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Thread: Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition Begins Week of 11 April 2021

  1. #101
    I really liked Charity's comment "...by seeking we are trying to control things, but our sense of being a fixed person who controls a changing world is a delusion..." You are right - I often see myself as a fixed being in a changing universe, as the fixed point around which everything changing revolves. This reminds me how delusional this is. Thanks

    Gassho

    Dick

    Sat/lah

  2. #102
    What is the importance of "the concrete life experience of practice?"


    It's crucial, isn't it? The embodiment of Buddha's teachings. He showed us the path, and we only can use his teachings as signposts. The true practice is us embodying the Dharma, through our bodies.

    Is enlightenment dependent on recognizing delusion (On the philosophical level of: Are we born having sinned? Do the ultimate rewards of faith come from faith alone, or are good works required?)?
    I think that enlightenment is dependent on realising our true nature, and that delusion exists within this true nature - they are not separate. We are born with true nature and delusion, I don't believe in original sin.
    Faith is not enough, we need to cultivate compassion and good deeds are required to dissolve chains of self absorption.

    Why do you do Zazen?
    After sitting every day for nearly a year I have actually stopped doing zazen for about 2 weeks (with occasional sitting here and there as opposed to aiming for 2 hrs per day) to see what happens, to check if I haven't become a bit to preoccupied with the practice, attached somehow and to re-evaluate my motivation.
    I can't put it into words but in that period it felt sometimes like if Zazen was seeking Zazen during my daily activities. I would sometimes naturally fall into this accepting, observing spaciousness. I'm back to my regular routine now, I've missed it. I thought I knew why I did Zazen before, now I'm not sure anymore. It just feels right, even if the stuff arising during Zazen is "not right".

    Does the bell make the sound, or does the wind make the sound?
    "Ding-dong-a-ling ding-dong"
    "Does the sound exist even if no one hears it?"


    Gassho
    Sat

  3. #103
    Onkai and Seikan nailed it. I find it hard to comment on the readings because there are many “ah ha” moments that I just can’t even begin to express in better words than those Okumura used. Plenty to sit with.

    Why do I sit Zazen? No question that initially it was to gain something. Enlightenment? Peace? Calm? Yes and more. Now? Well honestly I am not so sure anymore why I sit. It has become a habitual part of my day. Having said that it is also a (usually) enjoyable part of my day that I look forward to.

    Thank you all for your thoughts.

    Side note: I like the pace we are reading the book at. Not too fast and not too slow.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah

  4. #104
    Great discussion happening here, folks! You are going to get a couple of extra days before the next chapter post as I am working ten days in a row, long shifts. I'm off on Tuesday so should have your next set of discussion questions sometime on that day.

    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  5. #105


    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  6. #106
    Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 8, 20 June - 26 June


    Dear Sangha, okay, break's over. My apologies for the delay in continuing our discussion of this excellent text. I have been overwhelmingly busy as I am retiring from a 30-year career in nursing today, and preparing to open an art school in a couple of months.

    This week we will move on to Chapter 8: Past and Future are Cut Off. This will take us through page 126 in the paperback; all of chapter 8 if you are using the ebook. The section of Genjōkōan being consider has a heavy message of now-ness: As the firewood never becomes firewood again after it has burned to ash, there is no return to living after a person dies.

    Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

    Questions for Chapter 8:Past and Future are Cut Off:

    1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

    2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

    3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

    I look forward to your thoughts about Past and Future are Cut Off. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 142 in the paperback, which is Chapter 9, The Moon in Water.


    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  7. #107
    Thank you, Nengei, and everyone here. I tried jotting down notes about what this chapter brought up for me and my associations, but my notes read like the gibberish of trying to write down the contents of a dream. The only thing I noted that really made sense was that the last part, "Life, Death, and Time" was a lesson in for me and changed my focus. The best I can express it is that it made me see how immediate practice and the present moment are, and yet how ungraspable. I want to dwell on it more, including Uchiyama Roshi's poems.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  8. #108
    1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

    Past, present, future – the whole concept of “time” is somewhat mysterious. Is “time” something that we discovered…. Or invented? I was struck by the comment “… Commonly, we think of time as a stream that flows like a river from the beginningless past to the endless future…Yet this is not the true nature of life and death…Each stage or dharma position of living and dying can only be experienced in the present moment, and the present moment does not have any length…” I previously thought about time in a linear fashion – past, present and future happen one after another in a straight line. We emphasize living in the present, saying the past is over and the future has not happened yet. We treat the present as a defined block of time on which we can focus. Yet, in this chapter, we see that the “present” exists only in relation to the past and to the future AND that this “present” exists only as a momentary meeting of past and future. Like everything else, this “present” is empty. How can you focus on something which instantly changes? Yet, this “present” is the only reality which actually exists!

    My thoughts?
    1. Time is not linear but rather is spherical. Beginning, birth, life, death, ending do not happen in a straight line. Rather, birth, life, death simply follow after each other continuously.
    2. Conventionally, we spend most of our time regretting and re-living the past or imagining the future. While learning from the past and planning for the future are critical, consistently bringing our thinking back to the present can significantly reduce our suffering. However, I now see this version of the “present” as nothing more than a shortened combination of my past and future.
    3. Perhaps, the only way to really reduce my focusing on the past and the future is NOT to try to focus on the present, but rather to just stop thinking about the past and the future, period – exactly what we do in zazen.


    2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

    For linear thinkers, death is a major problem. We are born, we live, we age, we die, and then… what? Some think we are reborn. How does that work? Who decides what we are reborn AS? Very problematic. After death, what is left to be re-born? Certainly, not form. And, without form, you can’t have sensations, perceptions, or consciousness. You are left with mental formations or mental dispositions, affected but not determined by our karma. So, what is available to be reborn is a habitual mental tendency. Perhaps this is why identical twins, from the moment of birth, often react differently to the same stimuli. For spherical thinkers, death is not an end but just a continuation of existence in another form. I like the metaphor of life as a drop of water. A drop of water evaporates and becomes a cloud, which condenses and becomes snow, which falls, melts and becomes a river, which winds down to the sea, which forms a wave, which crashes upon the shore, showering the land with – drops of water.
    In the end, perhaps, we shouldn’t care if anything transmigrates after death. After all, all that really exists is the present. Perhaps, we should simply focus on that.


    3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

    This chapter was a little confusing to me on this topic. We are assured that things will change. And, that both life and death are impermanent. Life and death are simply positions in time. Death is not the “end” of anything, but simply a stage on a continuum. Just as a drop of water evaporates and “dies”, only to become a cloud, so too, at the end of life, we “die” and become – what? That remains the great unknown, but it is “something”, And, won’t it be exciting to find out what?

    I am really interested in what other readers have to say about this chapter.

    Gassho

    Dick

    Sat/lah

  9. #109
    This is by far my favourite chapter, so much to unpack.

    1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

    My thoughts rarely dwell in the past, and if they do bring it back it's like remembering
    a dream.
    My thoughts also rarely imagine future, just the necessary planning stuff. I've always struggled to answer to popular interview question "where do you see yourself in 5 years time". I guess that's why I've never achieved any success.

    Present moment : how could we even define it? What would be the smallest measure of time we could come up with to mesure it? Yet it seems like there is no other moment than the one in which we experience our existence.

    2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

    Okumara asks the same question I've struggled a lot with "is there anything in impermanence that doesn't change"? The more I sit the less I'm concerned about it and the more I enjoy the flow of change.
    There's a popular story that many people find comforting how TNH after his mother's death found her presence in his own steps, in the reflection of moonlight, etc.

    For me though, Dogen's words:

    "As the firewood never becomes firewood again after it has burned to ash, there is no return to living after a person dies."
    brought the final closure after my father's death. A shock and a relief. And I don't understand completely why.


    3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

    That we don't really have much time.
    In this precious relatively short existence we are fortunate enough to have come across Dharma, yet how much time do we genuinely dedicate to practice? 1-2hr a day? What do we do with the rest of 22-23 hrs left?
    Having realised the sanctity of it all, how do I express it moment by moment, in my speach, conduct and each action? How do I treat everything with the same sacredness that I treated my newborn son, that I treat Zazen?

    Gassho
    Sat

  10. #110
    Thank you Nengei for leading these discussions. Thank you everyone for your thoughts.

    1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?
    2. What transmigrates? Should we care?
    3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?


    For me all of these questions really come back to “Who am I? Who is this self?” I once was so sure. I had spent a lifetime of building up the stories and mythology that made up my life. I felt certain about some sort of constant (ego perhaps) between my past, present, and future, where that future also included time after death. Certainly as I get older and the more I practice the more i see that I’ve been constraining myself to someone I thought I should be. As I unravel my stories I see a freedom to be who I am now. That freedom lessens the burden of being like my past self or obsessing about my future.

    I think it comes down to not knowing and being ok with not knowing.

    I know I didn’t directly answer the questions but I hope my answer makes some sense.



    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Last edited by Tairin; 06-26-2021 at 03:21 PM.
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  11. #111
    Tairin - I really liked your comment "...it comes down to not knowing and being ok with not knowing...." Very powerful insight.

    Gassho

    Dick
    Sat/lah

  12. #112
    I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, thank you all.

    And thank you Nengei for the time you have spent on writing questions for us amid your busy schedule. I can tell you these have been very valuable for me. When I've had time, I've been pre-reading the chapter before your post questions, and returning to it again after you post questions. I find this way I see new things or get more depth out of thinking it through to share with this group.

    1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

    Cause and effect (karma) depends on time. But it is through our conceptualisations that we see things becoming other things - we draw mental borders around segments of reality and give them names. A person. Firewood. Ash.

    Okumura uses an acorn as an example. He says as we see it from our usual view, an acorn sprouts and becomes a tree. But, we see it this way because we draw a mental border around part of the universe—an acorn—and as we focus on that segment we see it become a tree. But actually, the process of growing and sprouting involves many more aspects of the surrounding environment, the dirt, the sunshine, the air, all coming and going and giving and taking in the process.

    If I drop the mental borders around things, the conceptual descriptions, then… I don’t know what my thoughts are about past, present and future!

    Okumura discusses the present moment being all that we ever experience at any time. This makes sense, but it is hard to grasp while I constantly think in concepts about the past and future. Oh, but then he explains this too: our mind cannot grasp it.

    I liked this paragraph: “Reality unfolds only within this present moment, and yet our mind cannot grasp this present moment. This is so because even to think a very simple thought we need some length of time, yet the present moment has no length; the present moment is the only actual moment, the only actual immediate experience, and it cannot be grasped by the mind. Yet we each think of the present moment as having some length of time, and we place it in the midst of our own story, a story in which we are the hero or heroine.” (p. 78, Google books version)

    2. What transmigrates? Should we care?

    Any segment of reality we draw a border around will transmigrate into something else, as things are changing all the time. Perhaps it is better to think of transmigration as a process, a universal doing, rather than thinking of what or who is doing it?

    3. What are we assured of, when our practice is facing our own life and death?

    When we practice, it is the best thing to do with our time.

    ,
    Charity
    sat/lah

  13. #113
    Any segment of reality we draw a border around will transmigrate into something else, as things are changing all the time. Perhaps it is better to think of transmigration as a process, a universal doing, rather than thinking of what or who is doing it?
    I find this statement by Charity to be a new and helpful way to express the constant change and birth and death of each moment. Thank you.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  14. #114
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Apr 2020
    Location
    Massachusetts, United States
    1. What are your thoughts about past, present, and future after reading this chapter?

    I'm honestly still digesting this one, but there's something in how Okumura described the present moment in this chapter that really resonated with me. It wasn't a radical departure from how I have conceptualized it in the past, but thanks to this reading, my zazen has a fresh "sharpness" of focus (if that makes sense). It's still too soon to comment further.

    Like with every chapter in this book so far, I have an initial reaction immediately following the reading, but Okumura's teachings take a while to settle in and ripen. After a few periods of zazen over several days, his words start to sink in deeper and take root. I'm finding that I don't have much to verbalize about each chapter, yet each one has had a very tangible effect on my own practice. I wish I could elucidate more right now, but perhaps with more time and practice.

    That said, with regard to all notions of a "self" and transmigration, etc., I thought that Okumura's inclusion of Uchiyama's poem "Life and Death" sums it all up perfectly:

    Water isn't formed by being ladled into a bucket
    Simply the water of the whole Universe has been ladled into a bucket
    The water does not disappear because it has been scattered over the ground
    It is only that the water of the whole Universe has been emptied into the whole Universe
    Life is not born because a person is born
    The life of the whole Universe has been ladled into the hardened "idea" called "I"
    Life does not disappear because a person dies
    Simply, the life of the whole Universe has been poured out of this hardened "idea" of "I" back into the Universe
    Gassho,
    Seikan

    -stlah-
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

  15. #115
    Very humbled and pleased by this discussion. I bow to you all. _()_ _()_ _()_

    gassho
    sat and some lah, d shonin
    Visiting unsui, take w/salt.

  16. #116
    Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 9, 18 August - 22 August


    Dearest Sangha,

    Well, the best laid plans, and all... The time since my change in career status has been overwhelming. I spent over three weeks at my mentor's studio in New Jersey, working 12-14 hour days to complete a portrait (it's pretty cool) and observe his school in operation. After driving back to Minnesota, I immediately went to work preparing the space I am renting for my own school, and it just opened a couple of days ago. I have a few students registered, but am still waiting for things to take off. My hope is that the bulk of the manual labor is finished and now I can find a routine. No excuses, though, only apologies. I let you down. I am sorry.

    This week we will move on to Chapter 9: The Moon in Water, pages 127-142 in the paperback or all of chapter 9 in the ebook. This chapter is about realization... I think. Parts of it made me feel warm and fuzzy, but perhaps I was sitting reading too long and started to mould. I found the linguistics discussion in the first couple of pages to be particularly thought-stimulating. You?

    Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as your read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

    Questions for Chapter 9:The Moon in Water:

    1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

    2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

    3. Discuss the meaning of mind as "the reality of our lives."

    I look forward to your thoughts about The Moon in Water. Next week, we will continue with the following chapter, through page 155 in the paperback, which is Chapter 10, Something is Still Lacking.


    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  17. #117
    Welcome back Nengei. Do you intend on continuing with this study through Ango? I am game if others are.


    1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

    I have a problem with the use of the word “emptiness”. In understand what concept is trying to be conveyed but I think “emptiness“ misses the mark.

    2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

    I liked this reference. I had a prof back in my university days that had a saying about the Greeks vs the Romans. The Greeks sat around philosophizing while the Romans were practical and got things done.

    I think there is a little of that here. Rather than just pondering the philosophy of Buddhism Dogen was living it in practice. It wasn’t just an intellectual exercises.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  18. #118
    Hi Guys,

    I might suggest pausing this group during Ango, as there is much other study going on. Maybe pick up afterwards? Is that okay?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #119
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Guys,

    I might suggest pausing this group during Ango, as there is much other study going on. Maybe pick up afterwards? Is that okay?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Yes, that would work well for me, as I will be doing Ango and Jukai for the first time, trying to navigate making extra space in my life for those practices.

    But I will also post about Chapter 9 as soon as I can, since we have another week or so before Ango starts

    Gassho,
    Charity
    sat

  20. #120
    Oops, sorry, of course. I tried to take my last post down but for some reason it won't let me. People can ignore it.

  21. #121
    Quote Originally Posted by Nengei View Post
    Oops, sorry, of course. I tried to take my last post down but for some reason it won't let me. People can ignore it.
    Oh, we are not starting Ango until September 3rd. No need to stop early.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLaf
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #122
    I finished my Chap. 9 comments offline before I saw the suggestion to pause during Ango. I, too, am doing Ango and Jukai for the first time, and agree a pause makes sense. With that, my comments:

    1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

    Emptiness is a characteristic of all conditioned phenomena (all beings, objects, thoughts, feelings, etc.), but is most easily seen in tangible “stuff”, and states that all such phenomena re “empty” of any independent, inherent essence. Rather, all phenomena are dependent on other phenomena. The object in my garage, “my car” certainly is “really there”, it exists, but just not as an independent entity. Rather, it exists as a combination of steel, plastic, rubber, glass, workman’s skill, time and space. It is not “the same as” the car in my neighbor’s garage, but it has not inherent identity. Realizing this, it is easier to avoid attachment to the car, to getting greedy that it is “mine”, and to see all things in this way and to avoid jealousy over someone else’s car.
    The ”moon in water”, the reflection of the moon, is not the same as the moon itself. Just as my mind’s perception of ANYTHING is not the same as the thing itself. Knowing this, I can realize that my mind colors perceptions based on my past experiences.


    2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"
    A philosopher may intellectually understand the concepts, but a Master has integrated the concepts into his being.

    3. Discuss the meaning of mind as "the reality of our lives."
    How do we experience reality? Our senses send raw perceptions to our mind. Our mind compares these perceptions with past experiences, our “stories” of the world, and our mind then creates a reality. In this way, our mind creates our own reality.

    Gassho

    Dick

    Sat/lah

  23. #123
    Hi all,

    Thank you again Nengei for your thoughtful questions.

    1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

    I reviewed my notes from this chapter and I’ve had trouble forming an answer to this based on my reading. Okumura discusses lot of word play by Dogen, with words like moon conveying multiple things at once, as well as recalling known Buddhist symbols and teachings (e.g., Vimalakirti Sutra: “all things are like.. magical illusions.. like a reflection of the moon in the water.. born of mental construction.”)

    If I try to answer based on my feelings after both reading and sitting over time, I will say… the moon in the water represents how our conceptual thought distorts and does not fully represent the wholeness of reality, but at the same time these thoughts thinking and the reflection reflecting are the workings/functioning of the whole as much anything else. Emptiness is maybe the wholeness/totality, appearing as nothing by being everything, like how light has no colour when all the colours come together?

    I also like Dick's answer about emptiness, as it makes me think of it as shorthand for 'empty of independent existence.' And Tairin's answer, too, as emptiness as a word does seem to miss the mark without adding a lot of extra oomph to it.

    Not sure if this is part of my answer to this question, but I liked this bit from Okumura, “seeing reality from both sides [absolute and relative truth], without clinging to either, is the middle path.” Referring to Dogen: “Without relying on everyday common practices [i.e., relative truths], the absolute truth cannot be expressed.” – I think this is something I grapple with understanding.

    2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

    Allowing Buddha to express Buddha through you instead of trying to problem solve to find Buddha. Not sure what counted as 'the obvious' to go beyond it, though

    Gassho,
    Charity
    sat/lah

  24. #124
    Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 9, 25 August - 29 August

    Hello Sangha,

    We have but three chapters remaining in this text. See below for how you can approach this pre-/post-Ango.

    The more I learn, the less I know. I am limited by my ability to perceive. I know that there is more that I am unable to comprehend.

    This week we will move on to Chapter 10: Something is Still Lacking, pages 143-155 in the paperback or all of chapter 10 in the ebook.

    Once you have read and considered this week's portion, please come back to this thread and comment. Below are some ideas for questions to think about as you read, and perhaps to stimulate the conversation and posts. These are questions that came to me while reading the chapter; perhaps other ideas will come to you and you will share them with us. Even if you don't comment about the text, it would be nice to simply post that you are reading along.

    Questions for Chapter 10:Something is Still Lacking:

    1. What can I learn or change with the knowledge that my existence is original?

    2. Does seeing something in a way that is different from the way other beings see it change the nature of that thing (pay attention to the excerpt from Shōbōgenzō Sansuikyo and commentary)?

    3. Does knowing or being aware of inexhaustible characteristics or views influence my bodhisattva obligations?

    I look forward to your thoughts about Something is Still Lacking Next week, we will continue with the following TWO chapters, through page 201 in the paperback, which are Chapters 11 and 10, A Fish Swims, A Bird Flies; and We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywhere. This will be the end of Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo (all that remain are appendices). I will make two separate posts in a few days to bring this book to a close. Feel at liberty to conclude your reading then, or to postpone the last chapter or both of these chapters until after Ango concludes, as you prefer.


    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  25. #125
    1. Support or refute the idea that emptiness is "not really there," or "is the same as." Is the moon in water the same as the moon?

    I think we're all reflections I Indra's Net. To understand, as Dogen said in Bendowa, is to let go of the separation of self and other. We do exist, but we can't pin down a separate existence. We are interdependent.

    2. Beyond the obvious, what does it mean to be "... a Zen master, not a philosopher?"

    Practice means seeing and experiencing immediately and concretely as a Zen master. A philosopher deals with abstract intellectual ideas.

    3. Discuss the meaning of mind as "the reality of our lives."

    I don't know if this is the big mind that includes everything or if this refers to our perception which is shaped by our inclinations. If we have habitual responses, they shape our reality. If we drop the separation of self and other, we have a bigger reality.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  26. #126
    I really liked Okumara's approach to his Zazen practice, which he perceived as an offering of his body and mind to all buddhas. It's quite striking when we compare it with the modern attitude of getting something out of Zazen, treating it as relaxation method, anxiety relief, meditation technique, etc.

    I also liked the following from Dogen:
    "Realization does not destroy the person, as the moon does not make a hole in the water. The person does not obstruct realization, as a drop of dew does not obstruct the moon in the sky."

    In some other Buddhsit and spiritual traditions I came across the "Great Death" of ego. Perhaps I misunderstood this, but I don't see a point in trying to destroy or fight our "small self". Both Nirvana and Samsara are empty, both our True Nature and the deluded "small nature" are empty. I guess we all came across teachings saying that the treasure we are looking for is not somewhere "out there" but inside us. I don't think it is entirely correct. When the borders soften, when the "inside" and "outside" are not so obvious anymore, all of it becomes a treasure.

    Same as Charity I liked this bit from Okumura, “seeing reality from both sides [absolute and relative truth], without clinging to either, is the middle path.” Referring to Dogen: “Without relying on everyday common practices [i.e., relative truths], the absolute truth cannot be expressed.”.

    The reality of our lives. The exact situation, place and moment we find ourselves in is the ground for practice. There's no other reality for us than what we are experiencing right now. An this right now is ever-changing, constant arrisal and disappearance of phenomena. To learn how not to stick, not to reject, not get attached but to flow with the wholeness is in my understanding, an Unattainable Way.

    A Zen Master is someone who can embody this unattainable way to at least a certain degree.

    Gassho
    Sat

  27. #127
    Here are my answers for this chapter. I think it may be a struggle to do another two chapters before Ango, but Nengei if you post the questions here we can get to them when we get to them. Thank you again!

    1. What can I learn or change with the knowledge that my existence is original?

    Okumura has previously explained being an original person is who we are when we sit zazen, dropping the self-story and letting go of thinking. In this chapter he explains further that “practice allows us to live as an original person in this moment rather than become an original person sometime in the future.”

    Existence is original in this moment. What can I change knowing this? To drop my mental constructions of past and future, the focus on maintaining a narrative self. This frees me up to do Bodhisattva actions that serve others instead of actions based on fear of preserving my story, which only continues a cycle of suffering.

    With Jundo’s recent Zazenkai talk still in mind, I will add that it means I will make mistake after mistake but the lesson is to not to battle myself to internally reconcile the mistake with my ongoing sense of self but rather to keep dancing and be the original existence doing good.

    2. Does seeing something in a way that is different from the way other beings see it change the nature of that thing (pay attention to the excerpt from Shōbōgenzō Sansuikyo and commentary)?

    A core message at the beginning of this chapter is that when the Dharma fully penetrates, we realise not only that we are all one but that our view is always limited, as we all see things in different ways.

    This stood out to me -
    Dōgen says that we cannot be certain that there is an objective “true reality of water” that exists outside of the relationship between beings that are viewing and the “water” that is being viewed.
    If things don’t have an objective fixed nature but instead are relative to relationships, what is to change?

    In another sense, another theme I have been picking up in this reading, is that things are change, or are always changing, always in motion and it is their action at the time that defines them – their function.

    3. Does knowing or being aware of inexhaustible characteristics or views influence my bodhisattva obligations?

    Yes. To save all sentient beings we need to consider their perspectives.

    There are many different perspectives to take—different beings, relative and absolute, large and small scale—we will not be able to take them all, but we stay aware that our views are incomplete.

    I think that's what Okumura is meaning here -
    As Xuansha eventually said after becoming a master, seeing the ocean as one circle is perceiving that the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. Yet he also said that within this one bright jewel there are many different kinds of pain that create suffering for many people. Each pain has a different cause and needs its own cure; we must therefore study each pain individually.
    Gassho,
    Charity
    sat/lah

  28. #128
    Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 10, 31 August - 3 September and the start of Ango, Part A


    Dear Sangha,

    As we near our Ango season, we are also nearing the end of Realizing Genjokoan. This and the next post are my final ones on this text.

    Chapter 11: A Fish Swims, a Bird Flies, pp. 157-179

    This chapter, especially the last ten pages or so, is so personal and so enriching to me. I hope that you have found parts of this book that are meaningful for you.

    Once you have read and reflected on this chapter, please make some comments to let us know that you were here. I have written some questions below that came to my mind as I read this chapter. I make no assertions of their value. You may ignore them, respond to them, give us your own questions, use or do not use them how you like. As always, this is not an assignment, and no one is checking homework.

    Questions for Chapter 11: A Fish Swims, a Bird Flies:

    1. Is zazen the same as water for the fish and sky for the bird? If a fish is swimming like a fish, and a bird is flying like a bird, what am I doing?

    2. How does my involvement with the Sangha help my practice? How does the way that I interact with the Sangha affect my practice?

    3. What is the nature of my place and my path?

    I look forward to your thoughts about A Fish Swims, a Bird Flies.

    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  29. #129
    Informal Reading Group: REALIZING GENJOKOAN 2021 Edition WEEK 10, 31 August - 3 September and the start of Ango, Part B


    Dear Sangha,

    We are approaching Ango. We are also at the end of Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo.

    Chapter 12: We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywhere, pp. 181-201

    Once you have read and reflected on this chapter, please make some comments to let us know that you were here. I have written some questions below that came to my mind as I read this chapter. I make no assertions of their value. You may ignore them, respond to them, give us your own questions, use or do not use them how you like. As always, this is not an assignment, and no one is checking homework.

    Questions for Chapter 12: We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywh:

    1. How would I be different as an enlightened being versus someone living in delusion? Okumura notes that Only when a person becomes an enlightened buddha is the true beauty of the diamond revealed--to whom?

    2. How does my involvement with the Sangha help my practice? How does the way that I interact with the Sangha affect my practice?

    3. Why practice?

    I look forward to your thoughts about We Wave a Fan Because Wind Nature is Everywhere.

    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  30. #130
    Thank you, Nengei and everyone, for this thoughtful thread. I'm still on Chapter 10.

    Questions for Chapter 10:Something is Still Lacking:

    1. What can I learn or change with the knowledge that my existence is original?

    I can work with comes up for me just as it all is. It is acceptance without being self centered, self satisfied or even being aware of the self. Sitting, I can drop my stories and just breathe.

    2. Does seeing something in a way that is different from the way other beings see it change the nature of that thing (pay attention to the excerpt from Shōbōgenzō Sansuikyo and commentary)?

    I liked the idea that everything exists only in relationship to everything else, so my relationship with water may be that it soothes a parched throat, or is something to swim in, or that it cleanses, makes it those things. A fish in water makes it a palace

    3. Does knowing or being aware of inexhaustible characteristics or views influence my bodhisattva obligations?

    To be of service to anyone or anything, I have to be aware of that person’s or thing’s views and characteristics, as well as of the golden rule. The knowledge and awareness also creates reverence for all beings.

    ***

    I loved Uchiyama Roshi’s last poem, “Just Bow,” as an expression of all he had wanted to teach.

    Just Bow

    Putting my right and left hands together as one, I just bow.
    Just bow to become one with Buddha and God.
    Just bow to become one with everything I encounter.
    Just bow to become one with all the myriad things.
    Just bow as life becomes life.
    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  31. #131
    My apologies. I thought we were suspending this group until after Jukai/Ango. Thank you to Nengei for the thought-provoking questions, and to the whole group for great comments.

    Gassho

    Dick

    sat/lah

  32. #132
    Quote Originally Posted by Dick View Post
    My apologies. I thought we were suspending this group until after Jukai/Ango. Thank you to Nengei for the thought-provoking questions, and to the whole group for great comments.

    Gassho

    Dick

    sat/lah
    That may have been my misunderstanding. Ango begins tomorrow.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  33. #133
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    That may have been my misunderstanding. Ango begins tomorrow.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    Hi Guys,

    Yes, if it is okay, we are going to pause discussions here during Ango and Jukai, as so much to read and reflect on during that time. Resume with the new year?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  34. #134
    Yes, as I explained in my posts, I have completed my discussion posts for the final chapters, but it is fine to leave them until after Ango. I'll move on now.

  35. #135
    Hi Guys,

    We had some folks come to us interested in getting together for an informal reading group regarding Uchiyama Roshi's "Instructions for the Cook." Because we do not want too much going on in the forum, I suggested that they could get together off the forum, among themselves by email or PM etc., for their discussions (it is a really small group).

    Maybe you guys could do the same, if you want to go ahead among yourselves? Or you can wait until after Ango and Jukai.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #136
    Thanks Jundo. My preference is to wait until after Ango and Jukai, because I am doing other reading during this time, but if others are interested I will join in with them and chime in when I can.

    If we do go off-forum, though, it might still be a good idea to bring the discussion back here to the forum after Ango so that anyone who didn't join off-forum can see the discussion when they pick it up again, and so Nengei can see how people have responded as well.

    Gassho,
    Charity
    sat/lah

  37. #137
    Thank you, Jundo and Charity. I'm also for waiting until after Ango and Jukai. It just seems less complicated that way.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  38. #138
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    Thank you, Jundo and Charity. I'm also for waiting until after Ango and Jukai. It just seems less complicated that way.
    Yes same here.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  39. #139
    Is this still going? If so I do not see a link to join. If I may.

  40. #140
    Quote Originally Posted by Talib View Post
    Is this still going? If so I do not see a link to join. If I may.
    Hello Talib,

    I wasn't part of this reading group, but I think it arrived already at a point near the end of the book and is 'on hold' because of the Ango and Jukai season.
    Please have a look some postings further up in this thread.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidou Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  41. #141
    Yes, it is on pause for Ango period.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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