Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Real Form, All Dharmas

Real Form, All Dharmas

While it may be contrary to the suggestions of many that claim to represent Zen or Dogen, true nature, according to the classic Zen records (including Shobogenzo) is ever and always immediately present, particular, and precise. Notions or assertions suggesting that Zen is somehow mysterious, ineffable, or inexpressible are simply off the mark. The only place such terms can be accurately applied in Zen is to definite mysteries, particular unknowns, and specific inexpressible experiences. Indeed, in Zen, the terms definite, particular, and specific accurately characterize all dharmas (phenomena; things, beings, and events). Dogen’s refrain, ‘Nothing in the whole universe is concealed’ means exactly what it says; no reality is the least bit obscure or vague. To emphasize this truth, the assertion ‘real form is all dharmas’ is a refrain throughout Shobogenzo, for example:

The realization of the Buddhist patriarchs is perfectly realized real form. Real form is all dharmas. All dharmas are forms as they are, natures as they are, body as it is, the mind as it is, the world as it is, clouds and rain as they are, walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, as they are; sorrow and joy, movement and stillness, as they are; a staff and a whisk, as they are; a twirling flower and a smiling face, as they are; succession of the Dharma and affirmation, as they are; learning in practice and pursuing the truth, as they are; the constancy of pines and the integrity of bamboos, as they are.

Shobogenzo, Shoho-Jisso, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Here, then, Dogen and Blake find common ground, ‘Anything capable of being believed is an image of truth’ (Marriage of Heaven and Hell).From the Zen perspective ‘anything’ that is ‘capable of being believed’ is and must already be a reality – a dharma, form of reality, object of consciousness, image of truth. To see a mountain is to experience a mountain and to experience a mountain is to see a mountain. The very ‘substance’ of a mountain is (exists as) its appearance, image, or form in/as the mind, in/as Buddha. A mountain is a self/world phenomenon.

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