Not That Side, Not This Side

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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XVI)

A chant heard daily in Zen temples is the "Sandokai", the "Merging of Relative and Absolute", by Sekito Kisen, the 8th Zen Ancestor in China.

It includes images such as these, speaking of the "light" and the "dark" ... conveying the relationship of this world of "relative" things in which you and I live and the absolute realm (no things, no you, no I apart) ...

They are "not one, not two", meaning neither the same, yet intimately not different at all ...


Light is also darkness,
But do not move with it as darkness.
Darkness is light: Do not see it as light.
Light and darkness are not one, not two,
Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own being,
Which is not different from its place and function.
The relative fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute meets the relative
Like two arrow points that touch high in the air.
Hearing this, simply perceive the Source!
Make no criterion!
If you do not see the Way,
You do not see It even as you walk on It.


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Harmonizing and purifying yourself in this manner, do not lose either the one eye [of transcendent wisdom] or the two eyes [of discriminating consciousness]. Lifting a single piece of vegetable, make [yourself into] a six-foot body [i.e. a buddha] and ask that six-foot body to prepare a single piece of vegetable. Those are [the cook's] spiritual penetrations and magical transformations, his buddha-work and benefiting of living beings.

Having prepared [everything] so that the preparations are finished, and cooked [everything] so that the cooking is done, look to "that side" and put things away on "this side". ** When the drum sounds or the bell rings, join the assembly [of monks in training] and attend the convocation [to hear the abbot's teachings]. "Morning and evening, seek and attend", without being remiss even once.

** [NOTE from Prof. Foulk: A double-entendre. On the literal level, the meaning is simply that the cook should look all around and put things away where they belong. Figuratively, he is advised to look "there" (nahen -- the realm of the highest truth), while putting things to rest "here" (shahen -- the wordly realm)].

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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