Peaceful in body, peaceful in speech,
The bhikkhu peaceful and well-concentrated
Who has rejected the world's bait
Is called "one at peace."
-The Buddha, Dhammapada 378
Sokei-An Shigetsu Sasaki, from a lecture in 1954:
PERHAPS YOU CANNOT imagine such a practice as that which has been
current among my people. In China or Japan, monasteries are built on a
mountaintop or on the edge of a cliff. From there you can see a thousand
miles before your eyes. In winter, when the valley is covered with
snow, you feel you are in a world of silver. No color is before your
eyes. In the valley it is so quiet. In the daytime when the monks are
meditating, if there is any sound in the temple it will be only that of a
mouse or a rat.
monks are not retiring from the world; they are trying to find quietude
in their minds. This state is longed for by oriental students. They try
frantically to find it. Occasionally they renounce their home, or
separate from wife and children to pass their lives in such a quiet
place. You could not dream of men like this until you meet them. They
value highly their quiet way of life. They cannot see the value of the
life we are in daily contact with, our present civilization, where men
hold a cigar in the right hand and a glass of whiskey in the left hand,
listen to music, watch dancing, and eat delicious food. We might say
that these are the two extremes of human life.
Perhaps you will ask, what value is there in that quiet and aloof way
of life? The monks would ask the same question of you. What value is
there in passing your nights in a nightclub?
Reprinted in Tricycle from First Zen Institute of America
[posted especially for my friend, Don Brewer, who has the courage to try it]