Chris Smith Reference Materials

Dogen on Zazen

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(Thanks to Karl Lorenz for uploading)

From: "Karl Lorenz"
Subject: RE: "Merit" and practice/realization.
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 96 10:42:48 -0600

If you are interested in Dogen's understanding of practice/realization in zazen I recommend that you read the Bendowa (Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way) - the first chapter of the Shobogenzo. In the Bendowa Dogen presents the main themes of practice/realization through a short talk, and a question and answer section.

I use a translation of the Bendowa done by Shohaku Okamura and Taigen Dan Leighton. The publisher is:

Kyoto Soto Zen Center
c/o Sosenji
Takakura Gojo Sagaru
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi
Japan 600

The book also includes a comentary on the Bendowa by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi.

A relevant passage from the book follows:

"According to the unmistakenly handed down tradition, the straightforward buddha-dharma that has been simply transmitted is supreme among the supreme. From the time you begin practicing with a teacher, the practices of incense burning, bowing, nenbutsu, repentance, and reading sutras are not at all essential; just sit, dropping off body and mind.

When one displays the buddha mudra with one's whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi even for a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment. Therefore, it enables buddha-tathagatas to increase the dharma joy of their own original grounds and renew the adornment of the way of awakening. Simultaneously, all living beings of the dharma world in the ten directions and six realms become clear and pure in body and mind, realize great emancipation, and their own original face appears. At that time, all things together awaken to supreme enlightenment and utilize buddha body, immediately go beyond the culmination of awakening, and sit upright under the kingly bodhi tree. At the same time, they turn the incomparable, great dharma wheel, and begin expressing ultimate and unfabricated profound prajna.

There is a path through which the anuttra samyak sambodhi (incomparable awareness) of all things returns [to the person in zazen], and whereby [that person and the enlightenment of all things] intimately and imperceptively assist each other. ..."

Respectfully, Karl Lorenz

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