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Thread: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

  1. #1

    10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    And now we come to the Big Man, Dogen of Eihei Monastery ... who brought Soto Zen from China to Japan.

    Recently in talking about the Dogen bio-movie called "Zen" (and really, throughout this book of the legends of our Zen Ancestors ... some more legend than legit) we have discussed the process of "hagiography" ... the making of a religious hero's increasingly idealized image and story after his/her death, until the point of sainthood or more:

    viewtopic.php?p=54994#p54994

    That process for Dogen may have begun here, with Keizan. You see, Keizan never met Dogen, and was not even born until 15 years after Dogen left this world. What is more, Dogen ... in none of his known writings ... ever told the story of enlightenment (and the confirmation in his master Ju-Chings's room) described here. Dogen did frequently use the expression "dropping body-mind" (shinjin datsuraku; sometimes translated as "attachments to body and mind dropped away") in his writings, and Dogen sometimes related how Ju-Ching did teach with such words, but there is some historical doubt as to whether Ju-Ching would have ever taught such an expression. The Dogenologist Steven Heine writes ...

    As for Dogen, the most famous saying that he attributes to his mentor as the epitome of Ch'an teaching, shinjin datsuraku, was almost certainly not something Ju-ching or Sung Ch'an masters ever uttered. The use of this phrase in sectarian biographies such as various manuscripts of the Kenzeiki and the Teiho Kenzeiki which contain several different versions of the event, must have developed over the years (Did Dogen Go To China, P. 45).

    Another noted Dogen historian, Ishii Shudo, writes in a recent academic paper:

    The same story is related in various texts ... They are all said to be stories of Dogen's great awakening. The content of the story is a typical tale of changing delusion into awakening ( ....) which is a type of story Dogen actually disliked. ... SUGIO Genyu ....has insisted
    that these stories are errors or fiction by the biographers. I also accept this explanation.

    In my work Dogen Zen no Seiritsushi-teki Kenkyu I continue warning that the story ... is not to be recognized as historically true and that it aberrates from the core of Dogen's Zen.
    http://international.uiowa.edu/centers/ ... AS2011.pdf


    Was Keizan seeking to romanticize, hyperbolize and grandize Dogen's tale, much as we see he has done for most of the Ancestors we have encountered in his other legend tellings? Keizan sure likes to tell a grand, fantastic, exciting story with lots of flash and magic.

    In fact, Dogen never felt it worthwhile to tell the story at all any place in his own writings. It first appears here ... in Keizan's telling, filled with extremely worshipful and idealized language. As the centuries passed, and later biographies added elements and heightened drama to previous biographies, the moment became both more "the official story" and larger until, for example, it was as seen in the movie (an animation in which Dogen flies into the sky on a giant pink lotus leaf! Watch from 7:00 to 12:00 here)

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    Yet, in the movie version ... Ju-Ching soon advises Dogen to get over it, move on, for enlightenment-practice is endless.

    That is, anyway, something on which we can all agree.

    Cook from p 255
    Hixon from p 243

    Gassho, J

  2. #2
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    First the Zen dance:
    Step one - drop body-mind
    Step two - drop the dropping of body-mind
    Step three - repeat, as in practice this, because it's a temporary thing

    Second, I just watched the movie Zen last night and having read these chapters this morning I think there needs to be a prequel about the story between losing his mom and his finding Ju-ching and becoming enlightened, or maybe instead of a prequel it could be like one of those old TV mini series. According to what Jundo has written, Keizan has already written the plot line. All it needs now is a script :twisted:

    I really like how Hixon ends his chapter.
    two thousand five hundred
    years of transmission
    drop away imperceptibly,
    imperceptibly.

  3. #3

    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    F... I think there needs to be a prequel about the story between losing his mom and his finding Ju-ching and becoming enlightened, or maybe instead of a prequel it could be like one of those old TV mini series.
    Hi Alan,

    There is very little known about Dogen from during that period, and surprisingly little from after that period too. For a fellow who wrote so much, he included very little detailed information about specifics in his life. Some of the mysteries include who his father was (a high official in Kyoto, but not recognized formally as his son from a marriage), why he moved suddenly from the Kyoto area to the snowy, inhospitable wild mountains of Echizen to build Eiheiji (the story in the movie about his other temple being attacked and burned is pure conjecture), and why he went to Kamakura (the military capital of the Shogun) for a year and anything at all that happened there (there is only one short poem from the period). Many other details.

    But, what truly matters? Dogen the man or Dogen the legend? Dogen the True Man of No Rank perhaps?

    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    First the Zen dance:
    Step one - drop body-mind
    Step two - drop the dropping of body-mind
    Step three - repeat, as in practice this, because it's a temporary thing
    [/quote]

    This is funny as Hell !

    Ooops! Can Hell be funny? Well... I guess we should be used to contradictions by now.

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    But, what truly matters? Dogen the man or Dogen the legend? Dogen the True Man of No Rank perhaps?

    Gassho, J
    I think what matters is Dogen the teacher. Regardless of what his life was, the teachings he left are here for all to reach and learn.

    Maybe it would be fantastic to learn more about his life. Perhaps in time scholars will find clues to it, but for the time being I guess we have to stick to the texts, understand them and add them to our practice.

    Jundo, I specially like how you always keep things in perspective. Dogen, regardless of what movies and novels depict, you always have in mind that he was just a man. A very wise one, of course.

  6. #6

    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    Practice is endless indeed. I just finished watching Zen - the movie- too, and besides all the hagiography involved I liked how the movie doesn't end with Dogen's death, but you can see how zen continues. Actually in the scene when Dogen dies, first all the monks cry but next they reasume the zazen session. Well... Suddenly the room was full of dust and some tears dropped from my eyes it was a very stimulating scene for practice.

    I really like Alan's image of a continuous dance of droppings off. So much droppings to do untill everything is dropped off. Supossing there is an end, that is.

    Nine bows to Dogen and to this sangha

    Rimon

  7. #7
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    After reading 'Eat, sleep, sit' and the austere training at Eihei-ji and having witnessed some of this as a tourist there, I think Dogen was really bringing into sharp practice what is required in 'dropping off' body and mind.
    The effort required to ensure that this is complete, 'dropping off dropping off', is something I think we find difficult in our lives since we live in more comfortable times. Can it be truly 'realised' outside a monastic setting?
    It is also reminiscent of the 'vinaya' in Theravada, which is another approach to the discipline required for such 'dropping off dropping off'.
    It seems to me that there is always that 'one step beyond'. But I guess that is why we practise.

  8. #8

    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    After reading 'Eat, sleep, sit' and the austere training at Eihei-ji and having witnessed some of this as a tourist there, I think Dogen was really bringing into sharp practice what is required in 'dropping off' body and mind.
    The effort required to ensure that this is complete, 'dropping off dropping off', is something I think we find difficult in our lives since we live in more comfortable times. Can it be truly 'realised' outside a monastic setting?
    It is also reminiscent of the 'vinaya' in Theravada, which is another approach to the discipline required for such 'dropping off dropping off'.
    It seems to me that there is always that 'one step beyond'. But I guess that is why we practise.
    Hi Heisoku,

    I rather disagree.

    There are hard swimmers and runners, who push themselves to the limit ...

    There are swimmers or runners who go at an easy and balanced pace forward ...

    There are those who float along or stand perfectly still to admire the scenery ...

    ... and in all cases, it is the same ocean or road ... and no place to go.

    Some folks may benefit from a hard practice, getting the hell beat out of them ... pushed along by a tough couch like a marine in boot camp. They may need this for a bit of discipline or to tame the wild bull of the mind. And some may not, encountering the Dharma in silence and stillness.

    However, the answer really is not dependent on how hard we work for it, like a dog chasing its own tail.

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    Hi Jundo

    I get what you are saying...maybe it is dependent on how hard we are fixed to our self and our self-view?

  10. #10

    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    reading Hixon, the comment of Ju-ching about the terrible thunder of great compassion, very striking,Indeed. We are still we are moved by the same winds, rains and resounding sound of compassion that were brewing and formed in Master Dogen then, today, not only thousands of miles but over hundreds of years and continuing... this "storm" rolling through out the ancestors from Shakyamuni right on through... space and time.

    Gassho
    Shohei

  11. #11

    Re: 10/24 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Dogen

    I'm really fascinated by the concept of hagiography. I see this as a blessing and a curse. As Jundo points out above, Dogen's most famous quote "dropping body and mind" is rather suspect in terms of history, but I do believe it does communicate an essence that may help us as practitioners. Nevertheless, care must be taken or the "idealism' will bite you and lead you further away from the truth.

    Buddhist Geeks had a nice discussion of hagiography a number of weeks back and anyone who has further curiousity can check it out. http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/04...ell-ourselves/

    The podcast stimulated me into thinking how hagiography has relevance to our own personal narrative. If anyone is interested I posted this in a blog elsewhere on the "internets":


    was listening to a podcast the other day and the term hagiography was brought up. Hagiographies are essentially idealized stories. Many times they refer to religious or historical figures, but can also have application to personal narratives, which we all tell ourselves. Hagiographies can be inspirational and can communicate an “essence” that “just the facts” may miss. In the stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, we are often searching for “essence” and a great deal of psychological research suggests that memory is reconstructive and creative; past events are often recontextualized to fit present experience. How many times have we said to ourselves, “What was THAT all about?” and later make sense of the experience by fitting it into a category or ignoring it altogether. This is not necessarily bad as sometimes historical analysis may quite simply miss the “vibe.”

    But…hagiographies can also be a burden. When objective facts hit us in the face it can be devastating and our idealism unravels. Sometimes we are saved by “THAT” broken piece of reality and it becomes oddly comforting. Our “What was THAT all about?” becomes recognizable as simply “THAT.”

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