genjo koan and the mind

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Genjo Koan:

Actualizing the Fundamental point

By Zen Master Dogen Zenji

[My thoughts while contemplating these lines are below.]

“As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, and birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings.

As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death.

The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many and the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas.

Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.

The experiencing of the myriad things through using oneself is delusion; the experiencing of oneself through the coming of the myriad things is awakening.

Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, who are in delusion throughout delusion.

When buddhas are truly buddhas they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing buddhas.

When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illuminated the other side is dark.

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. No trace of realization remains, and this no trace continues endlessly.

When you first seek dharma, you imagine you are far away from its environs. But dharma is already correctly transmitted; you are immediately your original self.”

[end of excerpt: for full text click here]

My thoughts today while contemplating these passages of the Genjo Koan:

“The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many and the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas.”

The words “leaping clear of the many and the one” tell me that it is not a question of analyzing with the mind and coming to a logical conclusion, but rather a sudden letting go of all reasoning and jumping from a deeper part of my being to a place of ‘knowing’ that the many and the one are illusion when perceived though the mind.

This next passage: “The experiencing of the myriad things through using oneself is delusion; the experiencing of oneself through the coming of the myriad things is awakening.” brings me to the understanding that the myriad things are ‘of the Universal Being’ and that I can open myself up to merging with the beingness of this Universal Being by letting go of the individual point of view and allowing the myriad things to show me who or what ‘I’ am. This is so because the myriad things are within My Being and are of the same substance as the beingness of the Universal Being that is my true identity. Wanting to experience the myriad things through this illusory focal point that I call ‘me’ leaves me in confusion and delusion.

Here is one passage that never fails to remind me of the essence of mindful living: “When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly”. It tells me to fully engage body-and-mind and then to grasp things directly, what Krishnamurti calls “direct perception”, not through concepts and the mind filter of past images.

Here again is expressed the sense of realizing who and what I am by melding with the experience of the myriad things and disengaging the analyzing mind: “To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things.”

…and so the separate-self quality of our life dissipates: “When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no trace continues endlessly.” I live my life without residue, unburdened by the past, fresh in every new moment of this Mystery.

When I begin to reflect again, reengaging the mind and puzzling, wanting to grasp with the mind: “When you first seek dharma, you imagine you are far away from its environs”

…but when I remember that the Universal Being doesn’t need any interpretation or understanding, because it is the source of all understanding (“the Self shines alone with nothing to know or make known”) and I am able to accept the futility of the mind’s thrashing about, “But dharma is already correctly transmitted; you are immediately your original self.” This statement expresses the “leaping clear of the one and the many”, meaning again, disengaging and divorcing myself from the belief that my rational mind can lead me beyond itself.

As the title “Genjo Koan” says, the entire text is a koan, which means an instrument to bring the mind to its limits so that it can finally implode and subside. The mind is an illusion and cannot bring true understanding of Reality.

Wikipedia on genjo koan

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