Friday, May 30, 2008

Zen Expressions True or False

A monk asked Joshu, “Does the dog have Buddha-nature?”

Joshu said, “No. (Mu)”

Later, a monk asked Joshu, “Does the dog have Buddha-nature?”

Joshu said, “Yes. (U)”

Joshu is one of the most highly revered masters in the history of Zen Buddhism, and few within the tradition would say that he missed the mark in either of these responses. “No” is right, and “Yes” is right. Each response points directly to the indivisible truth of reality. To honor one of these responses as true and the other as false is to set up an idol; or as Dogen says, to be “fettered by a view.” This applies to all the Zen teachings, including Dogen’s exhortation not to become “fettered.”

Dogen, arguably one of the most ingenious koan masters ever, comments many times on Joshu’s koan about the Buddha-nature of a dog. In one such instance Dogen points out the fallacy of a one-sided view:

The teacher Dogen said: Zhaozhou (Joshu) said it like this for the sake of this person, and was most kind. However, if someone asked me, “Does the dog have Buddha nature or not?” I would say to him: Whether you say yes or no, either one is slander.

If the person were to ask “What?” at the very moment of his speaking he would be hit with my stick.
Dogen, Eihei Koroku, 4:330, Leighton & Okumura

If we read Zen texts with an attitude toward gaining knowledge or some formulaic statement of truth, we are heading for confusion. When we contemplate Zen expressions, the attitude to embody is not, “what does this say” but “what truth or experience is this intended to indicate or provoke?” Failing to do this, we will quickly find ourselves entangled in all sorts of contradictions and complications.

Dogen's writings contain many statements that are literally contradictory. If we take the position that Dogen is speaking literally, we are forced to conclude that some of these statements are true, and some of them are false. Alternatively, we can simply conclude that Dogen is concerned with something other than historical facts or ordinary knowledge.

Dogen, like Joshu when he answers “no” and “yes” to the same question, is using language, as opposed to being used by language. To understand Dogen’s expressions, we need to avoid clinging to the literal, elementary meaning. The true wisdom of Zen expression, like scripture, poetry, and folklore is symbolic, metaphorical, and ultimately transcendent of ordinary narrow-minded literalism.

Sacred literature is like an etching of reality; serving to outline, provoke, or otherwise indicate the reality beyond the words themselves. If we are to grasp the significance of these expressions they need to become, in the words of the mythologist, Joseph Campbell, “transparent to transcendence” (The Power of Myth).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Louie Wing roared with laughter

Louie Wing said, “You hear me say that there is not an objective particle in the entire universe and you misunderstand, and immediately start searching inside your body and mind. You sit up day and night in meditation, torturing your knees and straining your backs. What have your knees and backs done to deserve such punishment?

If you think you are following the teachings of the sages by such a display, you are sadly mistaken. Awakening does bring a certain kind of stillness to body and mind, but literally forcing the body and mind to be still does not bring awakening. An ancient Zen master said, ‘When you want the cart to move, do you whip the cart, or do you whip the ox?’ I say, you had better heed his words, some of your carts don’t look like they can take much more whipping!”

Then Louie Wing roared with laughter. After a few moments of that, several students walked out, which seemed only to provoke Louie Wing to even deeper fits of laughter, and tears ran down his cheeks.
--From The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West by Ted Biringer

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dogen and the Wild Fox Koan...

Shobogenzo Dai-Shugyo

Jordan said to have some fun so I decided to take a look Shobogenzo, Dai-Shugyo; One of Dogen’s evolutionary, unique, and inspirational treatments of the classic koan Hyakujo and the Wild Fox. (Based on the translation of Nishijima & Cross)

Dogen begins in the traditional manner of quoting the koan in full:

When Zen Master Daichi of Hyakujo-zan mountain in Koshu gives informal instruction, an old man is generally present. He always listens to the Dharma along with the monks, and when the assembly retires, the old man also retires. Then unexpectedly one day he does not leave. The Master eventually asks him, "What person is this, standing before me?"

The old man answers, "I am not a person. In the past age of Kasyapa Buddha, used to live [as master] on this mountain. Once a practitioner asked me, ‘Do even people in the state of great practice fall into cause and effect, or not?’ I answered, ‘They do not fall into cause and effect." Since then I have fallen into the body of a wild fox for five hundred lives. Now I beg you, Master, to say for me a word of transformation. I long to be rid of the body of a wild fox." Then he asks, "Do even people in the state of great practice fall into cause and effect, or not?"

The Master says, "Do not be unclear about cause and effect." At these words the old man immediately realizes the great realization. He does prostrations and says, "I am already rid of the body of a wild fox, and would like to remain on the mountain behind this temple. Dare I ask the Master to perform for me a monk’s funeral ceremony."

The Master orders the supervising monk to strike the block and to tell the assembly, "After the meal, we will see off a deceased monk."

All the monks discuss this among themselves, saying, "The whole community is at ease and there is no sick person in the Nirvana Hall. What is the reason for this?" After the meal, the Master is seen leading the monks to the foot of a rock on the mountain behind the temple, and picking out a dead fox with a stick. They cremate it according to the formal method. In the evening the Master gives formal preaching in the Dharma Hall and discusses the preceding episode.

Obaku then asks, "The man in the past gave a mistaken answer as a word of transformation, and fell into the body of a wild fox for five hundred lives. If he had not made any mistake at any moment, what would he have become?"

The Master says, "Step up here. I will tell you."

Obaku finally steps up and gives the Master a slap. The Master claps his hands and laughs, and says, ‘"You have just expressed that a foreigner’s beard is red, but it is also a fact that a red-beard is a foreigner."

The central question of this koan asks if enlightenment liberates one from the realm of causation. It is the same question that forms the dichotomy between determinism and freewill. Are we free to choose, or is our course determined by causes and conditions beyond our control? Do enlightened beings act freely, or are they bound by the iron law of karma?

Buddhist doctrine declares that with enlightenment we transcend cause and effect (karma). At the same time, the law of cause and effect is held as absolutely unbending; all actions—good or bad—result in exacting effects. Zen has dealt with this question in a number of ways, most decisively with one of the highest achievement of koan literature: this story of Hyakujo and the wild fox. Dogen refers to this koan perhaps more than any other throughout his works.

Dogen begins his commentary on it in this chapter with: "The koan realized just now is great practice itself."

Dogen is realizing (making real) the wild fox koan right now. This, he says, is great practice itself!

Dogen continues: As the old man says, Hyakujo mountain in Koshu exists in the past age of Kasyapa Buddha, and Hyakujo mountain in Koshu exists in the present age of Sakyamuni Buddha.

"Hyakujo mountain" is the name of the mountain where Hyakujo (the teacher) teaches. The Zen ancestors usually took the name of the place where they taught; hence, there would often be a succession teachers with the same name. "Kasyapa Buddha" is one of the seven ancient Buddhas of the past age, that is the mythological age before the present age of the historical "Sakyamuni Buddha." Kasyapa Buddha is known as the disciple that received the transmission of the Buddha-Dharma, and he is also known as the teacher that transmitted the Buddha-Dharma to Shakyamuni Buddha. Hmmmm... Interesting... Could there be any resemblance to the "Hyakujo" of the past, and the "Hyakujo" of the present in this koan?

Dogen goes on to say: "This is a real word of transformation."

A "word of transformation" (usually referred to as a "turning word") is a word or action by a Zen teacher, which provokes insight in a student. Dogen is saying that the phrase used by "the old man" in the previous line, i.e. "Hyakujo mountain in Koshu exists in the past age of Kasyapa Buddha, and Hyakujo mountain in Koshu exists in the present age of Sakyamuni Buddha" is a "real word of transformation." Is Dogen is affirming there is wisdom expressed by the words of the old man? Is he inviting his listeners to recognize that wisdom too?

Dogen goes on to say: "Even so, the Hyakujo mountain of the past age of Kasyapa Buddha and the Hyakujo mountain of the present age of Sakyamuni Buddha are not one."

Dogen seems to be pointing out that yesterday’s Hyakujo mountain, is not today’s Hyakujo mountain, reminding us that each abides in its own unique "dharma-position" like the "ash" and "firewood" in Genjokoan.

Dogen says: "Neither are they different."

Dogen seems to be saying that the Hyakujo mountain of the "past" age has a "past" and a "future." Does he mean that in "its future" is the "present" Hyakujo mountain. If we go along with Dogen's teaching of "being-time" (uji), we know that the Hyakujo mountain of the present age has a past and a future; in its past is the Hyakujo mountain of the past. Each contains and is contained by the other. In the words of the Genjokoan, "When one side (one mountain) is illumined, the other side (the other mountain) is darkened."

Now Dogen says: "They are not three and three before, and not three and three after."

Here Dogen employs his commin method using one koan to clarify a point in another koan (this is one reason that koan study is so important for understanding Dogen's writings). The koan he uses here is familiar to us as Case 35 of The Blue Cliff Record, which reads:

Manjusri asked Wu Cho, "Where have you just come from?"
Wu Cho said, "The South."
Manjusri said, "How is the Buddhist Teaching being carried on in the South?"
Wu Cho said, "Monks of the Last Age have little regard for the rules of discipline."
Manjusri said, "How numerous are the congregations?"
Wu Cho said, "Some three hundred, some five hundred."
Wu Cho asked Manusri, "How is it being carried on hereabouts?"
Manjusri said, "Ordinary people and sages dwell together; dragons and snakes intermingle."
Wu Cho said, "How numerous are the congregations?"
Manjusri said, "In front, three three; in back, three three."

Though there are layers of subtle wisdom here, the main point that Dogen seems to emphasize in his abbreviated usage is the futility of utilizing any number (concept) to enumerate or define the ineffable nature of ultimate reality. In other words, he seems to be point out that the Hyakujo mountain of the past and present ages are not two, not one. In fact they do not correspond to any conceptual formulation or non-formulation, hence, "In front, three three; in back, three three."

As Dogen says next: "The Hyakujo mountain of the past has not become the Hyakujo mountain of the present. The present Hyakujo mountain was not formerly the Hyakujo mountain of Kasyapa Buddha’s time."

Let's see what happens if we can re-phrase this in the terms of the "ash" and "firewood" of Genjokoan: "The Hyakujo mountain of the past becomes the Hyakujo mountain of the present; it can never go back to being the Hyakujo mountain of the past. Nevertheless, we should not take the view that the present Hyakujo mountain is its future and the past Hyakujo mountain is its past. Remember, the Hyakujo mountain of the past abides in the place of the past Hyakujo mountain in the Dharma. It has a past and it has a future. Although it has a past and a future, the past and the future are cut off. The Hyakujo mountain of the present exists in the place of the present Hyakujo mountain in the Dharma. It has a past and it has a future. The Hyakujo mountain of the past, after becoming the Hyakujo mountain of the present, does not again become the Hyakujo mountain of the past. This is why we speak of no appearance. This is why we speak of no disappearance. The Hyakujo mountain of the past is an instantaneous situation, and the present Hyakujo mountain is also an instantaneous situation. It is the same, for example, with winter and spring. We do not think that winter becomes spring, and we do not say that spring becomes summer."

How does that work? Sounds interesting, no?

Okay.... I will stop and see if there is any reason to continue...

Comments are most welcome!

Thanks for your time!

Take care,

Copyright Ted Biringer 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shobogenzo Genjokoan a translation by Ted Biringer

Translation by Ted Biringer

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.

The Buddha’s truth includes and transcends the many and the one, and so there is life and death, delusion and enlightenment, ordinary beings and Buddhas.

And though it is like this, it is simply that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds, while hated, flourish.

That people drive the self to actualize awareness of the many things is delusion. That the many things actualize awareness of the self is enlightenment.

Those who are enlightened about delusion are Buddhas. Those who are deluded about enlightenment are ordinary beings.

There are people who continue to realize enlightenment based on enlightenment. There are people in the midst of delusion adding to delusion.

When Buddhas are Buddhas, they do not know they are Buddhas. Nevertheless, Buddhas are Buddhas and continuously actualize Buddhahood. Mustering the whole body-and-mind to look at forms, and mustering the whole body-and-mind to listen to sounds, they perceive them directly, but it is not like an image reflected in a mirror, and not like the reflection of the moon on water. As one side is revealed, the other side is concealed.

To realize the Buddha-Dharma is to realize your self. To realize your self is to forget your self. To forget your self is to be actualized by the many things. To be actualized by the many things is to allow the body-and-mind of your self and the body-and-mind of other than your self to fall away. All traces of enlightenment fall away, and the falling away of all traces of enlightenment is continuous.

The first moment you seek the Dharma you are far removed from the environs of Dharma. The first moment of true Dharma transmission your originally true nature is realized.

A person sailing along in a boat looking at the shore might have the illusion that the shore is moving. However, if they look closely at the boat they realize the boat is moving. Similarly, when they try to understand the many things based on deluded notions about body-and-mind they might have the illusion that their minds or nature are stationary. However, if they step back into fundamental awareness they realize nothing has a fixed self.

Firewood becomes ash; it can never go back to being firewood. Nevertheless, you should not take the view that ash is its future and firewood is its past. Remember that firewood abides in the Dharma position of firewood. It has a past and it has a future. Although it has a past and a future, the past and the future are cut off. Ash exists in the Dharma position of ash. It has a past and it has a future. The firewood, after becoming ash, does not again become firewood."

Similarly, human beings, after death, do not become alive again. This being so, it is the established tradition in the Buddha-Dharma to deny that life turns into death. This is why Buddhists speak of no appearance. In addition, it is the established teaching of the Buddha that death does not become life. This is why Buddhists speak of no disappearance. Life is an instantaneous situation, and death is an instantaneous situation. It is like winter and spring. You do not think that winter becomes spring, and you do not say that spring becomes summer.

A person experiencing enlightenment is like the moon being reflected in water: the moon does not get wet, and the water is not broken. Though its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected in a puddle of water an inch wide. The whole moon and the whole sky are reflected in a dewdrop on a blade of grass and are reflected in a single drop of water.

Enlightenment does not break a person, just as the moon does not pierce the water. A person does not constrict enlightenment, just as a dewdrop does not constrict the sky and moon. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Whether large or small, and whatever the length or shortness of its duration the whole sky and the whole moon are discerned in each body of water.

When the Dharma has not yet filled the whole body-and-mind people feel already replete with Dharma. When the Dharma fills the body-and-mind people feel something is lacking.

For example, when a person sails out beyond the mountains into the ocean, and looks around in the four directions, the ocean appears only to be round; it does not appear to have any other characteristics at all. Nevertheless, this great ocean is not round, and it is not square. There are an infinite number or qualities to the ocean: to fish it is like a palace; to gods it is like a string of pearls. Nevertheless, as far as someone’s eyes can see, it just appears to be round.

As it is for the ocean, so it is for the many things. There are a multitude of qualities in the world of form and the world of the void, but you see and understand only as far as your eyes of practice and realization are able to reach.

If someone wants to know how the many things really are, they should remember that besides appearing square or round, the qualities of the oceans and qualities of the mountains are infinitely numerous; there are worlds in the four directions. Not only the periphery is like this: remember, the immediate present, and a single drop of water are also like this.

When fish swim in the ocean, no matter how far they swim, there is no end to the water. When birds fly through the sky, no matter how far they fly, there is no end to the sky. While this is so, fish and birds have never left the water or the sky. Simply, when their ability is great, their usage is great, and when their ability is small, their usage is small. Thus, each realizes its full potential and each experiences its full realm. If a bird leaves the sky, it will die at once; and if a fish leaves the water, it will die at once. Therefore, you know that water is life and you know that sky is life. Birds are life, and fish are life. Hence, life is birds and life is fish. Beyond this, there may still be further progress. The existence of their practice and enlightenment, and the existence of their life, are like this.

This being so, a bird or fish that tried to move through the water or the sky only after getting to the bottom of the water or the sky, could never find its way or find its place in the water or the sky. When people find this place, this action is itself, the actualization of the fundamental point (genjokoan). When people find this way, this action is itself the actualization of the fundamental point (genjokoan). This way and this place are not great or small; not subjective or objective; they have not existed since the past nor do they arise in the present; they are simply as they are.

When a person is experiencing the practice and enlightenment of the Buddha-Dharma, each practice is complete practice, and meeting each thing is mastering it. Here, the place exists and the way unfolds, and therefore the area of enlightenment is not conspicuous. For this enlightenment and the Buddha-Dharma manifest simultaneously and are experienced simultaneously.

Do not assume that what is realized will be grasped by consciousness, or will be recognized by the intellect. Although the experience of the ultimate state is realized immediately, its mysterious existence is not a manifest realization. Realization of the inconceivable is the inconceivable itself.

Zen Master Baoche of Mount Mayu is using a fan.

A monk comes up and says, "The nature of air is ever-present, and there is no place it does not reach. Why then does the Master use a fan?"

The Master says, "You understand that the nature of air is ever-present, but you do not understand the truth that there is no place it does not reach."

The monk says, "What is the truth of there being no place it does not reach?"

At this, the Master just continues to use the fan.

The monk does prostrations.

The actualization of the Buddha-Dharma, the living way of authentic transmission, is like this.

A person who says that because the nature of air is ever-present they don’t need to use a fan, or that without using a fan they can know the ever-present nature of air, does not know ever-presence or the nature of air.

Because the nature of air is ever-present, the air of Buddhism manifests the gold of the Earth and ripens the Long River into fragrant cream.

Written and presented to my (Dogen’s) lay disciple, Koshu Yo, of Kyushu Island, in the mid-autumn of 1233. Revised in 1252

Feedback greatly appreciated!

Thank you,


Copyright Ted Biringer 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

Which Quote is by Dogen, a,b,c?

I thought it might be fun to play a little game (and hopefully avoid getting my table kicked over)...

Three quotes--- Which one is by Master Dogen? A? B? C?

A. Seeking the Way
Amid the deepest mountain paths;
The retreat I find
None other than
My primordial home: satori!

B. 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.

C. When Students of the Way are looking at sayings, you must exert your power to the utmost and examine them very very closely.

Thank you all!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dogen demanded more than Just Sitting? Say it ain't so!

Hello all!

In a recent comment at another blog, someone mentioned that there are no "shoulds" or "musts."

While he was speaking about the realm of the absolute, he was of course absolutely right (pun intended).

It did get me to thinking about the other realm though (the realm of practice and enlightenment, of delusion, of Buddhas and sentient beings, of life and death, and mowing the lawn and getting the mail).

I thought it would be kind of fun to pick out some random "shoulds" and "musts" from the translation of Eihei Dogen's Shobogenzo by Rev. Hubert Nearman

This experience proved to be quite interesting---and even, if you will pardon my foul language, enlightening. It seems as if, at least in the ones I was able to quickly dig out, Dogen notions of "shoulds" and "musts" include some hints about other recent blog topics as of late.

Anyway, here are the results:

First is the list of "Shoulds" (Scroll down for the list of "Musts")

Therefore, we should just make haste and fully comprehend the principle of the innate nature of the mind being ever-abiding and persisting without change.

You should understand that, in Buddhism, we have always spoken not only of body and mind as being inseparable, but also of the nature of something and the form it takes as not being two different things.

Because of this, should you seek examples from the past up to the present, authenticated instances of it are many indeed.

With him in mind, we should reflect upon ourselves and see how our present condition looks in the mirror of his former times.

This should let you know that worldly duties do not, in and of themselves, impede the Buddha Dharma.

Your exploration of the Wisdom Beyond Discriminatory Thought should be done as though you were making spiritual offerings and respectfully bowing to the Buddha as the Awakened and Revered One.

Nevertheless, you should not hold onto the opinion that the ashes are the future of that which the stick was the past.

Accordingly, as we penetrate deeper and deeper into the Way, our spiritual surroundings, which we should have known, we clearly do not know, but because we are living together with our everdeepening investigation of Buddha Dharma and training with It, we have what we need.

You should not lend support to the misconduct of others, nor should you look upon the human errors of others with a hateful heart.

You should grieve that the proper ways have not yet fully permeated your training.

You should regret that time, in unseen ways, is depriving you of your life of training in the Way.

Beyond question, you should adhere to the Precepts as set down by the Buddhas and Ancestors.

Grasping the spiritual import of what the National Teacher has pointed out, you should take it as the model for your training and study.

Now you bodhisattvas training in the Way, too, should open wide the gate to your training and enter by means of the verse, "That which flows is the Mountain: That which does not flow is the Water."

Even though we speak of the Self as being ‘the great earth with its mountains and rivers’, this is not something that should delude us as to what is returned to.

Flesh-and-blood human beings like these are Masters of bygone days whose determination to seek the Dharma was profound indeed. We humans today should, by all means, consider following in Their footsteps.

And, likewise, we of today should give rise to a similar determination by pursuing genuine training, which is in no wise connected with personal fame or gain.

Accordingly, even though you have spent your past days and nights in vain pursuits, you should make the following vow while you are still in this present life: I pray that I and all sentient beings, from this life through all future lives, will ever be able to hear the True Teachings. Once I have heard the True Dharma, I will not harbor doubts about It or fail to trust in It. Right at the time when I encounter the True Dharma, I will let go of the whole world and embrace the Buddha’s Teachings. Then, together with all sentient beings on the great earth, may we fulfill the Way.

Even more importantly, you should not lose sight of the intention that arose when you first took delight in seeking the Way of the Buddhas.

That which penetrates to the deepest halls of this region is not the shallow cognitive functions of a beginner’s mind. Simply, you should walk the Path that former saints have trod.

Once they have completely awakened, people today will be as those Buddhas of the past. You should take time to study and investigate this principle, for this is what all Buddhas have guaranteed us will take place.

This refers not only to the Seven Buddhas, for these Precepts are what all Buddhas teach. You should examine Them with the mind of meditation and thoroughly investigate the principles They voice.

Since it is a manifestation of our spiritual question, we should meditate on this from the perspectives of both the host and the guest.

You should do your training and practice, even though you may still be attached to discriminatory thinking; you should do your training and practice, even if you have gone beyond discriminatory thinking; you should do your training and practice, even though you may be half-hearted in the attempt.

Meditation Master Shikan’s respectful bowing to the female monk Massan Ryōnen and his seeking the Dharma from her is a model of intent that we should follow.

Since the Ancestors and Masters associated with the Treasure House of the Dharma, as well as the bodhisattvas who lived during the Buddha’s lifetime, did not take this vow, as part of your training and study you should look to see whether there is any place in the Buddha’s Teachings where this could possibly have been taught.

Because of this very principle of the way things are, the earth in its entirety has myriad forms and hundreds of things sprouting up, each sprout and each form being a whole earth—a point which you should incorporate into your study of the Way, for the recognition of the coming and going of things in this manner is a first step in training and practice.

Furthermore, ‘intending’ refers to the time when the spiritual question manifests before our very eyes; ‘expressing’ refers to the time when one looks up and unbolts the barrier gate; ‘arriving’ refers to the time when body and mind are dropped off; and ‘having not arrived’ refers to the time when this ‘dropping off ’ is left behind [as you go always onward, always ‘becoming Buddha’]. This is the way that you should diligently apply yourself, the way that you should treat whatever arises as ‘just for a while’.

We should show our gratitude to the Ancestral Masters for their great kindness in Transmitting the Dharma to us.

Just because they said that such stories are not subject to rational understanding, you should not fail to learn through your training what the intellectually comprehendible pathways of the Ancestors of the Buddha are.

Thus, you should investigate the phrase ‘mountains flow’ with the Ancestors of the Buddha, and do not abandon the matter when you find yourself surprised or in doubt.

A former Buddha once said, "If you would avoid incurring unrelenting, hellish karma, do not malign the Tathagata’s Wheel of the True Teaching." You should engrave these words on your skin, flesh, bones, and marrow; you should engrave them on the outer circumstances and inner conditions of your body and mind; you should engrave them on what is immaterial; you should engrave them on what is material.

This does not mean that the child is not a child, nor does it mean that the parent is not a parent: you should simply explore this as "The child is the one who is old and the parent is the one who is young."

So, novices who are learning through their training should, beyond doubt, be diligent in their explorations.

This statement contains the very lifeblood that we should strive hard to comprehend.

We should by all means have as our investigation through training and practice an exploration that broadly spans the sayings of all the Buddhas and Ancestors.

You should make a diligent effort to consider what this is saying.

You should ask whether the time when Buddha Nature realizes Buddhahood is a time of ‘not having Buddha Nature’, and whether the time when Buddha Nature gives rise to the intention to realize Buddhahood is also a time of ‘not having Buddha Nature’.

Being presented with this statement, you should work hard on understanding the meaning of this expression. You should reflect on the phrase ‘north or south’ with an open mind, for there is a deeper meaning in the expression that the Sixth Ancestor has given us.

If, at that time, the Sixth Ancestor was indeed ‘such a person’, then we should work diligently on the words, ‘not possessing Buddha Nature’. Putting aside the ‘not having’ implied by ‘possessing versus nonpossessing’, we should ask, "What is Buddha Nature?" That is, we should inquire into what sort of thing Buddha Nature is.

It should be like a water buffalo coming out from the water and bellowing "Mu." To put it like this is to affirm It. You should try and see if you can say, in your own words.

We should spend life after life exploring the intent of this statement through our training. We should keep our minds diligently investigating what he meant by ‘whatever the cost of the broth, don’t worry about it for the moment’. Why was he so concerned about the cost of straw sandals?

Okay, here are some of Dogen's "Musts"

To grasp this principle of ‘one’s continually leaving it up to’, you must thoroughly explore what your mind is.

If teaching is in any way different from this, you must recognize that it is not the Buddha Dharma.

We trainees of today must not disregard his remark, "Those of old were just like this."

When That Which Is expresses Itself in this way, even though the whole of Its ‘hands and eyes’ are never hidden from us, we must not look for a time when It expresses Itself as ‘the whole of Its hands and eyes’.

We must not become more and more casual and neglect it, for it is due to just such neglectfulness that teachers in the past who gained an understanding of what spiritual Brightness is were rare indeed.

By all means, those of us learning in these later times must not hold to the same opinions as those non-Buddhists who deny causality.

In all earnestness, you must not compare this saying with other expressions.

The ‘age’ and ‘youth’ of a child, as well as the ‘age’ and ‘youth’ of a parent, must be fully explored, in detail, and without haste.

You must explore this fundamental principle through your training! Because this principle exists, a Master of long ago said, "To read Scriptures, you will need to be equipped with an Eye for reading Scriptures."

We must not forget to explore through our training the principle that when there are a hundred thousand World honored Ones, there will be a hundred thousand Makakashō’s.

You who are studying what Buddha is must never think that those who possess the five or six spiritual abilities—be they non-Buddhists or those of the two Lesser Courses—are in any way superior to an ordinary, everyday person.

In that things are already like this, you certainly must have the ability to use your own mind right at this very moment to see into your own mind.

Truly, you need to keep in mind that when it comes to the Buddha’s Dharma, you must be clear about Its fundamental principles.

You who are now learning the Way must keep close to morally good friends and be on intimate terms with them.

We must clearly perceive, unequivocally resolve, fully comprehend, and infer in detail the principle of a Buddha’s Body being something that is neither tall nor short.

After we have given rise to the enlightened Mind, we must not regress or wander off from It, but must steadfastly protect and defend It.

Should you consider going against your vow to help others to awaken before you do, you must realize that this is the preaching of demons, the preaching of non-Buddhists, the preaching of wicked companions.

You must not doubt that you will inevitably realize Buddhahood, for it is a foregone conclusion. It is precisely what the Buddha gave voice to.

Those who are truly serious in their training must clarify what the effects of karma in the three temporal periods are.

Students of the Way must, by all means, learn first off just what a Buddha is.

(Here is one with a "should" and a "must")

We should not let up even upon arriving at the Wisdom that is the fruition of Buddhahood. This is the Path that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas pursue. We call this ‘the profound awakening to the Law’ and ‘the Buddha’s Truth inherent in every being’. Further, you must pray that you do not dilute this with opinions held by others.

In the realm where one’s own awakening awakens others, from the very moment that you are provided with personal certainty, there is no hanging onto it, and, once your personal certainty begins to function, you must see to it that it never ceases.

Be aware that the Buddhas and Ancestors repeatedly taught that we must not be slack in our training and practice, so that we do not stain or tarnish our innate enlightenment, which is inseparable from our practice.

Understand that you must do your training and practice amidst the realizing of the Way.
Not only that, you must fully understand that ‘birth and death’ is nirvana: there has never been any talk of a nirvana outside of birth and death.

You must realize that It is what is beneath your very feet and within every drop of water.

To be sure, having once realized the Place, you must not analyze It in order to understand It through discriminatory thought and, thereby, reduce It to fit your own opinions.

You must understand that when you fully realize what your mind is, the whole canopy of the heavens is knocked down and the spinning earth is completely torn asunder.

You must understand that to hear "Refrain from all evil whatsoever" is to hear what the genuine Dharma of Buddha is.

Even so, we must consider carefully the principle of ‘becoming a Buddha’ as we walk, stand, sit, or recline throughout the twenty-four hours of a day.

We must carefully study the principle enunciated here. Although it seems that there are people who fail to examine what ‘all Buddhas’ means and thereby create suffering for themselves—and to no good purpose—nevertheless, this is simply suffering from being a sentient being; it has nothing to do with practicing the Way to Buddhahood.

The heart of what he said exists in what a child of three can say, and this we must thoroughly investigate. Also, there is the practice which eighty-year-olds may not be doing, but which we must diligently engage in.

Since we human beings are continually arranging the bits and pieces of what we experience in order to fashion ‘a whole universe’, we must take care to look upon this welter of living beings and physical objects as ‘sometime’ things.

Truly, even though we have been born in a remote region at the time of the final stages of the Teaching, if any of us have the opportunity to choose whether to be Transmitted or not, we must accept in faith—as well as guard and maintain—the true inheritance that is being passed on to us.

So, you must not harbor doubts about the moving on of the verdant mountains at the present moment. People do not know that they must scrutinize and clarify what ‘verdant mountains’ means if they are to measure all the existent worlds about them.

You must devote yourself to exploring through your training not only that ‘the Child becoming the Parent’ is the full manifestation of ‘giving birth to the Child’, but also that ‘the time when the Parent becomes the Child’ is the full manifestation of ‘giving birth to the Child’.

You must thoroughly penetrate what is being said here.

You must have faith that Buddha after Buddha has inherited It in this manner, reaching down to us now, for this is how we explore the Way of the Buddhas through our training.

That place where ‘sentient beings take their delight and play’ has continually existed as the Buddha’s Pure Land, which can never be destroyed. We must meticulously make this our fundamental practice.

You must comprehend this and explore it through your training, for when is it that someone does not have Buddha Nature?

Wow! And that is just the tip of the ice-berg. There must be at least a couple thousand "musts" and "shoulds" in the Shobogenzo alone, or should we call it the True Dharma-Eye Treasury? If memory serves, the Eihei Koroku, and the Zuimonki are even worse!

Be careful not to show this list (or the Shobogenzo for that matter) to "practitioners" who think that Dogen promoted some kind of magic "Zen" that could turn students into Buddhas by "just sitting" on a regular basis. It might really be a "disillusioning" experience!

For everyone else that would like to know what Dogen's masterpiece, the Shobogenzo, actually teaches about what is really involved in the authentic Zen path of practice and enlightenment, follow the link to:
Complete Translation of Eihei Dogen's Shobogenzo by Rev. Hubert Nearman, O.B.C.,translator Shasta Abbey Press

and read the thing for yourself. Then read the translations by Nishijima & Cross, Kazuaki Tanahashi, Thomas Cleary, Wadell & Abe, Reiho Masunaga, Taigen Dan Leighton, Hee-Jin Kim, Francis D Cook, Steven Heine, Carl Bielefeldt, Shohaku Okumura, Kosen Nishiyama, Then study Japanese and check out the "modern Japanese" versions, then study Chinese and Medieval Japanese and you can enjoy the "original" version. Next, put it all into practice on the cushion and in your daily activities for twenty years or so.

Or.... Just find a "certified" teacher and learn to sit and disengage your mind from Dogen's joyous rants about playing in samadhi, and his zeal for deep investigation, and his voracious curiosity about "self" "Buddha-Nature" and "Life and Death" -- Just sit and let go of all your aspiration and joy regarding wisdom and compassion -- free yourself from goals, not to mention from all those nasty thoughts and feelings that give the flavor to life -- just sit in that pure and clear space with a mind like a rock or a stump, letting things be "as they are." Who needs all the hassle of coming back to the market place and dealing with other human beings that don't "really" exist anyway, sure that child thinks it is hungry, but that is just delusion--Why should we be bothered to offer them bread?