Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sesshin Begins Now

Thanksgiving is not culturally ingrained in me very much, so mainly I was glad to have two unstructured days. I decided to get a couple of bike rides in, as it was sunny, if chilly, and to leave all the sesshin planning for today. It still loomed over me, and it meant I had a very long afternoon of logistics and paper shuffling today. Neither printer wanted to co-operate either, which did not help my mood much. There were also the requisite number of last-minute changes to incorporate, with more to come, no doubt.
I think everything is ready for the reading of the admonitions, which I would post here, along with the schedule, like Greg did last year, but I am not at the ino's computer.
After this, silence...hopefully.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blowing Hot And Cold

I know if I make a statement about the weather here in San Francisco, there will be someone who will exclaim "You call that hot/cold? Here it is (insert extreme temperature here)", as happened a while ago. Californians I think have a reputation among other Americans for being pretty soft as far as the weather goes - a point I was reminded of when I got to the Bovine Bakery on Sunday, and the only other cyclist there noted to me that the previous week, when the weather had been warmer and with no threat of rain, there had been no place to park his bike, it had been so crowded. Also, for anyone who has been through the winter at Tassajara, and endured temperatures below freezing inside their cabins, there is really nothing to complain about here - I don't have functioning heating in my room here in the city, but this is a solid building, and I still have plenty of warm clothes from my Tassajara days. In my first winter there, the heating wasn't working in the zendo when the first cold snap happened, and I think I wore eight layers of clothing to do zazen on a few occasions; here, there was a chilly northerly wind blowing yesterday, so unusually I shut all the windows in the zendo.
With the wind, beautiful sunsets. These are from yesterday at around five:

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

In the next three fascicles, Dogen happily takes potshots at those who are merely scholars; it is somewhat ironic that he is using the breadth of his own scholarship to do so, and that he can say, in 'Dharma Blossoms Turn Dharma Blossoms', 'Hokke Ten Hokke', speaking of the story of Fada and Huineng, "In order to fathom the true meaning of the dharma, thoroughly study the ancestor's teaching as a single great matter".
While this fascicle focuses on the Lotus Sutra and includes many quotations from it, the two versions of 'Ungraspable Mind', 'Shin Fukatoku', deal with Deshan, the Diamond Sutra scholar.  Not content with retelling the famous story of his being stumped by the old woman selling refreshments, Dogen even goes on to tell Deshan how he should have proceeded, and how he could have tested if the woman was merely asking a fiendish question, or if she had a deep understanding (this reminds me of something my father wrote in a good luck card before my A-Level exams: "Remember that the greatest fool can ask more than the wisest person can answer"). In the expanded version, he includes the story of Huizhong and Daer, and again, takes it upon himself to criticise the clarifying statements of other ancestors, including ones that he elsewhere refers to as true teachers: "The five masters' views should be altogether seen through...these five old masters were not clear about Huizhong's teaching. It looks as if they did not pursue buddha dharma enough". I think the point he is making is that to make any statement about the ungraspability of mind is to miss the point. So he simply concludes by saying "Study mind that is ungraspable".

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gate of Liberation Stands Open

I was thinking that the three ceremonies we are having in the space of a week were all somewhat different, but this is not really the case. On Friday night we had an intimate jukai and rakusu-giving ceremony, led by Shosan Victoria Austin, with Chris Shelton receiving the precepts, and Kathryn Stark renewing her vows with her new teacher.
Being the evening, we did not get the usual photo opportunities in the courtyard, but we gathered in the dining room instead. None of my flash-assisted photographs turned out at all good, so here is a grainy shot sans flash of Chris, Victoria and Kathryn:

This morning we all got to renew our vows with the Full Moon Ceremony, led by Jordan as the kokyo. As usual, I notice I was a little distracted until we had got through all the homages, but then I was much more focused by the time we got to the vows and precepts themselves.
On Wednesday evening, at the usual time for zazen, we will have our Thanksgiving Ceremony, which will include offering food for those whose needs are greater; and then, after a couple of days' holiday, right into Rohatsu...

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Well, the Flag Counter has been in a month, and it registers forty countries now, which I am delighted about, notwithstanding the fact that many of these may just be one person on one occasion. I have also seen China,Ukraine, Slovenia, Latvia, Netherlands, Georgia, and Venezuela show up on the Google stats in that time, so that brings it up further. The US spread is also growing, though mostly close to home:

StateUnique VisitorsLast New Visitor
1.1.California526November 21, 2010
1.2.Texas22November 19, 2010
1.3.New Jersey18November 18, 2010
1.4.New York14November 17, 2010
1.5.Illinois13November 18, 2010
1.6.Oregon9November 19, 2010
1.7.Arizona5November 11, 2010
1.8.Minnesota5November 12, 2010
1.9.Washington5November 20, 2010
1.10.Pennsylvania4November 9, 2010
1.11.Wisconsin4November 20, 2010
1.12.Massachusetts4November 21, 2010
1.13.North Carolina4November 17, 2010
1.14.Ohio3November 17, 2010
1.15.Nevada3November 17, 2010
1.16.Idaho2November 5, 2010
1.17.Virginia2November 13, 2010
1.18.Florida2November 7, 2010
1.19.Maryland2November 2, 2010
1.20.Georgia2November 15, 2010
1.21.Michigan2November 18, 2010
1.22.West Virginia1October 25, 2010
1.23.Vermont1October 27, 2010
1.24.Iowa1October 27, 2010
1.25.Connecticut1November 9, 2010
1.26.South Dakota1November 11, 2010
1.27.South Carolina1November 12, 2010
1.28.New Mexico1November 13, 2010
1.29.Arkansas1November 17, 2010
1.30.Colorado1November 17, 2010
1.31.District of Columbia1November 18, 2010
1.32.Indiana1November 18, 2010

Unknown14November 12, 2010

Thank you all for tuning in.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

Just as time flows forwards and backwards, and just as mountains flow, the transmission of the teaching is not simply how it appears to be. In 'Buddha Ancestors' and 'Document of Heritage', 'Busso' and 'Shisho', Dogen looks at the lineage, and the transmission documents that he was able to see in China. When he sees the documents offered by Abbot Yuanzi, in Damei's lineage, he says, touchingly, "Tears wet my sleeves" as he realised his good fortune in having such an opportunity, and he dreams of Damei and plum blossoms, just as the Abbot had before Dogen's arrival, and writes "This dream was as real as being awake. I have never before told this story to anyone in China or Japan". 
But while he insists on the documents, just as he insists on the robe, as the emblem of the authentic teaching, he does not limit this to a linear transmission; he quotes his teacher Rujing saying "Because of this heritage from buddha to buddha until now, each buddha is an heir. Buddhas are not lined up, nor are they gathered together, but they just inherit from each other...We understand that Shakyamuni Buddha received dharma from Kashyapa Buddha, and Kashyapa Buddha received dharma from Shakyamuni Buddha. When you understand in this way, it is the true dharma heritage of all buddhas and ancestors".
In the kechimyaku blood vein lineage papers that we receive here at Zen Center, this is represented by the line that connects the teacher and disciple returning to an empty circle above Shakyamuni. Here is the one I received at my tokudo, which I just unfolded for the first time:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Coffee Made Me Do It

I am seeing the phrase "merging realization" in many of Dogen's fascicles, and each time I see it I think of merging traffic, so I am tempted to stretch the analogy: any time you are in a vehicle you are immediately traffic, and you can never be separate from traffic. Even though it may seem that when you merge onto the freeway, there is other traffic that you are joining, in reality there is only traffic. Traffic is not merely arising now; traffic abides in the phenomenal expression of traffic. Traffic may flow, but it is always traffic. Always traffic means the traffic may flow. Deeply consider the causes and conditions of traffic as you merge with it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

'Mountains and Waters Sutra', 'Sansuikyo', is an easy one to really get your teeth into. Turning our usual way of looking at things on its head, it dwells on the interconnection of phenomena and their essence without being as impenetrable as other fascicles. Dogen cautions: "When your understanding is shallow, you doubt the phrase Green mountains are always walking. When your learning is immature, you are shocked by the words 'flowing mountains'. Without fully understanding even the words 'flowing water', you drown in small vews and narrow understanding", just as in the Genjo Koan he says, with regard to how you see the ocean "you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach". He even takes time to disparage some "bald-headed fellows" in China who prefer to throw up their hands and say that these statements are simply illogical. There are many exhortations to try harder: "Examine in detail the characteristics of the mountains' walking...Penetrate these words...Study and investigate this thoroughly...Pursue this beyond the limit of pursuit". He wants us to be free from conventional and limited views; being separate from mountains, or being separate from water is being separate from understanding.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Road to Green Gulch

There are many versions of this story that I have heard over the years - Linda Ruth tells a funny one about oryoki - but here is mine from today:
It was a beautiful morning, and I was riding to Green Gulch for the Coming of Age program; I would have ordinarily wished to be riding further, but was perfectly happy where I was, absorbing and enjoying the energy around me, getting over the bridge with the early sun, feeling like I could feel the benefits of yesterday's sitting in my state of mind and body; I wasn't rushing, I felt relaxed and ready for whatever was going to happen with the group of boys later on.
On the descent of Highway One above Green Gulch, I could see the sea, it was warm and quiet, and having just ridden the same route on Thursday I was thinking, 'I know this road really well these days', and I was enjoying taking the tight corners at speed. It was right after a thought of 'yep, going very nicely' that I spaced out for a moment, and then realised I was not going to make the next corner. There was a distinct thought 'I'm going to hit the rocks on the side of the road', but I did not hit the rocks. I think I came off the pavement and then jumped back onto it; there was a sharp noise, a distinct thought 'I'm going to go over', and I had a vision of sliding along the road on one side with the bike on top of me, but I did not fall over. My back wheel, the cause of the noise, had buckled and jammed right against the frame, so I very quickly came sliding and wobbling to a halt in the middle of the road; there was no traffic around, thankfully.
When I saw what had happened to the wheel, I shouldered the bike and walked the last few hundred yards to the driveway entrance - I could not have asked for this to happen at a more auspicious place. I didn't feel any real shock after the incident, and was greatly heartened by the fact that a couple of passing motorists stopped to check on my well-being and if I needed any assistance.
Having walked down and got changed, I met Sarah and Michaela, getting ready for the girl's group, who asked, 'did you bike over?.... are you okay? - you don't look okay...'
So I told the story, and actually I felt relieved that many things had turned out just the way they had and not any worse, and I was fully prepared to own the fact that my own smugness had been almost entirely responsible for the whole thing; the only down-sides I could see were that I wouldn't get to ride back to the city afterwards, which I had greatly looking forward to, and that I would have to buy some new wheels, which I had already know I would have to do anyway; I just don't know if I can afford them until we get paid again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Shosan should not be confused with chosan. Nor should shosan be confused with Shosan - the ceremony is not the teacher; though perhaps if Shosan is doing shosan, they are one. In any case, tonight with Shosan we did a less formal shosan, which was a very sweet way to end a day of sitting. There were not so many bows involved, and again asking a question was optional, but this time, the questioners did get up to meet face to face with the teacher, in a dimly lit Buddha Hall. The wonderful thing about these ceremonies is feeling the moment being met, the person being met, the mood - which can go from high-spirited to deeply tender in a moment - being met, and all being held, lovingly. After we were done, we did prostrations and the refuges resonated around the room, which was very beautiful. Then we put everything away, thanked each other, and said goodnight. At least I did, I think other people are heading out to do something with their energy...
I was happy with the day; there was the usual quota of situations, people being sick, people going missing, having almost no time after meals to sit down, but I did get to focus on some zazen this afternoon, and that felt good. Everybody had a seat, everybody got fed, and as usual, nothing really bad happened. Not on the outside at least.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

Fascicles 13 and 14 in this collection are 'The Power of the Robe', 'Kesa Kudoku', and 'Transmitting the Robe', 'Den'e', and as is pointed out in the introduction, since they have the same date and largely the same subject, it may be that they were a single talk that got divided in two somewhere along the line.
Dogen uses the Buddha robe, the kashaya, as an emblem of, or even the essence of, true practice, and points to the transmission of the robe as a guarantee of the continuation of true practice; what he writes about Japan in the thirteenth century is just as true for the west today:
"We were born beyond beyond mountains and oceans more than a hundred thousand li away from the land where Buddha was born. We are uncivilized and foolish. However, if you receive and maintain a kashaya even for a day and night, and study one phrase or one verse of it, you will have the merit of making an offering not only to one or two buddhas, but also to countless, one hundred, thousand, billion buddhas...
There is a common saying: 'One thousand hearings do not match one seeing. One thousand seeings do not match one attainment'. If we reflect on this, even one thousand seeings and ten thousand hearings cannot match one attainment, an authentic receiving of the buddha robe.
Those who doubt authentic transmission have not dreamed of it, but authentic transmission of the buddha robe is more intimate than hearing about a buddha sutra. Even one thousand sutras and ten thousand attainments cannot match one realization. Buddha ancestors are the merging of realization. Do not follow the mediocre schools of scripture and precepts".
I do love Dogen when he is righteously dismissing other ways. This is not only due to his confidence in his own understanding, and that of his teacher, and the lineage of his teacher, but also as a way of impressing this on his perhaps fragile congregation of monks, who would have been exposed to other schools in Japan before coming to Dogen.
At Tassajara, before sewing class, we recite the sutra on the ten excellent merits of the okesa, which Dogen also includes in 'Kesa Kudoku', and I was trying to find a copy of it on the ino's computer, or even online, rather than copy the whole thing out by hand, but have not managed to locate it, so that will have to be for another time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sitting With Sirens

It is a rare period of zazen, morning or evening, that is not punctuated by a siren passing by; this is the joy of living in the city. This evening we were also treated to Led Zeppelin's 'Communication Breakdown' from a passing car, which brought a big smile to my face as I have deep visceral responses to that song going back to when I was twelve - followed soon after by someone getting a good workout on their car horn as they slowly progressed down the hill. Only when we sit before seven in the morning at weekends is there less traffic noise. And then we get the interruptions from inside - this week, a cell-phone going off, a watch that beeps at the top of the hour, and I have been reflecting on how my response to these sounds is different to my response to the external events - because the people with the watches and the cell-phones (and it is, let's face it, a regular occurrence these days) are part of our activity, and share responsibility for creating the container of stillness in a way that a passing motorist is not, and thus I hope that they bring a mindfulness to that responsibility, and can less equanimous when they don't.
As anyone who has sat zazen at Tassajara can testify, heading deep into the mountains is not a guarantee of silence - between the creek in the winter, the guests in the summer, and the blue jays pretty much year round, there is always something going on that you can get affixed to and irritated by if you want.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Big Do with Dogen

Zen Center's Dogen Translation Forum was a pretty big deal this weekend, and by all accounts it was a great success. We had the biggest crowd I can remember in the Buddha Hall for Peter Levitt's very rich talk, with apparently a full dining room of overflows as well; certainly the zendo and the gaitan were packed full for the period of zazen beforehand. Where I sit for lectures always gives me a good view of the assembly, and scanning the crowd I could see that there were a number of zen luminaries in attendance, including some teachers who have helped me greatly on the path - Gaelyn Godwin, Houston Zen Center's resident teacher who gave me my dharma name at my jukai in 2004, and Hogen and Chozen Bays from Great Vow Monastery, which I visited in 2006 at the end of a year away from Zen Center, a visit I fondly remember as very grounding and rewarding.
As ino, there was not really anything special for me to do - most of my work involved me wearing my sound engineer hat. Our web maestro Laura had set up a Livestream channel, and between us we managed to connect our somewhat primitive Buddha Hall PA system onto the web. As technical accomplishments go, it did not have the same scope as some of my adventures at the BBC (like say, using an early generation satellite phone the size of a large suitcase, powered, via a power inverter, by a car battery, for a live link-up between a small town in Central Nigeria and the World Service in London at five in the morning) but it was actually very gratifying on Saturday morning to connect everything up, go upstairs to my office - as the front office computer did not have any speakers - and to go online to hear Blanche, who had graciously agreed to be miked up during zazen instruction, though I don't think she had expected to be beamed to the listening masses (actually I hope I was the only person listening at that stage). During the question and answer session afterwards, we even had Laura asking a question that had been submitted from Belfast via the chat stream; while again this may not be the pinnacle of technological wizardry, it was nice to know that we were spreading the dharma far and wide in real time.
And since we are speaking of the wonderful world of online connections, I don't know if Brad would like to be referred to as one of the zen luminaries, but I suspect he probably has less problem being one of the "ROCK STARS of the American Zen community"- and my thanks to him for that link.
Now I shall be waiting for the comment that goes "Enough with the Dogen...we are not all as enthralled as you are".

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

When you live as scheduled a life as we do here at Zen Center, the clock change is always an event, though I think everyone notices it to some extent. I remember my first April in practice period at Tassajara, when I was chronically tired, and the fact that we lost an hour's sleep seemed like a huge injustice at the time. Today we had the sun coming up during morning service again, and doubtless it will be getting dark during afternoon zazen. All in all, a perfect morning to read 'The Time Being', 'Uji', where Dogen tosses out any conventional notion of time in favour of his own understanding. It is one one of the more notoriously dense fascicles, though glimmers of understanding are possible:
"Each moment is all being, each moment is the entire world. Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment...Do not think that time merely flies away. Do not see flying away as the only function of time. If time merely flies away, you would be separated from time. The reason you do not clearly understand the time being is that you think of time only as passing...The time being has the characteristic of flowing. So-called today flows into tomorrow, today flows into today, yesterday flows into today. And today flows into today, tomorrow flows into tomorrow".
He doesn't say what he thinks about clocks going back, but I think it is included in the flowing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This being San Francisco, it is tempting to see this as a political statement rather than a natural phenomenon:

A Small Fish

When I went to a new school at the age of almost thirteen the head master talked to the new boys saying "In your last school, you may have been a big fish in a small pond, or a big fish in a big pond, but now, you are a small fish in a big pond". I was thinking of this when I came across the Blogisattvas directory; I don't imagine that anyone has nominated me for this award, and I would be embarrassed if someone has (to the point of delaying posting about it until the nominations had closed), but seeing the extent of the directory was a good exercise in reminding myself that there is nothing special going on here.
So if you are getting bored of reading this, there are undoubtedly many fine blogs to be read out there. And while sitting here waiting for the rain to abate - since it is only raining on weekends at the moment and my bike riding is suffering from it - here is an a-propos and excellent entry I found, which touches a few tender spots in my own blog-life - thanks John.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

Sometimes wrestling with Dogen taxes the brain, and I suspect that is how he wanted it. Selecting a few phrases from these latest fascicles is not to imply that I have penetrated them in any way, but that they are things that may allow some clarity.
After 'Receiving the Marrow by Bowing', and its call to find a teacher regardless of gender or status, the next fascicle 'Valley Sounds, Mountain Streams', also one of the better known in the collection, instructs us to find the dharma in everything around us. Dogen uses three famous enlightenment poems of Chinese masters - layman Dongpo, whose poem provides the title of the fascicle, Xiangyan who heard a pebble striking bamboo, and Lingyun who was enlightened through seeing peach blossoms - and uses them to exhort us to pay attention to everything with way-seeking mind: "To hear with the ear is an everyday matter, but to hear with the eye is not always so. When you see buddha, you see self-buddha, other buddha, a large buddha, a small buddha. Do not be frightened by a large buddha. Do not be put off by a small buddha. Just see large and small buddhas as valley sounds and mountain colors, as a broad, long tongue, and as eighty-four thousand verses. This is liberation, this is outstanding seeing".
The following fascicle 'Refrain from Unwholesome Action', 'Shoaku Makusa', gives us examples of Dogen's playing with words and phrases; taking as his starting point the verse
"Refrain from unwholesome action.
Do wholesome action.
Purify your own mind.
This is the teaching of all buddhas"
he ends up riffing:  "Purify your own mind. This means that you refrain from. Purify through refrain from. You that is your own. You that is mind. Your own that refrains from. Mind that refrains from. Mind that does. Purify through do. Your own do. You do. This is the teaching of all buddhas". Okay then.
This following phrase may help untangle this: "When you arouse your entire mind and let it practice, and when you arouse your entire body and let it practice, eight or nine out of ten are accomplished before questioning, and refrain from unwholesome action is actualized after knowing". Or it may not, but I like the idea of letting the mind and body practise, without trying to interfere so much by striving to understand.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

As the World Turns

Seeing this picture of mine in Sangha-e this week reminded me how the sun sinks in the sky once we get past the Equinox - it is something that everyone who goes to eat lunch in the City Center courtyard remarks on at this time of year. This photo is from the 21st of September, but if I had taken the same photo today, the entire scene would have been in shadow, as the sun is cut off by the roof line and only shines onto the walls of the dining room now. I think Dogen would call this 'wondrous function'.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sympathetic Joy

As I have said before, I am not much of a baseball fan, but I liked the idea of being at a ticker tape parade, and since our weekly senior staff meeting ended early, the tanto and I walked down towards Civic Center to see the Giants parade. For all I know he may still be there; the helicopters and advertising planes are still circling overhead. I felt I should come back for noon service, so I didn't see them arrive in the Plaza, but the crowds were already huge. There were numerous TV crews, a drum circle, some big motorbikes, and despite Prop.19 not passing, a fair amount of marijuana smoke in the air ("Don't they know it didn't pass?" - "Well, maybe they don't yet"...). All told though, the last time I was in a crowd this large and this good-humoured was during Gay Pride, another great San Francisco get-together.

I gave my pictures to Caren, who didn't get to go, and may be posting them on her blog. She added the following caveat:  "If, for some reason, you mention me in your blog, (which I don’t expect you to), please note that I am a diehard Red Sox fan, that all of my loyalties are to the Red Sox, but I have gained respect and admiration for the giants. A girl has to have her pride, right?  ( ;"


The weather is quite wonderful this week, and being the last week before the clocks go back, we have late sunrises. Here is the view from the roof after breakfast; if you look closely at the first picture, you can also see the moon rising.

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

'Receiving the Marrow by Bowing' ('Raihai Tokuzui') is a rightly well-known fascicle. Dogen begins by talking about the necessity and value of having on authentic teacher, the meaning of the title being that if you are ready to bow to an authentic teacher, you will be in a position to receive the true teaching. He points to the need not to be stuck in heirarchies of age or position - quoting Zhaozhou, who famously said "I will ask about dharma of anyone who surpasses me, even a seven-year-old. I will teach anyone who is behind me, even a one-hundred-year-old.
The fascicle is well-known because Dogen takes this premise, and, again quoting stories from China, uses it to promote the equality of the sexes in the realm of practice:
"One who has attained dharma is a true authentic buddha and should not be regarded as the same as before. When we see the person, someone who is new and extraordinary sees us. When we see the person, today sees today...Why are men special? Emptiness is emptiness. Four great elements are four great elements. Five skandhas are five skandhas. Women are just like that. Both men and women attain the way. You should honor attainment of the way. Do not discriminate between men and women. This is the most wondrous principle of the way...
Those who are extremely stupid think that women are merely the objects of sexual desire and treat women in this way. The Buddha's children should not be like this. If we discriminate against women because we see them merely as objects of sexual desire, do we also discriminate against all men for the same reason?...
When you see an object, learn to clarify it. Being scared of it and only trying to avoid it is the teaching and practice of shravakas in the Lesser Vehicle. If you give up in the east and hide in the west, it is not that there is no object in the west. Even if you keep escaping, there are objects afar and objects nearby. This is not the way of emancipation. The farther away you push objects, the deeper you may be attached to them".
It is only unfortunate that this appears so radical to us today because we haven't really made so much progress in this realm in the last seven hundred years.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Bit Parky?

Obviously the weather in Japan is more predictable than it is here. While looking in the "Gyoji Kihan" for an answer to Dennis' question about the correct traditional placement of doors to the zendo, I found the instructions for today's date:

— November 1 —

Section Three: Opening Braziers [206]

This day is time for opening braziers in sangha hall and various quarters.
From this day on, according to customary ritual procedure monks of assembly
may cover their folded hands with their sleeves.

I remember Linda Ruth referring to a seasonal covering of the hands while we were at Tassajara, where it is nice to be able to do so. Today in San Francisco it is around 70 degrees on the roof, and I don't think the braziers need to be opened.

PS My informant tells me that they have just turned on the heat in the Tassajara zendo, so I suspect Kathy is following the observances.

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

I didn't get much more clarity on 'The Mind Itself Is Buddha' re-reading it this morning, but the next two fascicles in the book are more accessible - 'Cleansing' ('Senjo') and 'Washing The Face' ('Semmen'). It is easy to imagine Dogen preaching these to the assembly as a way of getting his slovenly young followers to take care of themselves correctly, but of course he does not just deal with the forms around going to the toilet and washing on a mundane level. While the level of detail might seem excessive, he makes use of precedents in sutras and older guidelines to underline the importance of treating each activity as practice activity: "In the practice of buddha ancestors, there is always the awesome practice of this cleansing...Those who hear little think that buddhas don't have a procedure for the wash house or that the procedure for buddhas in the Saha World is different from that of Buddhas in the pure land. This is not the study of the way...Thus, be aware that all buddhas use a wash house".
Similarly, for washing the face and cleaning the teeth: "If someone asks you, 'what is the essential matter?' say 'I have fortunately met Old Man Eihei chewing a willow twig'". Dogen goes on to lament the use of new-fangled brushes in China when he was there: "So, monks and laypeople in Great Song China have bad breath. When they speak, their breath can be smelled two or three shaku away, which is hard to bear. Those who call themselves reverend teachers who have attained the way, or guiding masters of humans and devas, are not aware of the way to rinse the mouth, scrape the tongue, and chew a willow twig. The decline of the great way of buddha ancestors is beyond measure...How much of the pure dharma has perished before us? It is regrettable, truly regrettable".