“Tosui’s strong practice” – Unedited texts of Master Zeisler – The Zen Universe

During mondo, somebody asked: „You always say strong, strong, strong.” Strong decision!

In history, the monk Tosui is an example of a strong decision of following the Way. Tosui was the chief of a big temple, but he got tired of that and one day he decided to escape and go to live in a lepra colony.

One of his disciples wanted to follow him. Tosui said: „It is very difficult to follow me. You must abandon everything, good food, fine clothes, even your kesa.

You must sleep on earth and get dirty.” The disciple was also strong so he decided to follow his master nevertheless. He had to live among dead men, the corpses of those who died from lepra.

One day Tosui said: „Dig a hole in the ground so we can budy a dead man.” When the hole was ready, Tosui asked the disciple to help him put the corpse in the grave. „I will take the head,” he said „and you take the legs.” When the disciple took hold of the leg, it came loose from the body. It was totally rotten. The other leg also came loose. The disciple began to vomit.

After a while, the disciple was hungry and asked Tosui for something to eat. Tosui said: „Eat the dead man’s soup.” The disciple looked at it. It was mixed with pus and lepra juice and very dirty.

Tosui said: „Every day will be like this.” The disciple thought: „I must eat this soup or else I am not strong enough.” He tried to eat but it was impossible for him. Tosui said to him: „To become my disciple is very difficult. For you it is impossible. Your karma is different. You had better become the chief of a big temple.” Afterwards, this disciple became a great monk.

Tosui remained a beggar all his life. He was very old when he died. During his last years the owner of a sake cellar, who gave him vinegar to sell so he could buy food, protected him. He was allowed to sleep in a stable. He brought with him a little picture of Buddha and hang it near his head. On this he wrote a little poem: „Here it is small and dirty, but I lend you this place.” The practice of Tosui was true and strong.

It was Doshin (mind of the Way). It is impressing. This is the mind of zazen practice. It is not necessary to become a Tosui but you must understand the Bodaishin. His life was miserable. People always cry: „I’m not happy, I want to be this, I want to be that, I have no fine clothes, I am poor.” But they cannot realize the highest dimension of mind.

Everybody admires Tosui, but everybody would hate to do what he did. Everybody admires zazen, but nobody wants to do zazen. People admire Dogen, but hate is practice. Tosui’s mind means to really accept our life from our body, not from our knowledge.

True Bodaishin means that nothing is unimportant, nothing is weak, everything can become beautiful. In zazen, you can look into your own mind and understand: „I am not so good or deep”, understand your weak points. So Tosui wrote: „This place is small and dirty.” Through the practice of zazen, we can understand that our ego is not so important, but we don’t live alone. Our lives are a hundred years at the most. Tosui was 98.

He wrote: „This place is small and dirty.” The important thing is how to use this place, this body. Zazen is to look, to understand ourselves. Through zazen, nothing is miserable or poor. This is the true, strong mind of Tosui. It is not like bodybuilding. Stop decisions, stop thinking. Protect this point, keep this point living.

This is our liberty. But you must understand by yourself, speech is limited. You can come back to normal condition, most pure condition before ego, categories – isms: „This Way, this place I rent to you.”

15th, April 1987

Enköping, Sweden