Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The founder of the Soto school of Zen was a brilliant man named Dogen. The following is a very good summary of his thoughts. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the page where this originally came from, and where there's a lot more information on Zen.
These are nine points that can be extracted from Dogen’s thought:
1. Identity of self and others. Zazen is the complete realization of self, identifying with others. He said: “To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barriers between one’s self and others.”
2. Identity of practice and enlightenment. There is no difference between practice and enlightenment. There should not be any attachment to the outcome of the practice.
3. Identity of the precepts and Zen Buddhism. Novice monks must know the 16 Bodhisattvas precepts before becoming monks. There is no difference between the precepts and Zen itself. When enlightened he is already endowed with the precepts.
4. Identity of life and death. Although most people love life and hate death, nobody can avoid death. Once you come to terms with death, there is no life or death to love or hate. Both are part of the life of a Buddha.
5. Identity of time and being. Time is being and vice versa. Time can only be experienced but cannot be cognized. Now is now which includes past, present and the future. Without now there are no others. Now is absolute and eternal. Once lost it never returns. So practice continuously without delay.
6. Being and nonbeing. Nonbeing is not “nothing.” It is being and vice versa. In non-dualistic terms, both are absolutes. So we have both the Buddha-nature and we also do not have the Buddha-nature in non-dualistic viewpoint. Nonbeing in Zen is never the nothing of nihilism but it is a lively and creative function of the Way.
7. Men and women. There is no gap between right and wrong, clever and foolish, high and low social status, or men and women. All can realize Buddhahood. The Way is open to men and women equally.
8. Monks and lay people. Both can practice, but monks are free from world affairs. Lay people can pursue the Way but their practice must be intense and persistent. Of course the best is to become monks and follow the precepts. Remember Dogen’s teaching is that practice takes precedence over theory.
9. Sutras and Zen Buddhism. The Way of the Buddha-mind is beyond letters and sutras, because attachment to the letters and sutras is itself a hindrance. So it is the attachment to the letters and not the letters that must be cast away.

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