Practicing the Buddha’s Truth

“If we do not practice the truth we cannot attain it. Therefore former buddhas and later buddhas all unfailingly practice the Buddha’s truth: they learn it with the mind and with the body. ‘To learn it with the mind’ is to learn with the mind called reason or intention, the mind called heart, the mind called wise. We should imitate the methods of the ancestors who have established the buddha mind before us.” Shobogenzo-Shinjin-Gakudo (Learning the Truth with Body and Mind)

Shinshu’s comment: Even if you are not Buddhist there is much wisdom here. Dogen offers us a guide for how to approach our life in such a way that it benefits not just ourselves but others as well. That is the Buddha’s truth. How do we approach this endeavor or anything that is worth doing? We must practice. We must do it. Dogen teaches that this is how we engage our buddha mind. We cannot experience this truth without first making the vow or intention to work on our life and secondly, we must follow through with our actions.

Only  if we make effort with our mind, heart and bodies will we find this truth. Dogen equates the mind with intellect,  heart and wisdom. These are the elements we bring to our effort. We bring our discerning mind, we bring our sincere heart and we bring all the wisdom we already have. When we do this, we will find that we are able to approach our lives in such a way that we feel each moment is a moment of practice.

We look to those who have come before us and who have exhibited wisdom, sincerity, and heart. We see how their lives have benefited ourselves and others and we follow in their footsteps until we find our own expression of this truth.

It doesn’t matter if those ancestors were Buddhist, what matters is that they lived in such a way that we can look to them as exemplars of a beneficial life. Who are our ancestors? Some, for sure, are famous: Mother Teresa, the Dali Lama, Gandhi to name a few. Some are our fathers, mothers, sisters, co-workers and friends. By following the wisdom of people in the past and the present, we will go forth learning and practicing this great gift of beneficial action. That’s our effort: to full engage our mind and body in practice and to be guided by the wisdom of those who proceed us.

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