Dainin Katagiri was trained traditionally as a Zen teacher and taught for a while with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in San Francisco. He then established and ran the Zen center in Minneapolis until his death in 1990. He left behind a legacy of recorded teachings and twelve Dharma heirs. He is the author of Returning to Silence and You Have to Say Something. In this volume, Andrea Martin has edited his oral teachings on time and assembled them into thematic chapters on:
• The Cosmic World of a Moment
• Profound Human Desire
• Timeless Freedom
• The Practice of Creative Action
• Creating the Future
We are used to thinking of time as a stream that flows from past to present and into the future. We have expectations about the good things that will happen to us and when they are not fulfilled we feel disappointed or angry. The Zen Buddhist path advocated by Katagiri emphasizes making the most out of the present moment and that means accepting the impermanence of everything we do:
"When a moment appears, there is only one thing that controls you: the capability that comes from your spiritual practice, your ability to face impermanence and deal calmly with the conditions of every moment. . . . . Every moment of every day is an emergency. You have to do your best to face every moment, because this moment will never come again. The moment that you are living right now is a very important opportunity to make your life vividly alive. If you want to live with spiritual security in the midst of constant change, you have to burn the flame of your life force in everything you do."
It is possible to find happiness and fulfillment by burning brightly in whatever we do. That means no attachments or enslavement to good or bad feelings. Katagiri calls this style of living "wholeheartedness." Another thing he emphasizes is operating in the busyness of life out of a center of calmness that comes from the training of zazen (sitting meditation). In the closing chapters, Katagiri discusses karma, adding this final touch:
"No matter how long you live, you cannot satisfy all your desires. Your lifetime is not long enough. So I think you should have a next life. You should practice and study now but leave the unfinished job for your next life. In your next life you will see lots of unfinished jobs too. So carry them to your life after the next life. Then you feel relief. If you try to finish everything in this lifetime, you become nervous, irritated, and uneasy."