To study the buddha way...

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To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.

To study the self is to forget the self.

Well, that’s a kick. What do you think Dogen is telling us here? If to study the Dharma is to study the self, why would we then want to forget what we're studying?

Why do you think he used the word forget?

When you try to study yourself very closely, it sort of disappears. You can’t find anything that’s yourself.

Does your self stop at your skin? Does it go out three feet in front of you? Where does it begin and end? Did it begin when you were born? Does it end when you die? Was your self ten years ago the same self you see now?

And what of all the ideas and emotions and thoughts you identify as “you?” By studying the self we come to see these as empty and continually changing.

If we don’t study the self, we will continue to hold on to our fixed definitions and notions of our self and other selves. Forgetting the self means ceasing to grasp in this way.

Take a few moments and study yourself—your self.

Dogen is telling us: “Get over it!” What is it you think you need to get over doing? Being?

When you read To study the Buddha way is to study the self did you think Dogen was telling you to figure out how you could be happy? If so, how is this affected by Dogen’s next telling you to forget yourself?

Suzuki Roshi said, “When you are very honest with yourself and brave enough, you can express yourself fully. …Just be yourself.” Can you be yourself and forget yourself?

Studying oneself very closely gets very tiresome.

Can you relate to this?

In fact it’s very painful to study the self. “Oh no, I’m doing that again.” “Arghhh, I didn’t do what I should have…”

If we look at this “self study” we can see there’s no solid basis to our “research.” It’s just a large habit structure that is very difficult to overcome.

You have to want to let it go.

Do you want to let it go? What’s it doing for you?

As soon as you let go of yourself in each moment, everything rushes to help you, because you’re not separate from everything else. Creating a separate self against an external world—while it looks like a help—actually isn’t.

To study the buddha way is to study the self.

…to study what’s in front of you, to study what’s happening.

To study the self is to forget the self.

Because this thing we call the self is—in fact—kind-of a make-believe, created, temporary, unsatisfactory thing.

Why study this self, as Dogen suggests, if it’s really make-believe, created…?

When you study the self you begin to forget it; you begin to become not so preoccupied with me.

Eka (Taiso Eka the second ancestor in China) said “Because I know myself very well, it is difficult to say who I am.” (Eka had told Bodhidharma that there was no break, no gap in his practice, never any cessation of practice.) Then Bodhidharma said “Then who are you? Who does constant practice?”

To study yourself is to forget your self on each moment. Then everything will come and help you.  Suzuki Roshi

Zazen and studying the self

Dogen tells us that by studying the self you can discover both the details of your self and how utterly ungraspable the self is. When you study the self thoroughly, your ideas about yourself begin to loosen up, and one opens to a view of the interconnectedness of all things This opening is not static, everything is changing. But our relatedness to the present moment is a touchstone.

So: How might zazen—or Zen practice—encourage forgetting the self?

With the practice of zazen, mustering body and mind, we understand a thing intimately by seeing or hearing, and the self is forgotten. Robert Aitken