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Thread: Dogen and waving a fan

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    Dogen and waving a fan

    Hi. I am reading “Living Yogacara”. Actually I just finished reading it, and am re-reading, but this time together with “Realizing Genjokoan” by Shohaku Okumura. On the first reading there was a ball and chain feeling to the way Alaya Vijnana is presented in Living Yogacara. There does not seem to be a recognition that habit energies and their “seeds” are empty, and not other than spontaneous perfection as such, even while there is the need to work through habit energies and be careful how they are “perfumed” .

    These passages from Realizing Genjokoan on “waving the fan” really jumped out this morning.. and I just wanted to share it.

    “According to Dogen Zenji, attaining a one-time enlightenment experience in which we recover our Buddha nature is not the goal of practice. Practice for Dogen is an ongoing activity in which we continue to deepen and broaden our understanding day by day, moment to moment, For him, enlightenment is a vital life activity that we must nurture, just as we must nurture out bodies. To stay alive we must digest food we have eaten every day and breath moment by moment. In the same way, to manifest awakening we must continually return awakening day after day, moment by moment; whenever we find that we have strayed from awakening we must return to it in practice. Our zazen in the Bodhisattva practice, and it is therefore the foundation of the Bodhisattva vows. The Bodhisattva vows are the basis for our practice outside the zendo.

    .... When we begin to practice with the four Bodhisattva vows, sooner or later we will see the incompleteness of our practice or notice that we have deviated from the path. Just as we return to our posture in zazen, we practice repentance by returning to the path of the Bodhisattva vows. Whether in the zendo or going about our daily routine, moment by moment we simply return to awakening in genuine practice. We must do this over and over again; our practice is endless.

    ....One of the key reasons Dogen presents the story of magu waving the a fan in Genjokoan is to emphasize the importance of this moment by moment practice. His comments here near the conclusion of the text express a central principle of his teachings:

    The genuine experience of Buddha Dharma and the vital path that has been correctly transmitted are like this. To say we should not wave a fan because the nature of wind is everpresent, and that we should feel the wind even when we don't wave the fan, is to know neither ever-presence nor the wind's nature.

    In the story presented in the final section of Genjokoan, Magu says that though the monk knows about the ever presence of wind nature, he does not understand the way it pereates every place. The act of waving a fan represents our moment to moment practice, and according to Magu it is through such practice that Wind Nature is able to permeate all existence . Dogen , however, was even more strict than Magu on this point. He says that the monk understands neither the everpresence of wind nor its permeating everywhere.
    I have limited knowledge of Yogacara and am really enjoying looking into the teachings, and especially how it is opening up other teachings in an unexpected way. Still dumb though.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by RichardH; 05-25-2014 at 03:22 PM.

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