Tag Archives: Chuang-tzu

The Great Way

Copyright©2021 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (39)

Following the Rhyme of Official Wenben
「和文本官人韻」(文本官人の韻に和す)

The great way has continuously pervaded.
How can Peng and Ying be found outside?
Strolling along with a staff, chanting in loud voice,
This lump of red flesh arouses the ancient wind.[1]

大道從來一貫通 (大道從來一貫通ず、)
蓬瀛豈在外辺中 (蓬瀛あに外辺の中にあらんや、)
逍遙曳杖高声誦 (逍遙し杖を曳いて高声に誦す、)
赤肉團頭起古風 (赤肉團頭に古風を起こす)

This is verse 38 in Kuchūgen and verse 9 of volume 10 of Eihei Kōroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). In Manzan’s version, this verse has some differences in the title, second, third, and fourth lines:

「和文本官韻」(文本官長が韻に和す)
Following the Rhyme of Official Chief Wenben

蓬瀛何必壺中 (蓬瀛何ぞ必ずしも壺中に在らん、)
How can Peng and Ying be necessarily in the jar?[2]
逍遙世外誰人識 (逍遙世外誰人か識る
Strolling along outside the world, who knows where he is?
赤肉團邊振古風 (赤肉團邊に古風を振う)
With his lump of red flesh, he waves the ancient wind.

 

Following the Rhyme of Official Wenben

This is another poem Dōgen wrote for a government official. The person’s name is Wenben (文本, Jp. Bunpon). Six more poems (numbers 2–7) in volume 10 of Dōgen’s Extensive Record[3] are for this person; next month’s poem, Kuchūgen verse 39 is one of them.[4] “Following the Rhyme” means Dōgen uses the same rhyme as in a poem given by Wenben. To do so, Dōgen would have needed to know the sound and tone of each Chinese word and the strict rules of rhyming in Chinese poetry.

The great way has continuously pervaded.
How can Peng and Ying be found outside?

“The great way” is a translation of dadao (大道, daido). In Chinese Buddhism, dao (道) is used as a translation of several Sanskrit words, such as bodhi (awakening),[5] marga (usually translated into English as path),[6] and gati (destination).[7] From a Buddhist perspective, the great way might refer to the Buddha’s unsurpassed awakening.

However, before Buddhism was introduced to China, Dao (道) was already one of the most important words for both Confucianism and Daoism. In Confucianism, just as the celestial bodies such as the sun, the moon, and the stars move around the same orbital way, and also just as the four seasons repeat in a certain order each year, people thought that each and every thing in this universe has its own way. They thought there must be a certain way we human beings should walk, following a certain order as a member of society.

“Continuously pervaded” is a translation of 一貫 (ikkan, consistency). There is a famous story containing this expression. “Confucius said, “Teng! There’s single thread stringing my Way together (吾道一以貫之).” Then his student Teng explained to his colleagues, “Be loyal to the principles of your heart, and treat others with that same loyalty. That is the Master’s Way. There is nothing more.”[8] The Confucian Way is the virtuous personality of human beings as members of society.

In Daoism, Dao (道) is considered as nothingness (無mu) beyond any concepts or words, and from which all phenomenal beings are born. Dao is something without name and therefore cannot be spoken. Laotsu said:

The Dao that can be spoken of is not the ever-constant Dao.
The name that can be named is not the ever-constant name.
That which is without-name is the beginning of heaven and earth.
That which possesses a name is the mother of the ten thousand creatures.[9]

Chuang Tzu, another Daoist philosopher said:

The Great Way is not named; Great Discriminations are not spoken; Great Benevolence is not benevolent; Great Modesty is not humble; Great Daring does not attack.”[10]

The meaning of “the great way” is different in each of the three teachings. But in this poem, Dōgen uses “the great way” as the truth before separation into the three teachings, beyond any words, concepts, or language.

Peng and Ying (蓬瀛, Hō, Ei) refer to the names of two of the five mythological islands in the eastern sea where Daoist immortals live. There is no agony and no winter in these lands; rice bowls and wine glasses never become empty no matter how much people eat or drink from them; and there are enchanted fruits growing in Peng that can heal any ailment, grant eternal youth, and even raise the departed.[11]

In this poem, Dōgen wrote about The Great Way using Confucius’ expressions from the Analects and using the names of the Daoist utopia. What he meant is that The Great Way is the oneness of concrete human virtuous quality and the Daoist Way beyond the human world. Daoist utopia is not somewhere out there, but where we are now. That is the same as Zen Master Zhauzhou said in the following conversation about the Great Way:

A monk asked, “What is the Way?”
The master (Zhauzhou) said, “It’s just outside the fence.”
The monk said, “I’m not asking about that.”
The master said, “What ‘way’ are you asking about?”
The monk said, “The Great Way.”
The master said, “The great way leads to the capital.”[12]

It seems Dōgen uses the Confucian concrete ethical expression and the Daoist idea of beyond-worldly utopia to show the Middle Way of Buddhism between ultimate truth and conventional truth. It seems that this is a happy integration of the three teachings, even though later Dōgen would criticize this idea. When he was twenty-six years old, it seems that he was enjoying the exchange of poems with Chinese scholar-officials in this way. This might have been the happiest time of Dōgen’s life.

Strolling along with a staff, chanting in loud voice,
This lump of red flesh arouses the ancient wind.

I suppose this person Wenben is a Zen practitioner and an excellent poet. When he has some time free from his duties in the office, he visits Rujing’s monastery to practice. Sometimes, he composes poems and walks leisurely within the temple grounds chanting his poems in a loud voice. Since he walks with a staff, he is probably an elderly person. Dōgen must have liked and respected him. “This lump of red flesh” is a well-known expression from Linji’s famous saying, “Here in this lump of red flesh there is a True Man with no rank. Constantly he goes in and out the gates of your face.”[13]

“The ancient wind” is a translation of gufeng (古風, kofu) commonly meaning old style, or old fashion. But in Zen literature, it is used differently. For example, in the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku), this expression appears in the verse for case 20, “Lung Ya’s Meaning of the Coming from the West.” “When has dead water ever displayed the ancient way? (死水何曾振古風).”[14] As Dōgen wrote in Shōbōgenzō Kobutsushin (古仏心, the Ancient-buddha-mind), this “ancient” means “going beyond ancient and present, and penetrate through ancient and present.”[15] That is, it is the wind of the Great Way. Dōgen says that Wenben’s body is fanning the wind of Ancient Buddha.

It seems Dōgen was happy to practice strict zazen under the guidance of Rujing and with intellectual and literary people like Wenben. He wrote in Bendōwa:

In Great Song China nowadays the Emperor and great ministers, educated and common people, men and women, all are attentive to the Ancestral Way. Military and civilian officials all aspire to study the Way in Zen practice. Of those who so aspire, many will certainly open and clarify the mind ground. Obviously, this shows that secular duties do not obstruct buddha-dharma.[16]

When he wrote this, he might have been thinking of people such as this government official. Later in his life, he will change his opinion on this point too.

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[1] Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10–9, p. 612 © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] “The jar” comes from a Chinese classic on the Daoist immortals. There was a world of immortals in a jar made from the dried shell of a bottle gourd.
[3] Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10–9, p. 610–611).
[4] It is interesting to note that the three poems in Kuchūgen which Menzan selected out of fifty poems Dōgen wrote in China are all related to the idea of the identity of the three teachings, Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.
[5] For example, anuttara samyakusambodhi is 無上道
[6] The Eightfold Noble Path is 八正道
[7] The six realms of samsara is 六道
[8] Quotations translated by David Hinton in The Analects: Confucius (Counterpoint, 1998).
[9] Dao De Jing by Lao Zi: A Minimalist Translation by Bruce R. Linnell, PhD, 2015. Https://www.gutenberg.org/files/49965/49965-h/49965-h.htm
[10] Translation by Burton Watson, Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings (Columbia University Press,1964), p. 39.
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Penglai
[12] Translation by James Green in The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu (Shambhala, 1998), p. 108. This is the same as “All roads lead to Rome.” “The capital” in Zhauzhou’s saying is the actual name of the capital city, Changan (長安, eternal peace); in Buddhism, these Chinese characters can mean “nirvāṇa.” The road we walk in everyday life leads to nirvāṇa. Dōgen might interpret this as the identity of practice and verification (修証一如).
[13] Translation by Burton Watson in The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi (Shambhala, 1993) p. 13.
[14] Translation by Thomas Cleary in The Blue Cliff Record (Shambhala,1977) p. 135.
[15] See Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dōgen’s Shobo Genzo (Kazuaki Tanahashi, Shambhala, 2010) p. 469.
[16] Translation by Shohaku Okumura & Taigen Daniel Leighton in The Wholehearted Way: A translation of Eihei Dōgen’s Bendōwa with Commentary by Kōshō Uchiyama Rōshi (Tutle,1997) p.36.

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

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For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright©2021 Sanshin Zen Community

One horse, one sky, and the autumn

Copyright©2020 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (25)

When Master Tiantong Rujing dwelled at Qingliang temple, in mid-autumn he spoke to the assembly and said, “Clouds disperse in the autumn sky. This very mind watches the moon.” He raised his whisk and said, “Look!” The teacher Dōgen together with his brother monks, divided the three parts [of this Dharma hall discourse from Rujing], and gave appreciation for them over three nights.

天童淨和尚住清涼寺、中秋示衆云、雲散秋空即心見月。擧拂子云、看。師、與諸兄弟、同分三句、以賞三夜。

(天童淨和尚清涼寺に住せしとき、中秋に衆に示して云く、「雲秋空に散じて、即心月を見る。拂子を擧して曰く、「看よ」と。師、諸兄弟と與に、同じく三句を分かち、以て三夜に賞す。)

This is the introduction for verses 25, 26, and 27 in Kuchugen. Last month, I introduced Tiantong Rujing’s jodo (Dharma Hall discourse) on the occasion of the mid-autumn day. The mid-autumn day is the 15th day of the eighth month, the harvest moon day. It seems Dōgen Zenji had poem-making gatherings on the 15th, which is the night of full moon, and on the next two days. Dōgen divided Rujing’s discourse into nine parts. Kuchugen 25 is Dōgen’s poem on the first part:

 

十五夜、「雲散秋空」に頌す
The night of the Fifteenth;
Verse on “Clouds disperse in the autumn sky.”

Morning clouds reach the peaks and finally night ends.
All mountains and the whole ocean are within the round moon.
Do not let direct pointing [at the moon] symbolize heaven and earth.
A horse in the single sky of autumn is empty.[1]

至嶠朝雲終不夜、 (嶠に至りし朝雲終に夜ならず、)
透山尽海月円中、 (山を透り海を尽して月円かに中れり、)
莫教直指喩天地、 (直に指して天地に喩えしむることなかれ、)
一馬一空秋也空。 (一馬一空秋も也た空なり。)

This also appears as verse 81 of volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). It is the first of the six poems about “harvest moon” in Kuchugen. In Menzan’s version, there are slight differences in lines 1 and 2.

嶠朝雲終不夜、(嶠の朝雲終に夜ならず、)
Morning clouds on the Mt. Wu finally [disappear] before the night
透山尽海月中、(山を透り海を尽して月方に中れり、)
Penetrating mountains and exhausting the whole ocean, the moon illuminates [the entire world],

 

Morning clouds reach the peaks and finally night ends.
All mountains and the whole ocean are within the round moon.

In Manzan’s version, “the peak” refers to the peak of the particular mountain named Mt. Wu (巫). There is a legend about this mountain peak. The goddess of the mountain fell in love with the emperor. To meet with her lover, the goddess appeared every morning as clouds and every evening as drizzling rain on the peak. The mountain peak was often covered with clouds or rain. But on this day, there were clouds in the morning, and it became clear by the evening. According to Kodo Sawaki Roshi, this means that discriminative and dualistic thoughts and the human emotions influenced by them dispersed, and the sky cleared up in emptiness.

I think the original translation we made in Dōgen’s Extensive Record, “finally night ends” does not make sense, because Rujing and Dōgen are both writing about the night of the full moon. The phrase 終不夜 is difficult to understand. 終 means “end” or “finally.” 不夜 means “not night.” I suppose this means that the goddess did not appear that night, so that by the time the moon crossed the meridian, it was illuminating the entire mountains and oceans with its transparent light. This is the scenery of zazen expressed in Zen master Panshan Baoji’s saying, which Dōgen quoted in Shobogenzo Tsuki (Moon):

Zen Master Panshan Baoji said, “The mind-moon is alone and completely round. Its light swallows the myriad phenomenal things. The light does not illuminate objects. Nor do any objects exist. Light and objects simultaneously vanish. Then what is this?[2]

 

Do not let direct pointing [at the moon] symbolize heaven and earth.
A horse in the single sky of autumn is empty

These two lines have to do with something which is mentioned in Chapter 2, All Things Being Equal of Chuang Tzu:

Heaven-and-earth is one finger. All ten thousand things are one horse.[3]

“Direct pointing” is a translation of 直指 (jikishi). Jiki is directly, shi is “a finger” or “point to.” Chuang Tzu said that the great Heaven-and-earth and one tiny finger are the same, and all ten thousand phenomenal things and one single horse are the same. In Laotsu, it is said that Dao (nothingness) gives birth to oneness (being), oneness gives birth to duality (Yin and Yang), duality gives birth to three-ness (heaven-and-earth, yin and yan), and the three-ness gives birth to multiplicity (all myriad things). Chang Tzu’s saying means that all things are in oneness beyond duality.

In the Dharma Hall discourse on the first day of the tenth month in the same year, Tiantong Rujing quoted this saying from Chuang Tzu and added a saying from Xinxinming (Shinjinmei, 信心銘):

The two exist because of the One;
But hold not even to this One;[4]

I think Dōgen is saying the same thing. In Shobogenzo Shohojisso (The True Reality of All Beings), Dōgen says:

Nevertheless, these days thoughtless people in Song China do not know where we should settle down, do not see where the treasure is, and consider the expression “true reality” as if it were a vain fabrication; and furthermore, they study the words and phrases of Laotzu and Chuangtzu. They say that these are the equals of the great way of the buddha-ancestors. They also claim that the three teachings (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism) are identical. Or they maintain that these three teachings are like the three legs of a tripod kettle, and that if one of them is missing, the kettle will topple over. This is outrageous and incomparable foolishness.

These days, I would translate the last two lines of Dōgen’s poem in this way:

Do not let direct pointing [at the moon] symbolize heaven and earth.
One horse, one sky, and the autumn [of the entire heaven-and-earth] are all empty.

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[1] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10-81, p.632) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] Okumura’s unpublished translation
[3] Translation by Sam Hamill & J.P. Seaton, The Essential Chuang Tsu (Shambhala, 1998) p.12
[4] In Chinese, this is: 二由一有一亦莫守. Translation by D.T. Suzuki; Manual of Zen Buddhism, p.78

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

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For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2020 Sanshin Zen Community

A butterfly dreams of Zhuangzi

“I think you know this story.

“Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.”[1]

Things are transforming, changing. Not only in this kind of story, but when we see the emptiness of our lives, when I think of what I did when I was young— it was like a dream. I could do much hard work. I could sit much more than I can sit now. Now, I can’t sit on the floor. I have to sit on a chair. I started to sit when I was nineteen, and until I became sixty, I could sit without much pain. Sitting was most comfortable posture and I could sit sesshin (retreat) without much pain. But after I became sixty, the pain in my knees became a problem. When I became sixty-three, I decided to sit on a chair because sitting on the floor with knee pain was like torture. When I think of that forty years, when I could sit without pain— that was like a dream. Now I think I have to sit on the chair, and I think this is like a dream. Which is reality? It’s really difficult to tell.

It depends on my self-image, I think. If I think I am a zazen practitioner and sitting is the most important thing, then Shohaku is a person who sits in a proper posture, a certain posture described in our case by Dōgen in Fukanzazengi. That is the real thing. When I cannot sit in that way, that is not the real thing. That is one of the ways in which I think. Or I can think in the opposite way: this five skandhas which cannot sit in the cross-legged psoture is the real thing, and the person whose name was Shohaku who sits on the floor is already gone. That was like a dream. This is reality.

Which is the real, correct way of thinking?

When we think in this way, the boundary between dreaming and reality is not so clear.[2]

Listen to the full track:

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi

Notes:
[1] translation by Burton Watson from Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (3rd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. (2003).

[2] This is an edited extract from the new recording, “Expounding a Dream within a Dream,” available for sale on the Dōgen Institute’s bandcamp site. Please note that other free tracks from this album will automatically play after this lecture.

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