One More Thing about Dropping Body and Mind

One of my favorite past times is to mull the historical research about the early Zen ancestors and the connection to our practice today … although I confess that I enjoy the bootless former much more than the practical latter. There are few activities that bring the same delight in quiet thoughts that come when reading some historical tidbit about Dogen, Ejo, Gikai & Co.

Even among Zen people, I’ve always been a bit strange. Nevertheless, I’ll share a little more of my strange interests with you here. 

After the last post about the dispute about Dogen and his enlightenment story, I stumbled upon the following passage (and then dimly remembered that I might have blogged about it before – click here for the former post): 

Gikai: I have attained an insight based on our former teacher’s saying Shinjin datsuraku [body mind cast off].
Ejo: Good. Good. What do you understand?
Gikai: I understand datsuraku shinjin [cast off body mind].
Ejo: What is the meaning?
Gikai: I had thought only [the] barbarian beard was red, but here is another red-bearded barbarian.”
Ejo: Among the many permitted shinjin [body mind], there is this kind of shinjin [body mind].

This dialogue is found in Record of the Final Words of the Founder of Eiheiji. Some scholars doubt this text but it seems to me that it’s a case of excluding the evidence that doesn’t fit the theory, in this case, the theory that Dogen and his crew where against personal insight and koans and that shikantaza is exclusive of koan introspection. 

Click here for Bodiford’s take. 

The above dialogue, if authentic, suggests personal insight was important for Dogen’s very close students and that Dogen had some special relationship with the phrase “dropping body and mind.” Moreover, Gikai’s play with it, reversing the usual order, reflects the play in the dialogue between Dogen and Rujing (see the last post).  

Further, Ejo plays a role in the brief dialogue that will be familiar to many koan students today – Ejo is the gatekeeper  accepting Gikai’s capping phrase, reversing the red-bearded barbarian line from the Wild Fox koan as one of those that are accepted.  

Finally, there is a suggestion here of a koan curriculum that is quite intriguing. 

Your quiet thoughts on all this are welcome. 

Zen: The Authentic Gate
Zenshin Tim Buckley Dies: One Heartbeat, Ten Thousand Buddhas
The No of No No: Affirming the Great Heart Sutra
Ducking the Quacking Koan: Soto Zen, Koan, and Kensho