Also see: Excerpts from the Jewel Mirror Samadhi

Hakuun Yasutani, "Flowers Fall: A Commentary on Zen Master Dogen’s Genjokoan”

Chapter 7

“In mustering the whole body and mind and seeing forms, in mustering the whole body and mind and hearing sounds, they are intimately perceived; but it is not like the reflection in a mirror, nor like the moon in the water. When one side is realized the other side is dark.”

Here Dogen Zenji shows the way in which one further actualizes Buddhahood. Body and mind are fundamentally one. Regarding them as two is a thought, a delusion. When you are happy, is it your mind that is happy or is it your body that is happy? When you are hungry, is it your body or your mind? If you say “My stomach has become empty, it must be my body,” don’t we also say, “I realize how hungry I was?” Then, it must be the mind. Don’t be asinine. It’s both. Both are one. When mind and body are working separately, neither of them is any good. They are utterly incomplete. The whole idea is extremely frivolous. Be serious. Mind and body are always one.

Here Dogen Zenji has shown the manner of earnestly practicing the Buddha way. In other words it’s completely mustering the whole body and mind. Seeing and hearing, standing and sitting, it’s completely mustering the whole body and mind. That’s “just,” wholeheartedly. It’s just walking, just working, just sitting. It’s just being in samadhi throughout the twenty-four hours of the day.

This is the way of practice of our predecessors, the buddhas and ancestors. In modern terms one can call this living fully.

When Master Hsiang-yen was sweeping the garden, he was just working with his whole body and mind completely mustered. Therefore at the single sound of a pebble striking bamboo, he attained great enlightenment. When the priest Ling-yun was on pilgrimage, with his whole body and mind mustered he was just making a pilgrimage and climbing up a mountain road.

Therefore, when he glanced at a peach blossom he attained great enlightenment. To intimately perceive is to realize the Way.

Now, between completely mustering the whole body and mind to see forms and to hear sounds, and intimately perceiving (attaining great enlightenment), there is a subtle turning point.

These two are not the same. And yet, of course, they are not unrelated. Therein is the subtle experience called “the single sound of enlightenment,” which is spontaneously expressed. Shakyamuni Buddha upon his enlightenment exclaimed, “How wonderful, how wonderful!” Hsiang-yen said, “One striking of the pebble on the bamboo and I have forgotten everything I knew.” Ling-yun said, “Having directly arrived at this moment, I have no further doubts.” Su Tuong-p’o sang out, “The sound of the mountain is this broad, long tongue of the Buddha.” Thus, seeing one’s true nature and realizing the Way is the basis of the Buddha way. You people of the Soto sect should once again clearly recognize, believe, and eagerly practice it. If within the sect there is no one with the actual experience of realizing the Way, and the Shobogenzo is dropped down to the level of thought and becomes a philosophy, I’m afraid Dogen Zenji’s Buddhadharma will vanish from the sect like clouds and mist.

Next he points out in detail how to realize the Way, to intimately perceive. “it is not like the reflection in a mirror, nor like the moon in the water.” Here, by means of a metaphor, he clearly points out that realizing the way is completely different from the realm of intellect and understanding.

The simile of the reflecting of an image in a mirror and the reflecting of the moon in the water mean that the mirror and the reflection, the water and the moon, are two separate things that have become one, but the actual experience of enlightenment is a completely different matter. Therefore, even if one can conceptually understand the principle of Zen or intellectually comprehend the meaning of manifest absolute reality (genjokoan), that is not enlightenment.

Enlightenment means waking up to the world of oneness. Unenlightened people look at everything dualistically: self and other, subject and object, delusions and enlightenment, this world and the Pure Land, unenlightened persons and buddhas, form and emptiness. Even if one tries to get rid of that duality by mouthing the theory that “form is emptiness,” the seam of “is” remains. It’s not the seamless stupa.

The actual experience of enlightenment comes springing forth in the realm of true oneness. And with that, one sometimes cries out in astonishment. One becomes aware that the whole universe is just the single seamless stupa. It's not some simplistic kind of thing like a reflection in a mirror.

"Mountains and rivers are not seen in a mirror." It's not that mountains, rivers, and the earth are reflected in one's mind-mirror. That's okay when we are using metaphors for thoughts and consciousness. But what we are speaking of now is the realm of the actual experience of enlightenment. The self is the mountains, rivers, and earth; the self is the sun and moon and the stars.

The great earth has not
A single lick of soil;
New Year's first smile.

"Not another person in the whole universe." One side is all there is, without a second or third to be found anywhere. If one calls this subject, everything is subject and that's all. There is no object anywhere. It's the true mind-only. It's snatching away the objective world but not the person. If one calls this object, everything is object and that's all. There is no subject anywhere. It's snatching away the person but not the objective world. It's the true matter-only. Whichever one you say, only the label changes and it is the same thing. While Dogen Zenji calls this completely self, he also calls it completely other. It's all self. It's all other. This is the meaning of "when one side is realized the other side is dark." This is also called "one side exhausts everything." It's the whole thing, being complete with one, exhausting everything with one.

1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    It's SO close to quantum physics.