SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Genjo Koan VI

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An additional "simultaneously true" perspective of Master Dogen (not so clear in this passage, but found throughout Shobogenzo and we will encounter it many times) is that everything in the universe is dependent for its existence on everything else. In fact, we might say, everything --is-- everything.

Thus, there would be no "birth" without "death". Like two sides of a single coin, we can say "birth" is "death" - "death" is "birth".

There is no "realization" without "delusion", no "Buddhas" without "sentient beings" and all else that is. So, "realization" is "delusion" - "delusion" just "realization". "Buddhas" are ordinary sentient beings and "fences, wall, tiles and pebbles".

This perspective can also be brought into your own life, whereby everything that occurs within life is intimately connected to the whole ... no sickness without health, no happiness without sadness, etc. What is more, your life may be viewed as co-dependently arising with the light of the most distant star in the universe ... that star is your life in this very moment, your life is that star. It is Indra's Net ...

In the ancient Huayan Buddhist teachings of the Avatamsaka Sutra, the entire universe is depicted as a great net spanning all directions, and at every point where the threads of the net cross jewels are set. Each jewel further reflects the light reflected in all the other jewels around it, and each of those jewels in turn reflects the lights from all the jewels around them, and so on, onwards and onwards. In this way each jewel, or each particular entity or event of the universe, including each person, ultimately reflects and expresses the entire universe. All of totality can be seen in each of its parts.

For Master Dogen, in this way, all of the universe, all time and space, is reflected in a single moment of Zazen.

Thus, in your own life, embrace what happens ... it is all of Reality.

(Tomorrow, we will look at another of Dogen's various "simultaneously true" perspctives).


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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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