Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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".

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