Gillian Coote Roshi – What is your purpose in doing zazen? February 20, 2014

February Zazenkai, 2014:
Gillian takes up a dialogue within Case 30 of the Wu-Men Kuan, between Nan-yuëh and Ma-tsu.

In this talk Gillian addresses the problem practitioners often have in explaining their practice to others. Answering ‘it helps me to remain calm’ or ‘to gain some insight’ reduces the practice to a very small part of what it is.

This problem is reflected in the dialogue between Nan-yuëh and Ma-tsu in which Ma-tsu states his reason for doing zazen as “I seek to become a Buddha”

Nan-yuëh responds to this by picking up a roofing tile and polishing it. When asked what he is doing Nan-yuëh responds that he is making a mirror.

“Can a piece of roofing tile be made into a mirror?” asks Ma-tsu.

“Can a Buddha be created by doing zazen?” responds Nan-yuëh.

Gillian concludes in her talk:

No goals, no purpose, it is coming home, that’s the reason for practice

This talk was dedicated to the memory of Bun Heang, Cambodian refugee who came to Australia in 1980. His work as an artist is viewable on the ANU’s Digital collection website and is in the Menzies Library, some 90 drawings of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime.