Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Study Hall - Shobogenzo

"The buddha way does not appropriate the voice of sentient beings and apply it to the voice of insentient beings. Insentient beings do not necessarily speak dharma with a voice heard by the ears. Similarly, sentient beings do not speak dharma with a voice hear by the ears. Now ask yourself, ask others, and inquire, 'What are sentient beings? What are insentient beings?'
In this way, concentrate and study what insentient beings always speak dharma is. Foolish people may think that the sound of trees, or the opening and falling of leaves, is insentient beings speaking dharma. Such people are not studying buddha dharma. If it were so, who would know and hear insentient beings speaking dharma? Reflect now: are there grass, trees, and forests in the world of insentient beings? Is the world of insentient beings mixed with the world of sentient beings? Furthermore, to regard grass and trees as insentient beings is not thoroughgoing. To regard insentient beings as grass, tress, tiles and pebbles is not enough". 'Insentient Beings Speak Dharma', 'Mujo Seppo'.


Mike said...

The world of sentient beings relies on the world of insentient beings. In fact, this non-hearing communication between sentience and insentience blurs the sentience/insentience line.

But I wonder...is there such as thing as an insentient being if we are all make of the same stuff? Maybe that's Dogen's point,

Maybe Dogen wrote this and Shundo posted it to confuse us a bit on the path to clarity. Hmm. Dunno. Something to think about on a hike or bike ride.

Shundo said...

Dogen does go on a bit more about the distinction or otherwise of sentient and non-sentient. Try not to think about it. Riding a bike is recommended.

Chris Burnham said...

What is sentience? It may be a dim question, but in considering if a tree is sentient, or whether there are degrees of sentience, it is just hard to say how to tell if a tree is sentient or not. How would a tree know itself with no organ for cognition? Or does it only know itself by means of us knowing it?

Shundo said...

What are you asking me for? As Dogen says later on in the fascicle: "Investigate this question in detail throughout your life, throughout many lives...don't think that you are not benefited by hearing the dharma if it does not reach your mind consciousness".