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

  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 01:30 AM.

  2. #2

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

    Thanks Jundo I appreciated this sit-a-long as I am diving into Dogen's work.

    Gassho,
    Dustin

  3. #3

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

    Wow!

    Well - I just sat with that and what came up was anxiety! (If I could add a smilie here I would but I still can't get them to work)

    I had to turn Coltrane down - appreciate his innovation - but as with John Cage my ear can't take it. Will my mind be able to take
    Dogan? I haven't even grasped the 'basic rhythms' yet so should I be reading Dogen?

    I'm dipping into Shobogenzo Zuimonki - which is fine - like learning to play a few notes.

    Reading the extract - it reminds me of the style of Heidegger's 'Being and Time' - I once spent a whole term (in a seminar group) just
    teasing out the nuances in the first few pages - attuning the 'ear' and the mind.
    I guess this is what is necessary with Dogan too.

    (I like your little piano - I have one for my grandchildren and I usually put ear plugs in when they're playing it!)

    Gassho

    Willow

  4. #4

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

    Thank you Rev Jundo!
    That was lovely!

    What I like most about Dogen is his skillfulness in speaking to every kind of student with the same words. When I knew nothing about buddhism, I could still find something in them. After having practiced a bit longer new understandings showed up in those same words. And now again, a new layer of meaning! It seems even those who have been studying, practicing for their whole life, can still find new layers to explore. When you first listen to the jazz of Dogen, even though may not have heard that particular song before, you can still enjoy the melody. The more you listen, the more you can appreciate the true artistry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogen Zenji
    The Buddha ??kyamuni said [in the Mah?-parinirv??a-s?tra], “All living beings in their entirety have the buddha nature. The tath?gata 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.
    This I find to be a great commentary too, on what Dogen is describing (and what the Buddha is describing):
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    When shall you wake up to the fact that not a single thing is excluded,
    that nothing and nobody can jump out of the circle of as-it-isness,
    Not even the person you are?
    The whole thing transcends practice and non-practice
    every moment the whole body manifests itself and disappears
    moon whirls and sun spits
    steel and water share the same shadow
    dust and gold the same origin
    throw away this mind
    throw away what throws away too
    eyes not even blinking
    you will hug your beloved
    in the here-now
    your beloved will touch you
    beyond all touch
    for this is you
    but you are not entirely it

    Nothing hidden, take away; added
    two flames meeting
    clouds undone in clouds
    the vast sky in your hand
    mountains-rivers-cities-seas
    in your eyes

    all is well...

    all

    is
    Gassho,
    Pontus

  5. #5
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    Thank you Jundo. I cannot fathom Coltrane's capacity to not pass out. Truly amazing.

    It was also very interesting to see how Dogen used these idioms to expound the Dharma. I think when I've read most of Dogen I've just read it...not actually trying to decipher what Dogen was attempting to say, but rather accepting what I understood. Not sure it makes sense, nor is even sound study methodology...but I'm not planning on taking any tests, that I know of. I've actually developed a fond attachment to Dogen's enigmatic style. I think this only came however after dropping my analytic mind and ceasing my natural attempts to decipher every jot and tittle. However, reading the last line you posted, coupled with the explanations of the idioms, it does help clarify...maybe some day I will do a more thorough study, breaking down the finer points.

    Thanks again,

    Gassho,

    Dokan

    PS - Up on podcast.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    Thanks, Jundo. I always love your avant-dharma analogies. I was interested to hear that some of Dogen's idea are counter-Soto, as A Love Supreme was initially hailed by some as jazz blasphemy. Ultimately, as you point out, the message carries beyond the word or note. It is actualization itself.

    gassho,
    Shujin

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

    Thanks Jundo. As I listened to Coltrane I recognized some, understood some and could not understand a lot but tried to let all that go and just listen to it as it is. Felt like I was the music when I let it go (I love jazz anyway). Life is jazz. Great talk.

  8. #8

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

    Zen teacher Rev. Jay Rinsen Welk of the Buddhist Temple of Toledo (Ohio) sent this along, saying that he's 'hip' to the whole Dogen-Jazz scene. A lot of you know Rinsen from his podcasts (http://www.thedrinkinggourd.org/), and he is also a pretty hot Jazz guitarist too. This is Rinsen riffin' last week ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYV9s4WqAjQ&feature=youtu.be[/video]] ... e=youtu.be

    and playing some Coltrane awhile back too ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNMYXVydTjY&feature=youtu.be[/video]] ... e=youtu.be

    Gassho and some snappin' fingers, Jundo

  9. #9

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

    Thank you Jundo sensei. I understand now. I'm starting to dig that Coltrane. At first I didn't understand the jazz metaphor; I haven't listened to much. But it's like martial arts or just one's daily job. There comes apoint when one has so integrated the basics that expression becomes spontaneous. That's where what we do becomes an art.

    Like Dokan mentioned, i pride myself on the use of my analytical mind. I've always identified with that facet of myself. When I don't understand something I my ego beats myself up if that makes sense. Pracrice has loosened this identification but it's still there.

    In any case you've gotten me excited about Dogen. Instead of taking it so seriously I'm going to enjoy and let the reading just soak in.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  10. #10
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    Not that I disagree, but I'd compare Dogen more to, say, James Joyce, than to Coltrane. I doubt that Dogen improvised; quite the contrary, authors who write with such style are poets, and generally spend a great deal of time refining what they write.

    Just saying... :-)

  11. #11

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

    James Joyce came to my mind too.

    I haven't read Dogen yet - so will have to see.

    Gassho

    Willow

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

    And the beat goes on ? ? :lol: :lol:

    Thank you Jundo, your piano is definitely better than my piano :shock: :roll:

  13. #13

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

    Thank you Jundo for your lovely talk!
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Not that I disagree, but I'd compare Dogen more to, say, James Joyce, than to Coltrane. I doubt that Dogen improvised; quite the contrary, authors who write with such style are poets, and generally spend a great deal of time refining what they write.

    Just saying... :-)
    Wow... Kirk, I'm not sure about that... I mean some poets do but some just throw their guts on the page and never touch at it anymore.
    Two different styles and two different ways to point to a simple reality/presence!
    thank you Kirk!

    gassho,
    Jinyu

  14. #14

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

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Not that I disagree, but I'd compare Dogen more to, say, James Joyce, than to Coltrane. I doubt that Dogen improvised; quite the contrary, authors who write with such style are poets, and generally spend a great deal of time refining what they write.

    Just saying... :-)
    Hi Kirk,

    That's a good analogy too, and Joyce or T.S. Elliot come to mind. This is also in the "How To Read Dogen" thread ...

    So, for that reason, it is important to approach Dogen, sometimes, as one would approach T.S. Eliot's The Waste land or James Joyce's Ulysses . Here is what some professor wrote of understanding The Waste Land ...

    We cannot understand the poem without knowing what it meant to its author, but we must also assume that what the poem meant to its author will not be its meaning. The notes to The Waste Land are, by the logic of Eliot's philosophical critique of interpretation, simply another riddle--and not a separate one to be solved. They are, we might say, the poem's way of treating itself as a reflex, a "something not intended as a sign," a gesture whose full significance it is impossible, by virtue of the nature of gestures, for the gesturer to explain."... The Waste Land appears to be a poem designed to make trouble for the conceptual mechanics not just of ordinary reading (for what poem does not try to disrupt those mechanics?) but of literary reading. For insofar as reading a piece of writing as literature is understood to mean reading it for its style, Eliot's poem eludes a literary grasp.

    From Discovering Modernism: T.S. Eliot and His Context. Oxford University Press, 1987
    T.S. Elliot was sometimes quoted as saying that he himself did not know exactly what he "meant" by various passages of that poem.
    viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2999

    Writing with ink on rice paper, it is not so clear how much Dogen would draft and redraft. However, beyond question he was a wordsmith who would play with the sound and complex grammatical relationships of his text. Dr. Kim's and Taigen's books are very much about that. (the Shobogenzo actually was written mostly mid-life by Dogen, much of it in the space of a relatively few years, then put down by him after the move to Eihei-ji as he became busy with other forms of teaching and lecture. In his later years, as shown in the Eihei Koroku, he seems to have preferred more traditional styles of zen-talks, though often just as playful).

    Gassho, J

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    Thanks for this teaching. I have not read much of Dogen's work but would like to start soon.

    By the way, The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies too! When I was kid, I used to watch musicals with my mom and grandmother.

    Gassho,
    Ekai/Jodi

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

    Svaha!
    Gassho and thanks
    ;-)

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

    Thank you for this teaching, Jundo Sensei.

    Pairing Jazz and Zen seems very appropiate!

  18. #18

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

    Gassho

    Ray

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

    Jundo,
    I absolutely love the Coltrane/Dogen comparison. Brilliant work.

    No 'Giant Steps' here but constant progress.

    Gassho,
    Chris

  20. #20
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    Thank you Jundo Sensei for delving more into this comparison of Dogen to jazz. Admittedly I know very little about Dogen's mind and even less about jazz. Your continued elaborations on both really assist me in seeing this connection and help to make familiar the unfamiliar.

    Also, thank you to Rinsen for sharing these videos!

    Gassho,
    Hoyu(John)

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen - A Love Supreme

    ... may not have been always himself quite sure where the music was taking him -- or what he himself "meant"!
    I don't think this is sacrilegious towards Dogen; I think this is hitting it spot on. Dharma talks are often called "live words" - they are not meant to be picked apart word by word in an academic exercise.

    Now I want to go blow my horn 8) but I have 2 more periods left to site for zazenkai :wink:

  22. #22
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    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

  23. #23
    Brilliant Jundo! I love it! Wonderful how we can see Dogen's teachings in so many things.
    倫道 真現

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

  24. #24
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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,
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Matt

  26. #26
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    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.
    only saps buy vowels

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