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Thread: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

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  1. #1

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    Really gettin' DOGEN'S WILD SOUND is a lot like gettin' THIS WILD SOUND ...

    (Please give a listen, and keep it playing while you read the rest of this post)



    I've described Dogen as a JHANA JAZZ MAN-POET, riffing and free expressing-reexpressing-bending-straightening-unbinding-releasing the 'standard tunes' of the Sutras and Koans. The untrained ear can't make head or tail of it, complex rhythms, notes flying, wild tempo ...

    Above is what John Coltrane did-undid-diddled-redid, for example, with "MY FAVORITE THINGS", that really "squaresville" (though lovely in its own way) tune that you may recall being chirped by Julie Andrews in THE SOUND OF MUSIC (a great story)! For that reason, a familiarity with the original 'standards' of the American songbook helps a lot in getting where Coltrane was coming from and going to here. Likewise, a good grounding in traditional Buddhist, Mahayana and Zen philosophy and perspectives is vital to getting what Dogen is up to. But Dogen, Master of the WordJazz expression of the Wordless, then takes off bending and re-enlivening those "standard tunes" in ways felt in the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow. Dogen, for example, frequently re-wild-ed and bent up passages from the already wild and bent Lotus Sutra into something even more bent-iferous and wildacios! Sometimes with Dogen, one can make out clearly the "original melody" he is working with ... a Sutra passage, a Poem, an Old Koan ... and sometimes barely so, for it is not always the "point" he is trying to make through reasoned words, but "the sound, man, the feeling of the music". Dogen and Coltrane make their own musical expression the same but different from the 'standards' that the playful playing is playing upon ... expressing Timeless Old Truths in ways never expressed before ... making Timeless New Truths in the process ... but one also should not forget that that "standard" tune is in there too, and keeps popping up as the theme

    The Shobogenzo, for example, is a rather thick and thorny maze to most readers. But once Dogen's basic ways of expression are understood, one can read the entirety with a bit more ease ... though never easy, mind you, as Dogen (like Coltrane) may often have sometimes let the notes and feeling lead him where they would, and may not have been always himself quite sure where the music was taking him -- or what he himself "meant"! Nonetheless, each certainly knew what he "meant" cause of the meaning of the feelings felt!

    Below is a passage I read in today's talk from Shobogenzo Bussho, where Dogen is jumping off from some basic Buddhist and Mahayana Teachings and standard Phrases to express the nature of Buddha nature. As part of the Soto Zen Text Project, Prof. Carl Bielefeldt offers some background on a few of these old phrases:

    Sentient beings” (ujō 有情); “the multitude of beings” (gunjō 群生); “multitude of types” (gunrui 群類) [are each terms in Mahayana Buddhism] regularly used as synonyms for “living beings.”

    “Initial being” (shi’u 始有); “original being” (hon’u 本有); “marvelous being” (myō’u 妙有); “conditioned being” (en’u 縁有); “deluded being” (mō’u 妄有) [are a] series of terms expressing modes of existence discussed in Buddhist thought. The first, “initial being,” while not itself particularly common, is here contrasted with the familiar “original being,” a term used to express the fundamental reality from which the phenomenal world emerges. The expression “marvelous being” is probably best known in the phrase “true emptiness and marvelous being” (shinkū myō’u 眞空妙有), where it expresses the ultimate emptiness of phenomena. The term “conditioned being” suggests that which exists as a result of conditions — i.e., the conditioned dharmas of dependent origination (engi 縁起; pratīya-samutpāda); “deluded being” suggests that which exists as a result of deluded thoughts — i.e., the false objects of our misguided discrimination (funbetsu 分別; vikalpa).

    “Mind and object, nature and attribute” (shin kyō shō sō 心境性相): Two standard pairs in Buddhist thought: the mind, or thought (citta), and the objects of thought or of the senses (viṣaya, ālambana); and the nature, or essence (svabhāva), of a thing, and its attributes, or characteristics (lakṣana).

    A hundred pieces” (hyaku zassui 百雜碎): A common Chan idiom for the multiplicity of phenomena.

    “One strip of iron” (ichijō tetsu 一條鐵): A common Chan idiom for the unity of phenomena, as in the saying, “one strip of iron for ten thousand li (wanli yitiao tie 萬里一條鐵).

    “Raising a fist” (nen kentō 拈拳頭): The raising of the fist is a common Chan gesture expressing what is beyond language and discrimination.
    And here is how Dogen plays jumping off from such a foundation ... expressing the profound unity and intimacy of we individual, sometimes deluded Being(s) and All Being and Buddha nature ...

    The Buddha Śākyamuni said, “All living beings in their entirety have the buddha nature. The tathāgata always abides, without any change.” ...

    What is the essential point of the World Honored One’s [the Buddha's] saying, “All living beings in their entirety have the buddha nature”? ... One speaks of “living beings,” or “sentient beings,” or “the multitude of beings,” or “the multitude of types.” The phrase “entirety of being” refers to “living beings,” “the multitude of beings.” That is, the “entirety of being” is the buddha nature; “one entirety” of the “entirety of being” is called “living beings.” At this very moment, the interior and exterior of living beings is the “entirety of being” of the buddha nature. ...

    We should realize that the “being” that is here made the “entirety of being” by the buddha nature is not the being of being and non-being. The “entirety of being” is the word of the buddha, the tongue of the buddha, the eyes of the buddhas and ancestors, the nose of the patch-robed monk. Furthermore, the term “entirety of being” is not initial being, not original being, not marvelous being; how much less is it conditioned being or deluded being. ...

    ... The buddha nature is always the “entirety of being”; for the “entirety of being” is the buddha nature. The “entirety of being” is not “a hundred pieces”; the “entirety of being” is not “one strip of iron.” Since it is “raising a fist,” it is not large or small. Given that we are calling it “buddha nature,” it should not be of equal stature with the nobles; it should not be made of equal stature with the buddha nature.

    A Love Supreme!


    Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended

    Last edited by Jundo; 01-13-2014 at 02:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Hi Jundo. I really enjoyed this talk, oh and your piano playing of course. I like the way you compare Dogen to the jazz music of Coltrane and your view that Dogen is trying to get across what he feels rather than intellectual certanties.

    Groovy tunes

    Gassho

    Thane

  3. #3
    Brilliant Jundo! I love it! Wonderful how we can see Dogen's teachings in so many things.
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo. I just watched this talk for maybe the third or forth time over the past year. I am grateful and applaud your tenacity to teach us the intricacies of Dogen's legacy. It was enough to send me on a quest to unravel the mysteries of the dharma and develop a determination to "just sit" I truly cannot find the words to thank you enough for getting me "into" Dogen.

    gassho,
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Remember; sages love mountains and mountains love sages.

  5. #5
    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Matt

  6. #6
    hmm, Gertrude Stein
    on my mind-

    “. . . creation must take place
    between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting...

    It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.”

    it's there, Gertrude, it's there.
    if I keep a green bough in my heart.


  7. #7
    Thank you Jundo

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat today

  8. #8
    Thank you, Jundo. I've started reading the Shobogenzo with limited understanding, but appreciating its beauty. Your talk suggests that this is not only a matter of my ignorance, but also that Dogen's words are meant to be felt rather than analytically grasped. The jazz metaphor is helpful.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    Thank you, Jundo. I've started reading the Shobogenzo with limited understanding, but appreciating its beauty. Your talk suggests that this is not only a matter of my ignorance, but also that Dogen's words are meant to be felt rather than analytically grasped. The jazz metaphor is helpful.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday
    Hi Onkai,

    Yes, but it helps to know all the "standard tunes" and musical references he was working from too in making his wild jazz. He never left the Zen/Mahayana Buddhist farm for all his wildings. So, it is a combination of sound/feeling and his bouncing off and playing with pretty standard, conservative Zen and Mahayana Teachings to get to the marrow of those or bring out fresh implications.

    The best source for those "standard tunes" (although a little tedious to read him that way) is all the footnotes from the Soto Zen Text Project versions, when they exist (they only have been finished for some sections).

    Please see my somewhat longer introduction to "Grand Master D.", How to Read Dogen ...
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-to-Read-Dogen

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  10. #10
    Thank you, Jundo. That is a wonderful thread (How to Read Dogen http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-to-Read-Dogen ). The translation of Shobogenzo I have is the one by Kaz Tanahashi. It is beautiful. I will now look into the texts you listed to understand the background of Dogen's references. There is so much information, it gets overwhelming, but I'll look into the texts one at a time.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    Thank you, Jundo. That is a wonderful thread (How to Read Dogen http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-to-Read-Dogen ). The translation of Shobogenzo I have is the one by Kaz Tanahashi. It is beautiful. I will now look into the texts you listed to understand the background of Dogen's references. There is so much information, it gets overwhelming, but I'll look into the texts one at a time.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday
    Yes, don't be overwhelmed by Dogen. It is like trying to master the collected works of Shakespeare at one go. It is also, like reading fellow word-smith Shakespeare, a delicate dance of just letting the beauty and power of the words sweep one in ... and sometimes checking the footnotes to see what he was going on about.

    Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 3 ...

    The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
    Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
    And fleckled darkness like a drunkard reels
    From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels.
    Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
    The day to cheer and night’s dank dew to dry,
    I must upfill this osier cage of ours
    With baleful weeds and precious-juicèd flowers.
    Modern translation ...

    The smiling morning is replacing the frowning night. Darkness is stumbling out of the sun’s path like a drunk man. Now, before the sun comes up and burns away the dew, I have to fill this basket of mine with poisonous weeds and medicinal flowers.

    Titan's Fiery Wheels: In Greek mythology, the Titans were the ancestors of the Olympian gods. Titans could be described as nature gods. One Titan (sometimes called Titan and sometimes called Helios) had the rays of the sun circling his head, and drove a chariot from east to west across the sky each day. So "flecked darkness" (night) is fleeing the sun, so as to avoid being run over by the chariot wheels.

    Osier: a small Eurasian willow which grows mostly in wet habitats. It is usually coppiced, being a major source of the long flexible shoots (withies) used in basketwork.
    Perhaps to dive into some of Dogen's major and most oft cited works ... Genjo Koan, Bussho and the like ... before the less cited though also so rewarding. Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth or Hamlet before diving into Troilus and Cressida or Henry VI Part 1,



    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-11-2016 at 10:21 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  12. #12
    Thank you, Jundo, It's amazing what masters can do with words. Some of it isn't lost in the paraphrasing. I've been going over the long post you linked and I think it will be very helpful. After the initial feeling of overwhelm, I studied the post and ordered Realizing Genjokoan. (I always felt overwhelmed at the beginning of the semester in college, too, but did well) I'm looking forward to the books on the Lotus Sutra and the Lotus Sutra and Dogen, but I'm going to pace myself. Thank you again.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  13. #13
    Thank you, Jundo. Because of my limited access to the internet, I do not participate often. However, I did want to respond to this post. You are my teacher and so is Dogan. Over this short time that I have been with you, I have gathered and read several books on Buddhism, Zen and otherwise. My first intro to Dogen was thru you and "Moon in a Dewdrop". I loved his approach and writings so much that I decided to read, what I thought was going to be daunting, Shobogenzo. At first I tried downloading a pdf but that became tedious...not the reading but the massive amount of paper because I wanted a hardcopy. So I bought the book. And am now reading from the beginning. Currently, I am at Fascicle #23 Bussho. It overwhelmed me in a wonderful way. Just as the previous fascicles...even the rules. I will never take toilet paper for granted again.

    Having just become a Zen Buddhist, I now know that I always was. In the world of the arts, so much is Zen. And I did not know what it was called then, before. Jazz and the classical and contemporary music are Zen, as are my favorite writers Elliot and Dodgson and the game of Go (newbie me) and all of the visual arts if they are honest and seem to make no-sense but do. Children are Zen. All of life is Zen. And that too is overwhelming. Trying to explain it to someone is futile (another Zen word from Startrek). For me, it is necessary to do my work.

    Gassho and deep bows,

    Ansan
    SatToday
    安山 Peaceful Mountain
    "In the Mountains, there you feel free," T.S.Eliot, The Wasteland

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