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Nengei
04-03-2021, 06:56 PM
Gassho, Sangha, :reading:

A small and informal group of folks interested in contemplating (or recontemplating) the excellent text Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo by Shohaku Okumura with a foreword by our friend Taigen Dan Leighton have arisen in another thread. We will begin reading and discussing in the week of 11 April to allow interested members who do not yet have a copy of this book to acquire one.

Realizing Genjokoan is an unparalleled introduction to Dōgen Roshi's Shōbōgenzō (Genjōkōan is the first chapter of Shōbōgenzō) and is a delight to read. As Taigen says in the first line of his foreword, "This book is a treasure." And indeed it is. All who would like to deepen--or begin--their understanding of Dharma with this commentary on the foundational text of our school are invited to join us.

Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō by Shohaku Okumura is published by Wisdom Publications, ISBN 978-0-86171-601-2. This is the link to the US Amazon page for the book, not to promote Amazon as a source but so that you can see what you are looking for. (https://www.amazon.com/Realizing-Genjokoan-Key-Dogens-Shobogenzo/dp/0861716019/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=realizing+genjokoan&qid=1617476368&sr=8-1) During the week of 11 April we will read and discuss Taigen's foreword and the first chapter; just the first 11 pages. Please feel invited to join us.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
04-03-2021, 07:49 PM
Thank you, Nengei, for starting this thread. I look forward to the discussion.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Seikan
04-03-2021, 07:58 PM
Thank you Nengei. I'm really looking forward to this.

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-


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Risho
04-03-2021, 08:18 PM
thank you! gassho1

risho
-stlah

StoBird
04-03-2021, 08:20 PM
Thank you, Nengei, for starting this thread. I look forward to the discussion.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah


Thank you Nengei. I'm really looking forward to this.

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-


Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk

Ditto gassho1

Gassho,
Tom

SatLah

JimInBC
04-03-2021, 08:25 PM
Thank you, Nengei. Very much looking forward to reading and discussing.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

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aprapti
04-03-2021, 10:11 PM
thanks nengei

gassho2

aprapti

sat

Nikos
04-04-2021, 06:35 AM
Thank you Nengei!
Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

Tairin
04-04-2021, 02:28 PM
Perfect. I am in the midst of reading Jundo’s book but I expect I can handle the overlapping time frame.

Thank you for organizing this.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Meishin
04-04-2021, 03:09 PM
Thank you, Nengei.

Gassho
Meishin
stlah

Inshin
04-05-2021, 07:55 AM
Amazing! gassho2

Gassho
Sat

Doshin
04-05-2021, 01:50 PM
I will follow along. Even if you don’t hear me much I will be listening. Thank you for this opportunity.

Doshin
St

Ryumon
04-05-2021, 03:21 PM
Thank you Nengai.

Gassho,

Ryūmon

sat

billy131
04-05-2021, 04:35 PM
Thank you. Wonderful choice.

Gassho.

ST

Nengei
04-11-2021, 06:57 PM
Gassho, friends. This is the beginning of the first week of our informal Realizing Genjōkōan reading group. For a description of the book and what we are doing, please visit this thread (https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?18745-Informal-Reading-Group-REALIZING-GENJOKOAN-2021-Edition-Begins-Week-of-11-April-2021).

This week we are reading through page 11 in the paperback version. This includes
- the Foreword by Taigen Dan Leighton,
-Shohaku Okumura's Preface,
-Okumura's translation of the text of Dōgen Roshi's Genjōkōan, and
-the first chapter of commentary, called Chapter 1: Dōgen Zenji's Life and the Importance of Genjōkōan.

As your colleague only, in this undertaking, I gently suggest that you not let yourself get bogged down in the foreword and preface. Read them if you like, as they do provide context on the importance of Genjōkōan, but it would also be fine to not read them, or to read them later.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please do come back to this thread and comment. I will list some question ideas below, but these are just ideas I had while reading. My understanding is as full of holes as anyone's, so please feel at liberty to come up with your own questions, or no questions. If you read, but don't feel that you want to comment on this week's portion, please do post that. Any discussion helps me, and probably others, to keep going.

I find Genjōkōan is at once simple and profound. It is brief but has a depth that is challenging to reach. In translation (I have no comprehension of Japanese) it seems plainly written and impossible to fully understand. I like to think that this was intentional on Dōgen's part. In reading Dōgen's writings, I find two things quite helpful, so I will tell them to you and you can decide for yourself. The first is to read Genjōkōan aloud (a trick I learned to use when I don't want my mind to wander or have to read the same paragraph fifteen times). The second is to re-read Genjōkōan regularly, perhaps even with each new section or chapter of the book. As I said earlier, it is brief.

The first chapter of Okumura's commentary is a quick description of Dōgen's life, and is interesting on its own.

Some questions I thought were helpful to think about, from this week's portion:
1. What is dharma?
2. Does realization require delusion?
3. What is the self?
4. Do realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans?
5. Dōgen writes that there are inexhaustible characteristics in what is beyond what we can see, and also within what is right in front of us. How is this borne out or refuted by the advancement of scientific knowledge?

I am looking forward to what you write about this week's portion of Realizing Genjōkōan. I am ready to learn from your insights. Also, I am in charge of absolutely nothing. All ideas about what we should be doing here are invited. I am simply reading along with you, and hoping for glimpses of realization along with you.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Nengei
04-12-2021, 02:58 AM
PS The timing is such that we should be able to finish this text before Ango begins, and be ready to dive into Ango study.
:reading:
Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Doshin
04-12-2021, 03:15 AM
gassho2

Thanks

Doshin
St

Inshin
04-12-2021, 08:06 AM
[claps]:reading:

Gassho
Sat

Ryumon
04-12-2021, 09:47 AM
3. What is the self?



Oh, sure, that's an easy one. Once we got this sorted out, we don't need to read any more. :-)

Gassho,

Ryūmon

sat

aprapti
04-12-2021, 11:30 AM
:reading:

aprapti

sat

Myosho
04-12-2021, 07:43 PM
:reading:gassho2

Thank You

SAT Lah

StoBird
04-12-2021, 09:55 PM
:reading: gassho1

Gassho,
Tom

SatLah

Tairin
04-13-2021, 01:17 AM
I am reading along. One request though, can we use the chapter names rather than page numbers? Printed page numbers rarely line up with the Ebook numbering.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Shokai
04-13-2021, 01:51 AM
I am reading along. One request though, can we use the chapter names rather than page numbers? Printed page numbers rarely line up with the Ebook numbering.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Good point
gassho, shokai

Nengei
04-13-2021, 03:58 AM
I am reading along. One request though, can we use the chapter names rather than page numbers? Printed page numbers rarely line up with the Ebook numbering.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Certainly. I will update the post at the top of this thread to reflect that. Thank you for the excellent suggestion.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Tomás Sard
04-13-2021, 07:03 AM
Wonderful initiative Nengei, I have been wanting to dive into Dogen's teachings for some time now, and from the videos that I have seen of Shohaku Okumura, I am a fan! So I will be reading along, excited [claps][morehappy]

Gassho, Tomás
Sat&LaH

Risho
04-14-2021, 03:00 AM
Thank you! gassho1

risho
-stlah

Jundo
04-14-2021, 06:01 AM
Hi Guys,

After briefly discussing with Nengei, I am merging the "Realizing Genjokoan" discussion threads into a single thread for housekeeping purposes. In this way, we can centralize the whole discussion here.

It truly is a wonderful book, and a marvelous gateway into Dogen and the Shobogenzo.

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

Tomás Sard
04-14-2021, 07:06 PM
What a mind-blowing text[monk]

I really like your questions Nengei, so I will answer these directly. I feel like a few questions for each chapter is a great way to get the conversation going.

1. What is Dharma?

I understand Dharma as:

a) The Buddhist teachings (although Hindu teachings also employ the word Dharma).
b) Reality itself.
c) Every aspect that is part of that reality.

2. Does realization require delusion?

“Those who greatly realize delusion are Buddhas. Those who are greatly deluded in realization are living beings”. Delusion that is not recognized is present in those who are not Buddhas. To become liberated, one must recognize delusion, therefore realization cannot happen without delusion. In fact, the Buddhist path formulates liberation as the extinction of the three poisons: desire, aversion, and delusion.

3. What is the self?

“To study the Self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things”. Dogen points to the non-existence of the small self and how one discovers the Self when this small self and the small selves of all things drop off. From my perspective, this means that when we are free from conceptual constructs, including the view of an intrinsic, permanent, independent, solid and fixed self, we see reality as it is, whole and complete.

4. Do realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans?

“There is practice-enlightenment – this is the way of living beings”. I think Dogen points to realization and delusion among all sentient beings, as is common in Mahayana Buddhism.

5. Dogen writes that there are inexhaustible characteristics in what is beyond what we can see, and also within what is right in front of us. How is this borne out or refuted by the advancement of scientific knowledge?

“We only see or grasp as far as the power of our eye of study and practice can see”. I agree with Dogen on this. Even though we can know an incredible number of things through scientific research, we will always have more questions. I believe (and this is purely from a subjective perspective) that we will never answer all questions about reality. Even though our methods may be more refined by the day, we will always operate from a subjective perspective that is limited. Also, the relationships and interconnectedness that compose this reality are infinite.

Onkai
04-14-2021, 09:35 PM
What a mind-blowing text[monk]

I really like your questions Nengei, so I will answer these directly. I feel like a few questions for each chapter is a great way to get the conversation going.

1. What is Dharma?

I understand Dharma as:

a) The Buddhist teachings (although Hindu teachings also employ the word Dharma).
b) Reality itself.
c) Every aspect that is part of that reality.

2. Does realization require delusion?

“Those who greatly realize delusion are Buddhas. Those who are greatly deluded in realization are living beings”. Delusion that is not recognized is present in those who are not Buddhas. To become liberated, one must recognize delusion, therefore realization cannot happen without delusion. In fact, the Buddhist path formulates liberation as the extinction of the three poisons: desire, aversion, and delusion.

3. What is the self?

“To study the Self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things”. Dogen points to the non-existence of the small self and how one discovers the Self when this small self and the small selves of all things drop off. From my perspective, this means that when we are free from conceptual constructs, including the view of an intrinsic, permanent, independent, solid and fixed self, we see reality as it is, whole and complete.

4. Do realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans?

“There is practice-enlightenment – this is the way of living beings”. I think Dogen points to realization and delusion among all sentient beings, as is common in Mahayana Buddhism.

5. Dogen writes that there are inexhaustible characteristics in what is beyond what we can see, and also within what is right in front of us. How is this borne out or refuted by the advancement of scientific knowledge?

“We only see or grasp as far as the power of our eye of study and practice can see”. I agree with Dogen on this. Even though we can know an incredible number of things through scientific research, we will always have more questions. I believe (and this is purely from a subjective perspective) that we will never answer all questions about reality. Even though our methods may be more refined by the day, we will always operate from a subjective perspective that is limited. Also, the relationships and interconnectedness that compose this reality are infinite.

I like the questions and these answers. The more we look, the more there is to see. The more we learn, the more there is to understand.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Inshin
04-15-2021, 08:56 AM
Love the questions! They lead me to more questions [morehappy]

1. What is dharma?

The Ultimate
Buddha's teaching
Phenomena

2. Does realization require delusion?

Shunryū Suzuki in "Not Always So" mentions that our practice has to be rooted in delusion.
But can you really ever fully get rid of delusion considering how our minds work?
Isn't it a little bit like in this sort of sleep paralysis that you realise you're dreaming and you don't like the dream so you desperately try to wake up. When you wake up, after a short relief you realise that you "woke up" in another dream and it goes on and on...

3. What is the self?

I think I've asked myself a question "Who am I" when I was around 13 years old. 23 years later I'm no wiser. Christianity didn't offer answers, Buddhist enquiry so far revealed what I'm not. I can relate to the statement that “deep awareness of the fact that the existence of the self is not a personal possession.” Throughout the whole experience of life so far one thing is certain : the sense of "I am". However even that is not constant as I "lose" this sense every time when falling asleep. Is there a source to "I am"?

4. Do realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans?

There are stories in Buddhism of animals who showed great sacrifice and compassion and as a result were born as a human in next life. There are examples of Bodhisattvas purposely choosing to be reborn in animal realms to carry on Dharma.

5. Dōgen writes that there are inexhaustible characteristics in what is beyond what we can see, and also within what is right in front of us. How is this borne out or refuted by the advancement of scientific knowledge?

Isn't scientific knowledge another form of consciousness?
Imagine you are stuck in a room and you don't change anything in it. Depending on the state of your perception and mind the room will appear different : in zazen the room will be different than if you were to sit in there under influence of alcohol, again it would be different if you were sitting there on psychodelics, or sober and bored, or sober and involved in thoughts... Which you and the room are the true ones?

Gassho
Sat

Nikos
04-15-2021, 02:30 PM
Hello guys!
Quick question: How would you describe delusion?
Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

Dick
04-15-2021, 08:50 PM
I'm joining late, but look forward to participating

Onkai
04-15-2021, 09:26 PM
Hello guys!
Quick question: How would you describe delusion?
Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

I think of delusion as not perceiving reality as it is, or how it works, including seeing things through the lens of strong emotion or self interest. That is the most obvious meaning to me, and there may be a deeper definition, and I'd like to know what it is.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Onkai
04-15-2021, 09:30 PM
The above may not be what you were asking. If so, I apologize. I think delusion can be experienced in countless ways, but leads to suffering.

Gassho,
Onkai,
Sat/lah

Shokai
04-16-2021, 12:34 AM
basically, not knowing of emptiness, i.e. impermanence and interconnectedness of all dharmas

gassho, Shokai
stlah

Nikos
04-16-2021, 07:47 AM
Thank you Onkai and Shokai! I like and agree with both of your answers
Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

Tairin
04-17-2021, 02:57 PM
What is the self?

This is a question I find I don’t ask myself nearly as much as I used to. I know longer see it as a critical question to get an answer to. I am not sure if it is this practice or age (or more likely both) that has changed my perspective. Certainly getting married changed my view of self. Suddenly my self extended to another person. What I did, thought, or said had an impact on my wife and vice versa. Becoming a father pushed that border even further. Now there was yet another being that while separate wasn’t exactly separate from me. If I extend that I see that my self expands around me, to and from. My self is extended by my karmic actions. I think this is what Jundo refers to as “softening the hard edges”.

Thank you for the discussion

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

JimInBC
04-17-2021, 04:48 PM
1. What is dharma?

What isn't?

2. Does realization require delusion?

When I answer yes, it comes from delusion.
When I answer no, it comes from delusion.
When I disappears, so does the question.

3. What is the self?

The cracks, crevices, and rough spots the flow of reality gets caught on.

4. Do realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans?

When a human claims to know a lion's mind, he's lying.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH


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Risho
04-17-2021, 05:04 PM
Jim - I like those answers quite a bit.

1. What is dharma? Traditionally, the historical Buddha's teaching(s) passed down to us but, ultimately, everything.

2. Does realization require delusion? Realization and delusion are based on perspective. I really love Dogen's idea that we make a mistake of avoiding the mundane for the sacred, but we don't realize that all of it is entirely sacred. Right now for me that means soothing my baby's cries, changing diapers feeding, worrying if he's breathing (like every 5 minutes. hahah). From one perspective you could say that lack of sleep is chaotic and mundane, but there is nothing more sacred. I absolutely love it. I think Jundo's Gratitude comes back to this too. If we view everything in our life from a point of gratitude what is delusion? It's all so beautiful.

Yet still there is poop to clean up and babies to feed and starving people to feed. All at the same time.

3. What is the self? What?!!! What is this!

4. Do realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans? I don't know

Gassho

Risho
-stlah

Dick
04-17-2021, 06:58 PM
Broadly speaking, Dharma is Buddhist teachings. This definition is tricky with some practitioners limiting Dharma to teachings directly attributable to Buddha, while other practitioners include teachings by additional, acknowledged scholars and some practitioners include lay commentaries. A student does not have to look far to find teachings and teachers with just enough true Buddhism to sound authentic but which include all manner of non-Buddhist ideas. A cautious student is constantly challenged to be skeptical and ask of new teachings – “Is it true?”

Delusion takes many forms. We delude ourselves into thinking that our “self” is real and permanent, rather than a construct of our own minds. We further delude ourselves into believing that this “self” is the center of the universe, and that every phenomena, every thing, feeling, thought is correctly viewed only as it relates to this “self”. Based on our experiences, we create biased prejudices, preferences, opinions and we delude ourselves into believing that these biased perceptions are a universal fixed truth shared by everyone, rather than an impermanent unique conception of the world. We mistakenly seek refuge in money, fame, beauty, possessions and delude ourselves into believing that these will give us lasting happiness, rather than seeing that they are impermanent and empty, and provide temporary pleasure at best. Through our clothing, our homes, our cars, our lifestyles, we create a costume, an armor, a uniform that we delude ourselves into believing is our true self, and we suffer as we struggle to maintain this illusion. Through the realization of these delusions, through Zazen, we can peel back these delusions and reveal our true Buddha-nature.

Conventionally, the self is “I”, “me”. However, upon examination, we discover that not only is this “self” impermanent and empty, it is also only a construct fabricated by my own mind. Understanding non-self, no-self allows someone to see the connection with others and with all things. Greed, jealousy, anger, attachment become much easier to overcome when there is no “I vs them”. It is much easier to understand another person’s point of view when you realize that all viewpoints are the same.

Does realization and delusion exist among all sentient beings, or only humans? Realization requires the ability for self-examination. Do non-humans have this ability? I have no idea.
The advancement of scientific knowledge continues to support the idea that inexhaustible characteristics exist in what is beyond what we can see. The discovery of microscopic viruses, bacteria, of molecules, atoms, photons, of seemingly daily discoveries in every scientific field demonstrate how much we do not yet know.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Kevin M
04-18-2021, 02:43 PM
I will be reading along as well. From the preface a few things:

* Okumura says he came to his understanding of Genjokoan through his "own experience of zazen and daily life practice" (recommends that all do this). I found this an interesting inversion - it's not that Genjokoan is a text exclusively for teaching practice, but you come to meet Genjokoan through practice
* On a related note on his first reading of Genjokoan in 1965, the only part he understood was "Therefore, if there are fish that would swim or birds that would fly only after investigating the entire ocean or sky, they would find neither path nor place". I interpret this (along with other things Okumura said in the preface) that zazen is the sacred aspect of Zen that stands for life itself i.e. the "just living" of life
* He talks of his teacher Uchiyama Roshi who, when Okumura received his novice ordination as a Zen monk, said "If you want to be my disciple, you must walk with your own feet in the direction I am walking". I loved that and for some reason it produced a little lump in my throat - something about the humility of that wise old master. This was how he learned about "swimming in the ocean of Buddha Dharma"
* The metaphor of the fish and the ocean is obviously extremely important to Okumura and he returns to it again and again. The cover of the book shows a representation of this metaphor with a fish swimming in a vast ocean

Looking forward to reading Genjokoan many times as we go along, and exploring it with all of you through Okumura's teaching.

Gassho,
Kevin
Sat Today

Shokai
04-18-2021, 04:36 PM
I will be reading along as well. From the preface a few things:

* Okumura says he came to his understanding of Genjokoan through his "own experience of zazen and daily life practice" (recommends that all do this). I found this an interesting inversion - it's not that Genjokoan is a text exclusively for teaching practice, but you come to meet Genjokoan through practice
* On a related note on his first reading of Genjokoan in 1965, the only part he understood was "Therefore, if there are fish that would swim or birds that would fly only after investigating the entire ocean or sky, they would find neither path nor place". I interpret this (along with other things Okumura said in the preface) that zazen is the sacred aspect of Zen that stands for life itself i.e. the "just living" of life
* He talks of his teacher Uchiyama Roshi who, when Okumura received his novice ordination as a Zen monk, said "If you want to be my disciple, you must walk with your own feet in the direction I am walking". I loved that and for some reason it produced a little lump in my throat - something about the humility of that wise old master. This was how he learned about "swimming in the ocean of Buddha Dharma"
* The metaphor of the fish and the ocean is obviously extremely important to Okumura and he returns to it again and again. The cover of the book shows a representation of this metaphor with a fish swimming in a vast ocean

Looking forward to reading Genjokoan many times as we go along, and exploring it with all of you through Okumura's teaching.

Gassho,
Kevin
Sat Today

gassho2
Beautiful
gassho, Shokai
stlah

Nengei
04-18-2021, 05:42 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 2, 18-24 April

Deep bows to you, Sangha, for your introspection and wisdom on the first section of reading of Realizing Genjōkōan. There are many wonderful thoughts here, and great insight. gassho2

It is not mine to comment back or to "steer" any of you. I am reading along with you. I am asking questions along with you. I am learning along with you. I am putting my socks on, cleaning a house, and getting through my days along with you. I hope you read the sections, and stay in touch with Genjōkōan, but I am happy to be able to read your thoughts about our discussion, either way.

This week we are reading through page 21 in the paperback version. This includes chapter 2, "The Meaning of "Genjōkōan." For me, the first paragraphs of this chapter set me up to think that the chapter will be as dry as sand in a desert. It's not that way at all, though! Okumura's exploration of the meaning of the word Genjōkōan is rich with teaching. Parts of this chapter are some of my favorite in the book. I hope that you find it so, as well.

A look ahead: next week's portion will be the following chapter, which is lengthy. You may want to start reading ahead, a little.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. I will list some question ideas below, but these are just ideas I had while reading. My understanding is as full of holes as anyone's, so please feel at liberty to come up with your own questions, or no questions. If you read, but don't feel that you want to comment on this week's portion, please do post that. Any discussion helps me, and probably others, to keep going. To be clear: these questions are not an assignment, and they have no authority whatsoever.

1. Okumura offers a few different interpretations of kōan, and focuses most of his discussion on this portion of the word Genjōkōan. He suggests that Dōgen's choice of kanji implies meaning. Still, I wonder whether there was an individual meaning that was Dōgen's intention, or whether the collective meanings of this word are important. Or, maybe none of that matters because the greater meaning comes from context. Thoughts?

2. Is my individual practice different from community practice? Should it be? How does Okumura answer this question?

3. What are our particular struggles with "put[ting] aside our uniqueness" and "find the middle way" as discussed by Okumura, in our time and in our Sangha?

4. What is the self?

5. Is enlightenment within this one word?

I look forward to your thoughts about [I]The Meaning of Genjōkōan.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. :reading: LAH.

Tairin
04-19-2021, 12:09 AM
Thank you Nengei. I’ll start on this week’s reading.

FYI... The Meaning of Genjōkōan is Chapter 2 in the Kobo version of the book.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Nengei
04-19-2021, 03:52 AM
Domo, Tairin-san. That was a typo on my part, now corrected.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Tairin
04-19-2021, 10:09 AM
Domo, Tairin-san. That was a typo on my part, now corrected.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

gassho2

aprapti
04-19-2021, 10:14 AM
thank you Nengei.

:reading:

aprapti


sat

Meishin
04-19-2021, 04:43 PM
4. What is the self?

What do you see when you turn out the light?
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.

Gassho
Meishin
STLah

Onkai
04-19-2021, 09:20 PM
Thank you, Nengei. The questions required some reflection, and enhance the reading, which I'm enjoying.

1. The part about the different kanji that can be used for koan left me scratching my head. I kind of have to take his word for it that both could mean the same thing. I like the thought of the full word as combining public or "to equalize inequality" and individual "to keep one's lot." To me that is similar to saying "Self and other are not one, not two." It's something to ponder. If I think I've got it, it's slipped away, but with a questioning mind, facets of reality come into view.

2. I think Okumura answers the question of individual practice and public practice with the two simultaneous meanings of koan and his statements and question,

We are completely independent while at the same time we are fully a part of the community. So, how can we actualize both sides of our lives within one action? This is really the basic point of our lives.

3. I love the community practice with Treeleaf, but at the same time, I can’t escape the fact that my own practice is my own, as an individual, especially with an online community. For instance, when I first wrote this, I realized I hadn’t sat for two days as a result of reactions to my 2nd COVID vaccination. There are parameters to my individual practice within the community. I would also like to find ways to express thematically the two opposing ideas combined in my fiction. That eludes me right now.

4. I’ve thought of the self as what is contained in my body and mind, but I’m learning to see that what I am is shaped by environment and circumstances and that what I do changes what is around me, becoming an extension of me, in a way. I trust the idea that I am the universe expressing itself as me, and that I express the universe, but I only get glimpses of that.

5. If the two words don't express enlightenment, they must come close.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Nikos
04-20-2021, 06:03 PM
2. Is my individual practice different from community practice? Should it be? How does Okumura answer this question?

Okumura roshi uses the example of the Tenzo. When the cook is in the kitchen preparing the meals, that's his practice and his responsibility alone. No other person can do it for him. And yet, his practice affects all other members of the community since meals are for people to consume. That way his practice becomes the community's practice.
As I see it, that's how it should be. My life is mine to live and no one can do the 'living' for me. But I am a social animal too. I live for others and others live for me. I am there to support people and I expect people to support me. I only wish I could see the more subtle ways of this truth. I feel one aspect of the self is hidden in it too. But then, that's why we practice zazen every day!

Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

Doshin
04-20-2021, 06:19 PM
Okumura roshi uses the example of the Tenzo. When the cook is in the kitchen preparing the meals, that's his practice and his responsibility alone. No other person can do it for him. And yet, his practice affects all other members of the community since meals are for people to consume. That way his practice becomes the community's practice.
As I see it, that's how it should be. My life is mine to live and no one can do the 'living' for me. But I am a social animal too. I live for others and others live for me. I am there to support people and I expect people to support me. I only wish I could see the more subtle ways of this truth. I feel one aspect of the self is hidden in it too. But then, that's why we practice zazen every day!

Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

I like that Nikolas

Doshin
St

JimInBC
04-21-2021, 05:14 AM
1. Okumura offers a few different interpretations of kōan, and focuses most of his discussion on this portion of the word Genjōkōan. He suggests that Dōgen's choice of kanji implies meaning. Still, I wonder whether there was an individual meaning that was Dōgen's intention, or whether the collective meanings of this word are important. Or, maybe none of that matters because the greater meaning comes from context. Thoughts?
While searching for Dogen's meaning is certainly one approach to a text, I'm not sure the fact an interpretation fits Dogen's meaning is ultimately the most important criteria. Interpretations are layered on the text by different commentators, and it seems that multi-layered approach creates both a poetic richness and many fingers pointing at the moon.


2. Is my individual practice different from community practice? Should it be? How does Okumura answer this question?
SN 47.19
Trans by Bhante Sujato
At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Sumbhas, near the town of the Sumbhas called Sedaka. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants:
“Once upon a time, mendicants, an acrobat set up his bamboo pole and said to his apprentice Medakathālikā, ‘Come now, dear Medakathālikā, climb up the bamboo pole and stand on my shoulders.’
‘Yes, teacher,’ she replied. She climbed up the bamboo pole and stood on her teacher’s shoulders.
Then the acrobat said to Medakathālikā, ‘You look after me, dear Medakathālikā, and I’ll look after you. That’s how, guarding and looking after each other, we’ll display our skill, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’
When he said this, Medakathālikā said to her teacher, ‘That’s not how it is, teacher! You should look after yourself, and I’ll look after myself. That’s how, guarding and looking after ourselves, we’ll display our skill, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’
That’s the way,” said the Buddha. “It’s just as Medakathālikā said to her teacher. Thinking ‘I’ll look after myself,’ you should cultivate mindfulness meditation. Thinking ‘I’ll look after others,’ you should cultivate mindfulness meditation. Looking after yourself, you look after others; and looking after others, you look after yourself.
And how do you look after others by looking after yourself? By development, cultivation, and practice of meditation. And how do you look after yourself by looking after others? By acceptance, harmlessness, love, and sympathy.
Thinking ‘I’ll look after myself,’ you should cultivate mindfulness meditation. Thinking ‘I’ll look after others,’ you should cultivate mindfulness meditation. Looking after yourself, you look after others; and looking after others, you look after yourself.”


3. What are our particular struggles with "put[ting] aside our uniqueness" and "find[ing] the middle way" as discussed by Okumura, in our time and in our Sangha?
Uniqueness has a dreary sameness. Toss it out with dirty dishwater, self, and other things that you are finished with.


4. What is the self?
What we threw out with uniqueness and dirty dishwater.


5. Is enlightenment within this one word?
Enlightenment is not found in words. Words are not found in enlightenment. But it's a devil of a challenge to give directions without words.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk

Risho
04-23-2021, 02:06 AM
1. Okumura offers a few different interpretations of kōan, and focuses most of his discussion on this portion of the word Genjōkōan. He suggests that Dōgen's choice of kanji implies meaning. Still, I wonder whether there was an individual meaning that was Dōgen's intention, or whether the collective meanings of this word are important. Or, maybe none of that matters because the greater meaning comes from context. Thoughts?

I think the various interpretations are important in highlighting what Dogen meant; of course, we'll never know for sure but I feel Okumura Roshi provides a very compelling case.


2. Is my individual practice different from community practice? Should it be? How does Okumura answer this question? I don't think so; I like Jim's answer above. When we practice we aren't just practicing for ourselves. We must do the practice but it is not our own. When we truly practice zazen and try to live in accord with our precepts and bodhisattva vows, we automatically include everyone - not two; I know it sounds cliche but it's not. I was thinking about a daily gatha I started reciting during last ango when I make coffee, and it's a pattern I see in gathas in general. "Making morning coffee, I vow with all sentient beings..." or whatever it is, we vow with all sentient beings because we're all here together. I like Okumura's answer to this, we can't do whatever we want willy nilly. Although we can never fully uphold our vows, precepts or sit zazen properly, when we do try to do those things (by not separating from others) then we are doing them right even as we miss the mark and try again. So by necessity, all practice involves the sangha.


3. What are our particular struggles with "put[ting] aside our uniqueness" and "find[ing] the middle way" as discussed by Okumura, in our time and in our Sangha?
I would say if I don't understand something, I try not to just go along. I need to make sure I'm not giving up my responsibility in understanding the dharma by just agreeing; at the same time, I don't need to disrupt the sangha. It's a balance; old ego's die hard :D


4. What is the self?
The self can be viewed as our individual selves. It's real in a sense, but it's also something we create in our minds so we can make sense of the world. But it is only real in relationship to everything else; without anything to compare it against, it doesn't exist. So it is both real and not real in a way.



5. Is enlightenment within this one word?
Like any word or concept (including a "self") it's a pointer; it points to something, but it's much more than that and not contained within it or anything really. When you say a word, it has a definition, and definitions implicitly rely on comparison to explain the limits of what it is that is being defined. Without everything that it is not, it could not be said what it is. This is sort of related to the idea of a self. The idea of me, although I am here, only makes sense with relationship to everything else. I have no idea if that makes sense. :)

Gassho

Risho
-stlah

Seikan
04-23-2021, 04:20 AM
Apologies for not commenting as of yet. Life has simply been a bit overwhelming as of late, but I am now caught up with the reading and ready to jump in. ;)

The various interpretations of "Koan" posed by Okumura are fascinating, but I feel that they ask more questions of me than they answer. I want to sit with this one a bit longer. I suspect that Dogen did not have one, narrow meaning of the term in mind when he used it. With Dogen, there always seems to be multiple sides to his words/teachings, which is what makes them so wonderfully simple and rich at the same time.

Regarding individualism vs. collectivism, etc., I was floored by Okumura's hand analogy. I'm certain that I've heard/read that analogy before, but reading it again in this moment, it resonated far more deeply at this point in my practice. This is likely due to my having been spending more time as of late reading the Sandokai and considering the whole concept of the relative vs. the absolute. Okumura's hand analogy is a wonderful way to demonstrate how neither side of the coin is any "better" or any more "real" than they other. Reality is equally both (and neither) at the same time. I often simplify this to "not one, not two, both, and neither" (I definitely stole this from someone, but I can't recall where I may have seen it first).

Using that same lens, I consider the "self":

self = not one
Self (capital "s") = not two
self + Self = Self - self

To truly understand, perhaps we need to take the square root of self. :D

Thank you Nengei and all for the discussion so far. This is a wonderful opportunity to read and reflect with you all.

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-

Risho
04-23-2021, 06:55 PM
Thank you Seikan - your post jogged something about the community part of practice. In a way, all of life truly is a practice. We have to constantly do things in the face of the unknown. From that perspective, as I type on my computer and look around my apartment, all of me is here now because of community (the universe); I forgot where I read this (it is certainly not my original thought), but if you pay close attention it's as if the universe has intentionally conspired to bring me to this moment as I am now. This practice constantly takes me back to Gratitude; this is such a miracle, there is no other way I can put it. I certainly do not deserve any of it, so all I can do is take care of my piece (or "keep my lot" from Senne's translation of koan).

One thing that I've noticed as a direct benefit of practice is that I sometimes feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I know I said it above, but practice has made me realize how miraculous it is that we are here at all. Just incredible.

So maybe it's not like intentionally practicing to help others (although helping others isn't a bad thing); because we are so interrelated by taking care of ourselves we take care of everyone so the universe can conspire to bless them as well.

Gassho

Risho
-stlah

Inshin
04-23-2021, 10:50 PM
.1. Okumura offers a few different interpretations of kōan, and focuses most of his discussion on this portion of the word Genjōkōan. He suggests that Dōgen's choice of kanji implies meaning. Still, I wonder whether there was an individual meaning that was Dōgen's intention, or whether the collective meanings of this word are important. Or, maybe none of that matters because the greater meaning comes from context. Thoughts?
First of all : deep bows of gratitude and hats off to all involved in translating Shobogenzo to English. Apparently it is rare in this world to come across Dharma teachings, how more rare to be able to read Dogen. As someone who grew up speaking only Polish, I'm reminded of my great fortune of being able to learn other languages and read good translations of Ancestors' works.
Which brings me to a question : has Senne's and Kyogo's Gosho been translated into English or other languages? It would be a treasure.

. 2. Is my individual practice different from community practice? Should it be? How does Okumura answer this question?

Okumara's and Dogen's examples of individual and community practice is based on a Sangha that practices the same Dharma. Not only I don't have that experience but also I live in a mega city where the community is not as strong. I never really belonged anywhere, always felt like an outcast so here's the problem of uniquness and individuality. What I've noticed though is that my individual practice reflects on my immediate environment that has became more peaceful. Triggers, anger, stress that previously would have blown into something big, don't carry so much weight anymore and are easier to exstinguish before a spark becomes a flame. I also notice beauty in random people, where previously there often would be some sort of judgment. That little shift affects how I relate to others and I find those exchanges more valuable. Through my personal practice I am finding ways of how to be of service to others. Step by step, smile by smile.

.4. What is the self?


I only know what it's not.


. 5. Is enlightenment within this one word?

I think it's one of the best descriptions of enlightenment expressed in one word. Genjokoan. Not a particular state to achieve but an action, a practice that deepens with the realisation of Dharma, be it gradual or sudden. Expressing the absolute within and through the relative. Expressing timelessness through impermanence. A practice - enlightenment that seems impossible, yet we sit, chop the wood and carry the water.

Gassho
Sat

Kevin M
04-25-2021, 01:18 PM
Thanks Nengei for your questions, they made me go back and clarify my understanding of this chapter.

Okumura's parsing of "genjokoan" provided a succinct shorthand of the meaning of both the term itself, and the work as a whole. I like that he opens the book this way, getting straight to the fundamental point of what Genjokoan is all about.

One surprise for me is that I tend to think of form and emptiness, relative and absolute, in slightly grandiose terms - almost like cosmology and metaphysics; but Okumura adds that these can also be seen at a very personal level, in how our actions affect not only ourselves but others.


4. I’ve thought of the self as what is contained in my body and mind, but I’m learning to see that what I am is shaped by environment and circumstances and that what I do changes what is around me, becoming an extension of me, in a way. I trust the idea that I am the universe expressing itself as me, and that I express the universe, but I only get glimpses of that.

I really liked Onkai's comment. I think maybe this is what is meant by "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self". That the "the self" extends out to encompass, and to be encompassed by, everyone and every thing. One of the most arresting parts of Genjokoan for me is the idea that enlightenment is not a mental state or an intellectual grasp of philosophical ideas, but rather a dynamic moment to moment living or manifesting of this middle way.

Gassho,
Kevin
Sat Today

Tairin
04-25-2021, 02:01 PM
“Heart Sutra emptiness is considered to be absolute truth in which there is no separation between the things of this world. For living beings, there are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no hand, no nothing because this reality is just functioning without any fixed entity; it is empty. And as living beings we are interconnected completely, living with all other beings; we are all one whole, all living the same life. In this way the whole universe is just one thing, as five fingers are just one hand. Yet, eyes are eyes, a nose is a nose, a tongue is a tongue, and this person, Shohaku Okumura

I don’t know how I missed this before. We chant The Heart Sutra regularly and we’ve studied it. I’ve struggled with the concept of “emptiness “ but now that I see emptiness as an expression of the absolute it suddenly all fell into place for me.

Like many people here Tenzo Kyokun is an important text I revisit regularly


In Tenzo-Kyōkun (Instructions for the Cook), for example, Dōgen said that as the cook of the community we have complete responsibility for the way we work, since our cooking is our own personal practice. Yet this personal practice is more than just a personal activity since it also has a function within the community.

I reflect on this as I go about my daily tasks.

Thank you all for your thoughts on this section. I really enjoy reading Okumura’s writing and your thoughts

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Dick
04-25-2021, 05:11 PM
In Chap. 2, I was struck by how equality/universality and inequality/uniqueness were presented as complimentary versus conflicting, and how reality is really a combination of the two. I perceive the world through MY senses and therefore, see things as they relate to "me", the natural center of the universe. Yet, emptiness tells us that the "me" is only a construct of my mind, and dependent origination show how everything is connected. Seeing these seemingly opposing views as the Two Truths , and as simply different ways of looking at reality was a very powerful observation. It is definitely helping me to better understand the concept of "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" as a "merging of oneness and uniqueness". The hard part, for me, will be, as Dogen says "seeing the two sides as one action". I think the starting point here, again for me, is seeing my actions like the cook in the chapter - acting not only as an individual in preparing food, but also as a part of the community - namely, the middle way.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Nengei
04-26-2021, 03:58 AM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 3, 25 April-1 May

Dear Sangha, so many good ideas on the text of Realizing Genjōkōan so far. Thank you, and please keep up the good work. I am grateful for every one of your responses, but am refraining from commenting individually. My opinion on your work is like the opinion of an art critic: worthless!

This week we are reading through page 46 in the paperback version. This includes chapter 3, Buddhist Teachings from Three Sources.

Next week's portion will be the following chapter, through page 55 in the paperback, which is Chapter 4, Flowers Fall, Weeds Grow.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. I will list some question ideas below. Again I will stress that these questions are not an assignment, and there are no certificates or gold stars for answering them. They are meant to evoke discussion, and you may (hopefully!) have your own questions.

1. From reading Genjōkōan and Okumura's commentary, how does practice relate to dharma?

2. Reflect on and discuss impermanence and emptiness as described by Okumura.

3. Both Genjōkōan and the Heart Sutra could be considered fundamental to the paradigm of Sōtō Zen Buddhism. How does Okumura reconcile the seeming contradictions in these texts? How does Dōgen's statement about the nature of the Buddha Way help our understanding?

4. What is practice?

I look forward to your thoughts about Buddhist Teachings from Three Sources.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

aprapti
04-26-2021, 04:31 PM
:reading:

gassho2

aprapti

sat

Onkai
04-26-2021, 08:20 PM
Thank you, Nengei, for continuing this discussion and moving it along. I think this reading shows how practice itself can become samsara, but also, whatever we throw ourselves into can be an attachment or seen as illustrating the nature of impermanence and no fixed being. In Treeleaf, especially, it is emphasized that all of life is our practice. Re-reading this chapter put that in a new perspective for me.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Risho
04-26-2021, 10:38 PM
Thank you! This has been a very good discussion.

Gassho

Risho
-stlah

Meishin
04-28-2021, 07:28 PM
4. What is practice?

What is Practice
Practice is What
What's That?
That's What!

Gassho
Meishin
SatTodayLAH

Dick
04-29-2021, 11:50 PM
Chap3. gave me a lot to chew on. The concept of “samsara” has always troubled me, because it quickly evolves into the difficult concepts of rebirth and the associated realms of rebirth. Okumura provides a different view on this by seeing samsara as simply daily emotional ups and downs, moment by moment, and by seeing the realms of rebirth as simply momentary emotional states – sometimes we are in heaven, sometimes we are in hell. This makes me see rebirth as not an “after death” event, but rather as a moment-by-moment change. The idea of “opening the hand of thought” was especially powerful to me. It lets me see zazen as not attempting to achieve anything, but rather just observe things as they are. The phrase “scenery of life” is staying with me as a reminder to simply accept the ups and downs of life. Dogen’s “Buddha’s Way” seems to say the same thing with simple acceptance of what is happening in life without any analysis or judgement. What most struck me in Chap 3. Was the statement “… When we just open the hand of thought and face whatever we are facing, we can truly find peace. We don’t need to escape and go somewhere else; we just live right now, right here, with mindfulness. This is how we can find a way to live in nirvana within samsara.”

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Inshin
04-30-2021, 01:55 PM
I'm still going through this chapter, it's dense.
A question for you : has practice helped to bring to light your own delusions, projections, certain patterns? How did that feel to you?
I'm constantly discovering unpleasant things about how I function in relation to others, and this annoying need to Know, that only creates concepts and more delusions...

Turns out that I don't understand Zen. I thought that "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" and even "form is form, emptiness is emptiness" means inseparable play of matter and consciousness. But apparently according to Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu the only thing that exists is consciousness and matter is delusion. A hermit's quote from the movie "Among the white clouds" struck me hard. When asked if nature supports his practice he replied something in those lines: "There's no nature. Nature is delusion, delusion is nature."
Now I'll be digging in Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu, so expect some silly questions soon on the forum [morehappy]

Gassho
Sat

Jundo
04-30-2021, 02:29 PM
Turns out that I don't understand Zen. I thought that "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" and even "form is form, emptiness is emptiness" means inseparable play of matter and consciousness. But apparently according to Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu the only thing that exists is consciousness and matter is delusion. A hermit's quote from the movie "Among the white clouds" struck me hard. When asked if nature supports his practice he replied something in those lines: "There's no nature. Nature is delusion, delusion is nature."
Now I'll be digging in Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu, so expect some silly questions soon on the forum [morehappy]



Been avoiding to jump in here, but perhaps this has a few misunderstandings.

Gassho, J

STLah

Dick
04-30-2021, 04:09 PM
Okumura writes “…often we fear the loss of everything that our happiness depends upon. And since other people want to have happiness or success, life becomes a competition with others. If we are happy, others may try to take our happiness from us in order to gain their own happiness. Competition makes society a realm of the fighting spirits (asuras) in which some people are happy and some are unhappy.”

Capitalism, at least American-style Capitalism is based on competition. The question becomes – Is Buddhism compatible with American-style Captailism? Is Buddhism compatible with American culture? If not, how do we live a Buddhist life within a Capitalist society? Perhaps, that is the challenge.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Risho
05-01-2021, 01:49 AM
Okumura writes “…often we fear the loss of everything that our happiness depends upon. And since other people want to have happiness or success, life becomes a competition with others. If we are happy, others may try to take our happiness from us in order to gain their own happiness. Competition makes society a realm of the fighting spirits (asuras) in which some people are happy and some are unhappy.”

Capitalism, at least American-style Capitalism is based on competition. The question becomes – Is Buddhism compatible with American-style Captailism? Is Buddhism compatible with American culture? If not, how do we live a Buddhist life within a Capitalist society? Perhaps, that is the challenge.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-zen-of-everything/id1467408488?i=1000490050932

gassho

risho
-stlah

Tairin
05-02-2021, 01:51 PM
For the past 1/2 year or so I have made reciting the Heart Sutra a key part of my daily practice. I end up reciting it several times a day. I am certainly very glad to have built up that familiarity with it given the focus Okumura puts on it in the chapter.

Too many good little nuggets in this section to quote any one as key.

What is practice?

Often in Zen readings we encounter the conjunction life-practice. There isn’t any obvious English word that covers this concept. Okumura and Dogen really stress this. Life is practice and practice is life. Not two. Sitting is Zazen is practice but so is cutting the grass, going to the toilet, talking a walk, sitting with a sick friend etc. I try to keep this in mind throughout my day.

Thank you all for your thoughts on this chapter

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

coriander
05-02-2021, 09:05 PM
This week we are reading through page 21 in the paperback version. This includes chapter 2, "The Meaning of "Genjōkōan." For me, the first paragraphs of this chapter set me up to think that the chapter will be as dry as sand in a desert. It's not that way at all, though! Okumura's exploration of the meaning of the word Genjōkōan is rich with teaching. Parts of this chapter are some of my favorite in the book. I hope that you find it so, as well.


I am joining this reading late. I'm currently reading chapter 2 and enjoying the discussion on the meaning of the kanjis in Genjōkōan. I did not expect to find this part of the book so interesting at all, like Nengei said, it is not dry but very fascinating. Then, I look forward to reading through your discussions on the topic, as I did for chapter 1. I hope to catch up to where you are all at, but if I don't catch up, I just want to say now I'm happy to have been inspired by this group to start this reading gassho1

gassho2
Charity
sat

Nengei
05-03-2021, 03:45 AM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 4, 2 May - 8 May

Dear Sangha, it is enriching to be able to read your insights on this text. Thank you for participating in this endeavor, no matter where you are in your reading. As I enjoy your comments, my old
and burdensome teacher habits start kicking in. "Right or wrong?" "Did they read the text or are they commenting from some other position?" Recognizing my teacher-self, I smile and sit back. Not today, professor. The only journey for me to reflect on is my own. I give no As. I give no Fs. I learn from you. I can chase after the 10,000 things, or I can immerse myself in them as they float toward me.

This coming week we will read through page 55 in the paperback version, chapter 4, Flowers Fall, Weeds Grow. What a rich chapter this is! I hope that you are able to savor it slowly, and to gently contemplate its ideas. It can be like hammering a nail, or like a flower unfolding, opening up to reflect the soft light.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. I will list some question ideas below. These questions are not an assignment, and there are no certificates or gold stars for answering them. They are meant to evoke discussion, and you may (hopefully!) have your own questions. I liked some of the questions that were posted in the last week.

Questions for Chapter 4: Flowers Fall, Weeds Grow

1. What are weeds? When is the weeding finished? What makes one flower a weed, and another something to cultivate and invest in?

2. What baggage am I carrying when I hear or see the word emptiness? In other words, what am I assigning to this term before I begin to consider this concept in the context of Zen?

3. Okumura goes to great lengths to get us all on the same page with the concept of mayoi, delusion, and there is a lot of great advice in this section. Apply this to Master Dogen's words: Conveying oneself toward all things... ...through the self is realization. What do you find in these two, brief sentences?

4. Practice and enlightenment are one, says Dogen. What is practice?

I look forward to your thoughts about Flowers Fall, Weeds Grow. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 73 in the paperback, which is Chapter 5, Realization Beyond Realization.


Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Seikan
05-03-2021, 03:58 AM
Thank you Nengei and all for keeping this excellent discussion moving along. I've fallen behind in the reading due to an unexpectedly busy couple of weeks, but I'll do my best to catch up this week as I am very much enjoying the reading/discussion.

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-

Kevin M
05-03-2021, 05:01 PM
I'm still back on last week. That was a big and pretty amazing chapter. I don't even know where to start so I'm not going to say much - just mention a couple of personal impressions (I don't claim to be accurately presenting Okumura's views here):
* Enlightenment and practice as moment to moment living (action or manifestation) - not a state of mind, not obtained by study, not a cure for life's ups and downs
(tension here, since Okumura's presentation is extremely good and the feeling of "getting it" from his words could in fact be an impediment to practice?)
* The morality of "emptiness" (specifically, "lack of independent existence") - the need to live well with others because of being both a product of and a creator of our environments

Gassho,
Kevin
ST

Onkai
05-03-2021, 07:19 PM
Friendships and community are flowers. Sickness and dying are weeds. In reading this chapter, it occurred to me that as I am a part of everything and everything is a part of me, I will be carried on through the myriad things regardless of what I do and it may be misguided to strive to leave a legacy I control. "All things coming and carrying practice-enlightenment through the self is realization," may be a key source of creativity. These are what this chapter leads me to reflect on.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Inshin
05-07-2021, 04:00 PM
"as long as we are alive, we exist only within relationship to everything that we encounter in our lives."

I think this quote struck me most when I first read "Realising Genjokoan" and since then my concern is not who I want to be in life, but how do I relate to everything and everyone in my life. I don't think there is a single enlightened person in this world, rather there's enlightened activity unfolding through. If this "I" is what wants to practice, wants to sit Zazen, wants Satori then this "I" will always be in the way. It's only when this "I" lessens its grip on things, when it drops completely then the practice - enlightenment can unfold itself. That's how I understand "Conveying oneself toward all things to carry out practice - enlightenment is delusion. All things coming and carrying out practice - enlightenment through the self is realisation."
Yet we root our practice in delusion and we continue even after we're able to realise the true nature of things, because
"delusion is not some fixed thing within our minds that, if eliminated, will be replaced by enlightenment".


Gassho
Sat

Nikos
05-07-2021, 05:29 PM
"All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization."

Probably my favorite quote from this chapter. For a long time I thought I could "practice" life and zen alone, but lately I see again and again how wrong this idea is.

Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

Tairin
05-08-2021, 03:45 PM
Flowers fall even though we love them and weeds grow even though we dislike them

is one of the classic quotes from Genjokoan and one I come back to often because it is such a vivid statement about how our preferences influence our perspectives and actions. I garden and because my house is on a corner lot I have large plot of land to care for. When I moved into the neighborhood 20+ years ago Canada still allowed for the use of harsh herbicides. Many people in pursuit of that ideal lawn used herbicides. More than 15 years ago the domestic use of herbicide was prohibited. Over time the lawns have all become more naturalized. Clover is one ground cover that is divisive. Some people don’t like it because it isn’t grass but others like me actually seed it into our lawns because it is beneficial to both the health of the lawn but also to the pollenating bees etc. For some clover is a weed to be eradicated. For others clover is desirable. It is just perspective. The clover is just clover. How we view it determines whether we see it as good or bad.

Thank you all for your perspectives on this chapter. gassho2

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Kevin M
05-08-2021, 04:36 PM
Inshin and Nikos beat me to those quotes. Here's another one in a similar vein that I really liked:


Our lives are the intersection of self and all things

Nengei, thanks for your questions:

4. Practice and enlightenment are one, says Dogen. What is practice?

At a mundane level it's just me sitting (and only sitting) in silence and remaining open (as Okumuru repeats here "Opening the hand of thought"). At a more sacred level (say) it is a moment of communion at that intersection point between my subjective self and all of reality.

I'm still not all that clear on how the sense fields are "prajna" ("wisdom that sees wisdom" - seems to imply that truth is perceived through the sense but I thought elsewhere that enlightenment was not sensory or intellectual?)

Also, curious as to why Dogen adds "in realization" to this (maybe it's because at some level we are already enlightened?)


Those who are greatly deluded in realization are living beings

Gassho,
Kevin
STLAH

Risho
05-08-2021, 09:25 PM
That's because we are already enlightened [claps], but we have to manifest that enlightenment in our lives; these aren't my words - just paraphrasing; Dogen's hallmark is that all of our life is sacred because all of our life is an opportunity to practice; practice and enlightenment are the same thing. I'm currently reading "Circle of the Way" by Barbara O'brien - to reiterate Jundo and Kirk (from the podcast) it is very good. It seems Dogen got sick and tired of lazy practitioners and made the focus back on practice again, which really led to a revitalization of zazen, which is why Soto is so popular along with Dogen today.

"nothing is hidden" and there is no where to seek for what you already have, but to realize that you need to really engage with your life to see that even dirty diapers (which I'm now very accustomed :D) is the great matter itself. This is why I love zazen; it isn't an escape, it's a practical engagement with our miraculous, crazy short wild ride on this planet.

Gassho

Risho
-stlah

Nengei
05-09-2021, 10:05 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 4, 9 May - 15 May

gassho2 Dear Sangha, it seems that others have enjoyed Flowers Fall, Weeds Grow as much as I. Thank you for your insightful responses to this chapter.

If you are just joining us, there is time to catch up! This is an open group, and I hope you feel welcome to read with us.

This coming week we will read through page 73 in the paperback version, chapter 5, Realization Beyond Realization. This chapter... whoa! [mindblowing]

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. Remember that these are questions that I pulled from my reading, not in any way meant as an assignment.

Questions for Chapter 5: Realization Beyond Realization

1. Repentance can be a heavy concept for people from some religious backgrounds. What baggage am I bringing into my self-talk with regards to repentance? Is repentance in Sōtō Zen any different than, say, the burden of sin in other religious traditions (and how)?

2. Is the non-separateness of all living beings simply a paradigm (a lens through which we see the universe)? Is zazen practice? Why do zazen (this is discussed further in the chapter)?

3. Delusion "... is the reality of human life." How is delusion different from suffering? Consider delusion within delusion and self-centered practice. What do I want from practice?

4. What is "the unity of object and subject?"

I look forward to your thoughts about Realization Beyond Realization. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 92 in the paperback, which is Chapter 6, Dropping Off Body and Mind.


Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
05-10-2021, 02:04 AM
Thank you to everyone participating on this thread.

After reading this chapter, I think a difference in repentance in our practice from many other traditions is that we know our views and understandings are limited, and we expect and accept that we need to constantly correct ourselves. It isn't that we're damned, but that there is something to let go. Of course, if I find I've done harm, I regret it as well.

The non-separateness of all things is a different way of seeing things, but if I don't recognize interconnectedness, I'm likely to make mistakes in how I expect things to work.

Delusions can be happy delusions, but they don't last. Impermanence and interdependence intrude on delusions. I want to learn to see reality and find a certain peace with reality through my practice.

Unity of object and subject is what is experienced when the sense of self drops away. Everything is one. Psychologically, it may be the experience of flow.

Thank you for the questions, Nengei. They were fruitful to reflect on. In writing this post I feel like the visitor a Zen master poured tea for so it overflowed and said it was like the visitor's flow of words so nothing could be taught to him. I will stop now and look forward to what others post.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat

Inshin
05-11-2021, 04:50 PM
"People nowadays rarely seek genuine reality. Therefore, though they are deficient in practice with their bodies and deficient in realization with their minds, they seek the praise of others, wanting others to say that their practice and their understanding are equal. This is exactly what is called delusion within delusion. You should immediately abandon such mistaken thinking."

How often the way we relate to others in our Sangha, the way we ask questions to our teachers comes from self referential point, serves to validate our selves : is my practice good enough? Was my experience valid, meaningful and pointing to something? Etc.


As long as there is this sense of "I" that practices, this "I" will be an obstacle. Yet we have to root our practice in delusion. How else can we do it? How do we address this self-referentiality, the need of self validation in our beginners practice? Is being mindful of this tendencies when they arise enough?

"Our practice is to realize great realization within this great realization, moment by moment; or perhaps it is better to say that great realization realizes great realization through our practice."

I found something similar in Master's Torei writings, who points out that the true practice continues from the point of realizing the the great realization, realizing the truth moment by moment.

How do we work to dissolve this fixation on self?

Gassho
Sat

Dick
05-14-2021, 04:42 PM
1. Repentance can be a heavy concept for people from some religious backgrounds. What baggage am I bringing into my self-talk with regards to repentance? Is repentance in Sōtō Zen any different than, say, the burden of sin in other religious traditions (and how)?

Christian/Catholic repentance and Buddhist repentance both begin with a critical self-examination of past behavior. However, while this Christian examination compares behavior with external standar4ds ( i.e. God’s Commandments), the Buddhist examination compares our behavior against internal standards. The Christian goal of repentance is to receive external approval and forgiveness from an external being (i.e. God). Repentance is done to please God, and involves a great deal of guilt and fear of punishment. In Buddhism, repentance is “lighter” and simply acknowledges our deviation from our own path, and a determination to return to the path we have internally chosen.

2. Is the non-separateness of all living beings simply a paradigm (a lens through which we see the universe)? Is zazen practice? Why do zazen (this is discussed further in the chapter)?

In our daily living, we have no choice but to live self-centered lives. We experience the world thru our six senses (five form senses plus thought) which automatically place us as the “subject” and everything else as the “object” in a world in which we are the center. Everything is experienced in relation to “I”. This results in a self-centered, dualistic view of reality. We just assume that this conventional reality is “correct”.
In zazen, we”… let go of our ego-centered selves and become one with the total interpenetrating reality that is universal reality, or absolute reality.” We become less self-centered and non-dualistic. Zazen allows us to see ultimate reality in a different, more authentic way. One way is not better, or “right”. Neither are they contradictory. The two views compliment each other and together form a true reality.

3. Delusion "... is the reality of human life” How is delusion different from suffering? Consider delusion within delusion and self-centered practice. What do I want from practice?

Delusion produces greed (attachment) which results in suffering. Even within zazen, I can remain deluded by thinking that “I” exists, and by “wanting” something from zazen, by striving to attain something.
What do I want from practice? To see reality in a non self-centered, non-dualistic manner, without greed or “wanting”, to radically accept everything just as it is.

4. What is "the unity of object and subject?"

The realization that they are separate and yet the same, the dependent origination of all things.

I really liked Inshin's comment "...As long as there is this sense of "I" that practices, this "I" will be an obstacle. Yet we have to root our practice in delusion." I keep this in mind not only during zazen, but throughout my daily practice. Very helpful.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Inshin
05-14-2021, 06:44 PM
Repentance can be a heavy concept for people from some religious backgrounds. What baggage am I bringing into my self-talk with regards to repentance? Is repentance in Sōtō Zen any different than, say, the burden of sin in other religious traditions (and how)?


I think there may be an interesting difference between people brought up in Buddhist cultures and those who grew up in Christian ones. Christianity assumes that we are born with the original sin, in Buddhism we believe in basic goodness in everyone. For me it's a striking difference. I see repentance as sort of mindfulness. During the day I notice where I might have been of my Precepts Way, and in a compassionate manner try to understand why. That's the most sufficient way for me to dissolve the habitual patterns.

Gassho
Sat

coriander
05-16-2021, 12:37 AM
I am now up to date on these chapters [happy]. I have really been enjoying this book, especially this last chapter has been so rich and rewarding for orienting me in practice. I will just respond to a couple of questions—thank you Nengei for setting these prompts for discussion and to everyone for this discussion thread.



2. Is the non-separateness of all living beings simply a paradigm (a lens through which we see the universe)? Is zazen practice? Why do zazen (this is discussed further in the chapter)?


Yes. Or, kind of?

Yes, because all conceptions we have about reality using words to talk about it are just lenses through which we see the universe, since reality as we see (express?) on the cushion is not graspable with our conceptual mind.

Or, kind of, because the concept the words “non-separateness of all living beings” tries to capture/describe is reality.

Why do zazen? To bring the light of this reality we cannot see conceptually into our lives so that we can live expressing Buddha rather than only struggling for our ‘selves’.



3. Delusion "... is the reality of human life." How is delusion different from suffering? Consider delusion within delusion and self-centered practice. What do I want from practice?


Delusion is always there so long as there are separate living beings, the separateness is the delusion. Suffering happens to living beings who do not realize that this is delusion.

I liked the comments by Okumura about how a self-centred goal is what drives us to get on the cushion in the first place. But then in practice we realize this too is delusion because there is no independent self? So... what do I want from practice? Just before I sit, to see reality. But when sitting, to just let this desire go and let it all go. At least, this is how I’m understanding it at the moment…

gassho2,
Charity
SatLaH

Tairin
05-16-2021, 01:46 PM
Great section. Thank you all for reading along and your thoughts.


In zazen, our practice is to let go of our fabricated mental map, to open the hand of thought, and thereby sit down on the ground of reality. Thinking can only produce a distorted mental copy of the world, and this copy is based on karmic experiences.

Okamura uses this phrase of sitting down on the ground of reality (my emphasis) several times in this section. I really like the image it portrays. Being grounded and firm, not floating along maybe lost in our own worlds but here and now firmly grounded in reality

1. Is repentance in Sōtō Zen any different than, say, the burden of sin in other religious traditions (and how)?

I can’t really say how they are different. Although i come from a Christian background I don’t think repentance played a big part. Maybe it plays a bigger part in some other Christian traditions like Catholic Church. I know that Atonement has become a big part of my practice. I recite the Verse of Atonement each night before bed, recalling specific moments where I could have done better, particularly as it comes to the Precepts.

2. Is the non-separateness of all living beings simply a paradigm (a lens through which we see the universe)? Is zazen practice? Why do zazen (this is discussed further in the chapter)?

I don’t see how it can be simply a paradigm. At the very least we are obviously here because of our parents and they are (were) here because of their parents. The food we eat comes from somewhere. So does the water. What about the air?

3. Delusion "... is the reality of human life." How is delusion different from suffering? Consider delusion within delusion and self-centered practice. What do I want from practice?

Delusion is a form of suffering.

4. What is "the unity of object and subject?"

Every moment.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Nengei
05-18-2021, 11:47 AM
Hello Sangha,

My apologies for being a couple of days behind; I have been traveling and I have been ill. The timing was fortuitous a I had already planned to have the first of two extra weeks for folks to catch up and/or make progress on what we have covered so far.

Such nice replies, and thoughtful responses so far!

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
05-18-2021, 03:25 PM
Metta, Nengei. I hope you feel better soon. Thank you for facilitating this discussion.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Dick
05-18-2021, 03:55 PM
Nengei - I'll echo Onkai's comments. Thanks for facilitating this discussion. It is appreciated.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Nengei
05-24-2021, 01:21 AM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 6, 23 May - 29 May

gassho2
Dear Sangha, what fantastic responses folks had to Chapter 5, Realization Beyond Realization! I am please to see you participating, and if you are just joining us, welcome!

We had one extra week built in to allow anyone who needed to catch up to do so. And now we will move on to Chapter 6: Dropping Off Body and Mind. This will take us through 92 in the paperback; all of chapter 6 for you electronic readers.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. Remember that these are questions that I pulled from my reading, not in any way meant as an assignment. There are no right or wrong answers, an it is fine to not answer or to come up with your own questions.

Questions for Chapter 6: Dropping Off Body and Mind:

1. What is the self? Is there a self? Has your concept of self changed through these readings and Dharma practice in general?

2. What does opening the hand of thought mean to you? Can you relate opening the hand of thought to becoming familiar with the self?

3. What was Dōgen saying when he wrote of dropping off body and mind? What is meant by be verified by all things?

Okay, those are heavy duty questions.


I look forward to your thoughts about Realization Beyond Realization. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 107 in the paperback, which is Chapter 7, When We Seek We are Far Away.


Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
05-25-2021, 10:24 PM
Thank you to everyone on this thread. There's a lot to reflect on. My sense of self has softened since starting my practice. I find different responses to situations and different results. Who I am was not defined ahead of time. I can see intellectually that in a sense there is no self at all, yet my deepest feeling is that there is an individual, or at least an individuality experiencing the relative world. I guess that is where opening the hand of thought comes in. That to me is setting aside, for a time, my goals, wishes, and emotions, letting them arise but then watching them give way to the next thing or mix differently with different parts of my understanding. My experiences of dropping off body and mind are when I forget myself in what I am doing, and what I'm doing becomes the whole universe to me. That may be a misunderstanding, because it isn't so much related to zazen. Lately I have been restless in zazen making me self-conscious.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Dick
05-26-2021, 10:40 PM
1. What is the self? Is there a self? Has your concept of self changed through these readings and Dharma practice in general?

A person experiences the world thru their 6 senses ( 5 conventional form senses plus thought). For example, when the eye first perceives an image of a tree, the information is transmitted to the brain. That information is compared with past experiences, “stories” of similar phenomena, and an “object” is created, with the brain as the “subject”. The entire world, the universe is experienced in relation to this brain, this “subject”. This brain, this “subject” is our created “self”. This self is our own creation and is constantly changing as it receives and processes new experiences.
We delude ourselves into believing that: 1. this “self” is independently real, 2. this self is a separate subject and that everything else in the universe is an object and 3. that everything that happens is only important in as far as it affects the self.
Emptiness teaches us that there is no permanent self, and that everything is subject to dependent origination. Chap. 6 takes this one step further and seems to propose that while a self of some kind does exist, it only exists in conjunction with the object being perceived and the action of perception. Chap. 6 approaches the question of the self with “…there is no such thing as a self that is separate from our activity…” (italics mine). This refutes the subject-object duality and posits that the subject (self), object and action are linked and working together in one reality. To understand the self, you really need to look at everything.
I used not think that the self existed, but just not in a permanent, unchanging manner. I can now see that this thinking perpetuated a dualistic, “me vs them” way of thinking. It prevented me from seeing the true connected-ness of everything. In zazen we drop all thoughts of self, drop all judgements, evaluations, opinions and just accept everything as it is. I can see that this is not just a “tolerance” for different things, but rather a true acceptance that everything is just as it should be – nothing needs to be changed.

2. What does opening the hand of thought mean to you? Can you relate opening the hand of thought to becoming familiar with the self?

“Opening the hand of thought” is mentioned only briefly in Chap. 6 and is never explicitly defined. To me, it seems to suggest a broader view of the self beyond just the individual and to include other beings and the environment. Perhaps, this is what we do in zazen – drop our restrictions of me, mine, you, yours, good, bad, and just accept the connectedness of everything.

3. What was Dōgen saying when he wrote of dropping off body and mind? What is meant by be verified by all things?

“Dropping off body and mind” is zazen, in which we drop the 5 desires and the 5 coverings, just sitting with acceptance. We discard the “clothing”, the costume that we wear and see our real selvers. To be verified by all things is to realize the reality of interdependent origination, to drop the separation between self and others.

Chap. 6 has been extremely powerful and “meaty”, with a lot of information to think on. I can tell this is a chapter I will need to re-read a number of time to fully appreciate.

Gassho
Dick
Sat/lah

coriander
05-27-2021, 09:26 PM
Another thank you to Nengei for facilitating.

I found the prompting questions this week very helpful. I had already read the chapter and when I went back to it with these questions I found a lot more. I agree with Dick that this chapter reveals more on re-reading.

1. What is the self? Is there a self? Has your concept of self changed through these readings and Dharma practice in general?

Okumura, explaining Dōgen, says the self cannot be separated from activity: jijuyu-zanmai (Dōgen), “self ‘selfing’ the self” (Sawaki Kōdō Rōshi), or “no runner is separate from the act of running” (Okumura).

I like this, but I will need some time to absorb it to become my own concept of self.

But then, it is possibly not my own ‘concept’ of self that I should expect to adjust. If the Buddha Way is beyond conceptualisation then I’m not going to ‘get it’ in the way I expect to (as a concept). This is something I have started noticing through zazen practice.

Okumura writes, “Yet when we think or speak, we use concepts and we must therefore say, ‘I study the self,’ or ‘I study the Buddha Way.’ So the important point is that we should just study and just practice.” – i.e. just do it, don’t get stuck on conceptualising or trying to fully understand before doing. Later Okumura writes, “Even when we don’t realize it, self, action, and object are working together as one reality, so we don’t need to train ourselves to make them into one thing in our minds.”

2. What does opening the hand of thought mean to you? Can you relate opening the hand of thought to becoming familiar with the self?

When Okumura breaks down the words ‘study the self’ he says it is like a bird learning to fly from its parents, something already innate but that still needs to be learned by example. So from this point of view studying / becoming familiar with the self is practicing being something we already are, which we do by dropping all our concepts (opening the hand of thought).

3. What was Dōgen saying when he wrote of dropping off body and mind? What is meant by be verified by all things?

Dōgen took this concept from his teacher, Rujing. I found this passage of Dōgen recalling Rujing especially helpful in showing me that dropping off body and mind is linked to compassion. Combining this with the comment that dropping off body and mind is dropping the 5 desires and 5 coverings, then it is about dropping off the selfish concepts of body and mind as separate with selfish desires. As Okumura said, it is letting go of roles and self-images and the separation between self and others.



In Hōkyōki , Dōgen recorded one more conversation with his teacher concerning dropping off body and mind:
Rujing said, “The zazen of arhats[11] and pratyekabuddhas[12] is free of attachment yet it lacks great compassion. Their zazen is therefore different from the zazen of the buddhas and ancestors; the zazen of buddhas and ancestors places primary importance on great compassion and the vow to save all living beings. Non-Buddhist practitioners in India also practice zazen, yet they have the three sicknesses, namely attachment, mistaken views, and arrogance. Therefore, their zazen is different from the zazen of the buddhas and ancestors. Sravakas[13] also practice zazen, and yet their compassion is weak because they don’t penetrate the true reality of all beings with wisdom. They practice only to improve themselves and in so doing cut off the seeds of Buddha. Therefore, their zazen is also different from the zazen of the buddhas and ancestors. In buddhas’ and ancestors’ zazen, they wish to gather all Buddha Dharma from the time they first arouse bodhi-mind. Buddhas and ancestors do not forget or abandon living beings in their zazen; they offer a heart of compassion even to an insect. Buddhas and ancestors vow to save all living beings and dedicate all the merit of their practice to all living beings. They therefore practice zazen within the world of desire,[14] yet even within the world of desire they have the best connection with this Jambudvipa.[15] Buddhas and ancestors practice many virtues generation after generation and allow their minds to be flexible.” (pp. 58-60 in Google Play version)


gassho2
Charity
SatLaH

Nengei
05-31-2021, 05:18 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 7, 30 May - 5 June


Dear Sangha, it is wonderful to have folks reading along and thinking about Genjōkōan so deeply. gassho2

This week we will move on to Chapter 7: When We Seek We Are Far Away. This will take us through page 107 in the paperback; all of chapter 7 if you are using the ebook. I love this chapter! When I read it, I feel as though it is expressing the weavings of understanding that come from experience with shikantaza. Maybe you will see something different.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

Questions for Chapter 7:When We Seek We Are Far Away:

1. Okumura starts this chapter by reviewing three perspectives of reality from the first three sections of Genjōkōan. What are some reasons Dōgen might have chosen to teach in this fashion? What is the importance of "the concrete life experience of practice?"

2. Is enlightenment dependent on recognizing delusion (On the philosophical level of: Are we born having sinned? Do the ultimate rewards of faith come from faith alone, or are good works required?)?

3. Why do you do zazen?

4. Does the bell make the sound, or does the wind make the sound?

I look forward to your thoughts about When We Seek We Are Far Away. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 126 in the paperback, which is Chapter 7, Past and Future Are Cut Off.


Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
05-31-2021, 10:07 PM
After reading this chapter, I feel I can't say anything about it directly; I can only sit with it. Yet the chapter is satisfying, full of paradox that conveys something different every time I read it or ponder it.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Seikan
06-02-2021, 04:47 AM
Onkai's above note about this chapter actually sums up my whole experience with the book so far. Each chapter has provided me with one or more unexpected "aha" moments that I continue to sit with. Why did I wait so long to read this book? :p

For example, in the last Chapter (6), there was one sentence that just hit me the right way:
"This just sitting in zazen is itself the practice of nirvana."

Have I been taught this before? Certainly, albeit in different words/contexts. However, this particular wording was like a bolt of lightning in the middle of the night. I simply had to stop reading and just sit for a moment before finishing that chapter.

So again, my apologies for not contributing much to the discussion so far. I have been following along and enjoying both the reading and the dialogue here. As I finish the current chapter (7), I'll see if I can't muster up something more worthwhile to share. ;)

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-

Dick
06-02-2021, 05:12 PM
1. Okumura starts this chapter by reviewing three perspectives of reality from the first three sections of Genjōkōan. What are some reasons Dōgen might have chosen to teach in this fashion?

Dogen’s method follows the way many people come to understand reality, the progression most people take. First, he explains how, as non-Buddhists, we value life and living, and how we greedily pursue accumulating material things in a mistaken belief that it will make us happy. Them, he explains how, as “new” Buddhists, we learn that this greed, this attachment is a major source of our dissatisfaction, our suffering. He explains how dualistic thinking (i.e. “Me” vs everything else} remains a source of our suffering even as we learn that generosity and compassion can reduce our suffering. He then explains how, even when we zazen, if we do so in an attempt to “attain” something, to “get” something, we remain deluded. The next stage for many people is to stop striving, stop “wanting” and just accept things as they are. However, Dogen explains how most people still think of themselves as separate from everything else, viewing things from outside. The next stage is to lose the separateness, but to see everything as one, as connected, how we don’t live “with the world” but “in the world”. . Dogen explains how even this stage is not true reality. Finally, Dogen explains how seeing both separate and together, different yet unified is the true reality.

What is the importance of "the concrete life experience of practice?"

Here Dogen is talking about life and death, not as separate, independent phenomena, but rather as inter-dependent. Rather than thinking of death as the “end” 0of something, we are encouraged to see life and death as simply a continuation of then “dance”.

2. Is enlightenment dependent on recognizing delusion

Per Dogen “…delusion and enlightenment exist only in relationship between the self and all … beings…” When we act with striving, grasping, wanting, we act with delusion. Enlightenment comes when we stop grasping, stop wanting, even if that “wanting” is to “want” enlightenment. We need to recognize our deluded state, our delusion before we can escape it and reach enlightenment.

On the philosophical level of: Are we born having sinned?

How could I possibly be born having sinned? “When” was I supposed to have sinned? In a past life? When “I” was born, the only thing carried over from any past life might be a karma-disposed habitual tendency of how to act. Plus, all that exists is the present. The past, whatever it entails, is gone.

Do the ultimate rewards of faith come from faith alone, or are good works required?)?

Our primary sources of suffering are greed/attachment, anger and ignorance. Overcoming these involve generosity, compassion and wisdom realizing emptiness. Generosity and compassion generally involve good works. So, yes, ultimate “rewards” do require good works.

3. Why do you do zazen?

Initially, I did zazen because I wanted to “achieve” something, to “attain” something. Dogen explains how this simply replaces one attachment for another, how I remained “greedy” for something. I do zazen now to “stop thinking”, find that space between thoughts, and see how not only am I connected to everything but that I am part of everything – not to simply observe the world as a separate observer, but to see it from the inside, as a integral, inter-dependent part of everything.

4. Does the bell make the sound, or does the wind make the sound?

Neither. The sound does not exist independently, but rather is dependent on everything else. The sound is a result of causes and conditions – the bell, the wind, space, time, a “hearer”. Put the bell in a box, blocking the wind – no sound. Wrap the bell in a blanket – no sound. Put the bell in New York and the wind in London – no sound.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

coriander
06-04-2021, 10:07 PM
I agree with Onkai and Seikan, this chapter gives a sense of needing to sit with the ideas. This is especially reinforced when Okumura discusses how he understands these concepts through practice.

1. Okumura starts this chapter by reviewing three perspectives of reality from the first three sections of Genjōkōan. What are some reasons Dōgen might have chosen to teach in this fashion? What is the importance of "the concrete life experience of practice?"
I like Dick’s answer on this gassho2


Dogen’s method follows the way many people come to understand reality, the progression most people take. … However, Dogen explains how most people still think of themselves as separate from everything else, viewing things from outside. The next stage is to lose the separateness, but to see everything as one, as connected, how we don’t live “with the world” but “in the world”. . Dogen explains how even this stage is not true reality. Finally, Dogen explains how seeing both separate and together, different yet unified is the true reality.

3. Why do you do zazen?
I do zazen because I remember a time I was better for having done it, so I believe it is worthwhile and works toward the values of Buddhism. Without this memory and belief, I suppose I wouldn’t do it. So I must always have some goal or intention before I sit zazen. Okumura talks about how we always start with an intention, then realise this is getting in the way of our practice and we have to drop it and just sit.

I think this is again like what Dick said above, these are two perspectives of one reality: I have intention and I drop intention. I cannot lose this intention completely or I would never sit zazen, but I have to drop it at the same time.

4. Does the bell make the sound, or does the wind make the sound?
The bell and the wind act together. Another version of the boat and the shore.

I was struggling to see the relationship between these passages about things acting as one and the chapter topic of seeking and being far away. I found this line from Okumura helpful: “it usually seems that things around us are changing and moving while we stay the same, and we try to find the underlying principle of this change so that we can control things” – by seeking we are trying to control things, but our sense of being a fixed person who controls a changing world is a delusion.

If you asked me if I believed that I am fixed while the world changed, I would have said no, but when I read that line by Okumura, I realised that I do feel that in some way when I try to change things.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this yet. I guess I will just sit…

gassho2
Charity
sat

Dick
06-05-2021, 02:31 AM
I really liked Charity's comment "...by seeking we are trying to control things, but our sense of being a fixed person who controls a changing world is a delusion..." You are right - I often see myself as a fixed being in a changing universe, as the fixed point around which everything changing revolves. This reminds me how delusional this is. Thanks

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Inshin
06-05-2021, 04:30 PM
What is the importance of "the concrete life experience of practice?"



It's crucial, isn't it? The embodiment of Buddha's teachings. He showed us the path, and we only can use his teachings as signposts. The true practice is us embodying the Dharma, through our bodies.


Is enlightenment dependent on recognizing delusion (On the philosophical level of: Are we born having sinned? Do the ultimate rewards of faith come from faith alone, or are good works required?)?

I think that enlightenment is dependent on realising our true nature, and that delusion exists within this true nature - they are not separate. We are born with true nature and delusion, I don't believe in original sin.
Faith is not enough, we need to cultivate compassion and good deeds are required to dissolve chains of self absorption.


Why do you do Zazen?
After sitting every day for nearly a year I have actually stopped doing zazen for about 2 weeks (with occasional sitting here and there as opposed to aiming for 2 hrs per day) to see what happens, to check if I haven't become a bit to preoccupied with the practice, attached somehow and to re-evaluate my motivation.
I can't put it into words but in that period it felt sometimes like if Zazen was seeking Zazen during my daily activities. I would sometimes naturally fall into this accepting, observing spaciousness. I'm back to my regular routine now, I've missed it. I thought I knew why I did Zazen before, now I'm not sure anymore. It just feels right, even if the stuff arising during Zazen is "not right".


Does the bell make the sound, or does the wind make the sound?

"Ding-dong-a-ling ding-dong"
"Does the sound exist even if no one hears it?"


Gassho
Sat

Tairin
06-06-2021, 03:30 PM
Onkai and Seikan nailed it. I find it hard to comment on the readings because there are many “ah ha” moments that I just can’t even begin to express in better words than those Okumura used. Plenty to sit with.

Why do I sit Zazen? No question that initially it was to gain something. Enlightenment? Peace? Calm? Yes and more. Now? Well honestly I am not so sure anymore why I sit. It has become a habitual part of my day. Having said that it is also a (usually) enjoyable part of my day that I look forward to.

Thank you all for your thoughts.

Side note: I like the pace we are reading the book at. Not too fast and not too slow.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Nengei
06-07-2021, 04:27 AM
Great discussion happening here, folks! You are going to get a couple of extra days before the next chapter post as I am working ten days in a row, long shifts. I'm off on Tuesday so should have your next set of discussion questions sometime on that day.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
06-07-2021, 12:37 PM
gassho2

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat

Nengei
06-20-2021, 09:17 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 8, 20 June - 26 June


Dear Sangha, okay, break's over. My apologies for the delay in continuing our discussion of this excellent text. I have been overwhelmingly busy as I am retiring from a 30-year career in nursing today, and preparing to open an art school in a couple of months.

This week we will move on to Chapter 8: Past and Future are Cut Off. This will take us through page 126 in the paperback; all of chapter 8 if you are using the ebook. The section of Genjōkōan being consider has a heavy message of now-ness: As the firewood never becomes firewood again after it has burned to ash, there is no return to living after a person dies.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

Questions for Chapter 8:Past and Future are Cut Off:

1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

I look forward to your thoughts about Past and Future are Cut Off. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 142 in the paperback, which is Chapter 9, The Moon in Water.


Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
06-21-2021, 01:39 AM
Thank you, Nengei, and everyone here. I tried jotting down notes about what this chapter brought up for me and my associations, but my notes read like the gibberish of trying to write down the contents of a dream. The only thing I noted that really made sense was that the last part, "Life, Death, and Time" was a lesson in for me and changed my focus. The best I can express it is that it made me see how immediate practice and the present moment are, and yet how ungraspable. I want to dwell on it more, including Uchiyama Roshi's poems.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Dick
06-23-2021, 04:44 PM
1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

Past, present, future – the whole concept of “time” is somewhat mysterious. Is “time” something that we discovered…. Or invented? I was struck by the comment “… Commonly, we think of time as a stream that flows like a river from the beginningless past to the endless future…Yet this is not the true nature of life and death…Each stage or dharma position of living and dying can only be experienced in the present moment, and the present moment does not have any length…” I previously thought about time in a linear fashion – past, present and future happen one after another in a straight line. We emphasize living in the present, saying the past is over and the future has not happened yet. We treat the present as a defined block of time on which we can focus. Yet, in this chapter, we see that the “present” exists only in relation to the past and to the future AND that this “present” exists only as a momentary meeting of past and future. Like everything else, this “present” is empty. How can you focus on something which instantly changes? Yet, this “present” is the only reality which actually exists!

My thoughts?
1. Time is not linear but rather is spherical. Beginning, birth, life, death, ending do not happen in a straight line. Rather, birth, life, death simply follow after each other continuously.
2. Conventionally, we spend most of our time regretting and re-living the past or imagining the future. While learning from the past and planning for the future are critical, consistently bringing our thinking back to the present can significantly reduce our suffering. However, I now see this version of the “present” as nothing more than a shortened combination of my past and future.
3. Perhaps, the only way to really reduce my focusing on the past and the future is NOT to try to focus on the present, but rather to just stop thinking about the past and the future, period – exactly what we do in zazen.


2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

For linear thinkers, death is a major problem. We are born, we live, we age, we die, and then… what? Some think we are reborn. How does that work? Who decides what we are reborn AS? Very problematic. After death, what is left to be re-born? Certainly, not form. And, without form, you can’t have sensations, perceptions, or consciousness. You are left with mental formations or mental dispositions, affected but not determined by our karma. So, what is available to be reborn is a habitual mental tendency. Perhaps this is why identical twins, from the moment of birth, often react differently to the same stimuli. For spherical thinkers, death is not an end but just a continuation of existence in another form. I like the metaphor of life as a drop of water. A drop of water evaporates and becomes a cloud, which condenses and becomes snow, which falls, melts and becomes a river, which winds down to the sea, which forms a wave, which crashes upon the shore, showering the land with – drops of water.
In the end, perhaps, we shouldn’t care if anything transmigrates after death. After all, all that really exists is the present. Perhaps, we should simply focus on that.


3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

This chapter was a little confusing to me on this topic. We are assured that things will change. And, that both life and death are impermanent. Life and death are simply positions in time. Death is not the “end” of anything, but simply a stage on a continuum. Just as a drop of water evaporates and “dies”, only to become a cloud, so too, at the end of life, we “die” and become – what? That remains the great unknown, but it is “something”, And, won’t it be exciting to find out what?

I am really interested in what other readers have to say about this chapter.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

Inshin
06-26-2021, 10:20 AM
This is by far my favourite chapter, so much to unpack.

1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

My thoughts rarely dwell in the past, and if they do bring it back it's like remembering
a dream.
My thoughts also rarely imagine future, just the necessary planning stuff. I've always struggled to answer to popular interview question "where do you see yourself in 5 years time". I guess that's why I've never achieved any success.

Present moment : how could we even define it? What would be the smallest measure of time we could come up with to mesure it? Yet it seems like there is no other moment than the one in which we experience our existence.

2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

Okumara asks the same question I've struggled a lot with "is there anything in impermanence that doesn't change"? The more I sit the less I'm concerned about it and the more I enjoy the flow of change.
There's a popular story that many people find comforting how TNH after his mother's death found her presence in his own steps, in the reflection of moonlight, etc.

For me though, Dogen's words:

"As the firewood never becomes firewood again after it has burned to ash, there is no return to living after a person dies."
brought the final closure after my father's death. A shock and a relief. And I don't understand completely why.


3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

That we don't really have much time.
In this precious relatively short existence we are fortunate enough to have come across Dharma, yet how much time do we genuinely dedicate to practice? 1-2hr a day? What do we do with the rest of 22-23 hrs left?
Having realised the sanctity of it all, how do I express it moment by moment, in my speach, conduct and each action? How do I treat everything with the same sacredness that I treated my newborn son, that I treat Zazen?

Gassho
Sat

Tairin
06-26-2021, 02:50 PM
Thank you Nengei for leading these discussions. Thank you everyone for your thoughts.

1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?
2. What transmigrates? Should we care?
3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

For me all of these questions really come back to “Who am I? Who is this self?” I once was so sure. I had spent a lifetime of building up the stories and mythology that made up my life. I felt certain about some sort of constant (ego perhaps) between my past, present, and future, where that future also included time after death. Certainly as I get older and the more I practice the more i see that I’ve been constraining myself to someone I thought I should be. As I unravel my stories I see a freedom to be who I am now. That freedom lessens the burden of being like my past self or obsessing about my future.

I think it comes down to not knowing and being ok with not knowing.

I know I didn’t directly answer the questions but I hope my answer makes some sense.


gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Dick
06-26-2021, 08:34 PM
Tairin - I really liked your comment "...it comes down to not knowing and being ok with not knowing...." Very powerful insight.

Gassho

Dick
Sat/lah

coriander
06-27-2021, 02:52 AM
I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, thank you all.

And thank you Nengei for the time you have spent on writing questions for us amid your busy schedule. I can tell you these have been very valuable for me. When I've had time, I've been pre-reading the chapter before your post questions, and returning to it again after you post questions. I find this way I see new things or get more depth out of thinking it through to share with this group.

1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

Cause and effect (karma) depends on time. But it is through our conceptualisations that we see things becoming other things - we draw mental borders around segments of reality and give them names. A person. Firewood. Ash.

Okumura uses an acorn as an example. He says as we see it from our usual view, an acorn sprouts and becomes a tree. But, we see it this way because we draw a mental border around part of the universe—an acorn—and as we focus on that segment we see it become a tree. But actually, the process of growing and sprouting involves many more aspects of the surrounding environment, the dirt, the sunshine, the air, all coming and going and giving and taking in the process.

If I drop the mental borders around things, the conceptual descriptions, then… I don’t know what my thoughts are about past, present and future!

Okumura discusses the present moment being all that we ever experience at any time. This makes sense, but it is hard to grasp while I constantly think in concepts about the past and future. Oh, but then he explains this too: our mind cannot grasp it.

I liked this paragraph: “Reality unfolds only within this present moment, and yet our mind cannot grasp this present moment. This is so because even to think a very simple thought we need some length of time, yet the present moment has no length; the present moment is the only actual moment, the only actual immediate experience, and it cannot be grasped by the mind. Yet we each think of the present moment as having some length of time, and we place it in the midst of our own story, a story in which we are the hero or heroine.” (p. 78, Google books version)

2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

Any segment of reality we draw a border around will transmigrate into something else, as things are changing all the time. Perhaps it is better to think of transmigration as a process, a universal doing, rather than thinking of what or who is doing it?

3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

When we practice, it is the best thing to do with our time.

gassho2,
Charity
sat/lah

Onkai
06-27-2021, 12:46 PM
Any segment of reality we draw a border around will transmigrate into something else, as things are changing all the time. Perhaps it is better to think of transmigration as a process, a universal doing, rather than thinking of what or who is doing it?

I find this statement by Charity to be a new and helpful way to express the constant change and birth and death of each moment. Thank you.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Seikan
07-17-2021, 04:10 AM
1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

I'm honestly still digesting this one, but there's something in how Okumura described the present moment in this chapter that really resonated with me. It wasn't a radical departure from how I have conceptualized it in the past, but thanks to this reading, my zazen has a fresh "sharpness" of focus (if that makes sense). It's still too soon to comment further.

Like with every chapter in this book so far, I have an initial reaction immediately following the reading, but Okumura's teachings take a while to settle in and ripen. After a few periods of zazen over several days, his words start to sink in deeper and take root. I'm finding that I don't have much to verbalize about each chapter, yet each one has had a very tangible effect on my own practice. I wish I could elucidate more right now, but perhaps with more time and practice.

That said, with regard to all notions of a "self" and transmigration, etc., I thought that Okumura's inclusion of Uchiyama's poem "Life and Death" sums it all up perfectly:



Water isn't formed by being ladled into a bucket
Simply the water of the whole Universe has been ladled into a bucket
The water does not disappear because it has been scattered over the ground
It is only that the water of the whole Universe has been emptied into the whole Universe
Life is not born because a person is born
The life of the whole Universe has been ladled into the hardened "idea" called "I"
Life does not disappear because a person dies
Simply, the life of the whole Universe has been poured out of this hardened "idea" of "I" back into the Universe

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-

Shōnin Risa Bear
07-17-2021, 04:25 AM
Very humbled and pleased by this discussion. I bow to you all. _()_ _()_ _()_

gassho
sat and some lah, d shonin

Nengei
08-18-2021, 09:46 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 9, 18 August - 22 August


Dearest Sangha,

Well, the best laid plans, and all... The time since my change in career status has been overwhelming. I spent over three weeks at my mentor's studio in New Jersey, working 12-14 hour days to complete a portrait (it's pretty cool) and observe his school in operation. After driving back to Minnesota, I immediately went to work preparing the space I am renting for my own school, and it just opened a couple of days ago. I have a few students registered, but am still waiting for things to take off. My hope is that the bulk of the manual labor is finished and now I can find a routine. No excuses, though, only apologies. I let you down. I am sorry.

This week we will move on to Chapter 9: The Moon in Water, pages 127-142 in the paperback or all of chapter 9 in the ebook. This chapter is about realization... I think. Parts of it made me feel warm and fuzzy, but perhaps I was sitting reading too long and started to mould. I found the linguistics discussion in the first couple of pages to be particularly thought-stimulating. You?

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

Questions for Chapter 9:The Moon in Water:

1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

3. Discuss the meaning of mind as "the reality of our lives."

I look forward to your thoughts about The Moon in Water. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 155 in the paperback, which is Chapter 10, Something is Still Lacking.


Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Tairin
08-21-2021, 11:56 PM
Welcome back Nengei. Do you intend on continuing with this study through Ango? I am game if others are.


1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

I have a problem with the use of the word “emptiness”. In understand what concept is trying to be conveyed but I think “emptiness“ misses the mark.

2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

I liked this reference. I had a prof back in my university days that had a saying about the Greeks vs the Romans. The Greeks sat around philosophizing while the Romans were practical and got things done.

I think there is a little of that here. Rather than just pondering the philosophy of Buddhism Dogen was living it in practice. It wasn’t just an intellectual exercises.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Jundo
08-22-2021, 12:29 AM
Hi Guys,

I might suggest pausing this group during Ango, as there is much other study going on. Maybe pick up afterwards? Is that okay?

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

coriander
08-22-2021, 03:11 AM
Hi Guys,

I might suggest pausing this group during Ango, as there is much other study going on. Maybe pick up afterwards? Is that okay?

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

Yes, that would work well for me, as I will be doing Ango and Jukai for the first time, trying to navigate making extra space in my life for those practices.

But I will also post about Chapter 9 as soon as I can, since we have another week or so before Ango starts :)

Gassho,
Charity
sat

Nengei
08-22-2021, 03:20 AM
Oops, sorry, of course. I tried to take my last post down but for some reason it won't let me. People can ignore it.

Jundo
08-22-2021, 07:01 AM
Oops, sorry, of course. I tried to take my last post down but for some reason it won't let me. People can ignore it.

Oh, we are not starting Ango until September 3rd. No need to stop early.

Gassho, Jundo

STLaf

Dick
08-23-2021, 02:57 PM
I finished my Chap. 9 comments offline before I saw the suggestion to pause during Ango. I, too, am doing Ango and Jukai for the first time, and agree a pause makes sense. With that, my comments:

1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

Emptiness is a characteristic of all conditioned phenomena (all beings, objects, thoughts, feelings, etc.), but is most easily seen in tangible “stuff”, and states that all such phenomena re “empty” of any independent, inherent essence. Rather, all phenomena are dependent on other phenomena. The object in my garage, “my car” certainly is “really there”, it exists, but just not as an independent entity. Rather, it exists as a combination of steel, plastic, rubber, glass, workman’s skill, time and space. It is not “the same as” the car in my neighbor’s garage, but it has not inherent identity. Realizing this, it is easier to avoid attachment to the car, to getting greedy that it is “mine”, and to see all things in this way and to avoid jealousy over someone else’s car.
The ”moon in water”, the reflection of the moon, is not the same as the moon itself. Just as my mind’s perception of ANYTHING is not the same as the thing itself. Knowing this, I can realize that my mind colors perceptions based on my past experiences.


2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"
A philosopher may intellectually understand the concepts, but a Master has integrated the concepts into his being.

3. Discuss the meaning of mind as "the reality of our lives."
How do we experience reality? Our senses send raw perceptions to our mind. Our mind compares these perceptions with past experiences, our “stories” of the world, and our mind then creates a reality. In this way, our mind creates our own reality.

Gassho

Dick

Sat/lah

coriander
08-24-2021, 09:22 PM
Hi all,

Thank you again Nengei for your thoughtful questions.

1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

I reviewed my notes from this chapter and I’ve had trouble forming an answer to this based on my reading. Okumura discusses lot of word play by Dogen, with words like moon conveying multiple things at once, as well as recalling known Buddhist symbols and teachings (e.g., Vimalakirti Sutra: “all things are like.. magical illusions.. like a reflection of the moon in the water.. born of mental construction.”)

If I try to answer based on my feelings after both reading and sitting over time, I will say… the moon in the water represents how our conceptual thought distorts and does not fully represent the wholeness of reality, but at the same time these thoughts thinking and the reflection reflecting are the workings/functioning of the whole as much anything else. Emptiness is maybe the wholeness/totality, appearing as nothing by being everything, like how light has no colour when all the colours come together?

I also like Dick's answer about emptiness, as it makes me think of it as shorthand for 'empty of independent existence.' And Tairin's answer, too, as emptiness as a word does seem to miss the mark without adding a lot of extra oomph to it.

Not sure if this is part of my answer to this question, but I liked this bit from Okumura, “seeing reality from both sides [absolute and relative truth], without clinging to either, is the middle path.” Referring to Dogen: “Without relying on everyday common practices [i.e., relative truths], the absolute truth cannot be expressed.” – I think this is something I grapple with understanding.

2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

Allowing Buddha to express Buddha through you instead of trying to problem solve to find Buddha. Not sure what counted as 'the obvious' to go beyond it, though :D

Gassho,
Charity
sat/lah

Nengei
08-25-2021, 06:04 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 9, 25 August - 29 August

Hello Sangha,

We have but three chapters remaining in this text. See below for how you can approach this pre-/post-Ango.

The more I learn, the less I know. I am limited by my ability to perceive. I know that there is more that I am unable to comprehend.

This week we will move on to Chapter 10: Something is Still Lacking, pages 143-155 in the paperback or all of chapter 10 in the ebook.

Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as you read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

Questions for Chapter 10:Something is Still Lacking:

1. What can I learn or change with the knowledge that my existence is original?

2. Does seeing something in a way that is different from the way other beings see it change the nature of that thing (pay attention to the excerpt from Shōbōgenzō Sansuikyo and commentary)?

3. Does knowing or being aware of inexhaustible characteristics or views influence my bodhisattva obligations?

I look forward to your thoughts about Something is Still Lacking Next week, we will continue with the following TWO chapters, through page 201 in the paperback, which are Chapters 11 and 10, A Fish Swims, A Bird Flies; and We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywhere. This will be the end of Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo (all that remain are appendices). I will make two separate posts in a few days to bring this book to a close. Feel at liberty to conclude your reading then, or to postpone the last chapter or both of these chapters until after Ango concludes, as you prefer.


Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
08-25-2021, 06:43 PM
1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

I think we're all reflections I Indra's Net. To understand, as Dogen said in Bendowa, is to let go of the separation of self and other. We do exist, but we can't pin down a separate existence. We are interdependent.

2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

Practice means seeing and experiencing immediately and concretely as a Zen master. A philosopher deals with abstract intellectual ideas.

3. Discuss the meaning of mind as "the reality of our lives."

I don't know if this is the big mind that includes everything or if this refers to our perception which is shaped by our inclinations. If we have habitual responses, they shape our reality. If we drop the separation of self and other, we have a bigger reality.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Inshin
08-25-2021, 09:58 PM
I really liked Okumara's approach to his Zazen practice, which he perceived as an offering of his body and mind to all buddhas. It's quite striking when we compare it with the modern attitude of getting something out of Zazen, treating it as relaxation method, anxiety relief, meditation technique, etc.

I also liked the following from Dogen:
"Realization does not destroy the person, as the moon does not make a hole in the water. The person does not obstruct realization, as a drop of dew does not obstruct the moon in the sky."

In some other Buddhsit and spiritual traditions I came across the "Great Death" of ego. Perhaps I misunderstood this, but I don't see a point in trying to destroy or fight our "small self". Both Nirvana and Samsara are empty, both our True Nature and the deluded "small nature" are empty. I guess we all came across teachings saying that the treasure we are looking for is not somewhere "out there" but inside us. I don't think it is entirely correct. When the borders soften, when the "inside" and "outside" are not so obvious anymore, all of it becomes a treasure.

Same as Charity I liked this bit from Okumura, “seeing reality from both sides [absolute and relative truth], without clinging to either, is the middle path.” Referring to Dogen: “Without relying on everyday common practices [i.e., relative truths], the absolute truth cannot be expressed.”.

The reality of our lives. The exact situation, place and moment we find ourselves in is the ground for practice. There's no other reality for us than what we are experiencing right now. An this right now is ever-changing, constant arrisal and disappearance of phenomena. To learn how not to stick, not to reject, not get attached but to flow with the wholeness is in my understanding, an Unattainable Way.

A Zen Master is someone who can embody this unattainable way to at least a certain degree.

Gassho
Sat

coriander
08-29-2021, 09:44 PM
Here are my answers for this chapter. I think it may be a struggle to do another two chapters before Ango, but Nengei if you post the questions here we can get to them when we get to them. Thank you again!

1. What can I learn or change with the knowledge that my existence is original?

Okumura has previously explained being an original person is who we are when we sit zazen, dropping the self-story and letting go of thinking. In this chapter he explains further that “practice allows us to live as an original person in this moment rather than become an original person sometime in the future.”

Existence is original in this moment. What can I change knowing this? To drop my mental constructions of past and future, the focus on maintaining a narrative self. This frees me up to do Bodhisattva actions that serve others instead of actions based on fear of preserving my story, which only continues a cycle of suffering.

With Jundo’s recent Zazenkai talk still in mind, I will add that it means I will make mistake after mistake but the lesson is to not to battle myself to internally reconcile the mistake with my ongoing sense of self but rather to keep dancing and be the original existence doing good.

2. Does seeing something in a way that is different from the way other beings see it change the nature of that thing (pay attention to the excerpt from Shōbōgenzō Sansuikyo and commentary)?

A core message at the beginning of this chapter is that when the Dharma fully penetrates, we realise not only that we are all one but that our view is always limited, as we all see things in different ways.

This stood out to me -

Dōgen says that we cannot be certain that there is an objective “true reality of water” that exists outside of the relationship between beings that are viewing and the “water” that is being viewed.

If things don’t have an objective fixed nature but instead are relative to relationships, what is to change?

In another sense, another theme I have been picking up in this reading, is that things are change, or are always changing, always in motion and it is their action at the time that defines them – their function.

3. Does knowing or being aware of inexhaustible characteristics or views influence my bodhisattva obligations?

Yes. To save all sentient beings we need to consider their perspectives.

There are many different perspectives to take—different beings, relative and absolute, large and small scale—we will not be able to take them all, but we stay aware that our views are incomplete.

I think that's what Okumura is meaning here -

As Xuansha eventually said after becoming a master, seeing the ocean as one circle is perceiving that the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. Yet he also said that within this one bright jewel there are many different kinds of pain that create suffering for many people. Each pain has a different cause and needs its own cure; we must therefore study each pain individually.

Gassho,
Charity
sat/lah

Nengei
08-31-2021, 04:31 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 10, 31 August - 3 September and the start of Ango, Part A


Dear Sangha,

As we near our Ango season, we are also nearing the end of Realizing Genjokoan. This and the next post are my final ones on this text.

Chapter 11: A Fish Swims, a Bird Flies, pp. 157-179

This chapter, especially the last ten pages or so, is so personal and so enriching to me. I hope that you have found parts of this book that are meaningful for you.

Once you have read and reflected on this chapter, please make some comments to let us know that you were here. I have written some questions below that came to my mind as I read this chapter. I make no assertions of their value. You may ignore them, respond to them, give us your own questions, use or do not use them how you like. As always, this is not an assignment, and no one is checking homework.

Questions for Chapter 11: A Fish Swims, a Bird Flies:

1. Is zazen the same as water for the fish and sky for the bird? If a fish is swimming like a fish, and a bird is flying like a bird, what am I doing?

2. How does my involvement with the Sangha help my practice? How does the way that I interact with the Sangha affect my practice?

3. What is the nature of my place and my path?

I look forward to your thoughts about A Fish Swims, a Bird Flies.

Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Nengei
08-31-2021, 05:35 PM
Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 10, 31 August - 3 September and the start of Ango, Part B


Dear Sangha,

We are approaching Ango. We are also at the end of Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo.

Chapter 12: We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywhere, pp. 181-201

Once you have read and reflected on this chapter, please make some comments to let us know that you were here. I have written some questions below that came to my mind as I read this chapter. I make no assertions of their value. You may ignore them, respond to them, give us your own questions, use or do not use them how you like. As always, this is not an assignment, and no one is checking homework.

Questions for Chapter 12: We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywh:

1. How would I be different as an enlightened being versus someone living in delusion? Okumura notes that Only when a person becomes an enlightened buddha is the true beauty of the diamond revealed--to whom?

2. How does my involvement with the Sangha help my practice? How does the way that I interact with the Sangha affect my practice?

3. Why practice?

I look forward to your thoughts about We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywhere.

Gassho,
Nengei :reading:
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
08-31-2021, 09:18 PM
Thank you, Nengei and everyone, for this thoughtful thread. I'm still on Chapter 10.

Questions for Chapter 10:Something is Still Lacking:

1. What can I learn or change with the knowledge that my existence is original?

I can work with comes up for me just as it all is. It is acceptance without being self centered, self satisfied or even being aware of the self. Sitting, I can drop my stories and just breathe.

2. Does seeing something in a way that is different from the way other beings see it change the nature of that thing (pay attention to the excerpt from Shōbōgenzō Sansuikyo and commentary)?

I liked the idea that everything exists only in relationship to everything else, so my relationship with water may be that it soothes a parched throat, or is something to swim in, or that it cleanses, makes it those things. A fish in water makes it a palace

3. Does knowing or being aware of inexhaustible characteristics or views influence my bodhisattva obligations?

To be of service to anyone or anything, I have to be aware of that person’s or thing’s views and characteristics, as well as of the golden rule. The knowledge and awareness also creates reverence for all beings.

***

I loved Uchiyama Roshi’s last poem, “Just Bow,” as an expression of all he had wanted to teach.


Just Bow

Putting my right and left hands together as one, I just bow.
Just bow to become one with Buddha and God.
Just bow to become one with everything I encounter.
Just bow to become one with all the myriad things.
Just bow as life becomes life.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Dick
09-01-2021, 11:52 PM
My apologies. I thought we were suspending this group until after Jukai/Ango. Thank you to Nengei for the thought-provoking questions, and to the whole group for great comments.

Gassho

Dick

sat/lah

Onkai
09-02-2021, 01:38 AM
My apologies. I thought we were suspending this group until after Jukai/Ango. Thank you to Nengei for the thought-provoking questions, and to the whole group for great comments.

Gassho

Dick

sat/lah

That may have been my misunderstanding. Ango begins tomorrow.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Jundo
09-02-2021, 01:46 AM
That may have been my misunderstanding. Ango begins tomorrow.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Hi Guys,

Yes, if it is okay, we are going to pause discussions here during Ango and Jukai, as so much to read and reflect on during that time. Resume with the new year?

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

Nengei
09-02-2021, 06:07 PM
Yes, as I explained in my posts, I have completed my discussion posts for the final chapters, but it is fine to leave them until after Ango. I'll move on now.

Jundo
09-04-2021, 07:49 AM
Hi Guys,

We had some folks come to us interested in getting together for an informal reading group regarding Uchiyama Roshi's "Instructions for the Cook." Because we do not want too much going on in the forum, I suggested that they could get together off the forum, among themselves by email or PM etc., for their discussions (it is a really small group).

Maybe you guys could do the same, if you want to go ahead among yourselves? Or you can wait until after Ango and Jukai.

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

coriander
09-04-2021, 09:19 PM
Thanks Jundo. My preference is to wait until after Ango and Jukai, because I am doing other reading during this time, but if others are interested I will join in with them and chime in when I can.

If we do go off-forum, though, it might still be a good idea to bring the discussion back here to the forum after Ango so that anyone who didn't join off-forum can see the discussion when they pick it up again, and so Nengei can see how people have responded as well.

Gassho,
Charity
sat/lah

Onkai
09-04-2021, 09:28 PM
Thank you, Jundo and Charity. I'm also for waiting until after Ango and Jukai. It just seems less complicated that way.

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Tairin
09-05-2021, 12:42 AM
Thank you, Jundo and Charity. I'm also for waiting until after Ango and Jukai. It just seems less complicated that way.

Yes same here.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Talib
09-20-2021, 02:10 PM
Is this still going? If so I do not see a link to join. If I may.

Kotei
09-20-2021, 02:20 PM
Is this still going? If so I do not see a link to join. If I may.
Hello Talib,

I wasn't part of this reading group, but I think it arrived already at a point near the end of the book and is 'on hold' because of the Ango and Jukai season.
Please have a look some postings further up in this thread.

Gassho,
Kotei sat/lah today.

Jundo
09-20-2021, 02:54 PM
Yes, it is on pause for Ango period.

Gassho, Jundo

STLah