SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan III

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A friend wrote today to say that his beloved dog is dying of old age or cancer, may need to be put down, and its a bit of a difficult time for his family. I thought that his story of ordinary human sadness would serve to illustrate Master Dogen's message in this first passage of 'Genjo Koan'. It will show the practicality to ordinary life situations of Dogen's vision.

So, here goes.
(If you cannot yet see the Reality of all the assertions it contains, please trust me. Or if you think that there is conflict or incongruity between opposing assertions, be assured that there is not)


When all things of the universe exist as individual phenomena, there is you, a beloved dog, sickness and death ... there is our Buddhist Practice in search of meaning to it all. [JUNDO: So, this is our current lifeview, in which we are sad when beloved dogs get sick and die though we want it to be otherwise.]

When the myriad phenomena of the universe are perceived as without an abiding self, there is no
'you', no 'dog', no 'sickness' or 'death'. ... there is no need to search. [JUNDO: So, there is no you, no dog to die, no sickness, no birth and death ... thus no ground for sadness or searching. We drop all thought of these things in Zazen, and might call this the 'Buddha Realm'.]

Because the Buddhist view is beyond seeing anything to add or take away, you are precisely you, dying dogs are perfectly dying dogs, sickness just that, life fully life, death is thoroughly death ... it is all our Buddhist Practice. [JUNDO: By this further perspective, here is no room for sadness too, as all phenomena are seen as perfectly 'just what they are', with nothing to change, nothing to add or take away. Thus, life's events are completely life's events, are what they are. Also, things are fully connected such that life IS death, death IS life, two sides of one coin, and your life IS the joy and sadness of dying dogs and the like. Without dogs to die, sickness, life and death, life just would not be life. So, this is a further ground without conflict or resulting sadness. We practice with this day by day.]

Though all that may be true, dogs die even though we love them, and cancers grow even if we hate them, and that is all.
[JUNDO: Though there are all the foregoing perspectives whereby the basis for sadness and searching disappears, your dog's dying still breaks your heart.]

All of the foregoing perspectives are simultaneously true. Thus, please cry and do not cry (at once) for dying dogs.

And in the end, we do not merely philosophize about this all: So, sit Zazen, dropping resistance to life, experiencing through practice.

(we'll go over each of these individual lines and perspectives in the coming days)


When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas. Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all. [Nishijima]

As all things are buddha-dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. [Aitken & Tanahashi]

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