Shohaku Okumura’s book Living by Vow can provide great insight and inspiration for us as we seek to understand Zen and our place in the world.
In the Soto Zen tradition, our practice is based on Dogen Zenji’s teaching of continuous practice… Not only written texts and Dharma lectures but everything we encounter is a sutra that shows us, day by day and moment by moment, the true reality of all beings, continuously deepening our understanding and practice.
All beings in this universe—trees, leaves, and animals—teach us to awaken to the reality that is impermanent and egoless…In our practice together, we vow to attain the Buddha’s Way…and to be one with all beings.
Without our small, individual practice with this body and mind, the Buddha’s teaching…is just an abstraction…if no one practices, Buddhist texts remain only words… Without the practice of this limited body and mind, temple buildings and zendos are meaningless. According to Dogen Zenji, the meaning of our practice is practice at this moment, right now, right here, actualizing Buddha’s teaching. Without our practice there is no Buddha’s teaching.”
So, without practice in everyday life, without aiming to actualize the Buddha’s Path of morality, wisdom and compassion as we face the joys, sufferings, and challenges of life in the everyday world, there is no living Zen