Tag Archives: Zen

Staring at the moon

Copyright©2020 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (29)

The Night of the Fifteenth;
Verse on “Before the gates of each house, the moon shines bright.”
十五夜、頌家家門前照明月 (十五夜、「家家の門前明月を照らす」を頌す)

Eyelids cut off, also his front teeth broken,
He aimed his eyes high to clearly see the moon.
The toad in the sky’s brightness reaches even the black mountain.
Nevertheless, the jade rabbit falls into the demons’ cave.[1]

眼皮綻又歯門闕、 (眼皮綻び又た歯門闕けたり、)
高著眼睛明見月、 (高く眼睛を著けて明らかに月を見る、)
空表蟾光縦黒山、 (空表の蟾光は縦い黒山なりとも、)
従他玉兎落鬼窟。 (他の玉兎の鬼窟に落つるに従す。)

 

This is verse 28 in Kuchugen and verse 84 of volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). This is the fourth of the six poems about “harvest moon” in Kuchugen based on Rujing’s dharma hall discourse. This poem is composed on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, probably in the year after Dōgen composed the previous three poems. This poem in Manzan’s version is quite different in all four lines:

箇箇圓成無欠闕 (箇箇圓成欠無し)
Each and every one is perfectly completed, lacking nothing,
家家門巷照明月 (家家門巷明を照らす)
The gate of each and every house is illuminated by the bright moon.
銀蟾假使沈黒山 (銀蟾たとえ黒山に沈むとも)
Even if the silver toad sinks into the black mountain,
玉兎從他墮鬼窟 (玉兎さもあらばあれ鬼窟に墮すことを)
Even if the jewel rabbit falls down to the demon’s cave, [it continues to illuminate each and every one].

 

Eyelids cut off, also his front teeth broken,
He aimed his eyes high to clearly see the moon.

Ganpi (眼皮) literally means eye-skin, in other words, eyelid. Hokorobi (綻) as a noun means “an open seam,” or “a seam that has come apart,” and as a verb (hokorobu), “to come apart at the seam,” “to begin to open” (like a flower), or to smile broadly (probably because when we smile our mouth is open). In this poem, “eyelids cut off” means that the eyes are open.

“His front teeth broken,” refers to what Rujing said in the final line of the verse in his dharma discourse: “How laughable; the barbarian monk with front teeth broken.” According to a legend, Bodhidharma’s teeth were broken by his debate opponents, so that he could not say anything. But Rujing says it is laughable that his opponents attacked Bodhidharma to keep him silent, because even if Bodhidharma had teeth, in order to perfectly express the beauty of nature illuminated by the moon, he would not say anything. Another interpretation could be that he does not need his mouth to express the ultimate truth beyond language– his nine-year sitting facing the wall was a perfect expression of it. Here Dōgen meant he (she, Bodhidharma, Rujing, Dōgen, or anyone else who is sitting) does not say anything. In the original Chinese, there is no subject in these two lines. I think Dōgen meant in zazen, the person sitting opens his/her eyes and closes his/her mouth.

In our zazen, we sit in the upright posture, keep our eyes open and close our mouth. This zazen is itself aiming our eyes high to see the moon clearly. In this case, the moon is not the object of our eye-consciousness, as Dōgen says in this waka poem:

大空に  Ozora ni
心の月を  kokoro no tsuki wo
ながむるも nagamuru mo
闇に迷ひて yami ni mayoi te
色にめでけり iro ni medekeri

Despite beholding the moon of the mind
in the great sky,
deluded in darkness
I praise its shape and color.

This moon of interconnectedness swallows the person sitting and the zazen of the person sitting swallows the entire network of interconnectedness. Our zazen is itself prajna, clearly seeing the emptiness of the five aggregates and interconnectedness. This is how we clearly see the moon by just sitting without seeing. When we sit and open the hand of thought, we are like the great sky that does not disturb the white clouds floating freely.

The toad in the sky’s brightness reaches even the black mountain.
Nevertheless, the jade rabbit falls into the demons’ cave.

“The toad in the sky’s brightness” and “the jade rabbit” appeared in the previous poem. These refer to the boundless moon that illuminates each and every phenomenal thing.

“The black mountain” (黒山, kokusan) and “the demons’ cave” (鬼窟, kikutsu) need some explanation. In Buddhist cosmology as described in the Abhidharmakosha, it is said that in the southern continent called Jambudvipa where we live, there are three groups of three black mountains south of Himavat (Himalaya). These black mountains are mentioned in various sutras. In one sutra, it is said that a traveler was in trouble when he encountered a demon in the black mountains; however, I don’t find any examples in the Abhidharmakosha in which the black mountain and the demon’s cave are combined.

It seems that these two are used together only in Zen texts. There are two ways this expression is used. One is sitting in zazen closing our eyes. For example, we read in Chanyuan Qinggui (禅苑清規, Zennen Shingi) Zazengi, “Zen master Fayun Yuantong (Houn Entsu) also admonished his students who sat zazen with their eyes closed, saying, “You are sitting in the cave of demons in the Black Mountain. (法雲圓通禪師、亦訶人閉目坐禪、以謂黒山鬼窟。)”[2] Yunmen (雲門, Unmon) also used this expression with this meaning in a dharma hall discourse.[3]

Another usage of this expression is, for example, in the case 25 of Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record): “As soon as you make a comparative judgment, you’re in the demon cave of the mountain of darkness making your living.”[4] In this case, “being in the demon’s cave in the black mountain,” means staying within the habitual dualistic way of thinking. This is the same meaning as is used in the Diamond Sutra: “Subhuti, imagine a person who enters a dark place and who can’t see a thing. He is like a bodhisattva ruled by objects, like someone practicing charity ruled by objects.”[5] In this sutra, the Buddha said that a bodhisattva should practice dana (giving, charity) without attachment to the giver, the receiver, or the gift. But people who are not free from the separation between subject (giver), object (receiver), and gift are in a dark place where the giver is ruled by the objects, that is, the receiver and the gift, and where the giver is also ruled by the result of his/her giving— he/she expects to receive a reward.

This expression is also used in the dialogue between Xuansha (玄沙, Gensha) and a monk about one bright jewel:

Once a monk asked, “I have heard that you said that the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. How can this student (I) understand it?”
The master said, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. What is the use of understanding it?”
The next day, the master asked the same monk, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. How do you understand it?”
The monk said, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. What is the use of understanding it?”
The Master said, “I know that you are making a livelihood inside a demon’s cave in the black mountain.”

In his comments on this koan story in Shobogenzo Ikka Myoju (One Bright Jewel), Dōgen changed the meaning of the expression, “making a livelihood inside a demon’s cave in the black mountain” and said, “Therefore, forward steps and backward steps within the demon’s cave in the black mountain are nothing other than the one bright jewel.”[6] Here he interpreted “a demon’s cave in the black mountain” as the “darkness” from the pairing of “brightness and darkness” in Sandokai. In this interpretation, “darkness” is beyond discrimination, and “making a livelihood” is making discriminations and choices to do things in our daily lives.

In the poem we are studying, Dōgen uses “black mountain and demon’s cave” in its common meaning, with negative connotations: the habitual, discriminative, conceptual, dualistic way of thinking with some self-attachment. But in our zazen, we are illuminated by the boundless moonlight, the reality beyond discrimination. Here, “the demon’s cave in the black mountain” and the moonlight are completely inter-penetrating each other. By opening the hand of thought (letting go of thought), the discriminative thinking produced in our brain which is continuously coming and going is not grasped. In our zazen, we are determined not to take any action based on our thoughts, therefore we are not defiled by them. The poisons in our three poisonous minds are still coming and going, and yet, our minds are detoxified.

In Kuchugen poem number 26 (Verse on “This very mind watches the moon”), Dōgen says that we have to continuously make efforts to attain the mid-autumn full moon with both body and mind. In Kuchugen poem 27 (Verse on Raising His Whisk and saying, “Look!”), he mentions his teacher Rujing as an example of the perfect manifestation of the full moon. Here, in poem 28, Dōgen says that in our zazen, we are not different than Rujing. As Dōgen said in Shobogenzo Bussho (Buddha-nature) describing the example of Nagarjuna, in zazen in which we let go of our self-centeredness, our body manifests the full moon:

Body manifesting a round moon shape,
Expressing thereby the body of the Buddhas;
Expounding Dharma, without any form,
Expounding without sight or sound.[7]

— • —

[1](Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10-83, p.634) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] Okumura’s unpublished translation.
[3] See Master Yunmen: From the Record of the Chan Teacher “Gate of the Clouds” (Urs App, Kodansha International, 1994), p. 145.
[4] Thomas Cleary’s translation in case 25 of The Blue Cliff Record (Shambhala), p.168
[5] Translation by Red Pine in The Diamond Sutra (Counterpoint, 2001). P. 14.
[6] See my commentary on Shobogenzo Ikka Myoju in Dharma Eye, #44. https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/library/journal/index.html
[7] The Heart of Dōgen’s Shobogenzo (translated by Norman Waddell and Masao Abe, SUNY, 2002), p.77-78.

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

— • —

For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2020 Sanshin Zen Community

Interconnected: the study of our times

A message from Okumura Roshi

The problem which all people are facing now is really about Shoji (Life-and-Death) and Zenki (Total Function).

These are the two fascicles of Shobogenzo I was asked to talk about in London recently. I had to cancel my talks and return home because of the pandemic.

Zenki says that we are interconnected with all beings, therefore both life and death are the manifestation of total function.

When we are born, we don’t attain anything, when we pass away, we don’t lose anything.

Copyright©2020 Jisho Takahashi

Interconnected: the expression “zenki”

— • —
Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.
This is the last of a series of three posts on Zenki and Shoji.
You can find the first post in this series here.
— • —

For further study:

Our life: the study of our times

A message from Okumura Roshi

The problem which all people are facing now is really about Shoji (Life-and-Death) and Zenki (Total Function).

These are the two fascicles of Shobogenzo I was asked to talk about in London recently. I had to cancel my talks and return home because of the pandemic.

I think the important point of studying Shoji (Life and Death) is that our life is extremely fragile and therefore it is precious.

We need to take care of our life without clinging to it.

Copyright©2020 Jisho Takahashi

Our usual understanding of “my life”

— • —
Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.
This is the second of a series of three posts on Zenki and Shoji.
You can find the first post in this series here.
— • —

For further study:

Alive or Dead: the study of our times

A message from Okumura Roshi

From February 25 to March 16 of this year, I was in Europe. I visited four Zen centers in Italy, Greece, and France. Fortunately, even though the influence of coronavirus was increasing, the practice events at these centers went well. The final place I was to visit was London, but the event had to be cancelled.

On March 16th, I returned to Bloomington, about the time the US government banned entrance to all from Europe except US citizens and permanent residents. After returning to Sanshinji, I have been staying in the temple trying avoid contact with other people except for my family. Because Sanshinji has been closed since the day I returned, it is not difficult to live without coming into contact with people. Fortunately, I have had no health problems. During this quiet time, I am focusing on preparation for future Genzo-e and writing books.

Since April 1, I have been sitting one period of zazen in the morning from Monday to Friday, and I do morning service by myself. In addition to the usual morning service, I chant the Enmeijukku Kannonkyo and dedicate it to the people whose lives were taken, to those who are sick, to the care givers, and to all people, who are all facing this problem together.

For the two-day event in London, I was going to talk about Shobogenzo Shoji (Life-and-death) and Shobogenzo Zenki (Total Function). During this period of the pandemic, Dogen Zenji’s teachings on life-and-death and total function of interdependent origination are very relevant for all of us. I would like to visit London and share the teachings in these fascicles of Shobogenzo when the pandemic is gone.

Uchiyama Roshi once said that, when people in the society do not know what to do because of confusion, the best thing we can offer is sitting immovably, silently, and peacefully with upright posture.

When I sit by myself, I feel a connection with all people.

— • —
Below we are republishing content regarding Shoji, modified from an earlier Dōgen Institute post. Two more extracts from lectures on Shoji and Zenki will follow in subsequent weeks.
— • —

Alive or dead?

Life and death

 

Dōgen Zenji held the collected Ch’an (Zen) kōans of the Blue Cliff Record in high esteem. Its contents were compiled by Ch’an Master Yuanwu Keqin — Engo in Japanese — who also provided commentary. So it’s no surprise that he might appear in Dōgen Zenji’s own writings.

We find Engo mentioned in Fascicle 42 of Shōbōgenzō titled Zenki. Okumura Roshi translates the title as Total Function.

Engo is also referenced in Fascicle 93, Shōji, or Life and Death.

Okumura Roshi lectured on those two texts in November, 2009 during the five-day Genzo-e Retreat at Sanshinji. In the following audio clip from that gathering, he introduces us to those chapters with a famous kōan from the Blue Cliff Record. It’s Case 55, Alive or Dead. It involves Master Dogo and his student Zengen.

Roshi describes what transpires between master and disciple when they visit a home where there’s been a death. It provokes a burning question for Zengen. Tapping the coffin, he asks his master, “Alive or dead?”

In telling the story, Hojo-san allows us to experience the perspective of both disciple and master. Even more, we can share the insights he brings to these works through his own translation of the texts.

What is alive? What is dead? What is total function?

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.
This is the first of a series of three posts on Zenki and Shoji.
You can find the original version of the content on Shoji here.

— • —

For further study:

    • Life & Death: 9 lectures on Shōbōgenzō Zenki and Shōji — You’ll find the entire digital album here.

> More recordings by Shōhaku Okumura


Copyright 2020 Sanshin Zen Community

Look!

Copyright©2020 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (28)

十七夜、「挙払子云看」を頌す
The Night of the Seventeenth;
Verse on Raising His Whisk and saying, “Look!”

With no fog or mist, and no green waves,
There is toad or rabbit [of the moon], cold to the bone.
People cherish [the moon], even hidden by mountains, reflected in waters.
He raised [his whisk] and fooled the heavens; look carefully.[1]

無霧無霞無碧浪、 (霧無く霞無く碧浪無し、)
有蜍有兎有毛寒、 (蜍有り兎有り毛寒有り、)
隠山落水人縦惜、 (山に隠し水に落として人縦い惜しむとも、)
豎起瞞天著眼看。 (豎起して天を瞞ず眼を著けて看よ。)

This is verse 27 in Kuchugen and verse 83 of volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). This is the third of six poems about the “harvest moon” which are based on Rujing’s dharma hall discourse. In Menzan’s version, this poem has some differences in the first three lines:

無霧無霞波浪靜 (霧無く霞無く波浪靜なり、)
With no fog or mist, and waves are quiet,
有蟾有兎毛寒 (蟾有り兎有り毛寒し、)
There is toad or rabbit [of the moon], cold [not only] to the hairs [but also] to the bones,
夜深太白手中拂 (夜深けて太白手中の拂、)
Late in the night, the whisk in the hand of Taibai,[2]

 

With no fog or mist, and no green waves,
There is toad or rabbit [of the moon], cold to the bone.

On the mid-autumn night Rujing gave his dharma hall discourse, the sky was completely clear, without fog or mist, and the ocean was still, without winds or waves. The moon toad and the moon rabbit refer to the moon based on ancient Chinese mythical stories about the moon goddess Chang’e (嫦娥, Joga in Japanese). It seems there are many different versions of her story. One version says that she attained immortality and lived in the moon. Her husband on the earth made an altar and made offerings on the mid-autumn day. This was the origin of the mid-autumn moon festival. Another version says that somehow, Chang’e became a toad and still lives in the moon. Dwelling in the moon together with the toad, the moon rabbit makes an elixir for gaining eternal longevity with a mortar and pestle. In Japan, people thought that the rabbit is making mochi, pounded rice cake. The rabbit was called “jewel rabbit” (玉兎, gyokuto) or “golden rabbit” (金兎, kinto). Dōgen uses the images of the toad and rabbit and says that since the sky is beautifully clear, the toad and rabbit are clearly seen.

There is Buddhist version of the story about the moon rabbit from the Jataka tales, as well as similar stories with some variations. In those stories, the rabbit jumped into a fire to offer its body to a hungry old man, since the rabbit could not find anything else to offer. The old man was actually the god Sakra in disguise. Sakra took the rabbit to the moon, so that everyone could see and remember the rabbit’s virtuous action.

However, to me, it is strange that Dōgen says that the moon was “cold to the bone.” The mid-autumn day falls during September or October in solar calendar, so it must have been cool but could not have been “cold to the bone.” I suppose the moon is a metaphor of a bodhisattva’s awakening and nirvana. This might have something to do with the expression “the clear and cool moon of the bodhisattva (菩薩清涼月, bosatu shoryo no tsuki) from the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Ornament Sutra). In this case, shoryo, clear and cool, refers to nirvana; that is, being free from the heat of the burning house of samsara. There is a verse in the Avatamsaka Sutra about the moon of the light of wisdom of a bodhisattva (菩薩智光月, bosatu chiko no tsuki), which contains a slightly different expression referring to the same “clear and cool moon”:

The moon of the light of knowledge of enlightening beings
Has the realm of reality for its sphere,
Coursing through ultimate emptiness,
Seen by all the world.
In the minds of consciousness of the three worlds,
It waxes and wanes through time.[3]

This verse sounds similar to what Dōgen says in Genjokoan:

When a person attains realization, it is like the moon’s reflection in water. The moon never becomes wet; the water is never disturbed. Although the moon is a vast and great light, it is reflected in a drop of water. The whole moon and even the whole sky are reflected in a drop of dew on a blade of grass or a single drop of water. Realization does not destroy the person, as the moon does not make a hole in the water. The person does not obstruct realization, as a drop of dew does not obstruct the moon in the sky.[4]

Even though in the previous verse of Kuchugen[5] Dōgen said that complete interpenetration between the self and the moonlight is the ultimate reality, practically speaking, we continuously need to treat this as a koan and examine whether we put too much emphasis either on our body or on our mind. In our mind (consciousness of the three worlds) the interpenetration waxes and wanes through times and occasions. However, Dōgen met at least one person in whom he felt the full moon was completely actualized. That person was his master Tiantong Rujing, who raised his whisk and said, “Look!” The whisk was Rujing himself completely interpenetrated with the moonlight.

Rujing gave his dharma hall discourse at Qingliang Temple (Seiryoji, 清涼寺), probably in 1212. Dōgen did not actually listen to his teacher on that occasion. But he could still feel the great power of Rujing’s saying, “Look!” overlapping his own experience of hearing Rujing’s statement given on the occasion of entering the abbot’s room (入室, nyusshitu) in the third lunar month in the spring of 1226. Dōgen precisely recorded this experience in Shobogenzo Shohojisso (The True Reality of All Beings):

For entering the room, he said, “A cuckoo cries and the mountain bamboos split.” This is the announcement for entering the room. He said nothing else. Although there were many monks, no one said anything. They were greatly impressed and simply awed.[6]

Even though the mid-autumn night was not really cold, in this poem, using the expression “cold to the bone,” Dōgen expresses the extreme strength of Rujing’s utterance, which might have given people goose bumps.

People cherish [the moon], even hidden by mountains, reflected in waters.
He raised [his whisk] and fooled the heavens; look carefully.

Like the poet Li Bai who tried to catch the moon he saw on the water and died, people love the moon, even if the moon is behind mountains or reflected on the water. When Tiantong Rujing raised his whisk and said, “Look!” Rujing was the true full moon itself, more true than the moon in the sky. Dōgen urges us as his students to look at it carefully, as the reality of our own self.

— • —

[1] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10-83, p.633) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] Taibai is another name of Mount Tiantong. This is also the courtesy name of Li Bai who tried to catch the moon on the water.
[3] Translation by Thomas Cleary, “The Flower Ornament Scripture: a translation of the Avasamsaka Sutra” (Shambhala, 1993) p.1154. This is a translation of 80-volume Avatamsaka Sutra; “The clear and cool moon” appears in the 40-volume version of the same sutra. “Knowledge” in this translation is the same as “wisdom,” and “enlightening beings” is a translation of “bodhisattva.”
[4] Okumura’s translation, Realizing Genjokoan (Wisdom Publications, 2010) p.3.
[5] See the post, This very mind watches the moon.
[6] Okumura’s unpublished translation.

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

— • —

For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2020 Sanshin Zen Community

This very mind watches the moon

Copyright©2020 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (27)

十六夜、「即心見月」に頌す
The Night of the Sixteenth;
Verse on “This very mind watches the moon.”

We hold up this kōan on the sixteenth night.
Wishing for fullness of the moon’s body, you miss moon of mind.
Seeing the moon somewhat clearly, just then moon is born.
How can we grasp the moon in mid-autumn?[1]

拈来十六夜公案、 (拈来す十六夜の公案、)
身月欲円心月欠、 (身月円かならんと欲すれば心月欠けぬ、)
見月纔明即月生、 (見月纔かに明らかなれば即ち月生ず、)
如何捉得中秋月。 (如何が捉得せん中秋の月。)

This is verse 26 in Kuchugen and verse 82 of volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). This is the second of the six poems about “harvest moon” in Kuchugen based on Juching (Jp. Rujing)’s dharma hall discourse. In Menzan’s version, this poem has some differences in lines 1 and 3:

拈來公案難休歇 (公案を拈じ來って休歇し難し、)
Having been holding this kōan, it is difficult to rest.
非暗非明即月生 (暗に非ず明に非ず即月生ず、)
[When we see, it is] neither dark nor bright, the moon is born.

We hold up this kōan on the sixteenth night.
Wishing for fullness of the moon’s body, you miss moon of mind.

The expression, “This very mind watches the moon” is from Juching’s jodo (formal dharma hall discourse) on the occasion of the mid-autumn full moon. Dōgen Zenji is asking his monks to hold up this expression as a kōan.

The night of the 16th is called izayoi, which means “the night of hesitation.” This is the night directly after the full moon night. Because the moon rises a little later than it does on the evening of the full moon, people think the moon is hesitating. Even though the moon of the 16th night is not so different from the full moon, there is a slight difference each night. The full moon is the symbol of perfection, yet the next day, in the process of waning, it is not perfect anymore, the same as our practice.

As I mentioned in my comment on Juching’s jodo, this moon is not simply the moon in the sky— rather, using the beautiful full moon as metaphor, Juching is talking about the structure of the network of interdependent origination. This “mind” is neither thinking-mind that is the subject which sees the moon as object, nor the “mind-nature” that is a hidden, permanent substance stored inside of us, like a diamond hidden in the rock and dirt, as mentioned in some Buddhist texts based on the theory of tathagata-garbha. This “mind” is the mind that is together with all dharmas, as Dōgen discussed in Shobogenzo Sokushinzebutsu (Mind is itself Buddha).

As Dōgen said in Shobogenzo Tsuki (Moon), the mind is swallowed by the moon and also the mind swallows the moon. The mind and the moon are not in the common relation as subject and object. The moonlight is the light of the myriad dharmas in which the self is included. Only moonlight is there, there is no self (mind). From another side, there is no moonlight beside the self (mind). Further, they vomit each other and become two (not-one) as subject and object. We see the moon that includes us, and the moon sees us who are part of the moon. This is the pattern of logic which Dōgen used in Shobogenzo Makahannyaharmitsu (Mahaprajna Paramita), “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is form; emptiness is emptiness.” Our practice is to awaken to that reality, to live in accord with the reality, and to notice and express the reality with our body and mind.

In Shobogenzo Shinjingakudo (Body and Mind Studying the Way), Dōgen said this about the mind:

In any case, mountains, rivers, and the great earth; the sun, the moon, and stars are nothing other than the mind.[2]

And he said this about the body:

The entire ten-direction world is nothing other than the true human body. Coming and going within life-and-death is the true human body. Turning this body, we depart from the ten unwholesome deeds, keep the eight precepts, take refuge in the Three Treasures, give up our home and become a home-leaver; this is studying the Way in its true meaning. Therefore it is called the true human body.[3]

As ultimate reality, both body and mind are together with all beings within the network of interdependence. This is the full moon.

From the side of our concrete study and practice, Dōgen said in Shobogenzo Zuimonki:

Is the Way attained with the mind or the body? In the teaching schools, it is said that because body and mind are not separate, the Way is attained [not only with the mind, but also] with the body. Yet it is not clear that we attain the Way with the body, because they say body and mind are not separate. Now, in my [Dharma] family, the Way is [truly] attained with both body and mind.[4]

We study and practice the buddha way with both body and mind and attain the way with both body and mind. This is possible because both body and mind are together with all beings. But in a practical way, it is very difficult. Sometimes, we put too much emphasis on studying and understanding the Dharma and ignore practicing with our body. Sometimes, we think that having understanding is not important, and that we should just practice without thinking. In one of the Dharma Words included in Eihei Koroku, Dōgen said:

We could say that the situation of Buddha’s house is the oneness in which the essence, practice, and expounding are one and the same.[5]

Essence is shu (宗), the ultimate reality; practice is gyo (行), activities with the body; expounding is setsu (説), which refers to studying, understanding, discussing, and teaching using the mind. These three should be one. This oneness is the full moon. But in our actual practice, we put the emphasis either on just doing it, or on thinking and discussing without practicing. Then, the full moon (essence) is waning a little, like the moon of the 16th day.

Seeing the moon somewhat clearly, just then moon is born.
How can we grasp the moon in mid-autumn?

When we see the moon that is together with the moon and yet separate, seeing this reality from both sides, moon as our life is born, or our life becomes the moon. In Shobogenzo Genjokōan, Dōgen said:

When a person attains realization, it is like the moon’s reflection in water. The moon never becomes wet; the water is never disturbed. Although the moon is a vast and great light, it is reflected in a drop of water. The whole moon and even the whole sky are reflected in a drop of dew on a blade of grass or a single tiny drop of water. Realization does not destroy the person, as the moon does not make a hole in the water.

However, even seeing this reality from both sides, we are endlessly asking, “How can we grasp the moon in mid-autumn?” This is the meaning of butsukojoji, our continuous and endless practice as ever going-beyond Buddha.

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[1] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10-82, p.632) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] Okumura’s unpublished translation.
[3] Okumura’s unpublished translation.
[4] From Okumura’s unpublished translation of the Choenji version of Zuimonki. Forthcoming from Wisdom Publications.
[5] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 8-11, p. 521) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

— • —

For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2020 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.

— • —

For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2020 Sanshin Zen Community