Appreciate Your Life


from the Dharma Zen Center newsletter for summer 2012, a nod to a great Japanese master who resonated heavily with our people – a lot of friends over there as well, so it’s nice to see this:

Taizan Maezumi Roshi was a Japanese Zen Master who taught in the United States and founded the Zen Center of Los Angeles. He was a good friend of Zen Master Seung Sahn and the Kwan Um School of Zen. The following excerpt is from a book of Maezumi Roshi’s teachings called Appreciate Your Life.

No one can live your life except you. No one can live my life except me. You are responsible. I am responsible. But what is our life? What is our death? In Soto Zen, we have the expression “the treasury of the true dharma eye, and subtle mind of nirvana.” This expression comes from a famous koan which related the transmission of the dharma from our original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, to his successor, Mahakashyapa. In the story, Shakyamuni Buddha held up a flower and blinked. Mahakashyapa smiled, and Shakyamuni Buddha said, “I have the treasury of the true dharma eye and subtle mind of nirvana, and I transmit it to Mahakashyapa.” What is this treasury of the true dharma eye and subtle mind of nirvana that Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted? All the Buddhist teachings deal with this most precious treasure. It is your life. It is my life. Another way of asking that question is, “Who am I?” “What is this?” These inquiries are fundamental, most important koans. Like all koans, we must answer them out of our own life. What is our life? And knowing what it is, how are we living it? How can we experience the life that we are living now as an infinite, literally limitless life, as the subtle mind of nirvana? For the irony is that we are all living such a life, we are all living this treasure, and we are also not quite living it, either. In other words, our life is no other than the treasury of the true dharma eye and subtle mind of nirvana, and yet we see it as something other than this. We do not see that our right here, right now, is nirvana. Maybe we think that nirvana is a place where there are no problems, no more delusions. Maybe we think nirvana is something very beautiful, something unattainable. We always think that nirvana is something very different from our own life. But we must really understand that nirvana is right here, right now.

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