Friday, April 23, 2010

When Dogen comes, Dogen appears - Genjokoan

Greetings!
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Dogen’s Shobogenzo, Genjokoan begins with:
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When all things are seen as the buddha-dharma, then there is delusion and enlightenment, there is practice, there is life and there is death, there are buddhas and there are ordinary beings.
When all things are seen as empty of self, there is no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary beings, no life and no death.
(trans. Ted Biringer)
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One of my teacher’s recently directed my attention to the significance of Dogen’s meaning of “when” here. Yes! Very instructive. Living and dying, what a ride! So exquisite some-times, so bloody painful some-times. One ticket, please! To say it in the form of an old koan (“One Katsu, Two Katsu, then What?”), we might say:
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Q: "What is the Buddha Dharma?"
A: "When!"
Q: "That's a 'when' on me."
A: "When!"
Q: "One 'when,' two 'whens', then what?"
A: "Uji" (Existence-Time)
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When we arrive in the field of the ineffable, there is just one [concrete] thing and one [concrete] phenomenon, here and now, [beyond] understanding of phenomena and non-understanding of phenomena, and [beyond] understanding of things and non-understanding of things. Because [real existence] is only this exact moment, all moments of existence-time are the whole of time, and all existent things and all existent phenomena are time. The whole of existence, the whole universe, exists in individual moments of time. Let us pause to reflect whether or not any of the whole of existence or any of the whole universe has leaked away from the present moment of time.
Shobogenzo, Uji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross
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When Kayashata, the eighteenth ancestor in India, so Dogen says (in Shobogenzo, Kokyo), was born, he was already equipped with an ancient mirror. Some-time later, when Kayashata studied in China under the great cat-slayer (this time going by the name of Joshu), he realized that this "Ordinary" mirror was like a precious jewel; when foreigners came foreigners appeared, when Han came, Han appeared. Some-time later, when Joshu went to China and cast off the mind and body of Dogen, he expressed what had not yet been expressed, saying:
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When foreigners come, foreigners appear in It, be they eight thousand or a hundred thousand; when Han come, Han appear in It, be it for a single moment or for all of time. When things of the past come, things of the past appear in It; when things of the present come, things of the present appear in It. When a Buddha comes, a Buddha appears in It; when an Ancestor comes, an Ancestor appears in It.
Shobogenzo, Kokyo, Hubert Nearman
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Then at some existence-time, a monk, apparently worried about the possibility of incurring seven years of bad luck, asked a certain Zen master a question about "broken mirrors." As luck would have it, he also mentioned some business about "fallen flowers" that may shed some light on the phrase Dogen used in Genjokoan to confuse us with:
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Great Master Hochi of Kegonji in Keicho (succeeded Tozan; his monk’s name was Kyujo) on one occasion is asked by a monk: “What is it like at the time when a person in the state of great realization returns to delusion?”
The master says, “A broken mirror does not again reflect. Fallen blossoms cannot climb back onto the trees.”
Shobogenzo, Daigo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross
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An interesting thing to consider--and one of those things that, once seriously considered, is hard to get out from under the saddle! In hopes that you all get a good look at it, here is where two versions of Shobogenzo can be found online--Free! (something which, in itself, justifies the internet). Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross Translation - Hubert Nearman Translation Here are a few tidbits of what Dogen has to say by way of complicating things further:
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“A person in the state of great realization” is not intrinsically in great realization and is not hoarding a great realization realized externally. It is not that, in old age, [the person] meets with a great realization [already] present in the public world. [People of great realization] do not forcibly drag it out of themselves, but they unfailingly realize great realization. We do not see “not being deluded” as great realization. Neither should we aim, in order to plant the seed of great realization, to become at the outset a deluded being. People of great realization still realize great realization, and people of great delusion still realize great realization. If there is a person in great realization, accordingly there is Buddha in great realization, there are earth, water, fire, wind, and air in great realization, and there are outdoor pillars and stone lanterns in great realization. Now we have inquired into a person in the state of great realization. The question “What is it like at the time when a person in the state of great realization returns to delusion?” truly asks a question that deserves to be asked...
The master says, “A broken mirror does not again reflect. Fallen blossoms cannot climb back onto the trees.” This preaching for the multitude expresses the very moment of a mirror being broken. That being so, to concern the mind with the time before the mirror is broken and thereupon to study the words “broken mirror” is not right. [Some] might understand that the point of the words now spoken by Kegon, “A broken mirror does not again reflect, fallen blossoms cannot climb back onto the trees,” is to say that a person in the state of great realization “does not again reflect,” and to say that a person in the state of great realization “cannot climb back onto the trees”—to assert that a person in the state of great realization will never again return to delusion. But [Kegon’s point] is beyond such study...
When fallen blossoms are just fallen blossoms, even if they are rising to the top of a hundred-foot pole, they are still fallen blossoms. Because a broken mirror is a broken mirror just here and now, however many vivid situations it realizes, each similarly is a reflection that “does not again reflect.” Picking up the point that is expressed as “a mirror being broken” and is expressed as “blossoms being fallen,” we should grasp in experience the moment that is “the time when a person in the state of great realization returns to delusion.” In this [moment], great realization is akin to having become buddha, and returning to delusion is akin to [the state of] ordinary beings. We should not study [Kegon’s words] as if they discussed such things as “turning back into an ordinary being” or “traces depending on an origin.”
Shobogenzo, Daigo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross
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That Dogen! Talk about a mouth like a blood bowl! Genjo koan indeed! Falling flowers, spreading weeds, aversion, attachment--sheeesh! Warning friends, Dogen uses these poisonous implements elswhere too:
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[Fundamentally] all people are fully satisfied, each and every one with wholeness fulfilled. Why are the weeds seven feet deep throughout the Dharma hall? Do you want to understand this situation?
After a pause Dogen said: Flowers fall in our attachments, weeds grow following our aversions.
Eihei Koroku, 1:51, Taigen Dan Leighton & Shohaku Okumura
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And, while we have the Eihei Koroku handy, watch out for this little cluster bomb also:
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Everybody should just engage wholeheartedly in this genjokoan, "Full manifestation of ultimate reality." What is this genjokoan? It is just all Buddhas in the ten directions and all ancestors, ancient and present, and it is fully manifesting right now. Do you all see it? It is just our present rolling up the curtain and rolling down the curtain [at the entrance to the practice hall], and getting up and getting down from the sitting platform. Why don't you all join with and practice this excellent genjokoan? Today this mountain monk [Dogen], without begrudging my life or my eyebrows, for the sake of all of you expounds this again and repeatedly.
Dogen pounded the floor with his staff and immediately got down from his seat.
Eihei Koroku, 1:60, Taigen Dan Leighton & Shohaku Okumura
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I remember Joseph Campbell saying something like, "Life is a wonderful, wonderful opera--only it hurts."
One ticket, please.
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Thanks again! (still?)
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Peace,Ted

2 comments:

Will Simpson said...

When indeed!

Thank you Ted. Thank you for your continued efforts at composting Dogen. Simply and slowly this when simmers. Now and When!

Dogen whacks us over the head with "Let us pause to reflect whether or not any of the whole of existence or any of the whole universe has leaked away from the present moment of time." He is so kind.

Lately I've been drawn towards the four noble truths and the eightfold path and wonder what Dogen would say about these and today's practice.

Ted Biringer said...

Hello Will,

Thank you for your comments.

You make a very important point. Also, your comment on the 4 truths and the 8 fold path reminds me to stay awake in the homeland of the self -- it also inspires me to post something on these instructive Dharma Treasures (see new post).

Thanks again!

Three Full Bows.

Peace,
Ted