‘Remain solitary without dependency and drop off all of reality. Mixed together with the ten thousand forms, be clear and apparent. Eminent and vigorous on each bit of ground, be like the moon stamped on the water, flowing but not flowing. Like the wind in the sky, move but do not move. Having become thoroughly like this, when you proceed, in mean alleys do not ride on a golden horse; when turning back, wear tattered robes.’ (Extensive Record, discourse 316)

With these words I feel Dogen is channeling Hongzhi; outlining the power and energy of the adept, but also, in the marvelous images in the last sentence, counseling against arrogance and showiness in ways that are still echoed today. I hope no-one ever accuses me of riding on a golden horse.

Suzuki Roshi

‘When truth is actually fill your body, you think that something is missing [laughs]. Do you understand what does he mean? Something is missing– ”something is missing” means if you understand truth, you know, actual truth, truth is not– truth is– truth reveal itself in eternal present. Not only this moment, but also eternally it will continuously reveal itself through our activity. So what we do just now is not enough. We have to take another, you know, activity in next moment. So what we– just what we do is not enough.
If someone ask you what is truth, you know, you may say, “I don’t know”– you can say, “I don’t know,” or you can say, “What is it?” [Laughs.] What is it? “What is it?” means you stop and think, or you appreciate life in that moment. We are– we live in eternal present, but we even know that we do not aware of present even– present time even. We are just doing– continuously doing things one after another.
So you don’t know– you are not aware of your life even. But if someone ask you what it is, you may say, “Oh, what will it be?” [Laughs.] That is the answer, you know. “Oh– oh, I am doing something [laughs]. What am I doing [laughs]? This is the answer. What are you doing? “Oh my! I am watching the fish!” [Laughs, laughter.] That is the answer. Do you understand? “What am I doing? Oh, I’m practicing zazen.” That is true practice. That is true answer. “What is it?” is the answer, you know. “Oh, I don’t know” is also. “What are you doing? “Oh, oh my– I don’t know!” [Laughs, laughter.]
When you are actually one with truth, things happens on your life in that way. That is true life. When you discuss about the truth, what it is [laughs]– the more you discuss, the more [laughs] you will be separated from the truth. But when you know that, it’s all right– if you are answering to the question– someone’s question who do not know what is the truth. So you are trying to answer. Just you say, “Don’t be silly, I am just eating.” [Laughs.]

I copied this from an unedited transcript of a Suzuki Roshi talk, such as you can find here. I neglected to add the date or the actual page where I found the material, but since I can tell he is talking about the Genjo Koan, it was not hard to track down (and you can hear the talk here). In all the circularity of his expression, he is trying to elucidate the point that anything we think is happening necessarily does not encapsulate what is actually happening. More pertinently, there is a lot of laughter, which is also the essential point.


‘Spring has the feeling of spring, and autumn has the look of autumn; there is no escaping it. So when you want spring or autumn to be different from what it is, notice that it can only be what it is. Or, when you want to keep spring or autumn as it is, reflect that it has no unchanging nature.’ (Shobogenzo Yuibutsu Yobutsu)

When I went back to look at Only a Buddha and a Buddha, I found not only Dogen’s manifestation of the Lotus Sutra, (I first wrote echo, but realised that implied more of a separation), but also this paragraph, which reminded me of what I posted recently by Shundo Aoyama. More to the point, reading it, with a cup of coffee in hand, on a partly sunny weekday morning in San Francisco, I could feel my stomach tightening in a kind of excitement that is hard to put into words, but which always feels like yes – and not the yes of yes-and-no, where everything is divided in half, but the yes of yes, which includes both.

Shohaku Okumura

‘In my zazen, I sometimes feel that I completely understand what Dogen Zenji is saying in Shobogenzo. I have no question; everything is so clear. But I have to let go of it in zazen. And after zazen, I forget what I understood.
It is not only the small negative or egocentric thoughts, but also our thoughts or our understanding about Buddha’s teaching which we should let go of as well. Then the true Dharma as reality will start to appear. It will not appear as an object of our mind, but our entire body/mind becomes a part of the movement of the entire reality.
So we gain nothing, really nothing. The person does not become enlightened. From the beginning this person is part of the reality of all things. But because of our thinking and judging, we separate ourselves from the rest of the world. By letting go, this separation is removed. That is how this wholehearted practice of the way allows all beings to exist on the basis of the true dharma.’ (Sitting under the Bodhi Tree)

The Lotus Sutra

‘The Tathagata is able to discriminate everything, preach the law skillfully, use gentle words, and cheer the hearts of all. Sariputra! Essentially speaking the Buddha has altogether fulfilled the infinite, boundless, unprecedented Law. Enough, Sariputra, there is no need to say more. Wherefore? Because the Law, which the Buddha has perfected is the chief unprecedented Law, and difficult to understand. Only a buddha together with a buddha can fathom the Reality of All Existence, that is to say, all existence has such a form, such a nature, such an embodiment, such a potency, such a function, such a primary cause, such a secondary cause, such an effect, such a recompense, and such a complete fundamental whole.’

This is the heart of The Lotus Sutra, the revealing of the final complete teaching of the Buddha after he acknowledges his previous teaching as skillful or expedient means to bring people along the path to understanding. I am very tempted to head straight back to Dogen to remind myself how he parses these lines in the Shobogenzo.

Nishiari Bokusan

‘Every one of you is eager to be enlightened. How then do you get enlightened? Where do you arrive after enlightenment? You may say you don’t want delusion. But after all, what are you deluded about? Or, where do you get settled if you are deluded about delusion? Or what gets in the way if you are deluded?
Think well. Upon hearing “When all dharmas are Buddha dharma,” what are you deluded about? What are you enlightened with? Where do you go in delusion? There is no place to go. Where do you go with enlightenment? There is no place to go. So we know that there is nothing to boast about, even if you are enlightened. There is nothing to have a headache about, even if you are deluded.’ (Dogen’s Genjo Koan – Three Commentaries)

Jisho Warner

‘Speaking dharma happens in myriad ways, in all kinds of actions, not only those that issue from throats. In just this way, all beings speak dharma, including the insentient ones. In this speaking dharma by insentient beings there are all buddhas, all ancestors. The speaking of the insentient isn’t limited by their conditions. There are conditions, and there is the dharma that is universal, that is not itself the limited conditions it is about. All buddhas are present throughout the universe, not picking and choosing.’ (Receiving the Marrow)