Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thusness, Normality, and the Reason (dori) of Dharmas

Thusness, Normality, and the Reason (dori) of Dharmas

The notion of thusness is the Buddhist recognition and acknowledgement of the normality of all dharmas. The normality of things is the Buddha-nature of things; to see the normality of a thing is to see its thusness, that is, to see Buddha.

“I shall pursue the problem of reason… specifically with respect to dori (or kotowari), one of Dogen’s most favorite concepts, that connotes “truth,” “reason,” “reasonableness,” “justice,” “naturalness,” and so on. Broadly speaking, our concern has to do with reason and rationality in Dogen’s soteriology, which has been grossly neglected in Dogen studies. We may ask why we should bother with the subject in the first place when the issue is in such disrepute in this day and age of postmodernism?  …whatever the merits and demerits of postmodernism may be, I am deeply convinced more than ever that no age in human history calls for the genuine understanding and re-vision of reason more urgently than ours.”

Hee-Jin Kim, Dogen on Meditation and Thinking, pp.100-101

Because in reality all dharmas are Buddha, all dharmas possess intrinsic value, even ultimate value. The ultimate value intrinsic to dharmas (their thusness, or normality) is found in and treated by Dogen according to his notion of the reason, reasonableness, or rightness of dharmas – that is the intrinsic “dori” of dharmas. The term “dori” combines “do” (tao, way, path; also, to speak, to express) and “ri” (Chinese, li; principle, pattern, order; also, to arrange, to regulate).

As the works of David L. Hall, Helmut Wilhelm, Roger T. Ames, and others demonstrate, the significance of “dori” (reason) has a profoundly subtle and wide ranging capacity. In all his works, the preeminent scholar of Dogen studies, Hee-Jin Kim, has eloquently emphasized and illumined the profound significance of dori in Dogen’s Zen. Thus, to convey the primary significance of dori as it relates to Dogen’s Zen we can do no better than offer some quotes by the grand-master himself.

It is noteworthy that the notion of do in the East Asian traditions has a single common thread, namely, the meaning of walking, journeying, or movement along a path. The Way is never extricated from the processes of phenomena themselves.

Hee-Jin Kim, Dogen on Meditation and Thinking, p.101

All things considered, the li constitutes those patterns, rhythms, and regularities which humans discern as meaningful in carrying out their day-to-day activities, by participating in the dynamics of the natural, and according to their personal, historical, and cultural conditions and forces. Rationality is never regarded as an immutable, self-contained truth or essence transcendentally existent in a hierarchical, teleological world order, but is grasped in an ever-shifting process of human affairs in relation to nature, history, and culture.

Considered in the Buddhist context, li, like tao, attains enormous complexity in its significance: The word is employed to denote siddhanta (fundamental principle/law) and, hence such Buddhist notions as thusness, emptiness, equality…”

Hee-Jin Kim, Dogen on Meditation and Thinking, p.102

“…li is also used to signify, for example, pramaha (to arrange, to regulate, to rectify). It is particularly noteworthy that in Hua-yen thought li (“principle”) is paired with shih (“phenomena”), and their relationship is conceived in such a way that the non-obstruction of li and shih (li-shih wu ai; rigi muge) is further refined as “the nonobstruction of shih and shih” (shih-shih wu ai; jiji muge)—in other words, the interpenetration and harmony of all phenomena.  

Dori is broad and fexible enough in its capacity to embrace logos, mythos, ethos, and pathos; cognition, affection, and conation; nature and culture; fact and value; theoria and praxis; the self and the universe. …dori is practically oriented, enabling humans to participate in its countless configurations, rhythms, and regularities in life and the world as they discern meaningful …dori regulates, arranges, and manages, as much as it challenges, surmounts, and subverts.

Hee-Jin Kim, Dogen on Meditation and Thinking, p.103



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Zen, Dogen, Hillman, and the Self

Zen, Dogen, Hillman, and the Self...

Who Pracitices?

Zen practice can only begin when we come to terms with the thorniest questions of all; “Who or what is the subject that practices?” What is this “self” whose “true nature” the Zen masters urge us to awaken to?”

The majority of contemporary books whose subject centers on the “self,” books on health, psychology, religion (including Zen), and even on so-called self-help, show a marked propensity to avoid defining what it is they mean by the “self” as if this was self-evident.

Self One, Self Two?

In Buddhist literature the term “self” is used in two distinct ways, to refer to the ordinary, personal, or ego self, and to refer to the original, great, or true self; which “self” is meant is determined by its context.

The “Ordinary” Self

The “ordinary” self is depicted as the subject of experience that is experienced as independent of the object of experience. That is, the content of conscious experience is experienced by the ordinary self (which we ordinarily identify as “myself” or “our self”) as something distinct from, or other than itself. One thing this means is that the consciousness of the ordinary self is always divided by a sense of “self” and “other than self.” As Dogen says:

When speaking of consciousness of self and other, there is a self and an other in what is known; there is a self and an other in what is seen.
Shobogenzo, Shoaku Makusa, Hubert Nearman

In sum, the “ordinary” self is the subject of experience as distinct from the object of experience.

The “True” Self

In contrast to the “ordinary” self, the “true” self is portrayed as being inclusive of both the subject and the object of experience. In the context of Dogen’s line above, the “ordinary” self is the self of “self and other,” while the true self corresponds to his “what is known” and “what is seen” (which Dogen says contains both a self and an other).

It should be noted that the perspective of the “true self” does not deny the reality or significance of the “ordinary self,” it is inclusive of it. In other words, the ordinary self is not illusory or provisional; it is a real aspect of the true self, is in fact totally constituted of the true self – thus, the ordinary self is wholly contained by the true self, but the true self is not contained by the ordinary self, far from it. This is complex and not essential to the point of this post; we mention it only to preclude hasty conclusions. We are all aware of the basic notion of the ordinary self, thus we’ll move on to the main topic; the true self.

As suggested by Dogen’s words on the constituents of “what is known” and “what is seen,” the self (“self” means “true self” hereafter) is the location or moment of experience. Thus, the self is a position or occurrence of space and time rather than a particular entity or capacity in space and time. Further, the self is inclusive of both the subject and the object of experience.

Seeing and Seen – One or Two?

Experience is always two-fold, that is, experience is always the experience of something experienced by someone. In experience there is “a self and an other.” For example, the experience of “seeing a mountain” can only be realized by the presence of “a mountain” and “a seer.” The self, then, is not the mountain or the seer, but the self is “seeing a mountain.” So it is with all experience; to see a mountain, hear a waterfall, or contemplate a thought, there must be both something experienced (mountain, waterfall, or thought) and someone that experiences it; the self is the location where or moment when experiencer and experienced are joined in the actualization of experience.

With this it should be clear that the self cannot be qualified as either an ontological or an epistemological element or entity; now we can move on to some more significant aspects of the self – some aspects that make the Zen goal of “seeing the true nature of the self” a worthy pursuit.

Dogen and Hillman: The Self – A Worthy Pursuit?

In Buddhism, the great significance of the self is demonstrated by the fact that the Buddha is said to be found within the self, and nowhere else. This accounts for Dogen’s (and other Zen masters) assertions that only the self contains anything worth getting; the self is the only place or moment value exists. In this aspect, the self portrayed by Dogen is not unlike the “soul” of “Archetypal Psychology” (James Hillman et. al). Consider these words from Hillman’s landmark book, Re-visioning Psychology:

However intangible and indefinable it is, soul carries highest importance in hierarchies of human values, frequently being identified with the principle of life and even of divinity.
Re-visioning Psychology, James Hillman, p.xvi

Dogen certainly seems to agree with James Hillman here; for example, consider this passage in which he identifies the “ascendant state” of Buddha” with the “vigorous activity of playing with the soul.”

We should know that “there are human beings in the ascendant state of buddha.” [The state] is, in other words, the vigorous activity of playing with the soul. That being so, we can know it by taking up [the study of] eternal buddhas, and we can know it by holding up a fist.
Shobogenzo, Butsu-kojo-no-ji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

In the same passage just cited, Hillman writes:

In another attempt upon the idea of soul I suggested that the word refers to that unknown component which makes meaning possible, turns events into experiences, is communicated in love, and has a religious concern.
Re-visioning Psychology, James Hillman, p.xvi

While he might prefer unconcealed in place of Hillman’s unknown, Dogen too finds the “religious concern” of the soul (letting the Buddha-Dharma play as our soul) as that which “makes meaning possible” – even implying that failing to engage the soul in this way is to live “in vain.” Moreover, Dogen frequently makes the same connection as Hillman in regard to communication or preaching for others (expression, transmission) in love (compassion); for example:

We should let the Buddha-Dharma play as our soul. This is called not passing any life in vain. Do not think, on the contrary, that because we are not yet clear we should not preach for other people.
Shobogenzo, Jishō-zanmai, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

After re-stating his original views on the soul, Hillman goes on to say:

Now I am adding three necessary modifications. First, “soul” refers to the deepening of events into experiences; second, the significance of the soul makes possible, whether in love or religious concern, derives from its special relation with death. And third, by “soul” I mean the imaginative possibility in our natures, the experiencing through reflective speculation, dream, image, and fantasy—that mode which recognizes all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical.
Re-visioning Psychology, James Hillman, p.xvi

As we see in Shobogenzo, Dogen also affirms the soul’s (true self’s) role in “deepening” events into experiences, and even regards the soul (as does Hillman) as the source of the “events” that can be deepened into experiences. Also, Dogen’s frequent allusions to the notion that insight into impermanence is the beginning of authentic religious aspiration testifies to his agreement with Hillman’s notion that the soul’s capacity to fuel love and the religious concern is directly linked to its “special relation with death.”

Zazen and the Imaginative Capacity of the Self

It is Hillman’s third “modification” though, that is particularly significant in throwing some light on Dogen’s vision of the self. For Dogen, it is the “imaginative possibility in our (true) natures,” which he most commonly calls “shikantaza” (zazen-only), that is the keystone of Zen, the “art” of Zen practice-enlightenment. It is this “imaginative possibility” that “recognizes all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical” that facilitates (via authentic zazen) the human capacity to “fashion” a (ordinary) self and an other, that is, to actualize the universe (genjokoan).

In Shobogenzo, Udonge, Dogen describes (metaphorically of course) the “maintenance of ‘the right Dharma-eye treasury’” (Shobogenzo; authentic Buddhism) as changing “what I possess… into the transmission” (of the Buddha-Dharma from Buddha to Buddha). In the same passage Dogen metaphorically equates “The ancestral master’s coming from the west” (Bodhidharma’s coming to China) with “twirling flowers” (a triple metaphor; at once evoking and combining the “transmission” from Shakyamuni to Mahakasyapa, the story of Huineng and the “Lotus Sutra turning monk,” and the universe of the Lotus Sutra). Dogen then identifies “twirling flowers” as “playing with soul” which he further equates with “zazen-only” (sole sitting), “becoming a Buddha and becoming a Buddha ancestor,” “putting on clothes and eating meals,” and finally as “the matter which is the ultimate criteria of a Buddha ancestor.”

When we take what I possess and change it into the transmission, that is maintenance of “the right Dharma-eye treasury.” The ancestral master’s coming from the west was the coming of twirling flowers. Twirling flowers is called “playing with the soul.” “Playing with the soul” means just sitting and dropping off body and mind. Becoming a buddha and becoming a patriarch is called “playing with the soul.” Putting on clothes and eating meals is called “playing with the soul.” In sum, the matter which is the ultimate criteria of a Buddhist patriarch is, in every case, playing with the soul. While we are being met by the Buddha hall, or while we are meeting with the monks’ hall, variety in their flowers becomes more and more abundant, and light in their colors deepens layer upon layer.
Shobogenzo, Udonge, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Yes, yes…


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Some Straight Talk on Zen Practice-Enlightenment

Some Straight Talk on Zen Practice-Enlightenment

The spirit of Zen is at once as ancient as the origin of the universe and as fresh as the morning breeze just now starting up from the newborn Earth. It is informed by original wisdom and the wisdom accumulated since before the empty eon – it is inspired by the perennial impulse to novelty, and by questions and ideas beget in the ever-arriving moment of now. As the realized and realizable truth (Buddha-Dharma) Zen cannot be restricted to any fixed-form, thus enlightened vision and expression must be granted access to the widest possible field of human endeavor. Therefore, if Zen is to be “authentic” it cannot be confined to any defined field, division, or realm of human thought or habitation past, present, or future. If Zen is the pursuit of “truth for the sake of truth,” as Dogen (and other Zen masters) contends, it cannot be exclusive of anything, and indeed must be as inclusive of science and art as it is of religion and philosophy. For truth is as present in the realm of alcoholism, mass transit, and daydreams as it is in seated meditation, Haiku, and mountain monasteries. So while the terms and grammar of Zen, if they are to maintain their liberating potency, must remain firmly grounded in the history, tradition, and mythology of Zen Buddhist doctrine and methodology, as truth, Zen can only be enlivened, elaborated, increased, and intensified by the true insights, discoveries, and accomplishment of real culture in all the world’s civilizations.

The phrase, “Zen practice-enlightenment” here means the authentic actualization of Zen as portrayed by the classic Zen masters, particularly the Japanese master Eihei Dogen (1200-1253) The implication that human liberation consists not in a particular attainment, but in an ongoing process of realization was inherent in Buddhism from its beginnings, but it was Dogen that provided one of the most (if not the most) elaborately detailed and comprehensive account of the significance of this truth in written form; his extensive elucidation on the nature and dynamics of Zen practice-enlightenment, Shobogenzo (True Dharma-Eye Treasury). The vision of Zen revealed by Shobogenzo presents the “great matter of life and death” as a “pursuit of truth for the sake of truth” which is engaged through and as the deliberate actualization of the universe (genjo-koan).

"Genjo" means “actualizing,” “manifesting,” “fashioning,” “making,” “generating,” “realizing,” etc.; “koan” means “public case” (as in “unconcealed” or “self-evident”), “the universe,” “the issue at hand,” “the present existence-time” (here-now), “reality,” “fundamental point,” etc. “Koan” also denotes specific expressions particularly effective for conveying enlightened wisdom (bodhi-prajna); in this sense, koans can consist of situations, activities, gestures, or objects, but usually consist of words in the form of stories or sayings from traditional sources of wisdom and mythology including scripture and poetry, but most commonly the classic records of Zen. Genjokoan, then, means “manifesting the universe,” or “actualizing the fundamental point.”

The term, genjokoan, was not coined or redefined by Dogen, as are many of his favorite terms, but had been actively used with the same significance in Zen for centuries (for instance, by the Chinese master Yuanwu, architect of the Zen classic, Hekiganroku [Blue Cliff Record]). In Shobogenzo, however, the term (thus the significance) of “genjokoan” is emphasized by being given a central role as a kind of touchstone keeping our awareness from wandering too far from our real situation in the world here and now. Shobogenzo is also unique in the extent to which it elucidates the details of the dynamic process of the “actualization” in question. Briefly, this actualization is portrayed as being realized through the practice-enlightenment of seeing through and casting off narrow ego-centric restraints; thus allowing the many things (myriad dharmas) that constitute the universe to be continuously actualized as they are (to realize their true nature). Practice (experience) is the activity of enlightenment (existence), enlightenment is the nature of practice – thus practice-enlightenment is the actualization of the universe. For the true nature of our existence is experiential, and the true activity of our existence is experiencing – thus our own true nature is actualized (made actual) through the actualization of the true nature of the universe (genjokoan).

According to the vision of Shobogenzo, actualizing the reality of genjokoan requires exposure to a complete and accurate expression of truth (the verbal teaching of Buddhism encountered through the words of reliable teachers, texts, or a combination of these), sustained focused study, clear accurate understanding, sincere dedication to concentrated practice (shikantaza; zazen-only), personal experiential verification of true nature (kensho; seeing true nature; or Dogen’s preferred term, kenbutsu; meeting Buddha), and finally, ongoing enactment (praxis, or practical application) in the everyday world.

The task of Zen doctrine and methodology is to point directly to the true self (the true nature of each human being) and provide a path or way for the individual to awaken to their true nature and thereby activate authentic practice-enlightenment. Zen accomplishes this task partly by providing a number of fundamental viewpoints from which we can see (thus experience) certain truths necessary for achieving effective progress along this path. The fundamental viewpoints necessary to an accurate understanding (thus actualization) of true nature are in no way unique to Zen, Buddhism, or even to what is commonly understood as “eastern” religion. In fact, the principles insisted on as essential by Zen are essential to every school, tradition, or system of thought, east or west (or north and south for that matter) insofar as they are concerned with authentic truth; there are not two realities, and no one has a monopoly on the truth. That said, Buddhism, Zen, and certainly the vision provided by Shobogenzo, are charged with a potency for actualizing and transmitting the wisdom of liberation that may be more directly accessible than any other presently available source.

Everyone that has ever experienced genuine aspiration (bodhicitta) for the Buddha Way that has not yet done so, is wholeheartedly encouraged to give the teachings and practices of Zen as expressed by Dogen’s Shobogenzo – as they are (not as they are “interpreted” by others) – a sincere opportunity to be actualized through your own illumination by the myriad dharmas throughout space and time.



Monday, November 07, 2011

Dogen vs. Dogen "interpreters"

 Dogen vs. Dogen "interpreters"

I thought I would spend a little time seeing what kind of online sources concerning Dogen’s teachings were becoming available in recent years – I was disappointed, but not too surprised…

It seems all too common to find “Zen teachers” that claim to be “interpreters” of Dogen’s teachings, who seem rather to be saying things in direct contradiction to Dogen’s own writings. For example:

Michael Eido Luetchford, Soto Zen Teacher at Dogen Sangha Buddhist Group, from the online transcript

There were Japanese teachers in the Rinzai tradition (not including Rinzai himself), who taught that if you practise Zazen, you can get something very special which they called enlightenment. This creates in the person who is practising Zazen a kind of hope and eagerness to get something better, to become special, to get to some special state. But according to the teachings of Dogen, the thirteenth century monk whose teachings I follow, Zazen is giving up all those kinds of hopes and all those kinds of beliefs, and all hope of becoming a better person.
Michael Eido Luetchford [emphasis added]

What is this? All of the Zen masters taught that awakening the bodhi mind (which “they called enlightenment”) is the foremost task of Zen practitioners. To claim that Dogen did not consider enlightenment as essential is to deny Dogen’s own constant exhortations to the contrary. Here are a few random examples:

Clearly remember: in the Buddhist patriarchs’ learning of the truth, to awaken the bodhi-mind is inevitably seen as foremost. This is the eternal rule of the Buddhist patriarchs.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Hotsu-Bodaishin, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross, [emphasis added]

The training that we undertake to directly experience supreme, fully perfected enlightenment sometimes makes use of our good spiritual friends and sometimes makes use of sutras.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Kankin, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross [emphasis added]

In order to ultimately realize the prediction of Buddhahood, just as ever so many Ancestors of the Buddha have done, one trains in order to manifest one’s genuine enlightenment.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Juki, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross [emphasis added]

Michael Eido Luetchford goes on to assert another typical sound-bit that simply seems to ignore Dogen’s own clear teachings to the contrary. Here is Michael Eido Luetchford on “Dogen”:

Then there are many other forms of meditation where people consciously have something in their mind or are consciously meditating on some kind of subject or some kind of image. But that kind of practice is completely different from Zazen.
Michael Eido Luetchford[emphasis added]

And here is Dogen on Dogen:

At the very time of your sitting, you should examine exhaustively whether the total world is vertical or horizontal. At that very time, what is the sitting itself? Is it wheeling about in perfect freedom? Is it like the spontaneous vigor of a leaping fish? Is it thinking? Or not thinking? Is it doing? Is it non-doing? Is it sitting within sitting? Is it sitting within body and mind? Or is it sitting that has cast off sitting within sitting, sitting within body and mind, and the like?
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Sammai-O-Zammai, Waddell & Abe [emphasis added]

[To research] this truth of moment-by-moment utter entrustment, we must research the mind. In the mountain-still state of such research, we discern and understand that ten thousand efforts are [each] the mind being evident, and the triple world is just that which is greatly removed from the mind. This discernment and understanding, while also of the myriad real dharmas, activate the home­land of the self. They make immediate and concrete the vigorous state of the human being in question.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Gyobutsu Yuigi, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross [emphasis added]

People who arouse a true and genuine aspiration and engross themselves in study to the full extent of their capacity, do not fail to attain. As for the description of the essential point to be mindful of, what thing must be concentrated upon, what practice is to be considered most urgent, that is as follows.

First is only that the aspiration of joyful longing be earnest.

…while travelling, abiding, sitting and reclining, in the midst of affairs as the pass, though various different events come up, he goes along seeking an opening, his mind occupied [with his quest]. With his mind so forcefully earnest, there can be no failure of attainment.

In this way, when the aspiration to seek the Way has become sincere, either during the period of sole concentration on sitting, or when dealing with illustrative example of the people of olden times, or when meeting the teacher, when one acts with true aspiration

Unless you arouse a mind comparable to this, how will you accomplish the great task of the Buddha-Way, which cuts off the turning round of birth and death in a single instant of thought? If someone has such a mind … he will definitely attain enlightenment.
Dogen, Record of Things Heard (Shobogenzo-zuimonki), II:15, Thomas Cleary [emphasis added]

This Dharma is abundantly present in each human being, but if we do not practice it, it does not manifest itself, and if we do not experience it, it cannot be realized.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Bendowa, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross [emphasis added]

Once you attain this state of suchness and attain the harmoni­ous unity of activity and understanding possessed by the Buddha-patriarchs, you examine exhaustively all the thoughts and views of this attainment.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Sammai-O-Zammai, Waddell & Abe [emphasis added]

Again, here is Michael Eido Luetchford on “Dogen”:

Of course, in our minds we have lots of intentions all the time but in Buddhism our intention is to have no intention; my teacher often said “Our aim is no aim”.
Michael Eido Luetchford [emphasis added]

What kind of dreary Zen is this? Why would anyone pursue such a “practice”? The same thing could probably accomplished by sniffing glue… For those seeking something a bit more authentic, check out Dogen here:

You cannot realize the Buddha’s Way if you do not aim to practice the Way, and It will be ever more distant from you if you do not aim to study It. Meditation Master Nangaku Ejo once said, “It is not that your training and enlightenment are absent, but they must not be tainted with anything.”
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Shinjin Gakudo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross [emphasis added]

Mr. Luetchford is certainly not alone in making assertions suggesting that zazen is some kind of trance or detachment wherein thoughts and images are to be “stopped” somehow. For example, here is an excerpt from an online text claiming to teach Dogen’s method of zazen by Gudo Nishijima Roshi:

We avoid intentionally following a train of thought during Zazen by concentrating on maintaining the posture. Of course spontaneous thoughts and images arise in our consciousness during Zazen, but they are not important. When we notice that we are thinking about something, we should simply stop.
Gudo Nishijima Roshi

Here Dogen offers a plausible explanation for such discrepencies:

There are people who, upon hearing the phrase ‘cannot be grasped’, have simply assumed that there is nothing to be attained in either case, for these people lack the living pathway of practice. Further, there are those who say that It cannot be grasped because it is said that we already possess It from the first. How does that hit the mark?
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Shin Fukatoku, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross [emphasis added]

Whatever the case, contrast Nishijima's comment on the “unimportance” of the “thinking” mind in zazen with Dogen’s comments in this passage:

Generally speaking, there are three types of mind. “The first is the mind of chitta, which we call the discriminative mind. The second is the mind of hridaya, which we call the mind of grass and trees. The third is the mind of vriddha, which we call the True Mind.” Among these, we invariably employ the discriminative mind to arouse bodhichitta, the enlightened Mind. Bodhi is an Indian word which we call the Way, or what is True. Chitta is an Indian word which we call the discriminative mind. Without this discriminative mind we could not give rise to the enlightened Mind. I am not saying that this discriminative mind is the enlightened Mind; rather, we give rise to the enlightened Mind by means of the discriminative mind.
Dogen, Shobogenzo, Hotsu Bodai Shin, Hubert Nearman

It is truly a mystery – not really that there are people that ascribe such strange “interpretations” to Dogen’s Zen – but that there are people that find such interpretations acceptable…



Friday, November 04, 2011

The True Nature of Mind Forms...

The True Nature of Mind Forms...

Remember, to receive and retain, to read and recite, and to think reasonably about [prajnā] are just to guard prajnā. And to want to guard it is to receive and retain it, to read and recite it, and so on.
~Shobogenzo, Maka-hannya-haramitsu, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

To think about prajna (the wisdom of enlightenment) is to experience a mental image of prajna and to experience a mental image of prajna is to think about prajna.

Now, where is prajna apart from the mental experience of prajna?

Investigate this and you will personally verify the truth that the very substance of prajna is mind as it is.

Prajna does not exist independent of the mind as if waiting to be discovered. Pursuing this in practice brings realization that the true nature of all things, beings, forms, etc. (dharmas) is mind.

All dharmas (things, beings, etc.) are expressions of Buddha nature, expressions of the one mind, outside of which nothing exists. Dogen calls these expressions of mind, “the real form of all dharmas.” Thus Dogen describes, illumines, and clarifies the significance and implications of their true nature as mind –  mental images, pictures, visions, expressions, paintings and the like.