Zen Is Good For Nothing

by -
Magritte, 1935

Excerpts from
To you
by Sawaki Kôdô Rôshi

Translated from Japanese by Jesse Haasch and Muhô

 

“Once there were 500 monkeys in the service of 500 Buddhist saints. One day the monkeys decided to mimic everything the saints did, so they did zazen copying the saints with their eyes, noses, mouths and whole bodies. They say that in this way a thousand saints practiced zazen and realized satori. This is why it’s my wish to preserve – even if it’s only through imitation – the seed of zazen.

When you practice Zen, it has to be here and now, it has to be about yourself. Don’t let Zen become a rumor that has nothing to do with you.

Zazen is the buddha that we form out of our raw flesh.

Zazen means putting into practice that which cannot be thought.

Zazen is the dharma-switch that turns on the whole universe.

Simply doing something [shikan] means doing it now, on the spot. It means not wasting the little time you have in life.

When somebody asks me what zazen is good for, I say that zazen isn’t good for anything at all. And then some say that in that case they’d rather stop doing zazen. But what’s running around satisfying your desires good for? What is gambling good for? And dancing? What is it good for to get worked up over winning or losing in baseball? It’s all good for absolutely nothing! That’s why nothing is as sensible as sitting silently in zazen. In the world, “good for nothing” just means that you can’t make money out of it.

Often people ask me how many years they have to practice zazen before it shows results. Zazen has no results. You won’t get anything at all out of zazen.”

 

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