Sesshin Sutra Book
Translations/revisions by Robert Aitken Roshi
of the Diamond
Sangha Zen Buddhist Society,
Koko An, 2119 Kaloa Way, Honolulu, Hawaii,
Song on Realizing the
by Yung-chia Hsuan-ch'e (Yoka
abridged version of Nyogen Senzaki's commentary follows each stanza.
Observing the traditional style of explication, he has somethig to say
about every line, every half line, of every stanza.
His comments include
stories alluded to in the verse, explanation of terms and concepts, and at
times challenging the reader to come forth with his or her
It's clear that his
intent was to instruct and help his students understand and interpret this
poem. It's no wonder that Robert Aitken calls his old teacher "an American
translation of Shodoka is a "grandmotherly" rendition well worth
investigating. The leaner version given here is meant to facilitate group
recitation, as well as preserve the meaning of the original
translation and the full commentary refer to Buddhism
and Zen by Nyogen Senzaki and Ruth Strout McCandless.
the leisurely one,
Walking the Tao, beyond philosophy,
fantasy, not seeking truth.
The real nature of ignorance is the
Buddha-nature itself; The empty delusory body is the very body of the
If you try
to avoid idle thoughts or delusions when you meditate, you cannot enter
Samadhi. Whoever seeks after the truth will remain behind the truth. What
you consider idle thoughts or delusions are nothing but waves on the vast
ocean of Buddha-nature.Just as there are no waves apart from the water,
there is no delusion, no idle thought, no ignorance separate from
Dharma body awakens completely,
There is nothing at all.
of our self-nature
Is the Buddha of innocent truth.
physical reactions come and go
Like clouds in the empty sky;
hatred, and ignorance appear and disappear
Like bubbles on the surface
of the sea.
recognizes the Dharma-body as such, no matter
hw beautifully he may define it or describe it, he is still lingering in
dualism. but once he has unified himself with the Dharma-body, there is no
more and there is no less.
had Zen students in the past, has them in the present, and will have many
of them in the future. They mingle easily with so-called worldlings. They
play with children, repect king and beggars, and handle gold and silver as
pebbles and stones.
There is no distinction between mind and
And the path to hell instantly vanishes.
If this is a lie to
fool the world,
My tongue may be cut out forever.
Yokadaishi said, "If you live in this Zen, you can leave hell in your
dreams of yesterday, and make your own paradise wherever you stand. . . ,"
he did not mean that an enlightened man can ignore the law of causation. A
person creates his own hell in which to suffer, and no one can save him
awaken to the Tathagata-Zen,
The six noble
deeds and the ten thousand good actions
Are already complete
In our dream we see the six levels of
After we awaken the whole universe is
. one whose meditation is mature receives the same genealogical
wisdom. For this reason, Zen lives vividly through human experiences,
transcending all scriptures and sectarian doctrines.
fortune, no good fortune, no loss, no gain;
Never seek such things in
For years the dusty mirror has gone uncleaned,
let us polish it completely, once and for all.
no-thought? Who is not-born?
If we are truly not-born,
We are not
Ask a robot if this is not so.
How can we realize
By virtuous deeds or by seeking the Buddha?
says, "Ask a robot whether he is happy or not." I can hear you complain,
"Is Zen going to compel me to become a robot?" Do you wish to suffer,
filling your mind with illusions? Do you know nothing of the joy of giving
thoughts enough room in which to stretch themselves and grow? A Zen
student has more time to enjoy life because he allows himself to think or
to do one thing at a time, and does not block the flow of inner wisdom
with the trash of delusions.
your hold on earth, water, fire, wind; Drink and eat as you wish in
eternal serenity. All things are transient and completely empty; This is
the great enlightenment of the Tathagata.
does not see mind and body as two different things. When it refers to the
four elements, earth, water, fire, and air, it does not mean only the
elements of the material world, but also the conditions of the mind as
psychological phenomena. In Pali these four elements are called pathavi
(solidity), apo (cohesion), tejo (radiability), and vayn (movability). Zen
does not cling to these elements but instead lives in Mind-Essence leaving
behind both mind and body. A Zen student "drinks or eats," that is, he
lives his everyday life according to his own true nature.
Transience, emptiness and enlightenment --
These are the
ultimate truths of Buddhism;
Keeping and teaching them is true Sangha
If you don`t agree, please ask me about it.
directly the root of it all, --
This is the very point of the
I can't respond to any concern about leaves and
not recognize the Mani-jewel.
Living intimately within the
It operates our sight, hearing, smell, taste,
And all of these are empty, yet not
mani-jewel is a legendary gem of old India that fulfills all desires of
its possessor. Buddhists work for desirelessness, treasuring calmness and
contentment and looking forward to the highest wisdom and moral
perfection. Yokadaishi uses "mani-jewel" metaphorically, saying that it
can be found in "the secret place of Tathagata." But Tathagata has nothing to do with time or
appears through contact of subjective and objective elements, and you
recognize and name them in terms of relativity. This is the performance of
the mani-jewel, which subjectively you call your true-self, and
Sutra BookTable of Contents
Notes and comments
are lifted from the endnotes of the Empty Sky compilation of these Zen
Buddhist texts and The Syllabus section of Encouraging
Words - zen buddhist teachings for western students by Robert