Monday, May 09, 2005

Deceiving the Teacher

"This mountain monk has not passed through many monasteries. Somehow, I just met my late teacher Tiantong. However, I was not deceived by Tiantong. But Tiantong was deceived by this mountain monk. Recently, I returned to my homeland with empty hands. And so this mountain monk has no Buddha Dharma. Trusting fate, I just spend my time. Morning after morning, the sun rises in the east. Evening after evening, the sun sets in the west. The clouds disperse and mountain valleys are still. After the rain, the mountains in the four directions are close. Every four years is a leap year. A rooster crows toward sunrise."
- Dogen, Dharma Hall discourse No. 48 from The Eihei Koroku, Taigen Dan Leighton & Shohaku Okumura, translators

I've recently gotten over my intimidation, and have started reading the 722-page Eihei Koroku, Dogen's Extensive Record (or at $65.00, "Dogen's Expensive Record"). The book is outstanding, with many volumes of Dogen's Dharma Hall discourses (expect more of these here in the future), koans and commentary on koans (in verse!), and poetry, all with insightful footnotes. The 71-page introduction is almost worthy of being a book by itself.

Greensmile: Your little "Ah Ha!" moment was the "mind that sticks to nothing." But when you tried to figure it out, that was the mind that sticks. You wonder if you understand much really. That is good. Enlightenment is not far off. . .

Joshu began the study of Zen when he was sixty years old and continued until he was eighty, when he realized Zen. He taught from the age of eighty until he was one hundred and twenty.

A student once asked him: "If I haven't anything in my mind, what shall I do?"

Joshu replied: "Throw it out."

"But if I haven't anything, how can I throw it out?" continued the questioner.

"Well," said Joshu, "then carry it out."

I never really used to believe those Zen stories about teachers living to be 120 years of age. I figured they were just legends, not to be taken literally. But recently, you may have seen a news story about a woman in Brazil who is 125 years old, and still going. Human beings really can last that long. Amazing.