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Thread: Genjo Koan observation and question

  1. #1

    Genjo Koan observation and question

    So, our Zen practice is said to be "just sitting," and "a direct transmission outside of scripture." And yet, we do read and study to illuminate the physical practice. I personally return to Genjo Koan time and again for guidance (and often just for beauty - which is a valid reason). Recently, I have been pondering the first two lines. I will quote from the Nishiari Bokusan translation here, but most translations are very similar:

    "When all dharmas are Buddha dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, Buddhas and sentient beings. When the myriad dharmas are without a self, there is no delusion, no realization, no Buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death."

    In his commentary, Bokusan speaks of these two sentences as referring to states of "being and emptiness." The obvious thing about these sentences is that in the "emptiness" state, everything in the "being" state is negated (for lack of a better word). Except ... except for "practice." Dogen does not say that there is no practice in the emptiness state. In his writing, Dogen is a master craftsman, so this had to be intentional.

    What do you make of this?

    For me, it is a reminder that our practice continues through all realms forever. It is like when Dogen had his enlightenment experience and Rujing told him that the first thing he needed to do was forget it. But, that's just the way I see it. Any thoughts?


    Last edited by Juki; 10-20-2015 at 02:52 PM.
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  2. #2
    Not knowing what to make of this is very wonderful. 😊

    SAT today
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Not knowing what to make of this is very wonderful. ��

    SAT today

    Thank you you for reminding me that I had not ended my post correctly. It has been edited.

    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  4. #4
    Hi Juki

    I am reading that book at the moment also. Personally I cannot understand those two statements without the third part which threads them back together:

    The Buddha Way, basically, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there is birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas.

    For me, the being and emptiness states are both partial views ("when one side is illuminated, the other side is dark"). Practice continues however we see things, and practice enlightenment is not separate from birth, death, delusion and realization. We are sentient beings and buddhas, tiles, grasses, mountains, rivers and the moon reflected in a clear lake. There is nothing left out. Whenever I find myself thinking that either everything is one great whole or else a number of individual parts this text reminds me I am only getting part of the story.

    I often return to Genjokoan as well. It was the first Zen text I ever studied, well before I ever considered myself as a student of Zen, and one that still resonates deeply. So much just in those first lines.

    Kokuu, a walker on the way who opens his mouth far too often when he should just be listening to those who know better
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-20-2015 at 05:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Hi Juki.

    Those words from Master Dogen speak to me about one of the main things I had to think about for a long time. Duality and being in the middle of it and also being able to contemplate the fact that there are no absolute things. Emptiness and Wholeness, all at the same time.

    To me this is invaluable because leads me to look at life in all manners my mind can plus understanding that dropping the ego is always useful, regardless of how difficult it may be.

    Or something like that.


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  6. #6

    I think most of what Dogen said was trying to express Shizantaza in words. This being so, when confused about Dogen just sit. When not confused about Dogen, just sit.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

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