The evening bell

Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dogen’s Chinese Poems (7)

「同(山居)」

Mountain Dwelling (5)

The evening bell rings in moonlight and lanterns are raised.
Training monks sit in the hall and quietly observe emptiness.
Having fortunately attained the three robes, now they plant seeds.
How heartwarming, their ripening liberation in the one mind.[1]

晩鐘鳴月上燈籠 (晩鐘月に鳴らして燈籠を上ぐ、)
雲衲坐堂靜觀空 (雲衲、堂に坐して靜かに空を觀ず、)
幸得三田今下種 (幸いに三田を得て今種を下す、)
快哉熟脱一心中 (快きかな熟脱一心の中。)

This is verse 7 in Kuchugen and verse 110 of volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record). This is one of the poems about mountain dwelling. Manzan’s version is exactly the same as the Monkaku version.

The evening bell rings in moonlight and lanterns are raised.
Training monks sit in the hall and quietly observe emptiness.

The first two lines are the description of an evening practice at Eiheiji (or Daibutsuji). According to The Model for Engaging the Way (Bendoho), the daily practice schedule at the monks’ hall begins with evening zazen, not with the wake-up bell in the morning. Traditionally this has been interpreted to mean that even the time of sleeping in the night is not a break from monks’ practice.

While the monk in charge (鐘司, shosu or bell manager) strikes the evening bell one hundred and eight times, it is getting dark, the moon rises, the candles are lit, and the lanterns are raised in the monks’ hall and the walkways. In the monks’ hall, training monks sit evening zazen in silence. The sublime sound of the big temple bell (梵鐘, bonsho), boundless bright moon, the small light of the lanterns, and the monks are all within calmness, peace, and harmony.

Although it says the monks quietly “observe” emptiness (靜觀空), it is not possible for monks to “observe” or “contemplate” emptiness as the object of their minds. Just sitting is itself contemplating emptiness. This is the same as is said in the first sentence of the Heart Sutra, “Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when deeply practicing prajna paramita, clearly saw that all five aggregates are empty and thus relieved all suffering.” There is no such person named Avalokiteshvara beside the five aggregates. This “clear seeing” means that the five aggregates of Avalokiteshvara are simply being the five aggregates; there is no subject-object separation and relation. Five aggregates just being the five aggregates is itself clear seeing of emptiness. Within the practice of prajna paramita, or just sitting, emptiness is revealed. The boundless moonlight and small lights of lanterns, the monks’ five aggregates, and emptiness are corresponding with and interpenetrating each other. In Shobogenzo Zanmai-o-zanmai (The Samadhi that is king of samadhis), Dogen Zenji said, “Now we sit in full-lotus with this human skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, we sit zanmai-o-zanmai (the samadhi that is the king of samadhis) in full-lotus… This is the time when buddhas see buddhas. This is the very moment of living beings’ becoming buddha.”

Having fortunately attained the three robes, now they plant seeds.
How heartwarming, their ripening liberation in the one mind.

In the third and fourth lines, Dogen expresses the profound meaning of this practice in the peaceful mountains. “Three robes” translates the Chinese characters for sanden (三田, literally, three rice fields). According to Dr. Genryu Kagamishima,[2]sanden refers to the three robes (kasyaya with 5, 7, and 9 or more stripes) which are collectively called fukuden-e (福田衣, the robe of the field of happiness). Zen monks receive these three robes as part of shukke tokudo (monk ordination). Attaining the three robes means becoming Buddha’s disciples.

種 (shu, planting seeds), 熟 (juku, process of growing and maturing), 脱 (datsu, liberation as the result, or harvesting) are used in Tendai teachings as the process of arousing bodhi-mind, practice, and attaining liberation. Dogen used these in Shobogenzo Kuge:

“They only know that flowers of emptiness (kuge) are something to be discarded; they don’t know the great matter after [seeing] flowers of emptiness. They don’t know planting seeds, ripening, and coming out of the husk of flowers of emptiness (kuge).”

Here Dogen is saying that it is not that there is no process of growing and maturing, blooming, and bearing fruit, but that the entire process is within the practice of this moment.

In Dogen’s teaching, “the one mind” is as he says in Shobogenzo Sokushin-zebutsu (The Mind is Itself Buddha), “The mind that has been authentically transmitted is ‘one mind is all dharmas; all dharmas are one mind.’” The monks’ practicing zazen, seeing emptiness, is “dropping off body and mind of the self and others.”

There is an alternate interpretation of the final lines of Dōgen’s poem. According to Sawaki Roshi and other scholars, “three fields” refers to a saying from the Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra categorizing the three types of people’s quality, corresponding to the bodhisattva, the shravaka, and the icchantika. Icchantika are people who have no potential to become a buddha.

The Mahayana Mahaparnirvana Sutra Chapter Forty: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (a)[3]  says:

“It is like three kinds of field. One is easy to irrigate. There is no sand there, no salt, no gravel, and no stones, and no thorns. Plant one, and one gains 100. The second also has no sand, no salt, no gravel, no stones, and no thorns. But irrigation is difficult, and the harvest is down by half. The third gives difficulties with irrigation, and it is full of sand, gravel, stones, and thorns. Plant one, and one gains one, due to the straw and grass. O good man! In the spring months, where will the farmer plant first?”

“O World-Honored One! First, the first field, second, the second field, and third, the third field.”

“The first can be likened to the Bodhisattva, the second to the sravaka, and the third to the icchantika.”

If we interpret the third and four lines in this way, what Dogen means is that even though there are monks who have various qualities, some who are sincere and capable, and others who are mediocre or even low quality, in their zazen here and now, they are all equally expressing emptiness and their buddha-seeds are all ripening.

I think the first interpretation is better. It is difficult to me to think that Dogen is watching and categorizing his disciples depending on their ability.

— • —

[1] (Dogen’s Extensive Record 10-110, p.641) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] The editor of Dogen Zenji Zenshu (The Complete Collection of Dogen Zenji’s Writings) published by Shunjusha.
[3] Translation by Kosho Yamamoto, edited, revised and copyright by Dr. Tony Page, 2007).

— • —

Commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

The entire world studies itself through this person

Photo © David S. Thompson

The entire world studies itself through this person

Today we feature the third of three excerpts from Okumura Roshi’s new book, The Mountains and Waters Sutra: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s Sansuikyo, edited by Shodo Spring (Wisdom Publications). Okumura Roshi begins by quoting from Dōgen’s Sansuikyo, paragraph seven:

The blue mountains devote themselves to the investigation of walking; the East Mountain studies “moving over the water.”

Here Dogen identifies the subject who does this walking, this studying about mountains and waters. Usually when we read this we think that we are studying Dogen’s teaching about mountains and waters, so the subject is me. Whenever we study Dharma or practice zazen, we think “This person is studying the Dharma,” or “This person is trying to find the meaning of our life.” But Dogen says here that a person’s inquiry is not simply one’s own inquiry: it is mountains studying mountains, and this entire world studying itself through this person’s inquiry.

Planet Earth is a tiny product of the evolution of this universe. We human beings are a tiny and relatively new part of nature on this small planet. And yet, somehow we have an ability to observe the planet, the solar system, other galaxies and even the entire universe, and we try to understand what they are, what is really happening, what is the origin of this movement of the universe. We even think about the meaning of all this movement. This is our attempt to see reality, to understand the meaning of our lives and this world. But we can look from another direction and say that because we are a part of the universe, the entire world is using human beings to see itself. In this sense the entire universe is studying itself through us.

We usually don’t see it this way. We think we study for the sake of this person. When we see our activity from a broader perspective, we can’t be selfish. We can’t use things around us as resources or materials simply to make this person happy. I think this is an important difference.

I sometimes imagine the universe before human beings appeared on this small planet. That was the universe without any observer. No one sees it, thinks of it, understands it, or evaluates it. No one sees color or hears sound. In this case, is there color or sound at all? To me that is a mysterious world. In the history of the universe from the big bang, the universe was without any observer until recently. Things were just happening, without being considered right or wrong, good or bad, well or poorly done. This is an amazing thought to me.

Who is studying? Who is inquiring? In the case of Buddha Dharma, Buddha studies Buddha’s way through our practice. Or Dharma studies Dharma itself through this person, because this person is part of the Dharma. The term “dharmas” means all beings. Capital Dharma means the way all beings are. Dharma just means how we are, but we usually try to get something from it. That is a kind of distortion. According to Dogen, when I sit, it is not Shohaku sitting; zazen is sitting Shohaku. Studying other subjects can be the same.

This study or practice is part of the walking of blue mountains.

The East Mountain studies ‘moving over the water.’ Hence, this study is the mountains’ own study.

Here Dogen refers to Ummon’s saying, which he quotes later:

The mountains, without altering their own body and mind, with their own mountain countenance, have always been circling back to study [themselves].

Dogen says our practice is the mountains’ study. The mountains do not alter their own body and mind—mountains are just mountains, with their own mountain countenance. Mountains are just mountains, and have always been circling back to study themselves.

“Circling back” is a translation of kai to. Kai means to circle around and to is path, road, or street. This is an unusual expression. I don’t think Dogen used this expression in any other writings. According to commentaries, this kai to means “here and there.” “Here” means this present moment and “there” means the eternal Buddha, prior to anything happening, prior to even the kalpa of emptiness. Nikon, this present moment, is here, and eternity is there. In the first sentence of this writing he says that this present moment is one with eternity. That is the meaning of “These mountains and waters of the present are the expression of the old buddhas.” This expression kai to means turning between this present moment and eternity. Mountains turn back and forth between this moment and eternity.

The meaning of this is the same as Dogen’s saying in Tenzokyokun that when you cook you should invite the Buddha from the Buddha Hall and make the Buddha into the vegetables. He said to invite a sixteen-foot Buddha body and make it into one stalk of greens. In other words, any vegetables that we chop or cook are actually Buddha’s body. Also the person who is cooking and the activity of cooking must manifest the sixteen-foot Buddha body. Even though this moment is one with eternity, also we make it one with eternity by cooking in this way.

This particular person is working with particular things. But this particular action can be the practice of turning between this moment and eternity, or between this person and the world. Oneness of this moment and eternity, oneness of the particular and universal, this is what Dogen is always trying to show us. “Moon in a dewdrop” is an expression of the same reality. We are tiny like a drop of dew, but within this momentary drop the entire universe is reflected. In Mahayana teaching, this is expressed as “within a mustard seed, Mt. Sumeru is stored; or within a pore of the skin, the great ocean is stored.”

This is Dogen’s point. The same point is found in much of Japanese culture: eternity expresses itself within impermanence; the infinite manifests itself within the finite. If you read haiku you can recognize this. A famous example is Matsuo Basho’s

“Old pond,
a frog jumps in,
the sound of water.”

Instead of conducting an abstract philosophical discussion, a haiku shows eternity by describing things in one moment.

— • —

Commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.


Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

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Brush and inkstone already discarded

Dogen’s Chinese Poems (6)

「同(山居)」

Mountain Dwelling (4)

For a long while I’ve abandoned human realms,
     beyond attachments,
Writing with brush and inkstone already discarded.
Seeing flowers and hearing birdsong brings little attraction.
Though dwelling in mountains, I’m still ashamed
     at my lack of talent.[1]

久舎人間無愛惜 (久しく人間を舎てて愛惜無し、)
文章筆硯既抛來 (文章筆硯既に抛て來る)
見花聞鳥風情少 (花を見鳥を聞くに風情少なし、)
乍在山猶愧不才 (山にあり乍ら猶を不才を愧ず。)

This is verse 6 in Kuchugen and verse 105 of Volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record, p.639). This is one of the poems about mountain dwelling. In Manzan’s version, the first line is:

久在人間無愛惜
Although I’ve been abiding in the human world for a long time, I am without attachments.

And the fourth line is:

一任時人笑不才
I completely leave to it the people of this time if they laugh at my lack of talent.

In Shobogenzo Zuimonki, Dogen said:

Zen monks these days are fond of studying literature as grounding to compose verses or write dharma-words. This is wrong. Even if you cannot compose verses, just write what you think in your mind. Even if your style [of either rhyme or prose] is not sophisticated, write down the dharma-gates. People without bodhi-mind will not read it if your writing style is not well polished. Even if the style were embellished and there were excellent phrases in it, [however,] such people would only play with the words without grasping the principle [behind them]. I have been fond of studying [literature] since my childhood, and even now I have a tendency to contemplate the beauty in the words of non-Buddhist texts. Sometimes I even refer to Wenxuan (Monzen) or other classic texts. Still, I think it is meaningless, and should be completely discontinued.[2]

This poem is in accord with what Dōgen said while he was staying at Koshoji in Fukakusa. According to his biography, Kenzeiki, Dogen read a collection of Chinese poems when he was four years old. From that point, he received the best possible education available at that time. His father, Minamoto Michitomo and his grandfather, Minamoto Michichika were both well-known waka poets. Aristocrats were not only politicians or government officers, but also had to be scholars and poets. And yet, after becoming a Buddhist monk, Dogen gave up studying and writing poetry and thinking of literary techniques and styles in his writing. Even so, he wrote some Japanese waka poems and more than 400 Chinese poems.

In the Monkaku version, even though he has abandoned the desire to write with sophisticated literary techniques, he is still ashamed his poems are not good enough in comparison with his idea what poetry should be like. It seems he is also ashamed of having such a feeling, because it shows that he is not completely free from his karmic consciousness as a well-educated, aristocratic person. But in Manzan’s version, he did not express such complicated feeling of shamefulness. To me, the Monkaku version expresses his sentiment honestly.

Steven Heine’s translation of this poem is as follows:

Another mountain retreat verse:

For so long here without worldly attachments,
I have renounced literature and writing;
I may be a monk in a mountain temple,
Yet still I am moved in seeing gorgeous blossoms
Scattered by the spring breeze,
And hearing the warbler’s lovely song –
Let others judge my meager efforts.[3]

This is a translation of Manzan’s version. But the third to the sixth lines in this translation are not literal. The beginning of the third line of original poem (見花聞鳥) only says “seeing flowers,” and “hearing birds.” Dogen does not mention anything about “gorgeous blossoms scattered by the spring breeze,” and “the warbler’s lovely song.” At the end of the third line of the original poem (風情少) fuzei, (literally, wind sentiment 風情) is something like “feeling a sense or a taste of elegance” that makes a person to write a poem. Sukunashi (少) means “little.” All of the commentaries I have at hand interpret this line as, “I have little taste for elegance that urges me to write a poem of beauty about the flowers and birds.” I think that this is not, “Yet still I am moved,” as in Heine’s translation but rather, “I am hardly moved.”

Dogen Zenji also wrote these waka in the same vein:

(24)
By the spring wind / My words are blown and scattered / People may see them / The song of flowers

(32)
Although seeing the moon of the mind, / in the great sky, / being deluded in the darkness, / I praise it for its shape and color.

(39)
Seeing flowers in spring, / crimson leaves in autumn, / and white snow in winter,
I am regretful for / that I have appreciated them as the objects / [that entertain my feeling].

Sawaki Roshi said, “Unfortunately, I read Zuimonki first where Dogen Zenji said it is fine not writing beautiful prose or poetry. I felt that’s it! It was easier to speak what I thought than writing poems. … This is also a quality of ‘mountain dwelling.’ If worldly people laugh at me, that is fine.” I also read Zuimonki first and quit writing poems when I began to practice zazen. I feel I was lucky.

—–

[1] (Dogen’s Extensive Record 10-105, p.639) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.

[2] Choenji version Zuimonki 3-6. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation. Wenxuan (文選、Monzen) is a collection of about 700 well-known poetry and prose writings by about 130 important writers compiled in China in 6th century. In Japan this collection was studied as a text of Chinese literature.

[3] The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountian of Eternal Peace (Steven Heine, Dharma Communications,1997) p.148

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.
Image attribution: Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Waka by Dōgen


Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

Fire and flowers

Photo © David S. Thompson

Practicing with the ugliness of the mountains

Today we feature the second of three excerpts from Okumura Roshi’s new book, The Mountains and Waters Sutra: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s Sansuikyo, edited by Shodo Spring (Wisdom Publications).

As the person who is living in this body and mind, I experience a great difference between following my personal desire and following my vow as a bodhisattva. The quality of my life is very different. From outside, my life and everyone else’s are the same: we are born, eat some food, spend a certain period of time, and die. We are sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy. That’s all.

But as a person who is living with this particular body and mind, within this particular society, there are differences. Each one of us has to choose which way to go. The four bodhisattva vows are our compass for our journey on the path of practice. We take a vow and practice toward infinity; vow gives us this direction. We have to directly go into the mountains and see the mountain peaks from inside.

Practicing in the mountains, if we see only the beauty of the mountains we are not bodhisattvas. We need to see the ugly part of the mountains too. And somehow we need to take care of that ugly and painful part. Mountains are not only beautiful and virtuous, they can be sometimes, violent and merciless. Each one of us has different tendencies, capabilities, vows, desires, and hopes. The way each of us works for the sake of this mountain can be different. In my case I think the best contribution I can make to human society is to practice as a Soto Zen Buddhist, and try to transmit what I studied and practiced in Japan to this country. This is my activity as a person of limited capability.

We are all limited and shaped by our karma. How can this particular person make this mountain better for all beings? This question is the meaning of the bodhisattva vow, for every Dharma practitioner. Everybody likes beautiful expressions or poems. It is careless to think our practice is just to appreciate the beautiful scenery in the mountain. Instead, we have to discover how to practice with the ugliness within ourselves and this mountain, and work to make the world even a little better. In this way we can find the beauty of the mountain even within its ugliness.

Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.

— • —

Commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.


Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

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Real Liberation

Real Liberation

Today we feature the first of three excerpts from Okumura Roshi’s new, soon-to-be published book, The Mountains and Waters Sutra: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s Sansuikyo, edited by Shodo Spring (Wisdom Publications).

Sesshin has a different reality from ordinary life. Of course day-to-day things influence what’s going on in our minds. If someone recently triggered my anger, thoughts come up about that person while I’m sitting. I might try to figure out why the person said or did such a thing. Anger also may arise. Anger is a kind of energy; it comes back no matter how many times I try to let go. When I am sitting facing the wall, the person and the incident are already gone, yet the person is also still sitting within me. The instant that brought up my anger is gone, yet still seems to be there. While sitting, I may try to figure out what kind of person this is and why he or she did this or that.

When I continue this way in zazen, moment by moment for fourteen hours a day, I get tired. Somehow my mind calms down. Eventually I realize that the reason this person did this or that is gone, while the anger is still there as energy. When I sit with this energy it goes deeper and deeper. This is no longer the anger caused by the particular action or particular person. Instead, I find that this anger is my self. And still I sit and try to let go of whatever comes up, to just keep sitting. Sometimes, not always, I experience that the anger disappears.

I have found that anger is not really caused by a particular person’s  action. The anger is inside me. That person’s action or speech simply opens the lid of my consciousness. Actually feelings and thoughts always come from our own consciousness. They come up in zazen; when we let go, we can let go, and that’s okay. Zazen is a unique and precious practice. In the zendo we can let go of everything. This is really liberation—not only from our daily lives but also from the karmic consciousness created by our twisted karma. In zazen we are determined not to take action based on the thoughts coming and going; therefore we don’t create new karma. This is what it means that in zazen we are liberated from our karma.

Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., wisdompubs.org.

— • —

Commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.


Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

 

 

Other than this, not a thought’s in my mind

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(c) Can Stock Photo / eskaylim

Dogen’s Chinese Poems (5)

「同(山居)」

Mountain Dwelling (3)

Sitting as the night gets late, sleep not yet arrived,
Even more I realize engaging the way is best in mountain forest.
Sound of valley streams enters my ears; moonlight pierces my eyes.
Other than this, not a thought’s in my mind.[1]

夜坐更闌眠未至 (夜坐更闌けて眠り未だ至らず、)
彌知辨道可山林 (彌いよ知る辨道は山林なるべし、)
溪聲入耳月穿眼 (溪聲耳に入り月眼を穿つ)
此外更無一念心 (此の外更に一念の心無し)

This is verse 5 in Kuchugen and verse 101 of vol. 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record, p.638), one of the poems about mountain dwelling. Line 4 in Manzan’s version is:

此外更須何用心  (此の外更に何の用心をか須いん。)

Beside this, nothing to pay attention in my mind.

更 (kou) is the word to measure the length of nighttime between sunset and sunrise. One night is divided into 5 kou. Therefore, the length of one kou varies depending upon the season. For example, when the nighttime is 10 hours long from 7pm to 5 am, one kou is two hours. The first kou is 7 – 9 pm; the second kou is 9-11 pm; the third kou is 11 pm – 1 am; the fourth kou is 1-3 am, and the fifth kou is 3-5 am.

In Bendoho (The Model for Engaging the Way), Dogen described how they practiced throughout day and night in the monks’ hall at Daibutsuji (later renamed as Eiheiji). A day of practice in the monks’ hall began with the evening zazen. Dogen wrote, “When evening zazen is supposed to end, during the second or third watch [kou] at either the first, second, or third portion according to the abbot’s direction, the han (a hanging wooden block) is sounded.”[2] It seems they sat until 11 pm or midnight.

Regarding the time when they woke up Dogen wrote, “Toward the end of night, hearing the sound of the han in front of the head monk’s office (which is sounded at the fourth or fifth part of the third watch [kou] or the first, second, or third part of the fourth watch [kou] according to the abbot’s decision), the assembly gets up gently, not rising precipitously.”[3] If it was the third part of the fourth watch [kou] – that is, the latest – they woke up a little before 3 am.

Sitting as the night gets late, sleep not yet arrived.” They are sitting until around midnight; Dogen says he is not yet disturbed by sleepiness. Rather, he feels that remote mountain dwelling in the forest is the best place to practice. He and his monks do not need to think or worry about any mundane affairs, but can really just be there and sit.

Sound of valley streams enters my ears; moonlight pierces my eyes.” Sound of valley stream – Buddha’s voice of teaching – comes into his ears, and boundless moonlight – Buddha’s bright and boundless wisdom – pierces his eyes. They are not the objects of his sense organs; he does not hear or see them. Separation between subject and object and interactions between them are not there. He is just sitting, the valley stream is just flowing, expounding the teaching without thinking, and the moon is simply shining in the sky without making discrimination between monks sitting and other people in the world.

Other than this, not a thought’s in my mind.” I practiced at Valley Zendo in the woods of western Massachusetts for about five years. Not many people knew the small Zendo. We did not have TV or radio, and we did not read the newspaper. We did not hear any news of the world unless visitors told us. We only thought of how we could make the land livable and how we can continue to practice zazen with five-day sesshin each month. I knew nothing about what happened in the world during those five years.

Our life there might have been similar to Dogen Zenji’s life at the newly built temple in the deep mountains in Echizen. While he lived at Koshoji in Fukakusa, even if he was not interested, I suppose that many people visited him, and talked about various things happening in the political world of the emperor’s court, or about the relations between the emperor’s court and the Kamakura Shogunate government. His family and relatives were right within such a mundane world. When he heard such things related to his family, I suppose he could not avoid thinking about such affairs. He might also need to think about the relations between his sangha and other Buddhist institutions, particularly the Tendai school.

After I went back to Kyoto from Valley Zendo, I lived alone at a small temple as the caretaker. Each day, after morning zazen, service, and breakfast, I had a cup of tea and read a newspaper. After five years of living without any information about the world, it was my pleasure. However, I found that many Japanese people watch TV for many hours a day, even while eating meals. It seemed that the “big news” happening around the world was much more real and important than people’s own nothing-special day-to-day lives. I thought that was a kind of up-side-down way of viewing things.

[1] (Dogen’s Extensive Record 10-101, p.639) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., wisdompubs.org.

[2] Dogen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community: A Translation of Eihei Shingi (translated by Taigen Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, (State University of New York Press, 1996) p.64.

[3] Ibid., p.65

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

Waka by Dōgen


Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

New books from the Dōgen Institute

We are proud to announce the availability of two new books published by the Dōgen Institute:

Boundless Vows, Endless Practice

In honor of Sanshin Zen Community’s 15th anniversary, Shohaku Okumura and ten of his dharma descendants from around the world present a series of writings on making and carrying out bodhisattva vows in the 21st century. The book includes new translations by Okumura Roshi of material never before published in English.

— • —

Life-and-Death: Selected Dharma Poems from Kosho Uchiyama

A translation of selected Dharma poems by Okumura Roshi’s teacher Uchiyama Roshi, with notes.

Accompanied by beautiful photographs from Jisho Takahashi.

“As human beings who cannot avoid physical life and death, all of us wish to see clearly exactly what life-and-death is, and to settle on our attitude toward it. Even though there may be no way to avoid the physical pain, we would all at least like to face death without the mental torment as though having fallen into hell. What is important here is how to live having settled on our attitude towards life-and-death. These poems are on life-and-death.” — Kosho Uchiyama

“After giving his last teachings to his disciples and talking about impermanence, the Buddha said, ‘From now on all of my disciples must continuously practice. Then the Thus Come One’s dharma body will always be present and indestructible.’ This ‘indestructible dharma body’ is the Buddha’s eternal life in the Lotus Sutra. I think the interpenetration of impermanence and the eternal life of Buddha is what Uchiyama Roshi is teaching us about in this collection of his poems. ” — Shohaku Okumura

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