The history of Zen Buddhism presents itself as a family saga. Each priest of the Sôtô school today belongs to an uninterrupted line which traces itself either to Gasan Jôseki Zenji (1276-1366) or to Meihô Sotetsu Zenji (1277-1350), two disciples of Keizan Zenji, all other Japanese lines having since become extinct. One is integrated into a lineage at the time of the ceremony of Transmission of the Dharma, by which the Master makes the Disciple his successor. Presented here is the chain of teachers that connects Eihei Dôgen Zenji to Gudo Nishijima Roshi, and in the 41st generation from Dogen, Jundo James Cohen of the Treeleaf Zendo. As well, its links are said to reach back in time through China and India, on to the historical Buddha, Śhākyamuni. The line is also closely associated, ever since the middle of the 15th century, with the temple Tôkei' in, located near to the Japanese town of Shizuoka. It is a long, yet continuing history. In an important sense, it is not to be limited to any place or nation, nor is it merely a timeline which flows from past to present: In Dogen’s teachings, past is present is future, while the future flows into the past as the past becomes the future. In this way, each teacher stands for all others, and all are with us now.
References: For a history of the development of Zen in Japan, please refer to William Bodiford, Sôtô Zen in Medieval Japan... read more
Sitting with the beautiful AND the ugly in this world ... finding that which simultaneously transcends and holds, breathes in and breathes out, "beautiful vs. ugly" ... is our Practice.
We are free of aversion and attraction even as we have our ordinary human aversions and attractions, pulling the weeds we can and watering the flowers ... even as we embrace each as just what they are. One finds Wholeness, Light, Beauty that is unconcerned by small human judgments of beauty and ugliness.
We observe the terrible battle fields for what they are, even as we seek to make peace. We sit serenely in the sick room, even as we try to cure the disease. We transcend yet fully embrace a world of beauty and ugliness, even as we do what we can to mend the ugly and make it beautiful.
Is it not the same when we find a certain ugliness amid the beautiful in Buddhism too? A naive student who demands ONLY beauty and goodness in the world ... even the Buddhist world ... one sidedly rejecting the sometimes distasteful or even criminal, may miss the Real Treasure that shines through all of it. That is so even as, in our Wisdom and Equanimity, we keep pulling the weeds we can and nurture the flowers, praise the good and punish the wrongdoer. All at Once, the Eye of Buddha holding all.
Master Dogen quoted his Master's poem in Baike, On Plum Blossoms ... which flower on gnarled twisted branches in our garden each cold February ...
The thorn-like, spike-branched Old Plum Tree
Suddenly bursts forth, first with one or two blossoms,
Then with three, four, five, and finally blossoms beyond count.
... So Beautiful, So Beautiful