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Thread: Realizing Genjokoan - Chapter 3 - P 35 to P 42

  1. #1

    Realizing Genjokoan - Chapter 3 - P 35 to P 42

    I HEART SUTRA!

    We will only read the pages entitled Maka Hannya Haramitsu (stopping before the last few pages of Chapter 3 entitled "Genjo Koan").

    Here is our version of the Heart Sutra that we usually chant at Treeleaf, if you want to compare it to this section.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...t-Book-is-Here

    This section's explanation by Okumura Roshi also struck me as a little dense, even if you are already very familiar with the Heart Sutra that Master Dogen was "riffing" on in Maka Hannya Haramitsu. So, I am going to try to "sum up" this section in a few sentences:

    1- EVERYTHING ... and I mean EVERYTHING ... is empty! All is so Empty that we don't even have to bother to say or think about stuff being "Empty." The whole body, the senses, what the senses see or taste etc., mind, every element and atom (folks used to speak of earth, wind, fire, etc, as the building blocks of nature like we speak of atoms now), every blade of grass and the whole world, every moment of time past present future, all activities, the kitchen sink. They are all beyond mental categories and opposites such as "this and that," "me or you," "good vs. bad," "appearing or existing or disappearing," "sacred vs. mundane," "Buddha vs. ignorant beings" ... Empty, Empty, Empty!

    2 - Everything is so Empty that it kind of pours back into (actually, never was apart or other than) everything to make things, each and all, unique and precious, its own special jewel. (Kind of like saying that each tiny grain of dust on the mountain is Empty of separate existence and is just the mountain, but because it is just the mountain, the whole mountain is every grain of dust too ... and so every grain of dust shines with the whole grandeur of the whole mountain totally embodied in that unique and ordinary grain of dust!)

    ... And realization of all this is Wisdom (Prajna).

    3 - Even all of the Buddha's most traditional Teachings ... such as the Four Noble Truths ... are Empty. However, in fact, the whole point of these Teachings such as the Four Noble Truths is to free people from suffering. The way to free people from suffering is to have people experience the wholeness of Emptiness. Thus, realizing the Emptiness of even the Four Noble Truths and all things thereby attains the end of Suffering that the Four Noble Truths was seeking in the first place! Even Enlightenment is "Empty" and realizing so is Enlightenment!

    4 - Because this body is Emptiness and Prajna, and our activities are Emptiness and Prajna, thus our practicing now in this human body is Emptiness and Prajna, already a shining jewel in our day to day acts of polishing, a manifestation of Enlightenment.

    I like to compare Dogen to a jazz musician who "riffs" and syncopates the "standard teachings" to find some new sounds and facets in the standards. Do you see that in what Dogen did with the "old standard" Heart Sutra here? Or does Dogen's music not ring your bell so much?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-25-2019 at 04:01 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    PS - I added a couple of lines to my "in a nutshell" guide above, so kindly read again after seeing this "p.s."

    PPS - Even my "nutshell" is Empty!
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-18-2019 at 11:13 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Sounds like One Bright Pearl Jundo but I will read on Roshi

    Sat / lah


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Seishin View Post
    Sounds like One Bright Pearl Jundo but I will read on Roshi

    Sat / lah
    By the same guy.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    FYI i have decided to start reading the book from the beginning again. Maybe I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but it feels like I'm getting much more from the book than i had done while racing to catch up... And therein lies the lesson for me.

    Gassho
    Anna

    Sat today
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    2 - Everything is so Empty that it kind of pours back into everything to make things, each and all, unique and precious, its own special jewel. (Kind of like saying that each tiny grain of dust on the mountain is Empty of separate existence and is just the mountain, but because it is just the mountain, the whole mountain is every grain of dust too ... and so every grain of dust shines with the whole grandeur of the whole mountain totally embodied in that unique and ordinary grain of dust!)
    Thank you Jundo. The additional explanation here really helped as I didn't understand your original post. I love the image of every grain of sand and rock "being" the mountain. Is this sort of the Net of Indra idea?

    ... And realization of all this is Wisdom (Prajna).
    I didn't understand the equating of Wisdom with emptiness. Like how is the truth of suffering "Wisdom"? (not the awareness of the truth of suffering being Wisdom, but that suffering in and of itself is empty and hence is Wisdom). Is that what is being said? From my current level of understanding that's just a non-sequitur. And if everything goes into the puree of form/emptiness/Wisdom, then what is left of the teaching of Buddhism? Why this set of 16 precepts, and not another "anti-set" of precepts since all is equally empty and hence all is equally Wise?

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    S@2Day

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post
    Thank you Jundo. The additional explanation here really helped as I didn't understand your original post. I love the image of every grain of sand and rock "being" the mountain. Is this sort of the Net of Indra idea?
    Sure!

    Another example is the golden lion imagined by Fazang, a patriarch of the same Hua Yen school of Buddhism and Indra's Net, to illustrate the relationship of form (a lion statue) to principle/absolute/Dharmakaya (the gold from which it is made). The lion's body is embodied in each hair - an infinity of infinities. In each and every hair [of the lion) there is the golden lion. All of the lions contained in each and every hair simultaneously and suddenly penetrate into one hair. Therefore, within each and every hair there are unlimited lions. Master Luo-p’u said, “As soon as a single atom comes into existence, the whole earth is contained within it. There’s a lion in every hair, and this is true of the whole body.”

    I didn't understand the equating of Wisdom with emptiness. Like how is the truth of suffering "Wisdom"? (not the awareness of the truth of suffering being Wisdom, but that suffering in and of itself is empty and hence is Wisdom). Is that what is being said? From my current level of understanding that's just a non-sequitur. And if everything goes into the puree of form/emptiness/Wisdom, then what is left of the teaching of Buddhism? Why this set of 16 precepts, and not another "anti-set" of precepts since all is equally empty and hence all is equally Wise?
    Yes, penetrating the truth that suffering is Empty is thus Wisdom.

    However, we also continue to live in this world of birth and death, sickness and health, ups and downs, me and you, and so long as we are doing so, there is suffering (empty or not). Being willing to embrace that fact too, right to the bone, is also Wisdom. Suffering fully vanishes in Emptiness, yet does not ... and experiencing this is Wisdom. There is no sickness and health, yet there is. There is no birth and death, yet there is. Everything goes into the "puree" of Emptiness, yet re-emerges (not really, because it always was so, so never "goes in" or "emerges") as itself too. The Precepts go into the Puree ... thus there is no killing possible, nobody to kill and nobody to be killed ... no stealing possible, because nobody to take, nothing to be taken, nothing lacking ... and yet, in this world, we do not kill or steal because anger, violence and excess desire cloud this fact. Thus, we need the Precepts. They are also Golden.

    Does that help?

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    ... In each and every hair [of the lion) there is the golden lion. ...
    Cool. That reminds me of genetics. Every cell in my body contains a copy (in a sense) of my entire body, bones, brain, heart, eyes, everything. Amazing.

    However, we also continue to live in this world of birth and death, sickness and health, ups and downs, me and you, and so long as we are doing so, there is suffering (empty or not).
    ...
    Does that help?
    I had forgotten the other side of the first three lines of Genjokoan i.e. that non-emptiness is still there in the experience of "sentient beings" (say). And it's at that level that the teaching exists (even though all is empty, ultimately).

    Yes it does help, thank you.

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    S@2Day

  9. #9
    Hello,

    Dogen's riffing feels like proving the Heart Sutra.
    Like a mathematician he puts the result, after understanding and solving the equation, back into the equation to see if it makes sense and is true.

    I like the practical approach of seeing and experiencing the wisdom of Emptiness in everyday's actions and sacred rituals (not two).
    Learning this way penetrates deeper, than the intellectual examination, I am more used to.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  10. #10
    I love this riffing the constant probing and testing of rules and certainties, it keeps me on my toes. Just when I think I have a handle on something it slips away like an eel.

    It seems like I should keep reminding myself that form is emptiness absolutely but relatively it is also form and that knowing this, practising it and experiencing it is the wisdom of reality.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLah

  11. #11
    "I" have felt for years that the Heart Sutra already kind of says what Dogen is saying about it, or rather that once one has set up Dharma and walked around it to look it over, one sees how it contains its opposite, like a standing wave -- photon-no photon cat-no cat Schroedinger-no Schroedinger. So "my" (me-not me or maybe just me-not merely me but also empty of essence [lordy]) original thought was, oh, he's just pointing out the obvious -- remembering how Buddha is said to have said "from the beginning till today I haven't said a thing." Reading this passage and the comments led to vaguely remembering (and looking up):

    "Whatever is dependently co-arisen / That is explained to be emptiness.
    That, being a dependent designation, / Is itself the middle way." -- Nagarjuna

    After which I had to hunt down Dogen's remarks on the Chinese monastery with the passageway of ancestor paintings -- how he couldn't find anyone who got that the "big enso" painting of Nagarjuna as the full moon was all wrong in its literalism -- a display of misdirected erudition. Nagarjuna should just be painted as a sitting Nagarjuna -- THAT is Nagarjuna as the full moon. The whole world being one bright pearl, how is it that we paint just one ancestor as one bright pearl?

    So the Japanese visitor starts riffing on "painted rice cakes" and his monastery tour guide is like "... whaa?"

    gassho _()_
    doyu possibly has sat today
    Last edited by Doyū; 08-21-2019 at 04:17 PM. Reason: typos as usual -- getting old is a riot
    自己を忘れ、他人のために生きる

  12. #12
    I found this section incredibly moving and insightful. I had two strong impressions in my mind when I read it. The first was nesting dolls. You see the doll, but then there is something deeper, and then something deeper after that.

    The other was music related. It is often said it is the the note not played that is the most important. It is the space around the notes that creates the beauty of the notes.

    And with that, I am going to go play my guitar. See if I can go connect with some Prajna.

    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.

  13. #13
    What Dogen does with the Heart Sutra definitely rings a bell for me - he uses words to move beyond words with rhythm, movement, images - never missing a beat or losing a step. It’s creative, dynamic and alive, rather than static and abstract, so the resonance gets past intellectualisation to more of a felt understanding with the body. i'm not a musician - movement is more natural for me, so i experience it in a very tacit, tactile way.

    _()_
    sosen
    stlah

  14. #14
    Lovely reading.

    There are many little passages I highlighted in this section that I found meaningful. What really stuck with me was the overall concept that Dogen is trying to communicate which is really that life and practice are one. Practice isn't just sitting on the zafu for X minutes each day. This practice permeates all of life. I tend to use the (borrowed) conjunction "life-practice" in my own references for this reason.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah

  15. #15
    Shinshi, I love that point about the space between the notes - I was just discussing how this seems to apply to haiku too.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLah

  16. #16
    Member mundi's Avatar
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    Just to share that I have been reading along with you all over the last week and will continue to do so. Re-reading this book slowly with others is a new and illuminating experience. My first reading helped me build a relationship with Dogen, which had a been a bit tenuous up until then. Nonetheless, it was a fast, hungry, almost rabid reading due to this and I'm most grateful to have the chance to read again with others.

    gassho

    dean

    sattoday

  17. #17
    I'll keep it short because many people elaborated on the reading material so I don't have that much to add. Before I came to Treeleaf I read the comics on the Soto Shu website and I saw the 2009 movie about his life, but reading in detail about his views and teachings is profoundly enriching and I concur with Dean on the fact that studying his writings has elevated my admiration for Dogen tremendously. I read the reading material in conjunction with appendix 2 and all the pieces of the puzzle came together. Dogen is a genius and I can't wait to study more of his works. The part on how everything is prajna made a deep impact and I will incorporate it in my daily practice to the best of my ability. Thank you all for this amazing trip .

    Gassho,
    Jack
    Sattoday

  18. #18
    I like the way that this section of the book describes the subtle difference in viewpoints between early Buddhism to Mahayana and then specifically Zen. I'm finding it a little difficult at times and I'm trying to pick out the key idea he's getting to. It seems that in Zen wisdom is being able to realise the emptiness in everything we say do and feel on a day to day basis rather than just on the cushion. And any conceptual ideas like the Four Noble Truths are also empty. Is this right?

    Paul
    Sat today
    Lah

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulinLondon View Post
    I like the way that this section of the book describes the subtle difference in viewpoints between early Buddhism to Mahayana and then specifically Zen. I'm finding it a little difficult at times and I'm trying to pick out the key idea he's getting to. It seems that in Zen wisdom is being able to realise the emptiness in everything we say do and feel on a day to day basis rather than just on the cushion. And any conceptual ideas like the Four Noble Truths are also empty. Is this right?

    Paul
    Sat today
    Lah
    Hi Paul,

    I a too small nutshell ...

    I would say that it is about realizing the "Emptiness" (which is also the flowing "Wholeness") of all things and moments, including you and me and our lives. This is on and off the cushion. It is not really necessary to know it every single moment (that is not very practical in daily life), but it is always available to realize and always so, tasted or not tasted in a particular moment. The Four Noble Truths are also empty but, strange as it sounds, the relief from Dukkha that results from Emptiness is in fact the key to the prescription of the Four Noble Truths.

    Mahayana and Zen Buddhism is more that this, of course: The is also our living as gentle and more caring people, as free from excess desires, anger, violence and divided thinking as we can. That also goes hand-in-"sound of one"-hand with realizing Emptiness and living such realization.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    Lovely reading.

    There are many little passages I highlighted in this section that I found meaningful. What really stuck with me was the overall concept that Dogen is trying to communicate which is really that life and practice are one. Practice isn't just sitting on the zafu for X minutes each day. This practice permeates all of life. I tend to use the (borrowed) conjunction "life-practice" in my own references for this reason.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Lovely Tairin, this is what I nearly always take away when reading anything he wrote.
    I'm still reading along but people here are much smarter than me at discussing the text, so I'm learning a lot. I've found that when the text gets a little dense, a dip into Dogen's beautiful poetry is like a refreshing drink of water!
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  21. #21
    Thank you for the additional commentary Jundo. I see in Dogen’s writings the recurring message that what we usually see as separate are not actually separate. And beyond their not being separate from each other, they are one, actually existing together as one. We must find nirvana within Samsara. Within our chaotic lives is Nirvana, and if we can’t find it there, we won’t find it at all. Profound message for our current times.

    I also see the many similarities between Jazz music and Zen study. The Heart Sutra makes a great ‘lead sheet’ and Dogen takes a solo with his commentary. The chord changes and scales he uses are the same as all other masters who have commented, but the music has his characteristic ‘sound’. Boundless.

    Gassho,

    Ryoku
    ST/LAH

  22. #22
    Member brucef's Avatar
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    I’m so impressed by Okumura Roshi - as challenging as his explanations are - that I bough two other books by him from the Kindle Store..the Mountains and Waters Sutra, and Living By Vow.

    I’ve tried to read Dōgen unaided. Even in those brief moments when I think I understand something, I probably don’t or else I miss a lot. He’s cryptic. Forget 13th century Japanese, I need someone who can translate Dōgenese!

    Okumura Roshi is someone I feel I can trust.

    And Jundo explaining Okumura Roshi explaining Dōgen is even better!

    I was a Tibetan Buddhist from 1990 to 2010. Tibetan teachers can talk about emptiness for hours on end. They'll explain it every which way from every angle imaginable. And it’s all so logical. But also, sometimes those explanations get quite abstract.

    Dōgen is different. He concentrates so much into so few words, it’s like poetry. But the most important thing he does for me is remind me that emptiness isn’t an abstraction, a Buddhist theory. It’s here now, within and without me, it’s the ten thousand things ....mountains and waters and clouds and old dogs asleep on the carpet....it’s me sitting here at the kitchen table with this iPad, a cup of tea, the ocean going boom boom boom in the distance.

    Gassho

    Brucef

    st/lah

  23. #23
    Thank you Bruce

    Tokan

    SatLAH

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