Friday, August 22, 2008

Dogen's Teacher - Who speaks Real Form?

In giving informal instruction in the Abbot’s private quarters, my late Master, the Old Buddha of Tendo, said in verse one night:

Tonight, Tendo Mountain is blessed with calves,And a golden-faced Gautama holds aloft the Real Form.“If buying is your wish, how will you afford Its priceless price?” So cries the night bird from above the solitary cloud on high.

When the situation is as described above, venerable senior monks who are accomplished in the Buddha’s Way speak of Real Form. Those who do not know the Buddha Dharma and who do not explore the Buddha’s Way do not speak of Real Form...

When the poem was finished, he struck the right arm of his meditation seat with his right hand and said, “Enter my room for your spiritual interview.” His topic for the spiritual interview was “The night bird cries out and the bamboo on the mountain splits open.” These were his very words for the spiritual interview. He offered no commentary. Even though our monastic family was large, many had no response, as they were simply overawed...

During such informal teaching, my Master’s seat was surrounded by screens which the community crowded around. While the monks remained standing, the interviews took place with whichever monk was prepared to enter the Abbot’s presence. When a monk had finished his interview, he departed through the door of the Abbot’s quarters in the customary manner...

I cannot remember how many mountains and bodies of water there have been between Mount Tendo and this mountain, but the Real Form of those beautiful words and wondrous phrases of my Master has been engraved on my body and mind, on my bones and marrow.
(Shobogenzo, Shoho Jisso, Trans. Hubert Nearman)

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