Friday, December 10, 2010

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

Composing an opening sentence for this in my head, I came up with: in terms of the weather, we are back to where we were yesterday morning. I realise that I would not get very far with assertion if Dogen were listening, so let me say instead that this morning's weather is completely manifesting itself, and in terms of appearances, it is similar to yesterday morning, and I will add that this scuppers my idea to take a couple of hours off and go out on my bike.
I had another crack at reading 'Buddha Nature', 'Bussho', this morning, and with a running start, managed to wade through the twenty-five pages in about an hour. It ranks as one of the most important fascicles, which would explain why Dogen placed it third in his ordering of the 'Shobogenzo'. Here is some quintessential Dogen: "Daoxin's words What is it? mean what is it? It is called what. That is the name. It makes what. What makes it.The name is it. The name is what. It is presented as mugwort tea or green tea. It is daily tea and rice". Which for some reason brings to mind the ancient sage who said, under testimony, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is".
Once again, there is a full panoply of stories involving great teachers, all of which Dogen thoroughly deconstructs, and I find that there is nothing I can say about this. Here, then, is one of the more straightforward notions, which nonetheless speaks to what I imagine Dogen is getting at:
"The Buddha said, 'If you want to understand buddha nature, you should intimately observe cause and effect over time. When the time is ripe, buddha nature manifests'.
The words to understand buddha nature do not only mean to know it, but to practice it, to realize it, to expound it, and to let go of it...When the time is ripe means that the time has already arrived. How can we doubt it? A time of doubting also is a time when buddha nature is present to the self...This principle is self-evident. Generally, there is no time when the time has not yet arrived; there is no buddha nature that is not actualized".
Later he tells us: "You should reflect without fail on Nagarjuna's words If you want to see buddha nature, first let go of your pride. It's not that you cannot see buddha nature, but to see it, you first need to let go of your pride. Because you are complex, there are many types of pride. There are myriad ways to let go of pride, and when you do, you see buddha nature".

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