What Do You Expect From Your Practice?

The main hall of Antaiji Temple at Hyōgo Prefe...

The main hall of Antaiji Temple at Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Antaiji is a monastery in rural Japan where Zen is practiced without any additions or modifications. This means that Zazen (sitting meditation) is practiced solely for the purpose of Zazen. According to Abbott Muho the message is clear, “Zazen will not get you anywhere. Zazen is without gain. Zazen, which is one with enlightenment, is what is put into practice here.”

Each day, all of the practical life activities year around Antaiji is centered on Zazen at. Resident life is simple and pure. Antaiji has no parishioners, and there are a minimum of Buddhist services. Instead, the self sufficient life to enable Zazen involves a lot of work in the fields and forests. Muho says, “Our Zazen practice is based on the Zen motto: “A day without work is a day without food”. Work and food here are directly related, with all of the residents actions  rooted in and aimed at the one force that keeps them alive.

This lifestyle isn’t an ideal but it is an actual practice which is manifested in the basic attitude of one’s actions in every day life. Practioners use Zazen to cause an inner revolution in themselves, while covered with sweat and dirt in summer, persevering in the snow and cold of winter. Their day to day life is also not a form of asceticism, but the plain, original form of Zen life, which requires long years of practice. Self sufficiency for the residents isn’t a goal in itself – it only serves to support the practice of Zazen.

So what’s my point you ask?  My point is that staying at Antaiji, people do so because they want to live their lives as bodhisattvas, serving the Sangha (community of practitioners) while not expecting any reward.

Can we say that, even on even some minor level,  about our practice in the dojo, Sangha, or day-to-day living? Or, are these done with an expectation of  some reward? 





One Response to “What Do You Expect From Your Practice?”

  1. In virtually everything I start doing without expectation of reward I eventually start seeking reward. Perhaps it will always be like that.

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