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Thread: Realizing Genjokoan - Foreword and Preface

  1. #1

    Realizing Genjokoan - Foreword and Preface

    Dear All,

    We will dip a toe into Rev. Shohaku Okumura's wonderful "Realizing Genjokoan," which reflects on that amazing work by Master Dogen. Since the "Genzo" is considered by many a roadmap of sorts to the entire Shobogenzo, it is also a basic introduction to understanding Dogen and his ways.

    This week's readings are just the Foreward by another respected Soto Priest, Dogen historian and translator (on many projects with Okumura Roshi), Taigen Dan Leighton, following by a brief Preface by Okumura Roshi himself. We will get into the heart of the book next time.

    For now, let me toss out a couple of possible questions to get the ball rolling, although you can talk about anything that strikes you really.

    - Before we get into this book, what is your image or previous experience with Dogen and/or trying to read Shobogenzo? Does it ring your bell? Kind of difficult to read? Never tried to really read Dogen before?

    - Taigen Leighton's foreward may be a little hard to understand at some points before we read the book. However, anything he said about Dogen and/or the Genzo that impressed you, particularly surprised you, etc.?

    By the way, there is a PDF version here, but I very very much encourage all who can afford to purchase the same (especially in light of the Precept on not Stealing). Thank you. This is a temporary measure until your book arrives.
    https://the-eye.eu/public/concen.org...ra.2010%20.pdf

    Good sailing!

    I think we will spend about a week here before moving on, then a week or two weeks with the readings that follow. We'll see how it goes.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH

    PS - My own book on reading Dogen comes out from Wisdom Publications in 2020, but my writing is inspired too by this marvelous book by Okumura Roshi.
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-07-2019 at 11:31 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo, look forward to reading along. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    First time through the Shobogenzo I found the Genjokoan really opaque, and gave up on it. The rest of the book generally made more sense to me, although I began to lose interest when it came to which towel goes where, not living in a monastery (the picture book Unsui was much more my speed).

    Okumura is a big help. I was missing too much context. Thank you so much for this reading opportunity. _()_

    gassho
    doyu sat today
    Last edited by Doyū; 07-08-2019 at 12:42 AM. Reason: Missing paren _()_
    特別な人ではない

  4. #4
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Looking forward to this, as I've been holding back on firing up the ebook I've had for a while now. Hoping this will give me a better guide to understanding Dogen, as I have struggled with his transcripts in the past and associated "quotes" here at Treeleaf. Downloaded the Nishijima / Cross four "book" compendium but felt a little out of my depth in the early chapters, so put it aside, as I had not been practising that long and was new to the "scriptures" of Soto Zen. Aspiring to this book kick starting my understanding of Dogen and opening the door to the foundation of Soto Zen.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  5. #5
    I have had this book for a while too. I look forward to reading it with everyone. Dogen can be difficult to read but its not too bad with commentary


    ST

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    San Diego County, California
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Before we get into this book, what is your image or previous experience with Dogen and/or trying to read Shobogenzo? Does it ring your bell? Kind of difficult to read? Never tried to really read Dogen before?
    I don't really have much of a hang up with Dogen, but since I usually read commentaries and abridged writings, I may be coming from a place of overconfidence. Generally, when reading Dogen, if I slow down and try to really listen to him, it makes sense and is good teaching. It is important to remember where he is coming from and what century he is living in.

    Gassho

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  7. #7
    Yay! I have this book but read it before I had any kind of handle on Dogen. Now having studied Genjokoan along with ZMM’s Ango a couple of years ago, I am looking forward to dancing with it again, as to me, it is Soto Zen in a nutshell!
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  8. #8
    Book ordered. I have spent very little time reading anything buddhist written more than 50 years ago. Always have depended on the modern Wise Ones (eg Jundo) to interpret for me with a modern perspective. Add to that I have other interests that compete for my time and reading ventures. So I love Cliff Notes, Summaries and Abstracts vrs dissertations. With that said I keep telling myself I got to give the ancients a spin. So, here I am and will be following along and learning with and from all of you.

    Doshin
    St
    Last edited by Doshin; 07-08-2019 at 01:19 PM.

  9. #9
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    May 2019
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    My hardcopy won't arrive until 9th August so I'll have to play catch-up. Reading online is like reading through shattered glass on this old, tiny tablet thingy.

    Sat today
    No Gods! No Masters!

  10. #10
    Thank you Jundo,

    I've tried a bit Shobogenzo here and there in the german translation of the Nishijima translation. Smelled a bit of the air of the ancient times with Shobogenzo Zuimonki.
    But, like it is written in the foreword... Shobogenzo is quite dense and there is much more to discover in these lines, than a shallow read exposes.
    He is playing a lot with words and language, bending it, packing the content even more dense this way.
    Secondary literature helped understanding some... "Being Time" from Shinshu Roberts, "Mountains and waters sutra" from Okumura, "Futter für Pferd und Esel" (Food for horse and donkey) from Muho, The modernish Warner books etc..

    Looking forward to exploring deeper with this book.
    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  11. #11
    It occurred to me, after reading this book for the first time, that I could drop all other Zen reading and study, and dedicate the rest of my life completely to Dogen. This is still something I'm considering. I had certain expectations ; that Dogen's writings would be obscure even impenetrable, that they would go straight over my head, that I would flounder and struggle. All of those things were true to a degree. But what astonished me was the lyrical beauty of Dogen's writing (which encouraged me to start reading his poetry) and how gradually I, a lifelong book obsessive, have discovered a new way of reading - opening mind and letting the text wash over me, absorbing it in an osmosis type of process. I can't honestly say I always grasp Dogen's meaning in a concrete or rational way, but somehow I feel the truth of his words in a way beyond words.
    Taigen Dan Leighton in his forward pays tribute to Shohaku's loyalty to Dogen, which manifests in his dedication to investigating the slightest of nuances in Dogen's often playful prose. This makes for a sometimes dense commentary but a thorough one.
    I'm not sure it's possible to ever truly have a definitive commentary on any of Dogen's work because in my humble opinion, reading him is so personally experiential - so I'm really looking forward to sharing this journey with other readers.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Meitou View Post
    It occurred to me, after reading this book for the first time, that I could drop all other Zen reading and study, and dedicate the rest of my life completely to Dogen. This is still something I'm considering. I had certain expectations ; that Dogen's writings would be obscure even impenetrable, that they would go straight over my head, that I would flounder and struggle. All of those things were true to a degree. But what astonished me was the lyrical beauty of Dogen's writing (which encouraged me to start reading his poetry) and how gradually I, a lifelong book obsessive, have discovered a new way of reading - opening mind and letting the text wash over me, absorbing it in an osmosis type of process. I can't honestly say I always grasp Dogen's meaning in a concrete or rational way, but somehow I feel the truth of his words in a way beyond words.
    Taigen Dan Leighton in his forward pays tribute to Shohaku's loyalty to Dogen, which manifests in his dedication to investigating the slightest of nuances in Dogen's often playful prose. This makes for a sometimes dense commentary but a thorough one.
    I'm not sure it's possible to ever truly have a definitive commentary on any of Dogen's work because in my humble opinion, reading him is so personally experiential - so I'm really looking forward to sharing this journey with other readers.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    Your description of reading Dogen sounds wonderful.


    ST

  13. #13
    i have read Rev. Shohaku Okumura's "Realizing Genjokoan," some times and have more and more pencil underlines and exclamation marks in the marge. I love to join this dance..


    aprapti

    std

    Meister Eckhart ‘Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.’

  14. #14
    Member Getchi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    I do not understand.

    The words I type are mine, I misunderstand, misinterprete and perhaps "搞砸了"!!!!!!!


    Dogen is a singular. No-one else writes like him, until now. Perhaps you are the first? But he is the one to compare TODAY with YESTERDAY!!!!

    What can ! ma possibly pass onto us? Maybe no words, but just one EXAMPLE.

    Be as he, see your own truth, we give Dogen that honour by accepting it for ourself!!1


    Simply put, when human is our second language, look for the "why I would do this thing?!?!??!?!" in your own infinate heart, humanist thinking!!.

    Genjokoan is simply "the words we say for this big biggest world". Im not native English, hoping you do really get it.

    This, simply, is the only writing ive seen approach a UNIVERSAL human experience, not jjust Euro or Asian or SouthAsian, etc.




    Gassho,
    GEoff.

    THIS is worth remembering!!!


    SatToday
    LaH - an old woman who needed a cab, yesterday - a poor child needed a chocolate!!!!
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Meitou View Post
    It occurred to me, after reading this book for the first time, that I could drop all other Zen reading and study, and dedicate the rest of my life completely to Dogen. This is still something I'm considering. I had certain expectations ; that Dogen's writings would be obscure even impenetrable, that they would go straight over my head, that I would flounder and struggle. All of those things were true to a degree. But what astonished me was the lyrical beauty of Dogen's writing (which encouraged me to start reading his poetry) and how gradually I, a lifelong book obsessive, have discovered a new way of reading - opening mind and letting the text wash over me, absorbing it in an osmosis type of process. I can't honestly say I always grasp Dogen's meaning in a concrete or rational way, but somehow I feel the truth of his words in a way beyond words.
    Taigen Dan Leighton in his forward pays tribute to Shohaku's loyalty to Dogen, which manifests in his dedication to investigating the slightest of nuances in Dogen's often playful prose. This makes for a sometimes dense commentary but a thorough one.
    I'm not sure it's possible to ever truly have a definitive commentary on any of Dogen's work because in my humble opinion, reading him is so personally experiential - so I'm really looking forward to sharing this journey with other readers.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    I had the exact same thought - that I could (and probably will) be reading and studying this text for the rest of my life.

    I'm currently reading a chapter a week of the Shobogenzo and have also realised (finally) to not get too hung up on what exact words Dogen is using but listen to what he means. We say it a lot but he really is like reading poetry or listening to jazz.

    There are countless references and footnotes that I have tended to get lost trying to understand but have decided that is for future readings, for now I'm just going to listen to what comes up.

    I'm looking forward to reading this with all of you.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLaH.

  16. #16
    I was about half way through the book before we began here. I am very excited to start back at the beginning with all of you. I think I will get a much greater understanding this way. I have often found Dogen a little difficult to read and understand, however that is why I love reading his writings so much!

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

  17. #17
    I just wanted to drop in and say I am going to participate as well. Trying to get caught up now. Had some other things to attend to lately.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

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