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. 

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18100647785880123235 Al

    Dosho,Thanks again for this info. When I linked to the previous post that you wrote covering this topic, I noticed the link to yet another past post titled "Leave Everything to the Figure of Zazen". This is by far one of my favorite writings on this practice that I've come across. A real gem.The content of that post made me look at this whole shikantaza vs koan/insight topic differently.As you so aptly noted in the replies to Harry's questions in that post, it appears that Dogen's theme could have been to address koans and zazen from the process of "What?" In other words; an open ended inquiry instead of a hard head-word focus, ie; "What is nonthinking?"Does the insight into the nature of "What?" arise when the ideas of body and mind have dropped away? Is the figure of zazen the pillar to which all things return and from which all things are answered?(I don't actually expect you to answer that, I was just throwing that out there).Regards,Al

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15716160645408987250 vibrant moss

    What parts of Dogen's writings are meant to be understood rationally? Is "sitting is enlightenment" a koan? You can't help but read the words with rational mind, but you won't get far before you trip into "What?" or, to be more precise, WTF? Bow to befuddlement. Give it your face. Slowly, something glows in the dark. Be afraid, or not. I like what Al said. And I can't believe that somebody would think Dogen wasn't enlightened and/or didn't think enlightenment was important. All i have read sings the opposite. Like the excruciatingly careful use of words. No?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    "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."Hi Dosho & Al et al,I think that the nature of the 'personal insight' that Dogen valued is clearly expressed elsewhere with all his talk of 'non-buddhas', 'non-person[s]', 'non-thinking holding up the head of practice' and 'there being somebody ineffable who practices it' etc etc… he repeatedly affirms that there is a real 'some ineffible non-one' to be realised alright, who becomes realised (sorry, can't drag out references at the moment, but I think you know what I mean). Another 'biggie' that springs to mind on the nature of the 'personal', and where it is explained pretty directly, is Yui-butsu-Yo-Butsu ('Buddha Alone, Together with Buddhas'):"The Buddha-Dharma cannot be known by people. For this reason, since ancient times, no common person has realized the Buddha-Dharma and no one in the two vehicles has mastered the Buddha-Dharma. Because it is realizedonly by buddhas, we say that “buddhas alone, together with buddhas, are directly able perfectly to realize it.” When we perfectly realize it, whilestill as we are, we would never have thought previously that realization would be like this. Even though we had imagined it, it is not a realization that iscompatible with that imagining. Realization itself is nothing like we imagined. That being so, to imagine it beforehand is not useful. When we have attained realization, we do not know what the reasons were for our being[now] in the state of realization. Let us reflect on this…"And a bit later…"If realization appears through the force of thoughts prior to realization, it might be an unreliable realization. Because it does not rely upon [realization],and it has come far transcending the time prior to realization, realization is assisted solely by the force of realization itself. Delusion, remember, is something that does not exist. Realization, remember, is something thatdoes not exist."I don't see anyone denying this model of realisation. Who/what do you have in mind?Regards,Harry.p.s. Shobogenzo quotes from Nishijima/Cross trans.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    …red-bearded barbarians alone, together with red-bearded barbarians?H.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    HarryHere's one passage from Shohaku's upcoming book that I'm referring too:"Traditionally, it is said that Dōgen Zenji had an enlightenment experience when Rujing, scolding a monk who was sitting next to Dōgen, said, “Zazen is dropping off body and mind. Why are you just sleeping?” This story originally appeared in Dōgen’s biography as part of Keizan Jokin Zenji’s Denkōroku (Transmission of Light). Today some Dōgen scholars, such as Sugio Genyū of Yamaguchi University and Ishii Shūdō of Komazawa University, think Keizan invented this story. Otherwise, they say, Dōgen’s criticism of practice aimed at attaining kensho becomes a contradiction to his own practice experience. Professor Ishii has said that the fictitious story of Dōgen’s enlightenment experience has caused more misunderstanding of Dōgen’s teachings than any other fabricated portion of Dōgen’s biography. Dōgen Zenji himself never wrote of a definitive enlightenment experience in any of his writings. In his lecture on Bendōwa (Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way) published in Eiheiji’s magazine Sanshō in July 1999, Suzuki Kakuzen Rōshi agreed with Professor Sugio and Professor Ishii: “In the case of Dōgen Zenji, his religious experience is not attaining some sudden and special psychological satori experience. Dōgen never talked about such an experience in Shōbōgenzō. In his teachings, realization is a deep awarenessof the fact that the existence of the self is not a personal possession of the self.” "I agree with these scholars because I think it is best to trust Dōgen’s own account of his conversations with Rujing concerning dropping off body and mind, rather than give authority to an account apparently invented after Dōgen died."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    "In his teachings, realization is a deep awarenessof the fact that the existence of the self is not a personal possession of the self."Yes, this seems quite questionable alright."Deep awareness"? If anything Master Dogen emphasises that real things here and now are the stuff of realisation from the surface to the core and everything in between (his treatment of Bodhidharma's transmission of the 'skin', 'flesh', 'bones' to his various heirs springs to mind).His treatment of 'the self' seems more subtle than suggested there too. His repeated theme of things being 'hindered' by themselves, but this hindrance being a neccesary part of total existence, springs to mind here.His treatment of self seems most clearly expressed here:"To learn Buddhism is to learn the self. To learn the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be realised by the many things."So there is a self to learn of itself by forgetting itself in being realised by everything. I mean, that's pretty basic Dogen, no?Regards,Harry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    … but let's cut to the chase and disregard fossilized farts in jars for a sudden moment:Have you confirmed the legitimacy of 'sudden realisation', or are you going on the words of your teacher?Do you aspire to it? Do you think aspiring to it helps one 'get' it?What's the real beef here, Dosho? Are you going to teach what you know?It's the weekend, give us something meaty to chew on (suddenly or otherwise)!Regards,Harry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    Harry you rascal,Yes, I’ve confirmed the legitimacy of sudden realization – and the importance of continued work after turn around (a.k.a.,breakthrough). “Aspiring” as in the Great Vows (“Beings are numberless; I vow to free them…”)is really important and is one-banana-on-the-floor that sets up the accident of kensho. Craving for a special experience from a place of self-hatred (or other afflictive state) is the near enemy of the great big compassionate heart that vows to carry all beings across – and does so. My real beef is that the current dogma of Soto Zen seems to discourage and even deny enlightenment and has become more about faith in Dogen than a way of verification. And that really short-changes practitioners. “Practice-enlightenment” without a breakthrough is usually “practice-delusion” just like breakthrough without practice is reifying some experience. Knowing how stinky I am, I’m reluctant to step out there like this … but there you have it.I'll be in sesshin this weekend so will be checking back into the blog world later.Dosho

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    Dosho,Do you accept that people, based on what they have learned and therefore expect, can interpret 'sudden breakthroughs' in various ways?Do you accept that, as every unique 'dewdrop' of us is different, therefore every moment of realisation, and every experience of it, must neccesarily be different?If realisation was really hindered by our relative paradigms, by our 'dewdrop-ness', I don't think that there would be any point of us talking about it.Regards,Harry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18100647785880123235 Al

    '“Practice-enlightenment” without a breakthrough is usually “practice-delusion” just like breakthrough without practice is reifying some experience. "Dosho,I suppose the real question is then, how do those who practice Shaikantaza follow these instructions to prevent "practice-delusion"?Given that shikantaza is a practice of sorts, what is it about the shikantaza practice of one who has a breakthrough vs. a shikantaza practioner who doesn't? Does this mean there is a right and wrong way to 'just sit'? If one starts practice out of the model of wanting to destroy 'self-hatred', how does one come to practice with a more open heart?Regards,Al

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    Okay just getting back to this. Thanks Harry and Al for continuing the conversation without me! I'll respond to Harry first:He asks, "Do you accept that people, based on what they have learned and therefore expect, can interpret 'sudden breakthroughs' in various ways?"Yes, or not being aware of it at all … this is why training is essential. The many different religious traditions all spring from here, I suppose."Do you accept that, as every unique 'dewdrop' of us is different, therefore every moment of realisation, and every experience of it, must neccesarily be different?"Realization is about how we are exactly the same and one. Now there are many relative dharma and psychological insights (different as well in depth or shallowness) and some of those might be "unique" but in terms of the fundamental, all differences are exactly of the same nature … but probably not what you think. This is a very narrow gate.Al asks,"I suppose the real question is then, how do those who practice Shikantaza follow these instructions to prevent "practice-delusion"?Work closely with a teacher – as important in shikantaza Zen as in koan Zen. In community, be polished by others. Carefully study the buddhadharma. Drop everything."Given that shikantaza is a practice of sorts, what is it about the shikantaza practice of one who has a breakthrough vs. a shikantaza practioner who doesn't?"Clarity, brightness and depth of what is to be practiced."Does this mean there is a right and wrong way to 'just sit'?"Yes. As D-z puts it, "the sitting of everyone is not the sitting of a Buddha" or something like that. Shikantaza is not self-styled zen."If one starts practice out of the model of wanting to destroy 'self-hatred', how does one come to practice with a more open heart?"Just in the moment, illuminate the self-hatred pattern and let go again and again, as simple as you can with great confidence. Loving-kindness meditation can also help.Dosho

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    "Realization is about how we are exactly the same and one. Now there are many relative dharma and psychological insights (different as well in depth or shallowness) and some of those might be "unique" but in terms of the fundamental, all differences are exactly of the same nature … but probably not what you think. This is a very narrow gate."Hi Dosho,Isn't calling it "one", already a dire error (and I don't mean that in the glib sense that 'it's beyond words and labels, Man')? In reference to what can we say realisation "one" or even the currently trendy "not one, not two", or "same" or "different" or whatever? Mustn't "one" neccesarily be conditioned by a relative multiplicity or something?I don't believe in this "one" as something more powerful or real than everything here. I think "oneness" is a religious lie, a religious delusion, a faulty perception of the human mind.If all differences are of exactly the same nature, then the nature is difference-nature, or else there's no difference and no nature (and I'm not merely talking about my own thinking of things as 'different' here, I mean things as they exist, including my thoughts): There's no "one" to hide in, or be realised in, that is not of difference-nature.Are you mistaking the real "being without-ness" of the wonderful infinitely diverse things as some sort of reified 'thing' or zone or state of human mind (i.e. 'the fundamental'?)We can call the state of realisation 'the self', 'one human body' etc as Dogen did, while bearing in mind hopefully that no self exists in the dire poverty of a state of "one-ness" or "emptiness" or "nothingness" thank God (or whoever).I may be totally deluded in all of this, in which case I'm sure you'll find the words to put me right. ;-)Regards,Harry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    Well, we're using words here and so "one" works fine, imv. If you don't want to see it, that's okay with me, although I'd feel a bit sad about it. If you do, then practice accordingly. When you do, I'd bet my next paycheck that you'd agree that everyone sees the same one. "One," of course, is not different than everything here, as you say, it's just a matter of how it's seen. Dosho

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    p.s….And re language around "one" that may assist us directly, might the four views of Genjo-koan be a good place to commence making effort?When seen in our own terms things are "one" or "not one" or "whole" or "split up"…When there is no self there is no "one" or nothing in reference to "one".In practicing it, myriad things advance and realise us… is this one? Is it not one? Does it make one?Even though we can realise this, we can't walk through brick walls regardless of our "one-ness".etc Regards,Harry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    pps.I'm not sure if these are going to printed… I hope so, we should play 'all out'… but, if we are not going to dive right into the compost heap of our own 'stinkiness' to work this all out then where and when are we going to do it. Stink it up a bit, there are enough perfumed, self appointed saints wafting around the scene. Real stinky people may require us to make real stinky efforts.Regards,H.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18100647785880123235 Al

    Dosho,Thanks a ton. So, in essence will continually letting go and "opening the hand of thought" lead to this discovery? Is it the attitude that there is no experience of realization that prevents the practitioner from knowing when one has been experienced?Bows,Al

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    Al,Yes and confirmation from a teacher.PeaceDosho

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18100647785880123235 Al

    Dosho,Thank you very much.Be well,Al


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