“I” effort: self-power and other-power

The English expression “‘I’ effort” is a translation of the Japanese ji riki, “self-power.” This expression, “self-power,” is used as opposition of ta riki, “other-power.” This is a way to categorize Buddhist traditions that was done in Pure Land Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhists said there are two gates in Buddhism: the gate of sacred path, practice with self-power and the gate of easy practice based on other-power. Pure land Buddhists thought their teaching was the gate of easy practice and all other Buddhist was the gate of sacred path, where people practice with self-power……canstockphoto0105855

But here, Uchiyama Roshi is saying something different from this common understanding. He said our zazen is not a self-power practice, but what we experience during sesshin is reality before self-power. Our practice is not self-power practice to make us an enlightened person. Within this practice, enlightenment is already there……

I think it is important to understand what is “other-power” and what is “self-power” from the point of Pure Land Buddhism. Then we can understand why Uchiyama Roshi said our practice is before separation between self and other-powers. There is only one power.

If your device does not display the embedded player, or if buffering takes too long, please visit: http://sanshin.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-21T04_00_00-08_00


This talk continues Shohaku Okumura Roshi’s commentary on the modern classic Opening The Hand of Thought written by his teacher Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. (Section 4, p.66)

It was originally given at Sanshinji in Bloomington, IN on November 14, 2010.


Copyright 2014 Sanshin Zen Community

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