Shohaku Okumura

‘When we have full understanding that each of us is living together with all beings, interconnected, we cannot live in the egocentric way. That is the difference. That is also the meaning of Dogen Zenji’s expression shinjin datsuraku, “dropping off body and mind.” That is what our zazen really is. Rujing, Dogen’s teacher, said, “Studying Zen is dropping off body and mind” and “Dropping off body and mind is zazen.” This dropping off body and mind, for me, is actually a release from clinging to this being called Shohaku. So we open our hand.’ (The Mountains and Waters Sutra)

I went to Zen Center a couple of weeks ago to hear Barbara, the shuso, give a talk, and, feeling a little less broke than usual, bought a few books at the bookstore beforehand. Two of the books, this one, and Shinshu Robert’s book on Uji, were specifically to give me supporting material for my upcoming class on Dogen at City Center – we will get into the Shobogenzo in the last of the three classes, by which time I hope people will be primed and ready for it.
I am particularly happy to read this book, not just because it is always a pleasure to learn from Shohaku, but also because it is based on the first Genzo-e I attended (and apparently, the first one offered) – so, like Reb’s book, I was in the room when the teaching was offered, not that I understood much of this at the time either. The whole experience of the study combined with the sitting (like a sesshin, but without the constant spectre of pain), though, was a hugely galvanising moment in my practice, just before I went off to Tassajara for the first time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s