SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan IV

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In our ordinary experience of phenomena, we live in a world of self, other things and people-not-ourself, birth, death, and Buddhist practice that is required to overcome delusion and bring about realization. [Jundo Note: I believe that there is some clarification required with the Nishijima-Cross translation here. The phrase "Buppo" (佛法), or "Dharma", can have various meanings. It can mean "Buddhist Teachings", as in the Nishijima-Cross version, and it can also mean physical or universal "phenomena", which I believe is a good rendering here]. This is the realm of dissatisfaction, as one's own "self" bumps into all the other "selves", in a world not always satisfying to our "self", leading us perhaps into a search for peace and meaning through Buddhist Practice.

But Master Dogen's genius was to describe several layers of apparently conflicting, yet simultaneously true, perspectives on Reality. All are "true", and Dogen's insight was to say that we should experience all-at-once. The first perspective is the "standard" Buddhist view of "realization" by which all is without an abiding "self". Thus, there is no "you" separate from a world "not you", no life no death, no need for Practice, no delusion no realization.

(While some might consider that a view of "no self" is the goal of Buddhist Practice, and its realization "Enlightenment", Dogen viewed this merely as part of the picture and did not stop there. Tomorrow, we will look at another of Dogen's various "simultaneously true" perspctives).


As all things are buddha-dharma (Jundo: "Dharma" = "Phenomena"), 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]

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]


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