be used to great effect, bringing various mental effects, much as a hammer can be used to great effect to build a house, a broom to sweep clean, or a train can be used to arrive effectively at your destination.
But please understand the “Great Effect” of not needing to use and nothing in need of using. Then the “house” is just our True Home here all along. There is a Purity beyond all worldly clean and dirty.
Then one Arrives at the station that never can be left or need be left even as we go. This is the Train which goes round and round the Enso.
I know it sounds strange, and counter-intuitive, but if one is hoping to know the Realm in which a Buddha is always At True Home and which cannot be reached, the best way is not to look for it over a distant hill or as something which must be built.
In Master Dogen’s “Practice Enlightenment” perhaps we might speak of work which we must constantly do to be free of excess desire, anger and divided thinking in ignorance. However, every swing of the hammer is already the “True Home” originally built and always was. We are always serenely At Home even as we keep fixing and sweeping what needs to be fixed and cleaned. And as we travel ahead in life, because there are places to go and people to see in our hectic busy day, we are never apart from our Destination. Master Dogen realized how to move ahead and get things done, all while the heart is perfectly still. Then, one can know a Peace, Stillness and Silence which is this world that is anything but always peaceful, restful and silent!
I know it sounds strange, I know it sounds counter-intuitive: But put down the hammer even as we keep hammering away to build a better life and world. Put down the broom for there is no dust in need of sweeping, even as we keep sweeping to make the dirty to clean. Get off the train even as one keeps heading down the rails of time. Hammering without a hammer, sweeping without a broom, arriving and moving forward without ever leaving the station by an inch … this is Master Dogen’s “Practice Enlightenment.”