Dokai Georgesen, Hokyoji’s head teacher and a dharma heir of Katagiri Roshi, offered these heartfelt dharma words to his teacher during the recent 25-year memorial ceremony:
Dear Hojo san,
It is clear to me that I do not know who I am, where I am, what I am doing or how I am doing. It is also with astounding clarity that I see this all has something to do with our encounter with each other. For this I will be eternally grateful, as I am every morning when I offer you a little water to drink and a bow.
I know you felt the same. It all had to do with some people who you encountered as well who I never met. It is clear that there is transmission between human beings—something is intimately communicated. There is nothing in the entire world with all of our exact science and sophisticated knowledge that is more real than this. What it is, however, defies description—once there are words, generally speaking, confusion arises so easily. Even Gautama was very careful about this.
All I can say is it is about you and me and at the same time it is not. The same can be said even about Gautama, himself, and all those before and after him. So I take care of this moment the best that I can—the same as you did—acknowledging that we are not so strong as we would like to be and knowing that at times there is some aimless wandering with disregard for careful attention.
We have chosen to live a way in this world in which all we experience is just the continuous suffering of all creatures, large and small, human and non-human. Our hearts are always breaking with desire for it to cease. You were taught and taught to me; do not stay here for long; take a step forward, hold and embrace this breaking with subtle delicacy. Not knowing what to do and just letting the pain in as far as it can go, trust. In some way or another, our hearts mend and open again. Joy and contentment touch us and everything is perfectly fine, just the way it always has been.