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Dogen - again. With additional ramblings


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I have expressed my interest in the Soto Zen Master Dogen before. In many ways not my cup of tea as we say in the UK. More a Pure Lander myself, which ideally is very egalitarian and knows of no "masters" - virtually anything at all can be a "master" in the Pure Land way of "no calculation" where things are made to become so of themselves. Again, Dogen advocated Zazen, implying long hours on the zafu (meditation cushion) but meditation is often seen as a "self power" path while Pure Land is very much Other Power. I do in fact meditate, but more for mental health reasons, and I don't really think 15 minutes a day would pass muster in the average zen dojo (training hall) A Pure Landers "dojo" is more around the kitchen sink and other such earthy places, in fact anything and anywhere goes. We just need to keep our mind/hearts open. Mindfulness of a kind. Sometimes I am surprised by joy.


Anyway, I waffle as usual. I sit down with my cup of coffee in McDonalds and begin to tap away on my Kindle. 

I was reading recently that our world's population has now topped 8 Billion. At the turn of the 19th into the 20th century it was 1.6 Billion. Quite staggering. Therefore all the problems - ecological, social, Empires giving way to Nation States and now Nation States into the neoliberalism of giant Corporations - stateless and virtually free from accountability. I fear for my grandchildren.

But, whatever, here I am amid the 8 Billion, needing to find what could be called a "path", needing to find rest in my own particular time and place. If we are fortunate we have the leisure time, time free from merely seeking to survive and make ends meet, to seek "answers", to find a true home. The "homely self". A poem pops into my mind, one by Vladimir Holan:-

Is it true that after this life of ours we shall one day be awakened
by a terrifying clamour of trumpets?
Forgive me God, but I console myself
that the beginning and resurrection of all of us dead
will simply be announced by the crowing of the cock.

After that we’ll remain lying down a while…
The first to get up
will be Mother…We’ll hear her
quietly laying the fire,
quietly putting the kettle on the stove
and cosily taking the teapot out of the cupboard.
We’ll be home once more.

(Apparently Holan was a tortured soul. He had a daughter with Downs Syndrome, who died at the age of 28)

I have found myself that "reason" is unhelpful as far as finding my own path, time and place. Reason, of a sort, can get us to the moon and back, but lacks the baggage to provide what the mind/heart truly needs. The Buddhist Madhyamika speaks of the eternal conflict in reason, its never ending dialectic of point and counter point. It speaks of the need to rise (or descend?) to another level, the "no position" that supercedes all positions and "views". Gobbledygook to some no doubt, but possibly it is simply referencing "faith/trust". Reflecting as deeply as I can on the so called "Buddha's silence" in the face of all metaphysical questions has deepened my own Faith (called Shinjin in the Pure Land). Non- dual and all that jazz. Not "salvation BY faith", more "faith IS salvation". 

Well, it is time to go. My coffee grows cold. I genuinely meant just to post part of Dogen's "Genjokoan" with a very brief intro. But as usual I got carried away (some might hope I will be.....) Believe it or not, Dogen's words continue to offer clarity. Each to their own......we each need to find our own "clarity".


(1) When all dharmas are the Buddha Dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, life and death, buddhas and living beings.

(2) When the ten thousand dharmas are without [fixed] self, there is no delusion and no realization, no buddhas and no living beings, no birth and no death.

(3) Since the Buddha Way by nature goes beyond [the dichotomy of] abundance and deficiency, there is arising and perishing, delusion and realization, living beings and buddhas.

(4) Therefore flowers fall even though we love them; weeds grow even though we dislike them. Conveying oneself toward all things to carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion. All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization. Those who greatly realize delusion are buddhas. Those who are greatly deluded in realization are living beings. Furthermore, there are those who attain realization beyond realization and those who are deluded within delusion.

(5) When buddhas are truly buddhas they don’t need to perceive they are buddhas; however, they are enlightened buddhas and they continue actualizing buddha. In seeing color and hearing sound with body and mind, although we perceive them intimately, [the perception] is not like reflections in a mirror or the moon in water. When one side is illuminated, the other is dark.

(6) To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things. To be verified by all things is to let the body and mind of the self and the body and mind of others drop off. There is a trace of realization that cannot be grasped. We endlessly express this ungraspable trace of realization.

Thank you.

May true Dharma continue.

No blame. Be kind. Love everything.

Edited by tariki
Quotes put into italics
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