Monday, November 9, 2009

Fukanzazengi X: The Real Dragon?

The closing section of Fukanzazengi begins:

I beseech you, noble friends in learning through experience, do not become
so accustomed to images that you are dismayed by the real dragon.

Master Dogen always considers that our own direct zazen practice is the standard of learning in Buddhism. He advocates this sort of effort cautioning that we should not 'become so accustomed to images that you are dismayed by the real dragon'. This phrase refers to the story of Shoko, a person who really liked dragons and had many images of them in his house. One day a real dragon was passing by and thought that Shoko might like him to visit; Shoko completely freaked out when he opened the front door and saw the real dragon! The 'pictures of dragons' are our own concepts and ideas about Buddhism while 'the real dragon' is directly realising zazen ourselves.

Devote effort to the truth which is directly accessible and straightforward. Revere people who are beyond study and without intention.

Master Dogen was a very realistic teacher. He urged us to rely on our own practice/experience and revere those who make sincere efforts in this way.

Accord with the bodhi of the buddhas. Become a rightful successor to the samādhi of the patriarchs.

'Bodhi' means 'enlightenment' or 'awakening'. Master Dogen encourages us to practice zazen and accord with the same experience realised by buddhas. When we do this we are in the same state as buddhas themselves and we become successors to our natural state of awakened balance.

If you practice the state like this for a long time, you will surely become the state like this itself. The treasure house will open naturally, and you will be free to receive and to use [its contents] as you like.

Fukanzazengi ends

These last lines indicate that regular zazen practice has an accumulative effect and that we can gradually come to express the state of practice with our whole life. The 'opening of the treasure house' refers to the state of realising every single thing as a bit of the unhindered truth.

The translation of Fukanzazengi used in this commentary is by Gudo Nishijima and Mike Cross. It can be found as Appendix II of this e-book.

Mike Cross provides and excellent exploration of the meaning of the words comprising Fukanzazengi HERE.

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