zen

Four interviews about the true self Part 2: Abbot Muho (Zen Buddhist, Japan)

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LOGON: The spiritual path leads to the true self. What does the true self mean for you?

Muho: The questionnaire begins with a bold assertion: the path leads to the true self. Here one might just as easily have stated: the path comes from the true self. Or: the true self treads the path. In Zen, one speaks of the ring of the path. The true self is the beginning and end of this path. When I ask myself what my true self is, the true self looks itself in the eye.

Who is man before the true self is realized?

Man was never separated from the true self. Probably around the second year of life, he gradually learns to identify himself with the role, which the game of life has in store for him. He learns to say „I“ and „you“. Then, a few years later, he asks himself: „Why am I „I“? Why not somebody else? Why am I in the world at all? And who poses this question?“ Many people ask such questions even as children. The true self resounds in such questions, a reminder of the condition before one had identified with one’s role as a human being.

Who is one afterwards? Is it a matter of awakening or of a transformation of being, or…?

Before and after, one is the true self. And nota bene: even afterwards one remains man. It is a matter of living entirely as man without forgetting the true self, which lies before identification. One plays the game anew but one now knows that it is just a game.

Can one say something about who actually treads the path?

Man would not walk the path if the true self had not sent him on it. The true self could not tread the path unless man gave him feet.

How do you rate the importance of the realization of the self for daily life? And for mankind in general?

When he observes the game from outside, man recognizes that winning and losing are meaningless. Now he can play by new rules. These are the rules of a Bodhisattva: giving, speaking words of love, being there for others, not making distinctions.

With these new rules, the game is more fun. One’s hope is to open the eyes of the other players as well. Helping them to remember their true self in order to return to the state before it was merely a matter of this one person winning or losing.

Thank you, Mr. Muho, for this interview.

Abbot Muho

Muhô was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1968 by the name of Olaf Nölke. He studied philosophy, Japanology and physics. During his studies he visited Japan for a year, six months of which he spent in the Zen monastery of Antaiji. Here he was later ordained as a monk and, in 2002, succeeded his master as the monastery’s abbot. He writes essays, books and translations including the writings of Kôdô Sawaki, his predecessor’s predecessor

 

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