The Zenity of Daily Routine
By Susan Ni Rahilly
“Zenity” is my term for the beneficial effects that a Zen practice and a regular routine have on us. So, sanity by Zen. Living simply and in the moment becomes the daily ordering principle which brings not only a peaceful tranquil mind, but also the tremendous joy of being able to bring the sacred into life on a daily basis. It sounds more than sane to me.
Our Zen Sangha met here this weekend – “here” is Baltimore, West Cork, Ireland. We had been chatting over tea, as usual after our sit, and the conversation once more turned to “Beginner’s Mind” a constant topic for us. I’ve been reading You Have to Say Something Dainin Katagiri’s book over the last year or so, and the consensus of opinion was that Master Katagiri talks so well with the beginner in mind, about daily routine.
In living with Zen, and with a regular practice, we’re acknowledging and respecting our innate Buddha mind, our individual Buddha hearts and of course our own Buddha nature. So the essence of our life becomes in regularly placing ourselves in a silent, simple place of harmonizing with humanity.
So, the daily routine, here is the essence of what Katagiri says: “Getting up is only a tiny activity. It is not unusual – everyone does it. Although there is nothing outstanding about it, the goldenness of the earth is found in just such activities in everyday life. But instead of attending to such details, we form habitual ways of behavior by attending to our desires. This is no way to live. We will never satisfy ourselves through such means. If you really want to please yourself, just forget your longing and attend to your daily life. In this we find goldenness.
Taking hold of the tiller of the boat of life, grabbing an oar, is called living in vow – aspiring to awaken each moment. To live in vow is to take care of all the little details of life. It is like getting up in the morning. When it is time to get up, just get up. Free your mind from the thinking about having to get up. This is the way to enter the doors of a golden, peaceful world.”
I have precis’d the above but in essence what Katagiri was referring to is a saying of Dogen Zenjo, the founder of the Soto Zen school in Japan: “the wind of Buddhism makes manifest the great Earth’s goldenness, and makes ripen the sweet milk of the long rivers.”
Dogen likened life to riding in a boat. Most people just ride the boat of the universe, but this is actually just drifting. And in order to sail across the ocean of human life, we must see the earth as golden and taste the rivers as sweet milk.