So You've Seen Mu...

So You've Seen Mu...

Below is an excerpt (slightly modified) from The Three Pillars of Zen. The first paragraph shares the light-and-happy part of the awakening story of a man who trained with Genki Taji Roshi (1889-1953), a direct successor of Harada Sogaku Roshi. The rest is Taji Roshi's post-kensho instructions for him.

More would probably be said "in the room," but in what Taji Roshi shared for public consumption, he puts kensho in perspective, then gives an overview of the post-kensho path:

"One night during the summer of that year while single-mindedly devoting myself to the practice of my koan, Mu, I experienced a state in which I felt as though I were looking at the vast, utterly transparent sky, and the next moment was able to penetrate the world of Mu with an awareness that was clear and sharp. At once I went to see Taji-roshi and asked him to receive me in dokusan. He confirmed my realization after I had made prompt reply to: “How old is Kannon?” “Cut the word Mu into three,” and other tests. Whereupon he instructed me as follows:

'There is a tremendous difference between shallow and deep realization, and these different levels are depicted in the Ten Oxherding Pictures. The depth of your awakening is no greater than that shown in the third picture, namely, that of glimpsing the Ox. In other words, you have only caught a glimpse of the realm ‘beyond the manifestation of form.’ Your kensho is such that you can easily lose sight of it if you become lazy and forgo further practice. Furthermore, though you have attained [initial] awakening [aka, kensho], you remain the same old you—nothing has been added, you have become no grander.

'But if you continue with zazen, you will reach the point of grasping the Ox, that is, the fourth stage. Right now you do not, so to speak, ‘own’ your realization. Beyond the stage of grasping the Ox is the stage of taming it, followed by riding it, which is a state of awareness in which awakening and ego are seen as one and the same.

'Next, the seventh stage, is that of forgetting the Ox; the eighth, that of forgetting the Ox as well as oneself; the ninth, the grade of great awakening, which penetrates to the very bottom and where one no longer differentiates awakening from non-awakening. The last, the tenth, is the stage in which, having completely finished one’s practice, one moves, as oneself, among ordinary people, helping them wherever possible, free from all attachment to awakening.

'To live in this last stage is the aim of life, and its accomplishment may require many cycles of existence. You have now set foot on the path leading to this goal, and for this you should be grateful.'”