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Thread: Symbolism

  1. #1


    I've been thinking a bit in the last few days.
    like many other philosophies/religions/ways of life. over many years things acquire symbols.
    is there a symbol for zen? even though there are no symbols?

    Gassho, Dojin.
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-06-2013 at 03:57 AM.
    I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment
    - the Buddha

  2. #2
    Enso is a popular symbol, if that is what you are talking about. In popular cultures, someone who is Zen is usually portrayed as mysterious, cool, calm, and wise.


  3. #3
    saw another post after i wrote mine

    so feel free to answer there or here or anywhere.

    Gassho, Dojin.
    I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment
    - the Buddha

  4. #4
    Zen Folks have always sought to come up with symbols to express what can barely be expressed or not at all. The Enso is one, and Master Dogen wrote ...

    It is impossible for words or thinking to grasp how the old masters could seize the moment for disciples with a finger, pole, needle or mallet, display Actuality with a whisk, a fist, a staff or a shout.

    All those are symbols for such, for example Master Gutei's holding up one finger, the knocking down of flag poles by Master Ananda to signal the end of a doctrinal debate, the using a needle by Master Nagarjuna for teaching Kanadeva ...

    The fifteenth Ancestor was the Venerable Kanadeva. He had an audience with the Great Nagarjuna, in the hope of becoming a follower. Nagarjuna knew he was a man of great wisdom. First, Nagarjuna sent his assistant for a bowl full of clear water and had it placed before him. The Venerable Kanadeva saw it and thrust a needle into the bowl of water and presented it to Nagarjuna. They met each other and joyfully realized that they were of like minds.

    ... or holding up the Master's horsehair fly whisk, a fist, a staff, or offering a loud KATZ! shout. Drawing an Enso circle in the air ...

    EIHEI KOROKU (永平広録,Volume Seven, #518)
    (Dogen's Extensive Record, trans. by Leighton & Okumura)

    Dogen drew a circle in the air [Enso] with his [fly-]whisk,
    held up the whisk, and said:
    If I hold this up, you call it buddhas appearing in the world. If I put it down, you call it the ancestral teacher [Bodhidharma] coming from the west. If I draw a circle, you call it what is protected and cared for by the buddhas and ancestral teachers.

    When I do not hold if up, put it down, or draw a circle, how do you assess this? Even if you assess it, you should laugh at both the view of the unconditioned and at the livelihood in the demon's cave. Although it is like this, students of Eihei [Eternal Peace Monastery], there is another excellent place. Great assembly do you want to see that excellent place?

    Again Dogen held up his whisk, and after a pause said:
    Great assembly, do you understand? If you understand, the Dharma body of all buddhas enters my nature. If you do not understand, my nature in the same way joins together with the Tathagata [Buddha]. Great assembly, what is the meaning of my "the Dharma body of all buddhas enters my nature" and of nature in the same way joins together with the Tathagata?

    After a pause Dogen said:
    In the early morning eat gruel, at lunchtime rice. In the early evening do zazen, and at night sleep.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-06-2013 at 04:02 AM.

  5. #5
    a mountain, the eyes of a small child immersed in play, a pile of horse manure, the sound of the wind blowing through trees, the love-making of my neighbors with their windows open, the blood when I hurt my finger today
    no thing needs to be added

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