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True Zen Teachings

With Grandmother's Mind

As told by Taisen Deshimaru Roshi

Tetsu was taught by Master Dogen. He was young, intelligent, good zazen, good samu. Later he became the third Patriarch of Eihei-ji. Tetsu was "perfect" and very capable: sutra, posture, zazen, comportment, everything was very good.

But he had one week point: he didn't yet have robai-shin ("grandmother-mind"), the mind of grandmotherly compassion, and so he could not truly follow the cosmic order.

Dogen, just a little while before his death, told him this:

"You understand all of Buddhism, but you cannot go beyond your abilities and your intelligence. You must have robai-shin, the mind of great compassion. This compassion must help all of humanity. You should not think only of yourself."

We have in us this mind, neither rare nor special, of Buddha. We should believe in it, unconsciously, naturally, automatically. This is true faith. Ourselves and Buddha are not separate.

It is necessary to go beyond the power of Buddha or God. This is to lose one's ego and have the mind of compassion. But this doesn't come from intelligence, ability or knowledge.

Source: Le Bol et le Baton. AZI Paris.


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