Suddenly the world changed into white with snow falling during our sittings and service, and we now have a cool clear world like this. The temperature is going down to 3 degrees. On the way here I listened to a program on NPR, on the dog sled race in -70 degree temperatures in Alaska. I remember visiting tombs in the Egyptian desert at 120 degrees. Dogs, bears, the Inuit, Yupik, etc., have adjusted to their environments with bodies, hearts, habits, and functions changed. We can change our karmas and even calm and clear them by cultivation and verification.
Dogs can live in these low temperatures. Dr. Suzuki of Ability Education often talked about two girls raised by a wolf. They were just like wolves, running on all fours, seeing in the darkness, smelling meat at 70 meters away, and howling with other wolves at certain times. They were caught and brought to an orphanage. The younger girl died within a year, and the older one was retrained to stand up on two legs, communicate with human language, etc. Dr. Suzuki said that anyone can become a genius, if educated in a better environment, with better methods and instruction, an earlier start, and more practice.
There are koans on whether dogs have Buddha-nature. Dogen had a great question – if all have Buddha-nature, why do we need to practice? – and he visited China to seek the answer. He returned home empty-handed, realizing “the eyes horizontal and the nose vertical.” He said that this Dharma is abundantly endowed with everyone, but without cultivation it never develops, and is attained without verification. His first turning of the Dharma-wheel was his Fukanzazengi (Universal Recommendation for Right Zazen). Anyone wanting to solve problems and stop suffering must practice this Zazen.
A disciple asked Tozan (Tong-shan), “Chill and heat come; how can I evade them?” Tozan replied, “Why don’t you fare where there is neither chill nor heat?” Why don’t you bid farewell to chill and heat, liking and disliking, gain and loss, birth and death, by faring well in the Awakened Way? Now, here, is the time and place to realize it. The Buddha said that religion means cultivation – cultivation of karma, calming and clearing it. Only practice makes perfect – perfecting Zazen, the Dharma gate of pure peace and bliss in nirvana and awakening (Bodhi).