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from Zen Master Dogen's "The Practise of Meditation"

In your meditation you yourself are the mirror reflecting the solution of your problems. The human mind has absolute freedom within its true nature. You can attain your freedom intuitively. Do not work for freedom, rather allow the practice itself to be liberation.

— Practice of Meditation, Dogen (1200-1253)

"In your meditation" refers to zazen with the objective being liberation, the freeing of the mind from conditioning, which arises as a result of socialization. The objective of meditation is to act naturally, rather than act as though being a social being is normal. For the truth is, normal is relative to the situation.

When we act as though a sentient being is the norm, what would meditation be but something boring?

"You, yourself" refers not just to the disciple sitting in zazen meditating, but also to his original nature.

"The mirror reflecting" refers to the pure mind attained through breath meditation, which is purified by being calmed until the clear mind arises. This is seen as clarity of mind.

"The solution to your problems" refers to the assumption that the disciple's own mind has the answer to all of one's problems. Also, "solution" refers to the liberating aspects of meditation. Thus, "problems" refers to the lack of attention and focus due to socialization, where distraction is the constant. For it is possible to "get lost" on this journey called "life."

"The human mind" refers both to cognition (manas or specifically manovijnana) and also the higher state of mind (alayavijnana) found through meditation after gaining control of the ego (manas-vijnana). This higher state of mind is said to store the seeds of karma yet it does so without discriminating between good and evil karma.

"Absolute freedom" refers to the liberating aspects of satori that arises as a result of the calm mind reflecting on insight into the problems of human life, which are due to lack of attention and focus due to causal factors such as personal conduct (how you conduct your life) and the distractions of daily life (work, go out with friends for dinner and similar activities).

"You" refers to the disciple.

"Attain" refers to the result of meditation, using the calm mind achieved by just sitting quietly to gain insight and relying on gut feeling.

"Your freedom" refers to the liberating aspect of meditation. Once the mind is calm, it becomes as clear as a pond of water. Such a mind is able to gain insight readily into the nature of the disciple's problems.

"Intuitively" refers to intuition, which involves the use of gut feeling to free the disciple from being caught up with his problems.

"Do not work for freedom" refers to seeking freedom by vainly striving for a solution almost by chance, relying not on intution but almost by blunt force. Working for freedom also implies forcing a solution. Often this indicates that mental calculation went into discovering the solution to the disciple's problem, only to have the it itself grow into more problems.

"Allow" refers to considering the circumstances of my problems, based on open-mindedness — the feeling that anything is possible.

"The practice" refers originally to meditation; but also it refers to mindful practice, which consists of being of service to others, and implies the willingness to help other sentient beings.

"Itself" implies that meditation is foremost the solution to the disciple's problems.

"Liberation" refers to satori, the "A-ha!" moment when the solution to my problems arises, just like that. This is possible with single-minded focus on the fruits of insight which result in samadhi. In context with Zen, satori is the closest term to liberation.


Original post: February 21, 2004 0208H
Update posted: March 11, 2013 1141H

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