Just Be Yourself — Enlightened As You Are

To exert yourselves in religious practice, trying to produce enlightenment by doing religious practices and zazen [sitting meditation], is all wrong, too. There’s no difference between the mind of all the buddhas and the Buddha Mind of each one of you. But by wanting to realize enlightenment, you create a duality between the one who realizes enlightenment and what it is that’s being realized. When you cherish even the smallest desire to realize enlightenment, right away you leave behind the realm of the Unborn and go against the Buddha Mind. This Buddha Mind you have from your parents innately is one alone — not two, not three!

Bankei Zen
Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei

translated by Peter Haskel



Bankei Yōtaku


Bankei was a Japanese Rinzai Zen master and abbot. He was an immensely popular and influential teacher who spoke directly, avoiding sutras (scriptures) and ceremony. He adhered to no particular school and his teaching was remarkably individual and raw — the essence of Zen. His concern was with the truth as an immediate experience, not with a systematic approach to a far off goal.

Bankei preached what he had discovered in his own experience — “the unborn” or “the birthless Buddha-mind” — and he spoke in plain language that anyone could understand. He is best known for his talks on the Unborn as he called it. According to D. T. Suzuki, Bankei, together with Dogen (1200-1253) and Hakuin (1686 – 1768), is one of the most important Japanese Zen masters, and his Unborn Zen is one of the most original developments in the entire history of Zen thought.

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