The instruction “Ichi Tantei” (One Doing) was a frequent teaching from my first Zen teacher in Japan. As I bumped into him on the monastery grounds as he did his rounds or meeting him as I waited for my turn in the weekly bath, he would lean over and say quietly in my ear, “Ichi Tantei Desmond san”, and chuckle leaving me with this great koan. His Dharma talks would be peppered with this phrase, exhorting us all to awaken to this life of One Doing, a Buddha’s life.
Be intimate with this Great Life of Ichi Tantei.
Take up this great koan of One Doing and see that your life is always just so. Each momentless moment after momentless moment. Like writing on water or seeing the moon reflected in the lake. Appearing vividly yet when you try and look for it or attempt to grasp it there is nothing to hold onto. Hearing the unmuffled exhaust of the car going by, sound of the plane in the sky, leaves blowing in the breeze, a kiss from a lover on the lips, voices carried on the wind, all of this is just One Doing. Through koan and insight meditation we awaken and enter this realm beyond oneness and emptiness and step forward as this One Doing. Here, each and every thing abides effortlessly in it’s own place.
But who is this one who is apparent in this One Doing. It is you! Always you! But this you is as vast as the sky and as immediate as this breath, as this thought, as this sigh. Sadness, confusion, love, all, always just this One Doing. Where are the boundaries of this One Doing? In lifting a foot we lift Buddha’s foot. In taking a step we take a step on Buddha’s body, in breathing a breath we breathe Buddha’s breath, in tasting something bitter, something sour something sweet this too is Buddha’s body. This is not the realm of I see the Buddha’s body, this is self meeting self, Buddha meeting Buddha, One Doing meeting One Doing. Always Buddha’s body touching tasting stepping out to meet world as world meets each step. Limitless life always met in this moment.
How miraculous is this life. In raising the foot to place on the earth, ground meets foot, foot meets ground. Always, in every direction, we are supported in such a fashion. How can we fail to be moved by this! We practice to see this truth, this One Doing. Yet practicing or not practicing we are always already accomplished. Yet to awaken or not awaken to this reality is the difference between heaven and hell.
Can any of us say that we have attained true piece of mind? Are our hearts truly settled? If not then we know what we need to do. We take up the vow, the vow to rest in our breath, to rest in our koan and to forget ourselves so completely in doing so that we come to realize this great body of One Doing that we are. Releasing views of self and other until we have realized true peace of mind. No matter how long it takes we vow and we persist. This is the taking of the Bodhisattvas vow. This is the Buddha’s vow and in sitting down on our meditation cushion, it becomes our vow. Can we practice like this? Letting go of the little self, again and again and again. To practice until we awaken completely and then to let that go and continue on. Endlessly. At the close of meditation when we recite Eihei Dogen’s Hotsuganmon, his words become our words and the vow is manifest. “May I together with all beings and this great earth, accomplish the Buddha’s way”. Always together with all beings and this great earth. Nothing left out. This body and mind of the Buddha. How else could it be? Where else could it be? Always just this life of One Doing.