When does my life express dharma?

Shosan Ceremony, 1968,* Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Katherine Thanas: Docho Roshi, When does my life express dharma and when does it not?

Suzuki Roshi: When does it not? There is no time it doesn’t.  It always expresses Dharma.

Katherine Thanas: But sometimes better than others?

Suzuki Roshi: Don’t think that way.  Always expressing.  You are always expressing Buddha-nature.  That is you who you are; not expressing “better” or “not so good.” 

I will confess I do not always think my life expresses dharma. In fact, it never felt to me … always.


*Shosan Fall 1968.

Exchanges between teachers and students have a long history in Chan Buddhism. The above exchange is real. There are tapes. However, scholarly work on Chan Buddhism suggests that some of the exchanges may have been fabrications. Yep, even those well known ones. I won’t detail here but interested readers can consult: John Mcrae, The antecedents of encounter dialogue in Chinese Ch’an buddhism.

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