We were talking about seasonal allergies at breakfast, and when I excused myself to go and read Dogen, I commented, 'at least reading about plum blossoms doesn't give you allergies'. 'Plum Blossoms', 'Baika', is mostly a tribute to his teacher Rujing, and Dogen quotes several of his poems:
"Tiantong's first phrase of midwinter:
Old plum tree bent and gnarled
all at once opens one blossom, two blossoms,
three, four, five blossoms, uncountable blossoms,
not proud of purity,
not proud of fragrance;
spreading, becoming spring,
blowing over grass and trees,
balding the head of a patch-robed monk.
Whirling, quickly changing into wild wind, stormy rain,
falling, snow over all the earth.
The old plum tree is boundless.
A hard cold rubs the nostrils".
The original face is beyond birth and death.
Spring in plum blossoms enters into a painting.
When you paint spring, do not paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots - just paint spring. To paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots is to paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots. It is not yet painting spring.
It is not that spring cannot be painted, but aside from Rujing, there is no one in India or China who has painted spring. He alone was a sharp-pointed brush that painted spring".
Dogen also comments, "Rujing did not easily allow monks to join his monastery. He would say, 'Those who are accustomed to a lax way-seeking mind cannot stay in this place'. He would chase them out and say, 'What can we do with those who have not yet realized original self? Such dogs stir people up. They should not be permitted to join the monastery". I think if we were as strict here, we would have a pretty small assembly.