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Dogen: What's the Point?

This Sunday, July 22, 2018, I spoke at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center about Eihei Dogen Zenji, founder of Soto Zen in Japan in the 1230's. As my teacher, Taiun Elliston-roshi said if Dogen had been a jazz musician, he would be called a "Monster!" My interest today was in exploring Dogen's domain question..."If we all have Buddha-nature why do we still have to practice?" As you recall, no teacher was able to respond to the young monk's plea. Tracing the source of the mater meant going to China (1223) for five years, then receiving heart-to-heart transmission from Caodung master Tiantong Rujing in 1225. This garnered a profound understanding that others suggest led to Master Dogen's emphasis on Bodhicitta (way finding mind), impermanence (cause and effect), action/moment (now, being-time), and Zazen through Shikantaza.

Think of a pencil and it's point. Sometime we have a point looking for a pencil and sometime a pencil looking for a point. Dogen had the point about having Buddha-nature but not yet the experience of actualization. Dogen in restating what Buddhism means, builds the pencil that pushes the point: “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away.

Master Dogen now with pencil and point re-writes the point expressing that we ARE Buddhas. It is through following the way that this is actualized, as Shakyamuni practiced Zazen as the means IS awaking we as Buddhas come forth in Zazen=Buddhas. As my teacher's teacher said..." one minute minute Buddha. Buddha IS practicing...practicing IS Buddha.

Then, it all drops away no distinction...Mu.


Please join Sangha Service this Tuesday night led by FSZS Initiate students.

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