Three Goals of Zen
In zen Buddhism there are three goals or three guiding lights that help us orient ourselves in such a way that’ll lead us to (or reveal) liberation. The three are: Joriki, Kenshogodo and Mujodo No Taigen

Joriki: The First Goal of Zen
Joriki: Jo means concentration and riki means power. So we get the power of concentration. In the triple training of Buddhism we have Moral Discipline, Samadhi (Concentration) and Wisdom.

Zen places emphasis and focus on concentration because it assumes moral discipline and results in the arising of wisdom. So the other two, moral discipline and wisdom are tied directly to concentration. They arise and unfold from concentration.

But that’s not to say that the precepts are not important.

The precepts help guide us in our behaviour. You cannot really progress on the path if you’re lying, cheating, stealing etc. All of these things as well cause turbulence in the mind. The precepts help us begun to awaken freedom.

Mind habits are deep grooves that we get caught in. The precepts help to bump us out them by giving us an awareness of another way of showing up in the world.

Master So Sahn said that, “It is entirely possible to attain a sudden enlightenment, whereas in actuality, mind-habits cannot be eliminated just as instantly.”

Habits are powerful. Habits have helped us survive. They are hot-wired into our brains. We must continually be vigilant in regards to habits that are unskillful and continually develop and cultivate habits that are skillful.

Sudden enlightenment and gradual cultivation can be a good insight into this and the taking on of precepts. That in a flash we may gain insight into the nature of the way things are and the essence of mind but we need to cultivate nurture proper conditions for that insight to take root.

Meditation helps us to reveal the clear and lucid nature of the minds natural state. If our mind is at ease then our world is at ease.

Wisdom is seeing things as they actually are. This too helps us to be calm, lucid and free.

They are all bound together in unity. You need them all.

Even the Buddha couldn’t fully crossover without them. So it’s apparent that we need this threefold path in our lives even more.

A concentrated mind is a steady and poised mind. Equanimity is its foundation. Such that the everyday turmoils of life exerts little of any influence upon us. No longer is the mind hopping from one thought to the next – one desire to the next. It is grounded, stable and unshakeable like a mountain.

A stable and steady mind does not succumb easily to greed, anger and delusion. It is steadfast against the Four Shackles of Life.

The Four Shackles
There are four pairs of opposites that keep us in bondage:

  1. pleasure and pain
  2. gain and loss
  3. honor and dishonor
  4. praise and blame

Master Thich Thien-An says that these four worldly bonds are, “…eight worldly winds which blow and men find themselves torn between them, running toward one of each pair and fleeing the other. But when the mind is poised in the tranquil state of meditation, it can remain steadfast like a mountain, even when subjected to all kinds of abuse.”

Kenshogodo: The Second Goal of Zen
Kenshogodo means seeing or realizing one’s true nature. This is kensho, satori or enlightenment. Where we realize our inherent Buddha Nature. There is no difference between us and the Buddha.

Kensho goes beyond Self-Realization and also comes to know the interdependent nature of all things. We inter-be with everything.

We can have a brief flash of kensho where we gain a brief flash of insight to deep awakening that are permanent.

The terminology to describe Kensho differs greatly. Kensho can be called:

  • realization of Buddha Mind
  • realization of Infinite Mind
  • realization of the Oneness of all beings
  • realization of the non-differentiation of oneself and others, of subject and object, nirvana and samsara

Kensho can also be described as the experience that, “everything is one, the one is nothing (mu), and nothing is everything.”

We must go beyond mental ideas of knowing these truths and actually experience them for ourselves.

Mujodo No Taigen: The Third Goal of Zen
Mujodo No Taigen can be translated as the actualization of the Supreme Way in our everyday life. It is the fusion of Satori with our daily activities. Distinctions are dropped. Everything we do becomes an expression of realization. Driving the car, doing dishes, cleaning the house, walking down the street etc.

At the start of the path we may have had to carve out space to practice. We may have sought out seclusion, renunciation, and long stretches of solitary meditation but once attainment is reached all those things become superfluous.

A great saying that sums up this is, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

Master Thich Thien-An says, “My daily activities are not different, only I am naturally in harmony with them. Taking nothing, renouncing nothing, in every circumstance no hindrance, no conflict. Drawing water, carrying firewood. This is supernatural power, this marvellous activity.”

After actualization of the Supreme Way we come to realize that all things are perfect just as they are.

Before then we lived in a dualistic world based on judgements such as good and bad, right and wrong, high and low. We’re trapped by attachments and tossed this way and that by love and hate, greed and aversion.

When we drop our discriminating mind everything can just be as it is.

Master Thich Thien-An shares with us part of the Amitabha Sutra in which the Buddha explains that, “In the Pure Land of Amita Buddha, the singing birds, the flowing waters, the drifting clouds and the blossoming flowers all teach the Dharma of Enlightenment.”

“If we have an awakened mind, it is not necessary to travel to the Pure Land to receive such instructions. Everything is a manifestation of the Dharmakaya, the Reality principle and hence everything is an expression of the Buddhadharma.”

“Our teachers are present on all sides. We need only open our eyes to see them and our ears to hear them. This very world is the world of Enlightenment, this very earth the Absolute Body of the Buddha. To stride upon this earth with love and reverence, to learn from everything we meet, to treat all with kindness and compassion, this is to actualize the Supreme Way.”