« Another look at Alan Watts' beat and square Zen including Zen | Main | Buddhism approaches X differently »

May 12, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Your opposition between "real Zen" and "Dogen Zen" is, I believe, unfounded, and a little dishonest.

As I am sure you are well aware that there were disagreements in what you call "traditional Zen" already.

It is not that it was a monolithic whole, and Dogen came and invented something new, or deviated from a presupposed monolithic "traditional Zen".

You just seem to be voicing Dahui Zongao's claim that the Caodong silent illumination school is "heretical". That is how far back this dispute goes.

Dogen is a logical continuation of the Silent Illumination school of Zen, which is the philosophical grounds on which the Soto Zen school was founded.

It was Dogen's perspective that illumination is not your doing, as he wrote.

It is, as Kodo Sawaki later wrote, that satori pulls your practice, not that you practice in order to gain satori.

This dispute goes back even further and is at the very core of what is Mahayana Buddhism. The question how you interpret Buddha-Nature.

There is just nowhere that Dogen deviates by a millimeter from the doctrine of Mind. He writes perfectly that the mountains and rivers are the Mind.

As for your dualistic view of Mind having to emancipate itself from the "dirt" of "illusion, phenomena", that sounds like a "permanent soul" you say - "apart from physical reality", a doctrine which is alien to Buddhism.

The Mind is no other than the mountains and the rivers. Any Mind apart from mountains and rivers, is not the one mind.

You say those who brought Buddhism to China had no intention to teach zazen. I don't know who you're referring to, but certainly Bodhidharma taught Wall-gazing and sat himself for nine years without speaking to anyone.

Surely if the father of Zen spent so much time sitting, then Dogen's praise of sitting, just-sitting (which definitely means the same as wall-gazing), does not deviate from the "heart of Zen", to use your words.

This is funny. People are eager to kill the Buddha and to clean their house from his remains, washing the Buddha's blood from the walls, shovelling the chunks of meat out of the room, plugging the dustbin with the bones - but still people cling to their tools and scriptures, long time after the Buddha is killed.
At least about the practise of silent illumination can be said, that this method involves giving up the method.
But which text is relevant for having a grasp of Dogen's zazen? It's zazenshin. That's all. As long as there is a steamy mind about just-sitting's limitation, "you aren't there". And as long as you become desperate about old, long dead farts' sayings, made in an ancient language, "you are still not there".

Dogen was at best a spiritual disgrace. Choosing him before Hakuin or even Bankei is real proof one lacks merit in terms of encountering the right dharma teachers on ones path to awakening. Compare parts of his shobogenzo to korean Son teacher T`aego Bou, in "Master T'aego Addresses the Great Assembly of Dragons and Elephants" and see the profound difference in spiritual depth and skill. The non-reading generation can find a nice youtube presentation here;


"But Mahayana Buddhism makes no mention of seated meditation or that zazen is one with enlightenment. Nor is the physical practice of ‘just sitting’ (shikantaza) mentioned in the Mahayana canon or the Pali/Agama canon." There are no mention of koans in it either.

hi zennist, what would you think about this study concerning dogen sangha: http://possibleway.blogspot.com/2011/05/historical-first-academic-study-about.html

clearly you're not a fan of those guys, hahhaa!

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo