Omori Sogen Roshi's Awakening
For eight years Omori Roshi (1904-1994) commuted between Kyoto and Tokyo. In 1933, finally, he ”broke through” and passed the koan Mu. About this realization, Omori Roshi says:
”My experience was not very impressive or glorious, so I don't like to talk about it but... One day after finishing zazen, I went to the toilet. I heard the sound of the urine hitting the back of the urinal. It made a splashing sound. It sounded very loud to me, and at the very moment I realized, ”AHA”, and I understood. I had a realization.
”I AM!” I was very happy. But it was not a showy experience. It was not even very clean. Sound is not the only thing that can trigger this experience. Yamada Mumon Roshi, with whom I trained, had a very different experience. He was walking down the hallway when he saw the red color of the autumn leaves, and suddenly he was enlightened.
When you are enlightened, you realize very clearly that you are right in the middle of Mu. This becomes a little theoretical, but according to Nishida's philosophy, it is stated that the infinite circle has infinite centers. In effect, what happens is that you realize that that center of the infinite circle is you.
When you are in the state of samadhi, whether you call it Mu-samadhi or another type of samadhi, you are unconditionally in the realm of Absolute Nothingness (zettai mu). At that time, because of some incident, when you break through the samadhi, you will attain realization. It is like ripe fruit on a tree. When the wind blows or the branch sways, the fruit will just fall from the tree. If the fruit is not ripe, though the wind may blow or the branch sway, the fruit will not fall.
You will realize with your entire being that you are at the center of Absolute Nothingness (zettai mu) and at the center of the infinite circle. To be at the center of the infinite circle in this human form is to be BUDDHA himself. You have been saved from the beginning. You will understand all these things clearly and with certainty.
Even if you are in the state of samadhi but do not have this realization, you are merely in that state. You will not feel that, ”I am glad I am who I am. A great burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I am content. I am saved”.
From ”Omori Sogen, The Art of a Zen master” by Dogen Hosokawa.
Kim's note: Omori Sogen Roshi was the teacher of my teacher, Terayama Tanchu Sensei.