Man on Cloud Mountain-Shodo Harada Roshi-Segment 5 of 7 (transcript)

[Original Title: Man on Cloud Mountain  YouTube Title: ZEN, Teaching of zen, Shodo Harada Roshi in America]

[Content: technology and the speed of modern life, alienation, returning from the mountain, the effects of kensho experience]


[Shodo Harada Roshi’s translator’s voice]


We have all these machines that are making our lives a lot easier. We have a lot of things that we can relate to in terms of comfort or production. But what has been lost. What hasn’t been given back. But look at economics. Economics supposedly helps to solve our problems by giving us more money or making our world more stable financially. But people believe in this economical thing more than they believe in something which is to be found within themselves. Economics is concerned with external things and it is external things that we are always concerned with and talking about. But external things cannot fill the void created by the loss of our ability to know what a god is or even to believe that a god is possible. For example look at the workplace. The work in the old days was done by people who were doing apprenticeships, they were learning to make very fine quality material. Things that are made now by the hundreds each day were once made one at a time after many long years of apprenticeship and may have taken months or even years to make even one of good quality. Today things are not made with the same kind of quality because science and the economics of scale can produce hundreds of them that are just as convenient in the same amount of time. No one cares except in a very few special cases how it is being made or the heart it is being made with.

And people who come to a company they’re all the same. Just because someone has been there for 10 years and can make it in a better,in a more intuitive and well-crafted way doesn’t make any difference. Because it is all being produced automatically. So someone who comes into the company that day is the same as someone who has been working there for 20 years. If they can just learn how to use the machinery there is no difference between them. So that respect, that caring, that really meaningfulness in a hand produced product  has disappeared. Some people do feel it. But that overall way of life is not common any more.

Then we get to these factories The idea of making such huge establishments. Smaller companies have to join together to make one huge mega-company in order to survive. And then within that one company you have competition. You have this company all divided into little groups each of which has one part of the automation line and those little groups are competing with each other. So people are looking at each other as someone to compete with not people to be one with or connect to.

And then from there we go to the home.which is loaded with all kinds of information. And if you don’t have that information you can’t keep up with your job. You can’t compete with that other part of the company who is doing things and trying to do them better than you. You have this kind of constant stimulation of information.  Not in a creative way that allows you to be creative and imaginative but rather in a dictatorial way telling you what to do, how things should be done and how the world is instead of letting you to create and be full of a world which is imagined and full of possibility for each individual person. You get bombarded with all this different information with how things are on the outside. How what is going on is going on.

And then in the home instead of living as a group connected, everyone has their own television in their own room. Getting together and working out what to watch is not popular. Everyone goes to their own room and  watches what they want to watch. And everyone has their own telephone instead of waiting for the next person to finish and making your own phone call. It is very convenient to have your own telephone for your own phone call. And this brings about a tremendous amount of loneliness and melancholy and despair. In isolation in your own house or your own company or your own world. You get into a car. Everyone has their own space, their own room, their own television, their own telephone. You get into a car. And when you close the door it is your own space. It could be two people from the same family and when they come to an intersection they are enemies. Whoever gets their foot on the pedal first goes first.

That kind of egoistic driving and being competitive with everyone instead of cooperating and living together with them is just everywhere. And we go on from that to just how people are with each other. This competitive way of trying to get what you need ahead of everyone else. The world for example is divided. People fight against each other across lines that don’t even exist. These lines of countries which have been invented by the ego on the earth. There is no line on any kind of natural ground that says this is this country and that is that country. There is no line on the ocean that says this is this country’s territory and this is that country’s territory.  Only human ego, with its relentless urge to make things our own, trying to compartmentalize, trying to compete. Only this ego has made this kind of constriction of our earth, this division of this earth happen. It doesn’t even exist in reality. Only  people’s egos and protective energy and territorial feelings have made those lines become accepted and real and made everyone deal with them.

This kind of thing just makes our dilemma of being isolated and miserable and feeling lonely deeper and deeper all the time. And what is there to do about this? All of these problems are being loaded upon us without any alternative for finding a place where we can be connected, for finding a place where we can come together to feel the original mind we are all endowed with. We are completely aware when we realize that true mind of how we are all connected. Whereas everything in society everything around us is stating to us how separate we are and pushing us apart from each other. Therefore to be able to come back to that place which is beyond that egoistic push, competitive push, isolating rigidity. To realize that mind which sees things directly truly as they are. not in the sense of ego which is separating and disconnecting everything. To be able to come to that mind where that clear, huge, great embracing mind is possible is what is most necessary right now. That’s why this practice is necessary right now.

This expansive mind, this mind that sees directly knows the all inclusiveness, is aware of the connection between everything. Because when you get rid of that ego that’s all you see is one unified whole. That connection of everything in one’s being is what is apparent when that ego is gone away. But as long as we all hold onto our ego because we are forced to by what society demands of us, unless we free ourselves from that and return to that clear mind, we will never be able to solve that suffering, that deep anguish that comes from our separation from everything including each other. For this reason this possibility of a way to get out of that ego bind to relieve ourselves of that and get back to that true mind which is clear and huge and all embracing is very, very important right now


When I came back from the mountain I knew from what had happened there exactly what I had to do. I understood that until that time I had been sitting and living with a very small egoistic idea of what it was I was doing all this for. It had been an egoistic urge that had carried me to the mountains in the first place even though what I was trying to do was to reach a deep enlightenment experience. So when I came back to the monastery I didn’t have that sense any more. I knew then that my life wasn’t about my own problems. Those problems didn’t exist. What I had to do with my life was to live it totally with the purpose of bringing this crystal awareness to other people. That’s all I really wanted to do. And that was in fact what I had been doing from the beginning. But I had closed it down in an egoistic small way.

I had gone to the mountain for only my own enlightenment. It had been an expression of my ego. But because of that I had been able to awaken to that greater purpose, awaken to that greater self that had work to do in this world. So when I came back my zazen also became very different. Before when I sat I’ would sit with a very strong sense of myself, of myself being there, a heaviness. Now I didn’t have that at all. I was sitting there being lived through by another great energy. And for the first time my eyes would be placed where I was focusing and they wouldn’t move. They would be drawn into the floor where I was looking. And when I was doing kinhin,walking meditation my gaze would just be straight and not feel like looking anywhere else, drawn into where I was looking. And this went on for several days. And this brought me to a place where I could answer koans a lot faster. I clearly knew what my teacher was saying to me. The things that had been stopping me before weren’t stopping me anymore. Those things that had been in the way obstructing me weren’t there any more. And I saw how well I could understand what my teacher was saying regarding the koans and the words I was given as I passed through the koans. I could grasp them very quickly and they seemed more obvious to me. And I knew that because of the way things were going that my sitting went much much more light…

[end of transcript]

Other segment transcripts available:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7