"When people awake, they awake like coming out of a dream. Some awaken very fast. Some need the last day of their life to wake up from the dream. ... "Oh my gosh, I am the last one! What I was doing?" ... It is not just work of the intellect. With whole body you awaken, whole world is awakening too. And when you awake you find, "Oh, this is it. That was not it". Even after awakening you do not say, "I don't need to sit any more". In a very strong sense awakening becomes sleep. When you say, "This is it," and when you abide in it, it becomes again deepest dream. So constant effort is the essential of our life. That means life is the conquering of death. So constant effort is the conquering of death." ... from one of Kobun's talks
"Awakening mind is nothing but the function of our life itself. The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life, the more you realize that how you manifest it is all your responsibility. We face a big task. So naturally, we sit down for a while [in Zazen]. It's not an intended action, it's a natural action." (Kobun, in a Jikoji brochure circa 1980)
"We sit to make life meaningful. The significance of our life is not experienced in striving to create some perfect thing. We must simply start with accepting ourselves. Sitting brings us back to actually who and where we are. This can be very painful. Self-acceptance is the hardest thing to do. If we canŐt accept ourselves, we are living in ignorance, this darkest night. We may still be awake, but we donŐt know where we are. We cannot see. The mind has no light. Practice is this candle in our very darkest room.Ó
p. 33: ..."The true purpose of (of Zen) is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. ... Zen practice is to open up our small mind. So concentrating is just an aid to help you realize "big mind", or the mind that is everything"
When everything exists within your big mind, all dualistic relationships drop away. There is no distinction between heaven and earth, man and woman, teacher and disciple. ... Whatever you experience is an expression of big mind.... firm conviction of big mind ... strong confidence
From small to big mind? Ideally, in Zazen one is awake in notion-less, desire-less emptiness; "in the perfectly enlightened mind, there are no objects and there is no observer". Yet small mind drifts, thoughts and emotions arise, and maintaining mindfulness is difficult. Ego changes, along with everything. Working on koans such as "who am I? what is this?" may experientially expand consciousness without the ego's "I", the presumption of an relational, operational or functional center.When small mind's disturbances come to mind in zazen:
Granted, what I actually do, think, perceive and feel does not remotely accord with Ideals. Yet my aspiration and obligation, given what I know, is to love big mind, and awakening. I do not have a special path to big mind. However, just knowing what I know obligates me to my best efforts despite problems, incompetence, inability, and likely failure.
Negative tendencies, e.g., from hatred, greed, and delusions, may or may not diminish with practice, but reactions to hatred, greed, and delusions do change. Much more personal is the suffering of loved ones from ill will, and avoidance of obligations. Small mind remains active. Practice and devotion is warranted in view of proclivities. Therefore study and learn; about Dharma (everything, and every theory), Sangha (everyone, and relationships), and Buddha (big mind, and awakening). For general ideals of comportment, consider the Metta Sutra.
In zazen, return to good posture and mindfulness, and let zazen act and work. Practice is enjoying and appreciating big mind, with rest and relaxation concurrent with posture and mindfulness.
Main Point: During zazen, occasionally check your alignment in upright posture and maintain appreciation. When you noticing something amiss, appreciate it (generously) and return to attention to the breath, and to big mind.