When we first begin Zen practice, we may feel that zazen is a private activity, something that we do only for our self. So when we reflect on how our sitting is going, we may think “My foot hurts,” “My mind wanders,” “I get sleepy,” “My back hurts.” Our emphasis is on our self because we are concerned about our own physical and mental comfort. But we misunderstand practice if we thínk it is just a personal activity, if we have to think of it as something that we do only when it is convenient or only when we feel comfortable or only when we are in a certain mood. Zazen is not reserved for some optímum moment in our day when we feel “just right.” In other words, zazen is not like some commodity that we keep on a shelf for our own personal use. The same thing is true about our entíre life.
Our practice enables us to discover that our life is a gift to share, not a commodity to keep for our self. And we also discover that we have to let the gift flow, to let it pass on. This is the feeling we have when we practice. Zazen is how we continually pass on this gift and how we let it return. Zen practice emphasizes continuation and return of the gift of life.
When we sit down in zazen, we are not limited by our physical body. In zazen, we are Buddha’s body, the unlimited body. But the unlimited body can only appear when we have gift-giving mind, the mind of Buddha. We have Buddha’s unlimited body, Buddha’s mind, when we understand our inherent gift-giving nature.
Giving mind appears when we feel gratitude for the gift of our life. The nature of our gift-giving mind makes us want to pass on the gift and enable it continue. The efforts we make in our life based on this gratitude are the expression of our true nature, our original giving mind. We create life each moment with original giving mind. We let it flow and contínue. But if we do not feel our original giving nature, the flow is hindered. We become confused and we create various problems. With original giving mind, we can feel our inherent creativity that is always fully functioning, even in the smallest of activitíes.
When people think of death, they usually believe that it means they will lose something personal. The greatest cause of human suffering is to see life and death in that way. We cannot feel free if we think that our death is a personal loss. Freedom means we are always ready to pass on this gift of life, and continue giving mind.
According to our practice, everything is Buddha-nature. When we understand this truth, we trust our original giving nature. We are ready to practice giving because everything is inherently the same. Our practice is the expression or our original enlightenment, our original giving mind.