Dōgen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries
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One of the greatest religious practitioners and philosophers of the East, Eihei Dogen Zenji (1200–1253) is today thought of as the founder of the Soto school of Zen. A deep thinker and writer, he was deeply involved in monastic methods and in integrating Zen realization into daily life. At times The Shobogenzo was profoundly difficult, and he worked on it over his entire life, revising and expanding, producing a book that is today thought to be one of the highest manifestations of Buddhist thought ever produced. Dogen’s Genjo Koan is the first chapter in that book, and for many followers it might be thought to contain the gist of Dogen’s work—it is one of the groundwork texts of Zen Buddhism, standing easily alongside The Diamond Sutra, The Heart Sutra, and a small handful of others.
Our unique edition of Dogen’s Genjo Koan (Actualization of Reality) contains three separate translations and several commentaries by a wide variety of Zen masters. Nishiari Bokusan, Shohaku Okamura, Shunryu Suzuki, Kosho Uchiyama. Sojun Mel Weitsman, Kazuaki Tanahashi, and Dairyu Michael Wenger all have contributed to our presentation of this remarkable work. There can be no doubt that understanding and integrating this text will have a profound effect on anyone’s life and practice.
“not one thing,” and Dogen Zenji’s “body and mind dropped off” are all lacking. The extreme end is ultimately “not doing and not attaining.” So there is nothing that is sufficient. “When one side is illuminated, the other side is dark.” To think that something is missing is reality or is true, and to think that what is there is sufficient is false. Therefore, to grab one phrase or half a phrase and think that you have obtained something is a grave mistake. It’s just like four views of the same
eventually separated from their everyday life. Zen students understood the precepts as their way of life. They were sure that their way of practice was to actualize Buddha’s teaching—to live in this moment, to attain enlightenment. To be Buddha is to attain perfect freedom. How to attain perfect freedom is how to live in this moment. In China, Zen Buddhists established new precepts, which are called pure rules. For other Buddhists, precepts were some rules Buddha observed; but for Zen Buddhists
translation of gen-jo ko-an into modern Japanese: “the ordinary profundity of the present moment becoming3 the present moment.” Why did I render Genjo koan in this way? As I have discussed, gen has nothing to do with appearing and disappearing. What is gen? As long as we think of anything as outside of ourselves, there is nothing that either appears or disappears. We should find gen, something that neither appears nor disappears, within ourselves. When we look for gen in our actual life
problem of bullies in Japanese elementary schools today. We didn’t have such problems when I was a kid. From the children’s side, they demonstrate to their parents and teachers the result of following the contradicted teachings “to be friendly” and “to win.” A child is truly a mirror that clearly shows the distortion of their parents’ and teachers’ way of life. By watching a child intimately we can understand our attitude toward life and we can judge ourselves. In high school, social studies
information, they make a separation between themselves and information about the world. The important thing for them is their own desires. According to their desires, they process and sort information existing outside of themselves. Here, self and others, subject and object are clearly separated into two. If we live with the same view about beings and system of values as President Marcos, it is clear that our end will be similar to President Marcos’s. I would like to talk about this point in