Fleurs dans l'espace
Montagnes qui marchent
Flocons de neige dans la fournaise
Une seule fleur s'élève
Et l'univers tout entier s'ouvre de lui même
Que toutes choses soient touchées
Que les voix souffrantes muettes, tues ou disparues
Que les voix des sans noms et des sans demeure
Ici s'élèvent aussi
Les trois temps s'effritent comme du sable
Les patriarches ont des visages d'enfant
Le kito perce le ciel
Rentrer à la maison et la quitter
ont une seule saveur
Le trottoir sur lequel nous marchons est la Terre pure
Le va et vient de notre souffle, le nom même des Bouddhas
Et sans trace
l'autre et le soi même
Flowers in space
Snowflakes in the furnace
Single Flower stands
And the whole universe opens itself
All things are affected
That silent suffering voice, killed or disappeared
The voices of nameless and without a home
Here also rise
The three-time crumble like sand
The patriarchs of child faces
The Kito pierces the sky
Go home and leave
have only one flavor
The pavement on which we walk is the Pure Land
The comings and goings of our breath, the same name of the Buddhas
And without a trace
another and itself
Allocution à l'occasion des cérémonies du denpo, décembre 2014/Address at Denpo Ceremony, December 2014
"Sur le mont des vautours devant une assemblée innombrable, le bienheureux éleva et fit tourner une fleur d'Udumbara et cligna des yeux. Seul Mahakashyapa sourit. Le bienheureux dit alors, voici le trésor de l'œil de la Vraie Loi, le merveilleux coeur du Nirvana, je le confie à Mahakashyapa".
Ainsi commence l'un des plus beaux chapitres du Shobogenzo de Dogen. ainsi commence la transmission ininterrompue. Mais qu'est-ce que cela veut dire?
Une fleur dans la neige, une flamme dans l'espace.
Dans la neige , une simple fleur. La fleur de prunier. La fleur du Shobo, la fleur du vrai Dharma. Cette fleur transmise de Bouddha à Mahakashyapa est dans le maintenant, dans l'ici. Indistincte de vos visages. De tous vos visages ici présent. Confondue à vos pas. Elle tournoie au centre de vos prunelles, dans le cristallin des constellations, dans la boue des chemins, l'habit des sans abris, le coeur des sans demeure. Elle ne choisit ni ne discrimine. La fleur est la nuit lumineuse qui coule sur les choses, la lumière obscure qui porte les formes de matin en matin. La fleur n'est pas transmise, quand les mains disparaissent, le corps-esprit s'efface, alors la fleur advient. Rêve dans le rêve. Dans la fleur, il n'y a plus du vôtre ou de mien, de vous ou de moi, plus d'êtres illusionnés ou de Bouddhas, la fleur surgit et tourne d'elle-même. Dans la neige une simple fleur. Dans cette neige la fleur ne commence ni ne finit. Une neige-fleur , une fleur-neige. Le sourire de Mahashyapa n'est rien que cela, la fleur-neige elle-même.
La roue du Samsara tourne sans fin et la conscience traverse sans cesse les six royaumes. Illuminée par la pratique-réalisation, la totalité du Samsara n'est autre que la fleur elle-même.
Je n'ai pas reçu cette fleur, j'ai été reçu en elle, je n'ai rien transmis de visible, je n'ai fait que transmettre et éclairer ce qui déjà emplissait vos mains. Le maître n'est même pas un passeur, soulevez son kesa vous ne trouverez personne, personne à qui transmettre et rien à transmettre. Ne cherchez pas ailleurs la voie des Bouddhas, un grand cercle de feu où tout brûle, et le temps et l'espace. Votre vie telle qu'elle. La fleur-neige de l'ainsi, rien que votre vie telle qu'elle. Telle qu'elle. Telle qu'elle. Ainsi. C'est la lumière dont parlent les vieux maîtres. Vous êtes la lumière même que vous cherchiez confusément.
Ici, ainsi, il n'y a plus de miroir, plus d'image, plus de visage. Les Bouddhas des trois temps se vêtent d'espace, le corps des Bouddha assis est traversé de temps. Chacun rencontré est fleur dans l'espace. Chaque phénomène est pétale dans les flammes, flocon de neige dansant dans la fournaise.
Une seule fleur-neige et tous les phénomènes s'ouvrent en pétales.
Aujourd'hui, Dainin Joko et Myozan Kodo se dépouillent et entrent dans la grande pauvreté. Aujourd'hui ils se prosternent devant le plus petit, le plus souffrant d'entre nous. Recevoir la fleur de Shobo, c'est devenir fleur de pauvreté, actualiser le vaste corps des Bouddhas et Bodhisattvas et le jeter dans le brasier ardent et doux, abandonner sa vie et la mettre au service de tous les êtres sensibles.
Recevoir la fleur de Shobo, c'est devenir la fleur, une simple fleur dans la neige.
"On the Mount of vultures to an innumerable assembly, Blessed rose and twirled a Udumbara flower and blinked. Only Mahakashyapa smiled. Blessed then said, here is the treasure of the eye of the True Law, the wonderful heart of Nirvana, I entrusted Mahakashyapa. "
So begins one of the most beautiful chapters of the Shobogenzo Dogen. begins the uninterrupted transmission. But what does that mean?
A flower in the snow, a flame in space.
In the snow, a single flower. Plum blossom. The flower of Shobo, the flower of the true Dharma. This flower transmitted from Buddha to Mahakashyapa is in the now, in the here. Indistinguishable from your faces. All of your faces here now. Your not confused. It spins in the center of your eyes, in the crystalline constellations, mud roads, the habit of the homeless, the heart without notice. She chooses nor discriminates. The flower is the bright night flowing on things, the dark light that carries the forms of morning morning. The flower is not transmitted when the hands go, the mind-body disappears, then the flower happens. Dream within a dream. In the flower, there is no longer yours or mine, to you or me, more deluded beings or Buddhas, the flower emerges and turns herself. In the snow a simple flower. In this snow the flower begins nor ends. A snow-flower, a flower snow. Smile Mahashyapa is nothing that the flower snow itself.
The wheel of Samsara endless turns and consciousness through the six realms continually. Illuminated by practice-realization, the entire Samsara is none other than the flower itself.
I have not received this flower, I was received into it, I have not sent visibly, I did that transmit and clarify what already filled your hands. The master is not even a smuggler, lift his kesa you will find no one, no one to transmit and nothing to transmit. Do not also looking towards the Buddhas, a large ring of fire where everything is burning, and time and space. Your life as it is. The flower of the snow as well, just as your life. As. As. As well. It is the light of which the old masters speak. You are the same light you are looking confusedly.
Here, as well, there is no mirror, the more image over face. The Buddhas of the three times will clothe space, the body of the seated Buddha is crossed time. Each flower is encountered in space. Each petal phenomenon is in flames, snowflake dancing in the furnace.
Single Flower snow and all the phenomena open petals.
Today Dainin Joko and Myozan Kodo are stripped and enter into extreme poverty. Today they bow down to the smallest, most of us suffer. Receive flower Shobo is to become flower poverty refresh the vast body of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and throw it into the fiery inferno, soft, and give his life to the service of all sentient beings.
Receive flower Shobo is to become the flower, a single flower in the snow.
Mountains and rivers, mountains walking, walking, walking...
Mountains and rivers mountains walking walking walking
First and foremost, welcome. Don't expect me to explain Dogen’s words or unravel the path before your eyes. I won't. Nobody will do that for you. And your expectation, whatever it is, is extra. I will give you pointers, shocking pointers sometimes. Pointers are clues to manifest what you already know, who you already are. They are not pointing outwardly.
We will unfold aspects of Dogen’s insights into practice and realization. Dogen is not just the priest that brought zen sitting and the teachings of Nyojo to a distant, 13th century Japan. He is present here and now as you read these words. In our tradition we stress the fact that when we sit, everything sits with us: in the three times; in the four directions. Dogen-in Buddha,
alone-together with Buddhas: see ‘Yui Butsu yo Butsu’ (a chapter in the Shobogenzo in which Dogen points at the fact that all existences are real form, the body of the awakened one). He quotes an ancient teacher who says:
Mountains, rivers and earth are born at the same moment with each
person. All Buddhas of past, present, future are practicing together with
Perfect synchronicity. Co-arising. The whole mandala of the universe reveals itself as one piece. So, ancestors sit – and not just ancestors, but people, dustbins, animals, mountains, stars, galaxies, and, of course, sentient beings of past, present and future: here and now, all sit.
Here and now is a powerful teaching that includes everywhere and anytime. Pretty big, isn't it? In Zen, we have a saying that says: we are fundamentally alone. It is not just a mind-only teaching, a Yogachara teaching. It does not only mean we are by ourselves or are the makers of this reality we see as being out there. It means that this whole reality alone is but ‘isness’, and we are it. This is sitting with a vast mind; a mind that does not mind anymore about its whereabouts; a mind that doesn't judge itself and others; a mind totally open, unconditionally open.
The clear and boundless reality of this mirror reflects and is free from the trappings of what is reflected; intimately displaying everything, although untouched and unsoiled. Pat Enkyo Ohara, Dharma heir to Maezumi, quotes the beautiful poem of Daito Kokushi, who was this medieval teacher living under a bridge with the homeless in Kyoto:
No umbrella getting soaked
I’ll just use the rain as my raincoat
So, you see, you are soaked with rain, so much so you reach a point where you are not soaked anymore; or rather you become so intimate with rain it protects you, like a second skin. As rain touches you, you cannot see it as a threat or something that might make things worse. It is the opposite. The more rain, the less soaked you are. In sitting, it is very much the same, although you cannot understand the real depth of shikantaza, soaked with it, drenched in the ‘isness’, it realizes itself.
So Dogen gave talks over years – in Koshoji and later in Eiheiji – and the fabric of these talks were sewn into a beautiful kesa called Shobogenzo: Treasury of the True Dharma Eye; True Dharma Eye Treasury. Yes, something precious, but not as you might imagine: the usual treasure displays its glittering value, its shining gold, the pure water of its jewels; this one simply doesn't. No gold. No jewels … nothing of the sort. It reveals you. Your few pounds of flesh, your breath and mind as a living treasure. It points at the original face, which is always with us, despite the time, the energy and all the strategies that we use to escape our true self. If you think that Shobogenzo is a dusty pile of obscure writings, you got it all wrong. Shobogenzo is about you, everyone of you. You as you are: exactly, fully, totally. Here and now. Consider the first lines of the Bendowa, the text on which Dogen works, as he is sitting in the Hermitage of An'yoin, in Fukakusa, outside Kyoto:
This Dharma is abundantly present in each human being, but if we do not practice it, it does not manifest itself, and if we do not experience it, it cannot be realized. When we let go, it has already filled the hands; how could it be defined as one or many? When we speak, it fills the mouth; it has no restriction in any direction. When buddhas are constantly dwelling in and maintaining this state, they do not leave recognition and perceptions in separate aspects [of reality]; and when living beings are eternally functioning in this state, aspects [of reality] do not appear to them in separate recognitions and perceptions. The effort in pursuing the truth that I am now teaching makes the myriad dharmas real in experience; it enacts the oneness of reality on the path of liberation.
Open your hands, and you’ll be given. Let go, it will fill your hands. Let go of what?
We should say let go of this self you are identifying with. Letting go is the main gate of selfless activity. Abundantly present, says Dogen, plentiful, actually, it is the very stuff we are made of. As we act and unfold from this, it cannot be seen. Eyes cannot see themselves.
And a bit further on:
Just sit and get the state that is free of body and mind. If a human being, even for a single moment, manifests the Buddha’s posture in the three forms of conduct, while [that person] sits up straight in samādhi, the entire world of Dharma assumes the Buddha’s posture and the whole of space becomes the state of realization.
This is faith. To fully give ourselves to sitting-being.
This activity, dynamic and boundless, is the core of Dogen’s teaching. You see, Buddha is not a deity, not and object, not even a state; not something you reach after long practice and endless sacrifices. Buddha is an activity, a selfless activity. When you practice Buddha, when Buddha practices you, you are Buddha. That’s why we don’t get in the way and make a Buddha of clay, silver, gold, or even flesh; we get out of the way and leave it to Buddha. We let her-he-it be in charge. We basically don’t think or worry about Buddha, enlightenment or wakening. We stop trying to reach out for it. The whole body of reality is Buddha, as you let your original face flow and manifest itself. One bright pearl; the whole universe in the ten directions is one bright pearl. Being free of body and mind does not require to cut body and mind, to burn body and mind, to destroy them. ‘Shin Jin datsuraku’: shedding body and mind means to let go of the body of habits, the mind of habits, and also to fully allow true body and true mind to be. Not to interfere any more in the process. In a way, we surrender body and mind to their true and original nature: the activity of sitting, the activity of being. And through this we allow all things to turn into this body-mind sitting. When we sit, birds, noises, people, cars, planes, things are sitting with us – they are sitting us. Even more so, they are nothing but our true body-mind sitting. When you sit, where does your true body start? Where does it end? Free from views of body and mind – the beliefs, the thoughts, the strategies, the scars, the stories about this body and mind – what is left?
Life can be likened to a time when a person is sailing in a boat. On this boat, I am operating the sail, I have taken the rudder, I am pushing the pole; at the same time, the boat is carrying me, and there is no “I” beyond the boat. Through my sailing of the boat, this boat is being caused to be a boat – let us consider, and learn in practice, just this moment of the present. At this very moment, there is nothing other than the world of the boat: the sky, the water, the shore have all become the moment of the boat, which is utterly different from moments not on the boat. So life is what I am making it, and I am what life is making me. While I am sailing in the boat, my body and mind and circumstances and self are all essential parts of the boat; and the whole earth and the whole of space are all essential parts of the boat. What has been described like this is that life is the self, and the self is life.
This way of looking at activity is undivided, complete. Nothing is out of it: the landscape of the mind, the emotional world, the self, the boat, the waters, the sky, everything is it. Everything is part of the boat experience, from dust to star. Nothing can be separated, extracted, removed. The body of reality is wholesome, one, and the self meeting the self in the self, as Sawaki would put it, is something much bigger than what you call myself or I. In the true sense, this apparently limited self is meeting the self as original face, within the vast self of ‘as-it-isness’. Circles within circles. Thoughts without a thinker. Activity without a doer. Buddha’s activity, that is to say river-mountains’ activity permeates everything, no mountain but ‘mountaining’, no river but ‘rivering’. There is no self or substance to be found in mountains and rivers, but just the radiant activity; no boat but boating, which is vast and boundless, all inclusive. As you sit, everything and everybody sits with you. When you make tea, the whole universe makes tea. So, undivided activity means you cannot break it down, and from the timeless start, it is neither one nor two.
It reminds me of a conversation with my student Dainin about karma. We all would like to get a grip, to understand the reason why we have to face all the shit in life, go through this difficult time. In our tradition, in Zen, we just become intimate with things: laugh with joy, shed tears with pain. We are being one with the field of experience, without trying to control or understand. Rather, understanding is living. Living fully. Being lived fully by the universe; whatever comes, whatever goes. It is not about being spiritual super heroes, spotless saints, or all these fantasies. It is about being who we are.
I remember posting a video in which I was sharing how down and depressed I felt at that time, and at the same time all was well. You see, it shocked people. They expected a kind of Disney, airy-fairy solution to the roller-coaster, a miraculous recipe for happiness. Buddhist practice is not about happiness, it is about Truth. The truth of our beauty and of our shit, as well.
This is how Dogen starts ‘Valley Sounds, Mountain Colors’, or in the wording of my teacher, ‘Voices of the Valley, Colors of the Mountain’:
When we each get rid of our husk, we are not restricted by former views and understanding, and things which have for vast kalpas been unclear suddenly appear before us. In the here and now of such a moment, the self does not recognize it, no one else is conscious of it, you do not expect it, and even the eyes of Buddha do not glimpse it. How could the human intellect fathom it?
Getting rid of the husk, the protective shell, as we expose ourselves fully, unconditionally, we cannot even see it, notice it. There is nobody left to witness this. No witness. Merged. Totally merged with. One with the original face itself. It cannot see itself or know itself. As forms and things happen to you, before you, you see them as Buddhas. In the Hokyo Zanmai, the ‘Jewel mirror Samadhi’, we find the following:
It is like looking in a precious mirror/ In which you see your own reflection; You are not it. It actually is you.
You are not it because you cannot go down the path of self-infatuation, and because the self is totally forgotten; in this, all forms appear as Buddhas. You are not facing the mirror of reality and looking at your own image, hunting and chasing your own form wherever you are looking, you would be like the old queen in Snow White: ‘Mirror, tell me, who is the fairest in the land?’. This kind of question does not matter anymore. You are not begging reflection and feedback anymore. You are not trying to make things appear as you would like them to be, to look like what you want, to be in your image. You are not going for approval either. It is the opposite. You are the empty mirror in which the entire reality freely reflects itself. As Reb Anderson would put it: I am not the universe, but I am the universe realized as me. This is a real important point. Remember this poem Dogen wrote from a mountain retreat:
in the stream
To the dusty world
My fleeting form
Casts no reflection
That's a great piece of poetry. You and I have experienced this. You are hiking and then a brook, a stream gushing or trotting down, with stuff floating away (leaves, wood), and you are watching those things, wondering where they are heading to. You might also see your face in the stream, appearing and disappearing in the moving and shimmering waters. And Dogen had that experience too. But of course, the whole point is to express the beauty of a graceful existence: freely floating away, detached from its own form. Free from being caught by the mirror, freely dissolved in all things arising, freely letting all things come forward to illuminate. From clear stream to dusty world, from emptiness to form, from origin to expression, no need to leave any trace. In the beginning of the Genjokoan, this is expressed in the following words:
Driving ourselves to practice and experience the myriad dharmas is delusion. When the myriad dharmas actively practice and experience ourselves, that is the state of realization.
It is just another way to put it. This is a very powerful and intense statement. How to allow the myriad Dharmas to actively practice and experience who we are here and now? Certainly not repeating yesterday, getting a grip, putting an understanding forward. I draw your attention to this because that’s merely what we are all always doing, day after day, getting the same good old corpse out of bed and taking it like a pet or a puppet through the day, until we take it back to bed again. We are not living. We are sleepwalking, or just always assuming we know. Day in, day out. Not questioning. Day in, day out. Building over and over again the same castle made of sand. Drinking the same coffee. Taking the same bus or train, driving the same car. We even want things to be the same. We expect them to turn up exactly as we met them yesterday. If not met as we imagined them to be, we become irritated, insecure, angry and really pissed off. For Dogen, the core of zazen is to get rid of the ideas and opinions we have about self, others, and what sitting is or is not. Not sitting as a form of doing, a rigid form, a muscular spasm, but as a dynamic and fluid process. Being a beginner every time. That’s why I would like to point out Isso Fujita's article about zazen not being shuzen – that is to say something learned, step by step, applying ready-made instructions. If you sit, straightening the neck, pulling the chin in, straightening the back, you only build up extra tension, extra stiffness. The way to sit is to practice ‘indirect procedures’, which is the core of the teaching of FM Alexander. You don't pull the chin in. As the result of a natural response to gravity and a nice sense of balance, the chin will get pulled slightly in all by itself.
In Buddha alone, together with Buddha – this is how Dogen expresses it:
In ancient times a monk asked a venerable patriarch,“When a hundred thousand myriad circumstances converge all at once, what should I do?” The venerable patriarch said, “Do not try to manage them.” The meaning is, “Let what is coming come! In any event, do not stir!” This is immediate Buddha-Dharma: it is not about circumstances.
Stop doing or not doing. Not interfering is itself the right action. Acceptance and allowing. Giving up any control. This is the greatest action of all. At the end of the chapter above, Dogen speaks profoundly about the path of fishes and birds, the fact that their traces can only be known to their own kind, that these traces are beyond imagination and cannot be seen. Invisible. So are the traces left by Buddhas and ancestors, so are your traces in zazen: they are not meant to be read by you. You are not even supposed to witness the awakening of your true heart. If you want to walk and follow these traces, don't pretend you know what these traces are like, you are just fooling yourself, Just make yourself totally open to whatever comes your way. Don't sit out of habit. Let the sitting unfold naturally, by itself.
That’s where not knowing comes into play. That’s where not knowing is the gate through which the whole universe penetrates this bag of skin and flesh and bones.
Not knowing does not mean being like an idiot or a fool. Not knowing is not forgetting or getting stupid or ignorant. It is to let the open open itself, not get in the way, to drop agendas and intentions, maps and formulas, recipes and theories, all of them, and genuinely open our eyes and see. Not knowing is to stop believing our thoughts or following other people’s thoughts. Not knowing is to create space, or to let space be, so that things can freely manifest themselves.
In Genjokoan, Dogen gives this a new spin. He uses the following image:
A person getting realization is like the moon being reflected in water: the moon does not get wet, and the water is not broken. Though the light [of the moon] is wide and great, it is reflected in a foot or an inch of water. The whole moon and the whole sky are reflected in a dewdrop on a blade of grass and are reflected in a single drop of water. Realization does not
break the individual, just as the moon does not pierce the water. The individual does not hinder the state of realization, just as a dewdrop does not hinder the sky and moon. The depth [of realization] may be as the concrete height [of the moon]. The length of its moment should be investigated in large [bodies of] water and small [bodies of] water, and observed in the breadth of the sky and the moon.
The moon is a symbol of pure, undefiled reality: raw, shining, clear, gently clear. It represents the original awakening caressing all things. Not the blinding, blazing liquid sun. The gentle round moon, rising in the depth ofdarkness. Dogen talks all the time about the moon, which is also the form of sitting, zazen. Remember when Baker Roshi was called to the bedroom of Suzuki Roshi who was dying, Baker asked his teacher where they would meet again after his death, Suzuki drew a circle in the air. Do you get it? Dewdrop is the self, you-me-everybody. However limited, small or big, we can reflect the moonlight and display and express its brightness. Dewdrop which you find in the bird’s beak, in another famous poem of Dogen’s. We don’t have to make shikantaza pure, pure blue sky-like, just as is, just reflect. Big, small, black, red, man, woman, kid or senior. Whatever form, status, it is ok. We belong. It is the real meaning of ‘the man of no rank’, not just the sheer detachment from any pride, but the fact that what is required to practice is just the naked self, no name, no status, no power. With this, in this, we just sit and reflect. Brightness, beauty, light are manifested through our ability to open ourselves. Through our bowing, dignity arises in our being. Nothing comes from us, everything passes through an empty self. Hence the freedom and beauty of the reflection.
A monk asks Zen Master Chōsha [Kei]shin,
“How can we make mountains, rivers, and the earth belong to ourselves?” The master says, “How can we make ourselves belong to mountains, rivers, and the earth?” This says that ourselves are naturally ourselves, and even though ourselves are mountains, rivers, and the earth, we should never be restricted by belonging.
Kaz gives another interesting translation:
How do you turn mountains, rivers and the great earth into the self?
How do you turn the self into mountains, rivers and the great earth?
The first one is very much grasping, taking, controlling reality, turning everything into me and mine. This is the self-centered activity; consumer, worshiper, painter, teacher, banker, doer, maker, lover – we are often involved in this manipulation of reality and beings.
The second one is love in its purest and finest expression, just letting things be, giving our presence to the world as is, acting in service of all things. If you see a mountain you may want to pick up brushes, go for a nice hike, take a picture, compose a poem, give it a name, pick up a stone to bring a souvenir home, you may even carve your name on a rock, you may do all sorts of things to mountains and rivers, but what if you stop using the world as a space for projection? What if you do nothing? What if you just breathe along and be with?
Now, if you think that mountains are mountains and rivers rivers, you get the wrong end of the stick. Dogen loves nature, of course, but he is not trying to take you back into the wilderness. When he talks about mountains and rivers, valleys and voices, he is talking about the world as is, stuff you do, people you meet, situations of your daily life. You see, in Japan today, and it was even more obvious in Dogen’s time, you have nothing but mountains and waters. As soon as he could open his eyes, Dogen saw mountains all around Kyoto. He trained on a mountain. His daily surrounding: mountains, under his feet, right, left ... mountains. Nothing romantic about mountains and rivers. For us, mountains would be towers of steel and glass in big cities. You take the bus or pick up the kids at school: mountain. You go to the bank or the supermarket: river. All aspects of your life are sacred, as long as you do not discriminate, pick up stuff, choose or reject. Stop the shopping and worshipping and see for yourself what it is truly like, what it tastes like. Raw, direct, undiluted. Mountain tasting mountains flowing; rivers sounding rivers and standing.
This is what the layman Toba perceives clearly in the night. As Dogen recalls in his poem:
The voices of the river valley are the [Buddha’s] wide and long tongue, The form of the mountains is nothing other than his pure body. Through the night, eighty-four thousand verses.
On another day, how can I tell them to others?
Stripped from obstructions, delusions, projections, the naked reality: thusness, as-it-isness shows itself. And Dogen adds:
In previous springs and autumns, [Layman Tōba] has not seen or heard the mountains and waters but in moments “through the night”, he is able, barely, to see and to hear the mountains and waters. Bodhisattvas who are learning the truth now should also open the gate to learning [by starting] from mountains flowing and water not flowing.
So, as soon as you let the burden of concepts and identification down – the idea that you know this, you have already experienced that – you are meeting reality as is. Meeting reality as is is to stop adding or taking away. As you drink tea or coffee, you just drink tea or coffee. And this is why this business of mindfulness is extra. No need to add this witness element, to throw in this ‘I am aware of myself doing this’. There are three ways to peel a carrot: you may do it as a piece of garbage, and this is called distraction and negligence; you may treat the carrot as a jewel, and you are very mindful indeed and completely over the top; or ... just peeling a carrot. Just this. Just.
After thirty years of practice, as he gets into the mountains, Lingyun, sees peach blossoms in a distant village. Just one. And he wakes up. One glimpse of peach blossoms, now no more doubts, just this. So what does he see? Is there something mysterious in peach blossoms? Is there a hidden reality or secret language in nature? In plain view, it looks at you right into your face.
Even though, if the river valley and the form of the mountains continue throughout the night to produce, and not to produce, eighty-four thousand verses, if you have not yet understood with all your effort that river valleys and mountains are demonstrating themselves as river valleys and mountains, who could see and hear you as the voices of the river valley and the form of the mountains?
You, your own self as the activity of the river-valley walking, flowing, coming and going. This is why in our tradition the study of the self is central, the pivot.
In Plum Blossoms, ‘Baike’, Dogen writes:
The entire world is mind-ground, the entire world is blossom-heart. Because the entire world is blossom-heart, the entire world is plum blossoms. Because the entire world is plum blossoms, the entire world is Gautama eyeball. "Here, everywhere, right now" is mountains and rivers.
Plum blossoms represent the teaching of the Dharma. The timeless teaching. Beyond the idea of a spring, beyond the freezing winter. Plum blossoms appear in winter, before any other flower. A delight for the priests in the mountains. A most miraculous colour. It represents the ultimate reality of this universe, the perfect Dharmakaya, the ineffable itself. Timeless spring.
As Dogen comments on Tendo Nyojo’s words in the same chapter, ‘Baike’, he says:
When you paint spring, do not paint willows, plums, peaches or apricots, just paint spring (...)This spring is spring in the painting as it enters in the painting.
This is a very interesting viewpoint, actually going exactly against everything we would assume. Again, it is the same mirror thing, transposed in the creative process. You don’t paint spring, as painting spring would just be collecting bits and bobs, just putting together fruits and leaves. You let spring spring forward and paint itself. Entering the body-mind, it shows itself.
You don’t make shikantaza. You don’t create Dharma. You allow as-itisness to speak for itself.
Most of us are familiar with the core teaching of the Genjokoan, and presumably the most important insight and direction of the whole Shobogenzo:
To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be experienced by the myriad things. To be experienced by the myriad things is to let our own body and mind, and the body and mind of the external world, fall away. There is a state in which the traces of realization are forgotten; and it manifests the traces of forgotten realization forever and ever.
No self. No fixed self. We have the impression of a thread of continuity. But this impression is an illusion. Every moment of our life has its own arising and disappearing. It pops and vanishes, every moment. Studying the self is to see that spring does not become summer. There is nothing to cling to in the perfection of each moment. We are so busy at leaving traces and asserting our reality, writing books, making and raising kids. The ten thousand things are both the whole reality of this boundless universe but also our thousand daily activities. Our true self acting and radiating. Just like Kannon’s one thousand arms. Making tea and leaving. Taking the bus and leaving. Each activity is the opportunity to let go. Each activity is one aspect of Kannon’s activity.
And at the same time we always look outside, looking for jobs, people, toys, money, always out there. To study the way is to establish the bodymind in the still state, to stop being carried away, and this stillness is very dynamic, it rings into life. It cannot be separated from life, the ringing of our practice continues far beyond the sitting itself. As the ‘Bendowa’ points out:
The practice is not confined to the sitting itself; it strikes space and resonates, [like] ringing that continues before and after a bell. How could [the practice] be limited to this place? All concrete things possess original practice as their original features; it is beyond comprehension.
To study the self is to see through all the layers of identities, all the masks we wear, all the beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, all the stories that we are telling ourselves. To study the self is to realize that none of this is true, there is no need to cling to these identities, these beliefs. We are none of these. We may be joyfully participating in life. We can still be full of enthusiasm and joy, and yet know it is just a ghost, a cloud passing. Forgetting the self is to drop attachment and release good old habits – they live in every cell, useless tensions, painful scars – forgetting this body of suffering we are clinging to. As we sit and let shikantaza sit us, we are displaying a freedom body. Forgetting the self is to find nobody. Nobody is a great body. We are nothing but everything. To forget the self is to give up the separation between self and others. Awakening is a way of being, not a state again. Ceaselessly continuing, traces of forgotten realization manifested forever and ever... leaving a trace of enlightenment is a big disease. Awakening is forgotten, traces wiped out. Otherwise it is a shadow and a major obstacle. You get stuck. You are trapped. As Nishiari Bokusan used to say: “a cloudless, blue sky still needs to be hit with a stick”. Don’t stink of the stench of Zen, please, don’t be saint-like, holy like.
I am going to share a secret, a secret so obvious that you cannot see it: you may try to get there, to become wise and enlightened, and as long as you want or try, you won’t. Because you simply cannot. What prevents you from waking up is nothing but this very will. So, over ten, twenty or thirty years, always at the back of your head or practice is the idea that you should get there, until one fine day, you give it all up, you throw and drop any desire of getting somewhere. You just give it all up. In one big nonaction. To hell with that shit! Done. Gone. And there it is. There you finally realize that it has always been with you all along. One of the great teachers of America says that the difference between kensho and maha kensho is simple: in kensho, you are always seeking for approval, getting some confirmation; in maha kensho, you don’t care anymore, you just live your life as you, and you are not chasing anything anymore.
To study the self is to understand the self as true, wonderful and all interpenetrating self (jinissai jiko). The self is the original face before desire and separation steps in, before duality steps in, before the arising of pair of opposites. When we stop doing, as we sit, we then get illuminated by all things, verified by all things. This is Maha Kensho. This is the zazen that Dogen teaches: Saijojo zen, great and perfect practice, which is not obsessed anymore about being great or perfect. You don’t try to look for something, to achieve anything: agendas, hopes, fears, everything has gone. As Anzan Roshi says, you sit the sitting. You see what you see, you hear what you hear, and you realize that your own looking and seeing is Buddha’s activity. It is rivers being rivers again, mountain being mountains again. Saijojo is shikantaza. Shikantaza is saijojo. It is to really live reality as the body of truth, to let reality live us.
You know the famous words:
Before I studied and practiced the way, I saw mountains as mountains, and rivers as rivers. Then, when I started to practice, I saw that mountains are not mountains and rivers not rivers. But now, I am at rest, and I see mountains once again as mountains, and rivers once again are rivers.
Well, let me tell you what it is.
The first stage is the relative, the dual, the ordinary mind.
The second, emptiness has been experienced, the true nature of reality seen and tasted, the freedom from the relative found, there is the absolute. No mountain, no water. Mu. Ku.?? But you can get stuck there too.
The last one is reality itself, but seen as it is. Raw. Holding both views and
going beyond. As master Seun Sahn would say:
If your mind is clear like space, clear like a mirror, then when a mountain appears, only the mountain is reflected, if water comes, only water is reflected. This mind reflects everything. We call that a nature Sanmyak Sambodhi. Supreme perfect enlightenment. Here there is no high, no low, no discrimination, only truth.
The mountain and the no mountain are arising in this. Pain and no pain. Suffering and freedom. Self and no self. No more contradiction. You cry, you cry. You laugh, you laugh. Not stuck, you live your life as is. This is true zen.
And we are going to take one step further, the first one is the Theravada, where mountains are mountains, delusions are delusions and need to be severed or cured; the second one through emptiness realizes compassion as the identity of self and others, Mahayana; the third one deals with reality as the enlightened body itself, path of transformation and dance, Vajrayana. The three yanas as three aspects of the jewel, three styles and perspectives.
Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes life is a real bitch. And there is no escape. Jundo and his beloved wife are doing all they can for their sweet little girl in hospital, many treeleafers are now going tough time: unemployement,cancer, breakdown, I am struggling to carry one living in Japan as my job is seriously threatened and things don't look good at all.
In this situation, no need to dress it up and make it cheerful. No need to flee and avoid the problem. We are all invited to participate with joy to this, because it is the very nature of life, fleeting, changing, fragile, the very nature of what is given to us, sooner or later taken back. In front of this, we invite the unknown, throwing body and mind into it, trusting a process beyond thoughts, feelings and fears. As Dogen says in what he left us as a death poem:
Fifty-four years lighting up the sky.
A quivering leap smashes a billion worlds.
Entire body looks for nothing.
Living, I plunge into Yellow Springs.
What a remarkable way to live! Leaping into the unknown, life and death merged and both totally transcended. Every single moment is an opportunity for all of us to exactly do that, that this body of thirty, fourty, fifty years and a few days and throw it into the amazing unknown reality.
entire body looks for nothing
living, I plunge into the Yellow Springs
Nothing left, no traces, no shadow. Just the taste of what is as it is. That's our way to live, far from the hopes and consolations found in so many religions and belief systems.
Life sucks and it is OK!
Treading along in this dreamlike, illusory realm,
Without looking for the traces I may have left;
A cuckoo's song beckons me to return home;
Hearing this, I tilt my head to see
Who has told me to turn back;
But do not ask me where I am going,
As I travel in this limitless world,
Where every step I take is my home.
Please let us not be so concerned about what we have done and not done, let s not play endlessly the good old tunes of what has happened, what if I did this or did not that? For years we have had these going on and on in the back ore front of our mind.The past is not ours to see and toy with. Done and gone. We all go along, drifting like the clouds of the Zen saying in the deep blue sky ( clouds are part of the sky, witout them, the sky would not be), we roam like a dream within a dream, bubble blown away without any place to abide. The Dharma is found like a bird song, meeting the real person here and now is all that matters, past and future are cast aside, home is not a place, home is who we are, this entire body - mind - breath-world , home is the action, the samadhi of receiving and using the self, jijuyu zanmai and everything that radiates through this being-time.
Drifting pitifully in the whirlwind of birth and death,
As if wandering in a dream,
In the midst of illusion I awaken to the true path;
There is one more matter I must not neglect,
But I need not bother now,
As I listen to the sound of the evening rain
Falling on the roof of my temple retreat
In the deep grass of Fukakusa.
Precious form and existence: to awake from the dream is given to so few of us. To bloom in the mud pit, cultivating the non dual path, neither mud nor gold. The matter not to be neglected is the practice- awakening, this boundless treasure in which time collapses , subject and object both vanish. The end- gaining of fools, makers and kings doesn t rule here, the body- mind in Kannon, listening, enjoys the hues of the real and its fabric, rain in rain, given and given again, embracing each drop, singing silently in unisson with the clamor.Nothing between flesh and rain, nothing left, just this flesh- rain , not knowing, selfless presence unfolding. The open opening itself.
Because the flowers blooming
In our original home
Though springtimes may come and go
Their colors do not fade.
It is said that although sitting takes place in space and time, it is not bound by space and time. The original home is a simple abode of not identifying with any role, not clinging to anything, not following any particular thought. It is right here, where we sit. If we read everlasting as something like eternal, we are missing the mark. Because of the very reality of impermanence nothing can go for ever, and certainly not time. Everlasting might mean here, through changes and seasons, always available, always open for us. And practice- realization cannot be seen and compared to cherry blossoms in Spring, as you stop sitting, it carries on blossoming, as you sit,the whole,reality sits with you. Beyond the traditional idea of time, it is still sitting now. Flowers blooming Dogen uses a plural here because there is not a single you, we appear and disappear every signle moment, the person that sat in front of this screen and the person reading these lines are different. The feeling of continuity, a single self going through life, is a very nice illusion, we constantly disappear and reappear, and the speed of the process gives us a feeling of continuity. Constantly changing is our everlasting state...you see how the first interpretation of his poem can be misleading, people reading this without the sitting experience would inevitably project a very dualistic and fake reading like: awakening is eternal and the trivial and dark reality of illusion cannot touch it. Countless springtimes will come and go, countless "you" will appear and die and yet, colors are always fresh, vibrant, vivid. Not because the flower lasts. Just the opposite.
All conditioned phenomena
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, or shadows;
Like drops of dew, or flashes of lightning;
Thusly should they be contemplated.
This verse of the Diamond sutra is generally understood as the sole description of how transitory and fast phenomena can be...life is short.
Well, if I may, it describes exactly what Dogen points out, what is described here is not the duration of the phenomena but the speed of its transformation, before and after. As a young teenager, I remember reading an old copy of the diamond sutra in my bed at night time. i was mesmerized by this verse. But I could not undertand this, thinking my life as as fast as a flash of lightening. Now, countless flashes of lightening and endless flowers- lives.
beyond this peak
is not my companion on this hill
it must return
to cast its light on the floating world
Doing what we do here is practising poverty. Mendicants, beggars, floating forms, as we sit, Thusness is reflected. Don't fool yourself thinking it is yours. Don't believe you have got it, and it can be spoken about, owned and tagged, put into a treasure box. Of course, a free heart can sing it so well. In fact awakening and words can be one. But the clinging is extra. You see Dogen in the end of the Fukanzazengi speaks of a treasure box but not of a box that closes...Listen, he says the treasure house will open of itself for you to use it as you wish and of course, this you is not anymore the you you are used to, theyou that uses things, the you as opposed to me and them, box is open, self is open and everything else has vanished. The moon cannot be known,awakening is not something to toy with, it is the selfless action, the subtle doing of undoing. It cannot be self conscious. The floating world, ephemeral, full of vanity and deception is dressed in moonlight, the very transient and fragile and broken world around you is touched by this radiance, unconditionnal radiance, faceless, flowing everywhere. Destitutes, filth, darkness: all corners are lifted and unveiled. It returns there because it belongs there. The floating world is nothing but the body of the true Tathagata. For filthy eyes, it is just soiled and trashed. For naked eyes, it is perfect, round and clear.
Awake or asleep
in a grass hut,
what I pray for is
to bring others across
The grass hut described by Dogen is the formless form, the open seal of sitting. Open, open to all, thoughts and silence, visitors of all kind will come and go: noises, voices, shadows of the past and ghosts of a distant future, this homeless place accepts them all, on Budha s seat they sit, with Buddha s body they unfold: dirty, old, many, rejected, hungry, visible or not, the moon circle embraces all until you cannot separate this from that, until their bodies and the patched robe body unfold as one.
Being-making a raft will take them all to the other shore, the shore of now that they have actually never left and therefore the shore that cannot be reached. How could the eye see itself, how could the hand grasp itself?
The moon mirrored
In a mind clear
As water still
Even the waves
Reflect its light
Of course the entire moon of awakening knows no bounds. Centre without periphery, all things arise and vanish within its golden-white disc. The mirror is selfless, reflecting without essence, manifesting without being trapped in I or you. Movements, stirs, images, thoughts go by and in breaking reveal their true nature and display the very radiance of the Dharma.
Not an inch of this escapes the moon-body, the mirror- moon of sitting described by Nagarjuna has one taste and countless manifestations.
Swallow it and spit it at once!
Another seemingly plain or mysterious piece written TODAY by Dogen:
A white heron
In the snowy field,
where even the winter grass
Cannot be seen
It echoes this verse from our ancestor Tozan in the Hokkyo Zanmai, The Jewel Mirror Samadhi :
Like a silver bowl filled with snow
like a heron hidden in the moonlight
These two poems are pointing at Raihai, "devotion-merging action", "prostrating onself to", Raihai is the essence of the ceremony, a ceremony beyond ceremonies. A ritual beyond rituals. We don't bow at something, rather bowing for bowing, the bowing disappears, concealed in the brightness of the Moon, the radiant nature of this whole reality.
Sitting, we do not sit to manifest Buddha, we sit and we vanish into Buddha manifesting beyond our grasp or control.
This practice leaves no traces behind, no footprints in the snow or blablabla on a forum.
The self merges with the self, forgotten in this where everything is contained, beyond emptiness (snow) and manifestation (winter grass), beyond sitting practice ( snow) and original face. Here the ideas about me and others, relevance or irrelevance, likes and dislikes don't apply.
The heron-snowy-field is one glowing flight where this and that are cast away, where form and formless are dropped, form and emptiness, body and mind, shinjindatsuraku, not bothering about being bothered or not bothered.
Forget the heron in the field of practice, and be-snowy-heron-field-you-me-others.
The way we cook our life here.
Dogen, in a mountain Hermitage writes:
Because the mind is free
Listening to the rain
Dripping from the eaves
The drops become
One with me
The shattered universe collapses into the Moon-body. Here, not attached to anything, just being, not trying, not chasing, not escaping, things are undone and done, by themselves. In this, Mountains do walk, stone women are sweet; who said that one could do it, even in a dream? Who said that shinjin datsuraku can be fabricated, taylored, made, done? The rain will teach you.
Shohaku Okumura in his latest book about Zen chants and texts, Living by vow, writes the following (p.167-168):
(...) When we see the flower without thinking "this is beautiful" or "What is this flower called?" we really meet the flower itself. When we see the flower without thinking, we find that our life, this body and mind, and the life of the flower are the same life. There is no separation. We can say:"I am blooming there as a flower". To extinguish our views, to let go of thought, or to negate our own way of thinking is not negative. It makes our life very vivid and dynamic(...).
If you come here with your petty pretty understanding of the path and get it approved and stamped, you are in for a big disappointment. And this disappointment is part of practice itself.
This path is about loosing, loosing our beliefs, our ideas, our theories and breaking the little boxes in which we try to put everything away.
When will we wake up to the fact that that all sutras, all shobogenzo, countless teachings take place here and now in the body-mind of Buddha, that to study sutra and texts is not to study dusty books or scrolls coming from the past, that Dogen was not born yesterday and we are so old already, that once we surrender to this hidden-treasure-in-full-view, when we strip everything to just let the original face shine, it meets all beings and things as just an expression of itself?!! YOU ARE THE SHOBOGENZO!!!Wake up! It about you and your life and not old guys playing little pretty koan games and lovely poetic contests.
When he is in Koshoji, Dogen writes almost all his Shobogenzo. And one of the talks he gives to priests and lay people can be read as a chapter: Bussho, Buddha nature. This is one of the 10 or 15 chapters that one should read, study, drink, eat, swallow, sweat, piss, do, undo, wieve, sew, bake, plow etc. More than a key chapter, it offers the most extraodinary journey through this all thing-non-thing that we are.
To start with, Dogen picks up this sentence:
The Buddha ??kyamuni said, “All living beings in their entirety have the buddha nature. The tath?gata always abides, without any change.”
And the rest of the talk is going to take it apart, take me and you apart,deconstruct view after view of the self, the Buddha and all the rest of it.
We don't have Buddha nature says Dogen, we are. And this is big. When the young Dogen was in Kyoto before his trip to China, he was puzzled by the simple question: if we already have it, why should we practice then? And of course, having a treasure, no need to look for it. As you operate a little shift of preception , it is not having Buddha nature but being Buddha nature, then, well, things get pretty clear, a Buddha practices a Buddha. Practice is not seen as a mean to get something you haven't got or you have forgotten you already had, it is about being who you are. And there is no other way to be a Buddha than being a Buddha.
Give it a go. And again and again. This chapter has treasures to reveal because you are the living revealed treasure!!!