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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wisdom From Shodo Harada Roshi

James: These quotes are from an article in the most recent Buddhadharma magazine. Harada Roshi is sometimes called, "The Nuclear Reactor of Zen" because students say that interviews with him are like sitting in front of a nuclear reactor. Anyway, along with the quotes:

But awakening to the true nature of our own minds does not mean that suddenly we can directly affect the world around us. This point is the source of much confusion. Awakening to one's true self does not confer special powers. An enlightened person is not suddenly able to play the piano like a great musician or paint like Picasso or Matisse.

Thus in the spiritual life, awakening must be developed through training, just as great artists train. Such training, in turn, deepens and enriches a person's character. The mere fact of enlightenment does not mean that all of one's impulses are suddenly perfect, but rather that one sees more accurately how one should live. When our daily conduct emerges from a clear, awakened mind, then those in contact with us are subtly yet profoundly affected.

James: Having to keep practicing after enlightenment is an important reminder. Even the Buddha kept meditating after his enlightenment. It is like learning to paint or play the violin. One must keep practicing to maintain the state of being that allows one to see the music in the instrument. The instrument for us in regards to Buddhism being our mind. Or like maintaining one's vehicle. We must change the oil on a regular basis, get tune ups and maintain repairs in general or our beautiful gift will break down and leave us stranded in the middle of nowhere (or samsara in the case of our practice).

And later:

A literal, precept based lifestyle alone is not enough to effect awakening. Following the rules in a mechanical manner can simply be another form of attachment, if it's not accompanied by effort toward the realization of Buddhamind. The precepts can be an effective aid to practice, but clinging to their form is a hindrance.

James: Or as it is said in Christian thought, "It is better to maintain the spirit of the law then the letter of the law." So you know all the "rules." Great but can you see the Buddha within everything including the "law breakers?" Or can you see beauty in the "garbage of life?" I'm not saying that we should all go out and live like animals but we need to be able to find a balance between austerity and hedonism. It is sometimes more difficult to see imbalance in our spiritual practice then in other areas of "outer life."

May we all continue to find and maintain that delicate balance along the middle way. Thank-you everyone for your support and posts on your blogs. I am by no means perfect and I appreciate your comments, reminders, teachings and points of view. I lean on you all and hope you know that you can lean on me too. We can only realize Nirvana with the help of others. It's impossible to make this journey alone as we are all interconnected whether we like it or not! Hehe.

We really do have a great sangha going in the blogosphere and in the Universal, greater sangha.

~Peace to all beings~

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M.D. Shellhammer said...

Thanks James,

As usual your topic is spot on!


Greenwoman said...

I find it a comfort that there's still alot of practice and work to be done after enlightenment...that there's something to attain and understand. What a bore it would be to get there and find there was nothing left to do....

Thanks for sharing this James.

Anonymous said...

I love this

Johnny Newt said...

A good reminder for us all James. I have always admired Roshi Harada, he is a very dynamic teacher. I had the chance to meet him while visiting
Sogenji-Temple with a group frm Zenko-ji. He commented on my Tibetan mala, and asked me why I had come to study in Japan, I said that I was searching for my Original Face, jokingly he poked a finger in my nose and as i scruched my face, he said, "Hey look,there is one for you !" In my clumsy Japanese I had used the word " Omomochi" for face, which is more like saying "Facial Expression"
Of course every one thought it was funnier than I did.

"James" said...


Most welcome. It was good for me to write it all out and re-read it as guilt is something I have struggled with for years. I feel like I am finally making some head-way. :)


I agree with you for sure. It's all about the journey. I know it's cliche to say but so true. Yw.


Good to see you again friend. That's a lovely story when you met Roshi Harada. He seems like a very wonderful teacher. I wish I knew Japanese. :)

"James" said...


Good!! I do too.

Be well.

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