The Japanese word gassho means “to bring the palms together.” It is a form of greeting in Zen, or an expression of gratitude, with the hands joined, palm to palm, fingers pointing upward, as in prayer, and sometimes made with a bow.
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The basic Zen practice is zazen, or sitting meditation.
If this is so, what do you make of this statement by Sawaki Kodo Roshi:
Zazen is good for nothing!
Even though the Roshi is playing around here, this is a statement of penetrating insight, since ”nothing” or “emptiness” (mu in Japanese) is a fundamental idea in Zen, directly pointing back to what old Shakyamuni awakened to as he sat under the Bodhi Tree.
Emptiness can be thought about as an idea or concept, yes, but that is only half the story; it is also a concrete actuality. Zazen reveals that actuality. Or better: zazen is that actuality. Just don’t do something—sit there!
The Traditional Four-Phrase Summary of Zen:
Outside the teaching, apart from tradition.
Not founded on words or letters.
Directly pointing to the human mind.
Seeing into one’s nature and becoming a Buddha.
Zen Master Dogen reconceived the second line of the fourfold summary and expressed his new conception in the following waka:
It is ceaselessly expressed;
So, too, the way of letters
Can display but not exhaust it.