Practice is realization.

Okumura Roshi is translating a selection of Dogen’s poems, one for each month of the year.

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Dogen Zenji’s waka poem about Spring at Eiheiji

隙もなく ゆきはふれども たにの戸に はる来にけりと うぐひすぞなく
Hima mo naku / yuki wa furedomo / tani no to ni / haru kinikeri to/ uguisu zo naku

Although it is snowing ceaselessly
at the gate of the mountain valley,
the warbler is singing,
saying, “Spring has already come.”

This poem is about early spring at Eiheiji where it is still cold, gloomy, and snowing.

After a long winter, people wish spring would come soon. Suddenly, a warbler begins to sing and announces that spring is already here. The song of the tiny bird is the only sign of the spring in the entire world. Within this scene of winter, spring is already here.

At Sanshinji we had shukke tokudo ceremony for Hosshin Michael Shoaf and Doan Brian Roessler on March 24th, 2013. That evening we had quite a lot of snow and our entire world looked like Christmastime. Daffodil flowers were covered with snow.

Sawaki Roshi interpreted this poem as a metaphor of Dogen Zenji’s teaching of identity of practice and realization, samsara and nirvana. Within winter, spring is already here; within spring, winter is still present. Winter and spring interpenetrate each other. This is how we practice as Bodhisattvas.

Copyright 2013 Sanshin Zen Community

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