Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: “My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes.” He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.
- In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.
- Retire at a regular hour.
- Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.
- Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.
- Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.
- When an opportunity comes do not let it pass you by, yet always think twice before acting.
- Do not regret the past. Look to the future.
- Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.
- Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.
Often after reading a kōan I try to reflect a bit on how I could better embody their teachings. And this applies to none more so than this. Soyen Shaku is the All Might of Zen Buddhism, and I’m inspired to take these words to heart… starting tomorrow because at the time of writing this its already well past a regular hour to retire at… But seriously I’m lacking on practically this entire list, and I’ve always had excuses for it. Enough of that though. I don’t want to dwell on the past, and I really dig the idea of having a fearless attitude of a hero. 2019 is still fresh and I want to make this change. Who’s with me?