The 7rh chapter of Shobogenzo ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel

Lecture 1

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Sanshinji, Indiana, U.S.A. (edited by Rev. Shoryu Bradley)


  1. When One Bright Jewel was written

Soon after Dogen Zenji came back from China and returned to Kenninji in Kyoto, Japan in 1227, he wrote Fukanzazengi (Universal Rec- ommendations for Zazen). In 1230, he moved to Fukakusa and lived in a hermitage where the next year he wrote Bendowa (Wholehearted Practice of the Way). The former was a short manual of zazen practice and the latter was an explanation of the meaning of Zazen, articu- lated as replies to questions people of his day might have had. In these two writings he declared that the essence of Zen Buddhist prac- tice is zazen.

In 1233 Dogen established his own monastery, Koshoji, in Fukakusa. During the first summer practice period, he wrote Makahannya Haramitsu. In this text he pointed out that his practice and teachings of zazen were based on the teaching of emptiness expressed in the Prajna Paramita Sutras. In the fall of the same year he wrote Genjokoan. I think Makahannya Haramitsu and Genjokoan are closely con- nected and form the philosophical foundation of Dogen’s teaching as expressed in his later writings. These two fascicles became the first and the second chapters of the 75-volume Shobogenzo.

Dogen did not write any other fasicles of the Shobogenzo until several years later. This break in his Shobogenzo writings occurred when he was working hard to establish his monastic community at Koshoji. In support of that aim he produced writings such as Gakudo-yojinshu (Points to Watch in studying the Way), Appeal for Fund-raising to Build a Monks’ Hall, Ten- zokyokun (Instructions for the Tenzo), and Shukkejukaisaho, a description of the home- leaving tokudo ceremony. During this time Dogen’s disciple Ejo also recorded his teacher’s informal talks for a few years and the manu- script later became Shobogenzo Zuimonki. Dogen’s Mana Shobogenzo (Shobogenzo written in Chinese), a collection of three hundred koans, was also produced in this period, prob- ably to serve as study material for the monks in his assembly.

On the 18th day of the 4th month, during the beginning of the summer practice period in 1238, Dogen presented Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel). It is likely the presentation occurred at this time because Dogen felt the foundation of monastic practice for Koshoji had been firmly established. Between this date and 1246 he wrote very many chapters of the Shobogenzo. One Bright Jewel was the first writing of the Shobogenzo collection produced in this period. In it Dogen made unique com- ments on the famous saying of Xuansha Shibei, “The ten-direction world is one bright jewel.”

  1. About the title: Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel)
    Ikka ) is short for ichi-ka. Ichi means “one”. Ka is the same as ko () in modern Japanese, something like “piece.” This word is used as a counter for small, round objects such as jewels, grains, seeds, pills etc.. Myoju () is often translated as “bright pearl”. In six of the seven translations I posses of this fascicle this word is translated as “bright pearl”. Only Thomas Clearly translated this expression as ‘bright jewel”, yet he does not explain why he used “jewel” rather than “pearl”. The Chinese character means “a gem with red color”. It can be a word for a pearl, a gem, or a general term for any jewel.

The reason I don’t agree with the translation of ju as “pearl” is that, in my understanding, a pearl is a gem made by an oyster and is not transparent. However the ju of Ikka-myoju refers to the mani-jewel which appears in many Buddhist texts and throughout Zen literature, and as we shall see, the jewel of Xuansha’s saying must be transparent. Without understanding how this word has been used in Buddhist texts, it is not possible to clearly understand the meaning of Xuansha’s saying and Dogen’s discussion of it in this fascicle. Now I will intro- duce how the mani-jewel (; mani-ju in Japanese) is used in Buddhist scriptures.

The mani-jewel in Buddhist texts

In Sanskrit and Pali, this word “mani” means “jewel” in general. Mani-ju is a compound of the Japanese transliteration of the Sanskrit word and its Chinese equivalent. It is used as a metaphor for various things in Indian Bud- dhist scriptures.

The mani-jewel appears in the Pali Nikaya as one of the seven treasures owned by a wheel- turning king (Chakravarti-raja, ). The wheel (chakra) is a powerful weapon that is like a chariot used on the battlefield. The jewel is described as follows in the Mahasudhassana Sutta: The Great Splendour: A King’s Renuncia- tion, the seventeenth Sutta of the Digha Nikaya:

“It was a beryl, pure, excellent, well-cut into eight facets, clear, bright, unflawed, perfect in every respect. The luster of this Jewel-Treasure radiated for an entire yojana round about.”1

It is said that as long as the king kept his mani- jewel he could continue to be a king, but if the jewel was lost, he would lose his throne. When in the king’s possession the jewel illuminated the entirety of his kingdom, encouraging his ministers and his soldiers in battle. With the jewel in his possession the king could conquer his enemies, govern his country well, and keep order. The jewel was not simply an object, but it was the source of virtue, authority, and cha- risma for the king.

A wheel-turning king and the Buddha have some commonality. The expounding of the Buddha’s teachings was called “the turning the Dharma wheel” (), and like the wheel turning king, he had seven treasures. They were called “the seven factors of enlightenment ( )” and were part of the “thirty-seven wings of awakening (bodhipaksikadharma)”.

This is the original meaning of the mani-jewel in Buddhist scriptures.

The mani-jewel as a symbol of Buddha’s teaching

(1) Wish-fulfilling jewel (Cintamani)
Several different versions of the mani-jewel appear in other Buddhist scriptures. One of them is called cintamani (wish-fulfilling jewel). It is said that the powerful heavenly king Indra had the mani-jewel. During a war between Indra and the asuras, the king of asuras chal- lenged Indra, but Indra was much more power- ful and won the war. Yet during the fighting Indra’s mani-jewel fell to the earth, and now whoever possesses it can have all their wishes fulfilled. For example, some statues of the great bodhisattvas such as Ksitigarbha (Jizo) and Avalokiteshvara (Kannon) hold the wish- fulfilling jewel in order to fulfill the wishes of living beings.

(2) Water-purifying jewel

Another kind of mani-jewel is said to have been carried by Buddhist monks when they traveled. On their journeys they often had to drink water from a pond, lake or river. When the water was muddy the monk put the mani- jewel into the water, and it is said that this made the mud settle so that the water’s surface became clear. When used in this function the mani-jewel was called the seisui-mani ( ; water-purifying jewel).

The mani-jewel as a water purifier is used in

Buddhism as a metaphor or simile for faith or

belief (; shin). According to the

Abhidharmako¬a, faith in Buddhism is like the

water-purifying jewel. When we are unable to

make decisions because our mind has become

like muddy water, being agitated with ques-

tions, doubts and uncertainty, the mani-jewel,

or faith, can settle the “muddy” parts of our

mind, making the mind clear and pure. One of the definitions of faith in Buddhism is shin ch j (). Shin is “mind” and ch and j mean “clear and pure.” Just as the mani-jewel can purify muddy water, our faith can purify our muddy mind.

(3) The mani-jewel in Indra’s Net

Probably the most well known usage of the mani-jewel in Mahayana Buddhism is in the metaphor of Indra’s Net (Indrajala). This appears in the Avatamsaka Sutra (Kegonkyo) and is often cited in Fa-yen Buddhism (Kegon- shu). The metaphor, like the story of the wish- fulfilling jewel, includes the heavenly god of Indian mythology Indra, who was incorporated into Buddhism as a guardian of the Dharma. Indra’s palace is on the summit of Mt. Sumeru, and in it there is an ornamental net spreading out infinitely in the ten directions. At each of the infinite number of knots in the net is a mani-jewel possessing an infinite number of facets. When we look at any one of the jewels in the net, we see all the other jewels reflected in it, and all these reflected jewels also reflect every other jewel. This infinite process of reflecting and being reflected continues endlessly. This metaphor of infinite, mutually reflecting jewels is used to help us understand how all things are interconnected with all other things. Since everything is interconnected nothing has a fixed self-nature, and yet each individual doesn’t lose its own identity in the process. The metaphor of Indra’s net offers a vast and pro- found vision of the universe in which all things are mutually interrelated to all other things.

(4) The mani-jewel as a metaphor for Buddha nature in the Complete Enlightenment Sutra The mani-jewel was also used as a metaphor for Buddha nature in Mahayana sutras such as the Lankavatara Sutra, the Complete Enlightenment Sutra, the Surangama Sutra and others. This metaphor is the origin of the significance of the bright jewel in Xuansha’s saying. The following is a quote from the Complete Enlightenment Sutra (Engakukyo):

“Virtuous man, you should know that both body and mind are illusory defilements. When these appearances of defilement are permanently extinguished, purity will per- vade all ten directions.

Virtuous man, for instance the pure mani jewel reflects the five colors as they appear before it, yet the ignorant see the mani as actually possessing the five colors. Virtuous man, although the pure nature of complete enlightenment likewise manifests as body and mind, people respond in accor- dance with their capacities, yet the ignorant speak of the pure complete enlightenment as having intrinsic characteristics of body and mind.”2

Here we find the connection between the

mani-jewel and the “ten direction world” in

Xuansha’s saying. We have a body and a mind,

which Shakyamuni Buddha said are composed

only of the five skandhas or aggregates (form,

sensation, perception, formations and con-

sciousness). The five skandhas are defiled

because of the three poisonous minds (greed,

anger/hatred and delusion) and the delusions

and bad karma they create. When the defile-

ments of the five skandhas are eliminated the purity of the mani-jewel pervades the entire world.

Because this mani-jewel is transparent, its color changes depending upon the conditions around it. According to the sutra, the mani- jewel is complete enlightenment, or Buddha nature, but because of our three poisonous minds we are defiled, and the beauty of the mani-jewel is therefore not revealed. We see only the color of our defilements, mistakenly thinking the mani-jewel itself is defiled. Because we are defiled by our ego-centered desires and actions, we see only the defilements of the five skandhas without seeing the purity of mani-jewel.

Because we lack wisdom we think these defiled five skandhas are our true selves, and therefore our pure nature, complete enlightenment, is not revealed. When we are free from the three poisonous minds, however, the purity of the mani-jewel is revealed, illuminating the entire ten-direction world.

The mani-jewel hidden in the five skandhas

How is it that our body/mind, the five skand- has, is defiled with the three poisonous minds? According to the Buddha’s teaching, when the six sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind) encounter their objects (form, sound, smell, taste, touch and objects of mind), we are influenced by the three poisonous minds. When an object gives us a pleasant sen- sation we want to make it our possession so we chase after it. When an object gives us an unpleasant sensation we want to avoid it. Yet even when we try to stay away from objects we don’t like, they very often somehow come to us against our will and we become angry or even feel hatred for such things.

So when we react based on the three poisonous minds to a pleasant object greed is generated, and we feel “I want to get that!”, and an unpleasant object generates the feeling, “I must get away!” Being moved by greed and anger/hatred in this way, our life becomes run- ning, running after something we want to get or running to escape something we want to avoid. We are always running, chasing after some things or escaping from other things. Both greed and anger/hatred are products of making discriminations based on our igno- rance.

When we chase after desirable things, in some rare cases we are successful and our desires are completely fulfilled, making us feel like heav- enly beings. But more often our desires are not completely fulfilled. We want more and more and feel instead like hungry ghosts. Other times we feel like hell dwellers – we never get what we want. When we live like this our life is simply suffering. Many different conditions are produced as a result of this constant chasing and escaping. This is called transmigration within samsara. Because no situation lasts forever, we have to endure endlessly changing conditions. Even when we are very successful and full of happiness, we know it won’t last forever. We are always to some degree uncer- tain and we are never really in control of our lives; something is always left unsatisfied. Therefore we continue to run and we never stop. This is how the three poisonous minds

work and turn our lives into transmigration within samsara.

Tathãgatagarbha theory elaborates on this basic Buddhist teaching, saying that even though our body/mind is defiled on the surface, our original nature is always pure and undefiled. This original nature is known as Buddha nature. The teaching says that even though at a shallow level our mind/body is continually influenced by many things, the true nature of our mind is always pure and clear and free from discrimination. This Buddha nature is also called Tathãgatagarbha, literally “the embryo of Buddha”, and here I have presented a simpli- fied structure of this teaching.

In this case Buddha nature or Tathãgatagarbha is the potential to become a buddha. The teaching says that even though on the surface we are defiled, inside everyone has this Buddha nature, which is permanent, never lost, and always pure. In the case of deluded living beings it is hidden and we cannot see it.

An analogy used for Buddha nature is a diamond covered with rock and dirt. The diamond is permanent and indestructible, and yet it is hidden. First, according to this teach- ing, we must discover the hidden diamond. Then we must remove the dust and rocks and polish the diamond. With this the beauty of the diamond is revealed. This is the process of our practice as viewed through the basic struc- ture of the theory of Buddha nature, or Tathã- gatagarbha. This analogy from the Complete Enlightenment Sutra shows this structure. The structure contains two layers: on the surface layer of our concrete conditioned self, our body and mind are defiled, but in the deeper layer our essential mind-nature (the mani-jewel) is pure and permanent. These two layers are opposite yet identical.

The mani-jewel in a Zen text

Guifeng Zongmi (Keih Sh mitsu, 780-841) was one of the most well-known Buddhist mas- ters of his age. He was known as the sixth ancestor of the Huayen (Kegon) school, but he was also a Zen master. He came from a small lineage known as the Jingzhong (J shu) School, and yet he actually claimed to belong to the Heze Shenhui (Kataku Jinne) school. Shenhui, the founder of this school, was the person responsible for Huineng (Eno) posthu- mously becoming the Sixth Ancestor of Zen.

In his writing entitled Chart of the Master- Disciple Succession of the Chan Gate That Trans- mits the Mind Ground in China, Guifeng com- pared the four Zen schools of his time: the Northern School, the Ox Head (Nitou) School, the Hongzhou (Koshu) School and the Heze (Kataku) School. To do so, he used the analogy of the mani-jewel to judge the nature of their Zen teachings. As far as I know, this is where the expression “one bright jewel” first appears. I suppose Xuansha got this expression from this writing of Guifeng. Unless we under- stand this point, we can’t really understand what Xuansha meant when he said, “the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel.” I think this is also an important point in under- standing Dogen’s comments on Xuansha’s saying. If one just reads an English translation of Ikka-myoju without having any background

information on the text, it is impossible to discover this connection between Guifeng, Xuansha and D gen.

The mani-jewel in Guifeng’s writing

When Guifeng described the differences and similarities of those four schools of Zen, he used the analogy of the mani-jewel. In this case the jewel is called the zuishiki-mani (), which is transparent and changes color depending on the colors of things around it. This metaphor comes from the Complete Enlightenment S tra mentioned above, and the same metaphor is used in the Lankavatara Sutra and the Surangama Sutra. Those three texts are very important sources for under- standing Chinese Zen teachings. These sutras along with The Awakening the Faith in Ma- hayana, another important text in Chinese Zen, combined Tathãgatagarbha theory and Yogacara teachings.

In his writing comparing the four Zen schools, Guifeng called this jewel, or our pure original- nature, “chi” (). Chi is “Knowledge” or “Knowing” or, as I translated it in Dogen Zenji’s Bend wa, “Intelligence.” Guifeng said that this “Knowing” is beyond the dichotomy of knowing or not knowing. He also called this reichi (, spiritual intelligence) or reishin ( , spiritual mind). Another name in Zen is “Buddha nature.” Guifeng also used the word “true nature (shinsh , )”or “true self” (shinga, ). This thing, known by all these various names, is permanent according to this teaching. Whether it is hidden or revealed, it does not change. And yet our surface mind is impermanent and always changing. The point of this comparison is to show the relationship between the phenomenal individual mind that transmigrates within samsara and this perma- nent, essential nature.

Guifeng wrote the following about the spiritual intelligence and the discriminating mind:

It is like the one jewel (the one spiritual mind) that is just round, pure, and bright (the Knowing of voidness and calm). It has no differentiations at all [in terms of ] color characteristics. (This Knowing from the outset is free of all discriminations and has neither noble one nor common person, neither good nor bad.) Because its substance is brightness, when it is placed in front of an external object, it has the potentiality to reflect the complete variety of color characteristics. (Because [the mind] sub- stance is Knowing, when it is placed in front of objective supports, it has the potentiality to discriminate all rights and wrongs, likes and dislikes, up to and including managing and creating all mundane and supramundane events. This is the conditioned principle.) The variety is inherent in the color characteris- tics themselves; the bright jewel never changes.(The variety is inherent in the stupidity, wisdom, good, and bad themselves. The arising and disappearing is inherent in the sadness, joy, love, and hatred themselves. The mind with its potentiality for Knowing is never interrupted. This is the immutable principle.) Though the jewel reflects hun- dreds of thousands of different colors, let us now pick the color black, which is the opposite of the jewel’s brightness, and employ it to illustrate spirituality bright Knowing-seeing and the blackness of igno- rance. Though they are opposite, they are one substance. (The dharma and simile have already been provided.) It is like the times when the jewel reflects the color black; it is utterly black all the way through its sub- stance. No brightness whatsoever is visible.3

Based on this criterion, Guifeng wrote the following about the four schools:

  1. People in the Northern school thought it is necessary to believe in the purity of the mani- jewel so that we can practice to clean away its black color. Then, they said, the mani-jewel will start to reveal its purity and beauty. This is the same idea expressed in in the verse written by Shenxui (Jinshu) in the story of the dharma competition between him and Huineng. It said our body is the tree of awakening, and our mind is like the stand of a bright mirror, and in order to prevent dust from collecting on this mirror, we must continually polish it. This is one idea based on the relationship between our surface defilements and essential purity.
  2. People in the Hongzhou School thought that the blackness is nothing other than the bright jewel. The substance of the bright jewel can never be seen. If we wish to know it, we must realize that blackness itself is the bright jewel. Things happening in this concrete phe- nomenal way of life are nothing other than the manifestation of the purity of the jewel. There’s nothing to seek, nothing needs to be negated. Everything is a manifestation of Buddha nature. Their main teaching said since the mind itself is Buddha, we should just be natu- ral. Guifeng criticized this teaching saying, “the stupid ones are really made to believe in these words, to focus exclusively on the black charac- teristics and to recognize the various [color] characteristics as the bright jewel [itself ].”
  3. The teaching of the Ox Head School came from the Sanlun (Sanron) School. Sanlun is the Chinese word for the Madhyamaka school. Kum raj va is considered to be the Chinese founder of this school and its central teaching emphasizes emptiness. According to Guifeng, people in the Ox Head School thought that not only are the various colors reflected from the jewel empty and without substance, but the bright jewel itself is also empty. He criticized them for not knowing that the bright jewel itself is “not-emptiness”. Yet the Ox Head School taught that both defiled phenomenal conditions of mind and the essential mind- nature are empty. It said since everything is empty we should not cling to either side but just be free to see the complete emptiness of both defilement and purity. Doing so is enlightenment according to the Ox Head School.
  4. Of the Heze (Kataku) School’s teaching, Gufeng wrote that the perfect brightness of purity is the substance of the jewel, and the black color is unreal. According to that teach- ing, when we truly see the black color, the black is not black; it is just brightness. We then see that the surface defilements are actually nothing other than the brightness of the jewel. The two opposite sides completely interpen- etrate each other. To see this interpenetration is sudden enlightenment, and on this point the teaching is the same as that of the Hongzhou School. However, because in the Heze School it is understood that the black color is unreal, it’s adherents thought gradual practice aimed at freedom from the black color is important. According to Guifeng, Heze teaching embraced both sudden enlightenment and gradual practice.

In conclusion Gufeng wrote:

If you do not recognize that the bright jewel is the substance with the potentiality for reflecting [all the colors] and that it is eternally unchanging (the Heze), then you will just say: “Black is the jewel” (the Hong- zhou lineage). Or you will try to get rid of the black and seek out jewel (the Northern lineage). Or you will say that the brightness and the blackness are both nonexistent [that is, void] (the Nitou lineage). None [of these lineages] has yet seen the jewel.4

Guifeng’s writing is an example of how the bright jewel was used in Zen Buddhist teach- ings of the Tang Dynasty. If we don’t have such a background understanding of the bright jewel analogy, we can’t really understand the meaning of Xuansha’s saying.

Xuansha’s saying

Because Xuansha himself didn’t explain his saying, “this entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel,” we must interpret it ourselves. Based on Guifeng’s writing, we can interpret it in four ways:

  1. As in the Northern School’s teaching, Xuan- sha has completed the polishing of the mirror and all defilements have been polished away, leaving only the pure bright jewel. There’s no separation between this purity of the jewel and the entire ten-direction world.
  2. As in the teaching of the Hongzhou School, everything is a manifestation of this bright jewel, and whatever Xuansha does is a manifes- tation of the function of the bright jewel that is connected with the entire ten-direction world.
  3. As in the Ox Head School’s teaching, Xuan- sha thoroughly sees the emptiness of all things, including the hidden jewel and the surface defilements. Therefore there is no separation between Xuansha and the ten-direction world. He and the entire world are both empty.
  4. As in the teaching of the Heze School, because he awakened to this Spiritual Intelli- gence or True Nature, Xuansha was free forever of the influence of the three poisonous minds. But even though he had awakened to this real- ity, he continued to practice and in doing so he illuminated the ten-direction world.

We can interpret this very short and simple statement of Xuansha in any of these four different ways, and because he did not explain it himself, we are free to choose whichever interpretation we like. In this article I have pre- sented the usage of this metaphor of the bright jewel in Zen Buddhist teachings. I think, gen- erally speaking, these usages represent the traditional mainstream teachings of Chinese Zen. As the next step in studying Shobogenzo

Ikka-myoju, we need to consider Dogen’s posi- tion concerning these traditional teachings.

1 The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Trans- lation of the Digha Nikaya (Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1987) p.282

2 Complete Enlightenment (Ch’an Master Sheng-yen, Dharma Drum Publications, NY, 1997) p.24

3 Zongmi on Chan (Jefferey Lyle Broughton, Oxford University Press, NY, 2009) p.89-90.

4 Ibid. p.93.


The 7th Chapter of Shobogenzo Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel) Lecture (2)

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Sanshinji, Indiana, U.S.A. (Edited by Rev. Hoko Karnegis)

  1. About the title: Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel) continued
    D gen’s criticism against The Complete Enlightenment Sutra and the Surangama Sutra.

In the last issue, I introduced the usage of “one-bright jewel (ikka-myoju)” in the writing of Guifeng Zongmi based on the theory of tathagata-garbha (Buddha nature) from the Lankavatara Sutra, the Complete Enlighten- ment Sutra and the Surangama Sutra. For Zongmi, “One bright jewel” was a very impor- tant concept for comparing the similarity and difference of the four important Zen lineages in the Tang Dynasty. However, when we study D gen’s Shobogenzo Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel), we need to understand that D gen did not appreciate these sutras since he was a young monk studying under the guidance of Tiang- tong Rujing until his final years. D gen does not say anything about the Lankavatara Sutra, but he clearly criticized the Complete Enlighten- ment Sutra and the Surangama Sutra.

D gen’scriticismofthetwosutrasinHokyoki D gen recorded his conversations with Tiantong Rujing while he was in China. The record was found after D gen’s death and was called Hokyoki. Hokyo is the name of the Chi- nese era during which D gen practiced there with Rujing. One of the dialogues D gen had

with his teacher, recorded in this text, is as follows:

I asked Rujing, “Lay people read The Lankavatara Sutra and The Complete Enlightenment Sutra and say that these are the ancestral teachings transmitted from India. When I opened up these sutras and observed their structure and style, I felt they were not as skillful as other Ma- hayana Sutras. This seemed strange to me. More than this, the teachings of these sutras seemed to me to be far less than what we find in Mahayana Sutras. They seemed quite similar to the teachings of the six outsider teachers [who lived during the Buddha’s time]. How do we determine whether or not these texts are authentic?”

Rujing said, “The authenticity of The Lankavatara Sutra has been doubted by some people since ancient times. Some suspect that this sutra was written by people of a later period, as the early ances- tors were definitely not aware of it. But ignorant people in recent times read it and love it. The Complete Enlightenment Sutra is also like this. Its style is similar to The Lankavatara Sutra.” 1

In this translation, D gen mentioned The

Lankavatara Sutra and The Complete Enlighten-

ment Sutra. But the first sutra D gen mentions is not The Lankavatara Sutra but The Surangama Sutra. In Chinese this sutra is called Shuryogon- kyo (). Shuryogon is a transliteration of Surangama.

I also have a question about Tanahashi’s translation of the two sentences in this para- graph: “Some suspect that this sutra was written by people of a later period, as the early ancestors were definitely not aware of it. But ignorant people in recent times read it and love it.” I think these sentences should be translated as follows: “Some suspect that this sutra was produced by people in a later period. In the previous ages, ancestral masters never read this sutra. Ignorant people in these days read it and love it.” Rujing said that authenticity of The Shurangama Sutra has been questioned from ancient times, there- fore ancestral masters in the early times never read this sutra.

Anyway, D gen has a doubt about the authenticity and quality of The Surangama Sutra and The Complete Enlightenment Sutra. Those are sutras I have introduced as the foun- dation of Zhongmi’s and Xuansha’s usage of “one bright jewel”.

D gen gives the question to his teacher. This is a very serious question. D gen thinks that the teachings in these sutras are similar with the six outsider teachers. This means the sutras advocate non-Buddhist teachings such as Senika’s theory, which D gen introduces in Bendowa. In this case, to be non-Buddhist means to go against the Buddha’s teaching of anatman (no permanent self ). The teaching of the metaphor of the mani jewel (one bright jewel) which is permanent and never changes, even though the surface color is changing is, accordingtoD gen,nothingotherthanatman. That is the problem in D gen’s question. He is asking whether the theory included in these two sutras can be considered to be authentic Buddhist teaching or not.

This is a conversation that happened when D gen was twenty-five years old. In China, it seems that the authenticity of these two sutras has not been questioned. However in Japan, in the 8th century, some Hosso School (Japanese Yogacara School) monks doubted whether The Surangama Sutra is an authentic sutra from Indiaornot.D genandhisteacherRujinghad the same question. In modern times, almost all Japanese Buddhist scholars think that The Surangama Sutra and The Complete Enlighten- ment Sutra were written in China.

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism says the following about the authenticity of The Surangama Sutra:

Although Zhisheng assumed the Surangamasutra was a genuine Indian scripture, the fact that no Sanskrit manu- script of the text is known to exist, as well as the inconsistencies in the stories about its transmission to China, have led schol- ars for centuries to question the scripture’s authenticity. There is also internal evidence of the scripture’s Chinese provenance, such as the presence of such indigenous Chi- nese philosophical concepts as yin-yan cosmology and the five elements (wuxing) theory, the stylistic beauty of the literary Chinese in which the text is written, etc. For these and other reasons, the Surangamasutra is now generally recognized to be a Chinese apocryphal composition.2

However, Chinese masters don’t agree. There is a Chinese temple in San Francisco named Golden Mountain Temple, and it has a big community called the City of Ten Thou- sand Buddhas in Ukiah, Northern California. The founder of that temple, Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, opposed those modern scholars: “Where the Surangama Sutra exists, then the Proper Dharma exists. If the Surangama Sutra ceases to exist, then the Proper Dharma will also vanish. If the Surangama sutra is inauthen- tic, then I vow to fall into the Hell of Pulling Tongues to undergo uninterrupted suffering.” 3 In a subsequent section of the introduction to the Surangama Sutra, Ron Epstein and David Rounds argue that it was written in India.4

So there is a controversy. Since I am not a Buddhist scholar, I cannot discuss which is right. Anyway, we are studying D gen’s Shobo- genzo, we need to hear what D gen has to say on this point. We need to understand that D gen questions not only about whether the Surangama Sutra was written in India or China but also whether the core teaching in the sutra is non-Buddhist theory.

D gen’s criticism in Eihei Koroku
Not only when he was young, but also in

his later years, he repeats the same opinion regarding the two sutras in his Dharma discourse number 383 in Eihei Koroku (D gen’s Extensive Record), the collection that includes more than five hundred formal discourses by D gen. Because this is a long discourse on D gen’s disagreement with the theory of the identity of the three teachings (Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism), I will only quote one paragraph of just a few sentences:

Therefore we should not look at the words and phrases of Confucius or Lao Tsu, and should not look at the Surangama or Complete Enlightenment Scriptures. (Many contemporary people consider the Surangama and Complete Enlightenment Sutras as among those that the Zen tradition relies on. But the teacher D gen always disliked them.) We should exclusively study the expressions coming from the activities of buddhas and ancestors from the time of the seven world-honored Buddhas to the present. If we are not concerned with the activities of the buddha ancestors, and vainly make our efforts in the evil path of fame and profit, how could this be study of the Way? Among the World-Honored Tathagata, the ancestral teacher Ma- hakashyapa, the twenty-eight ancestors in India, the six generations [of ancestors] in China, Qingyuan, and Nanyue [Huirang], which of these ancestral teach- ers ever used the Surangama or Complete Enlightenment Sutra and considered them as the true Dharma eye treasury, won- drous mind of nirvana? 5

The italic sentences in the parenthesis are a note made by Gien, a disciple of D gen who compiled volume 5 of Eihei Koruku. It is clear that he continued to dislike these two sutras

even when he was past his youth.

D gencriticizesnotonlythetwosutrasbut Guifeng Zongmi’s essential points in Dharma discourse number 447 of Eiheikoroku:

I can remember Guifeng Zongmi said, “The quality of knowing is the gate- way of all excellence.”

Zen master Huanrong Shixin [wuxin] said, “The quality of knowing is the gateway of all evil.”

Later students have recited what these two previous worthies said, without stopping up to today. Because of this, ignorant people have wanted to discuss which is correct, and for hundreds of years have either used or discarded one or the other thing. Nevertheless, Zongmi’s saying that knowing is the gateway of all excellence has not yet emerged from the pit of those outside the way. What is called knowledge is certainly neither excellent nor course. As for Huanlong [Shixin]’s saying that knowing is a gate- way of all evil, what is called knowledge is certainly neither evil nor good.

Today, I, Eihei would like to exam- ine those two people’s sayings. Great Assembly would you like to clearly under- stand the point of this?

After a pause D gen said: If the great ocean knew it was full, the hundreds of rivers would all flow upstream.6

It is clear that D gen knows what Guifeng Zongmi wrote about the one bright jewel. Zongmi said that everything good came from this knowing (chi) or the spiritual intelligence that is nothing other than the one bright jewel. D gen also quotes another Zen master, Huan- rong Shixin. They said completely opposite things and D gen made a comment about these two opposite sayings.

D gen says Zongmi’s saying has not yet emerged from the pit of those outside the way. This “pit of those outside the way” means the trap of non-Buddhist theory. D gen is saying that Zongmi’s saying is non-Buddhist teaching. This dharma discourse 447 was probably given when D gen was around 50 years old, a few years before his death. D gen still thinks Guifeng Zongmi’s teaching based on the two sutras was not Buddhist.

After a pause he said, “If the great ocean knew it was full, the hundreds of rivers would all flow upstream.” The ocean will never fill up, so water can flow from the mountains to the ocean continuously. However, if the ocean becomes full, water needs to flow towards the mountains. Such a thing can never happen. From these sayings of D gen, it is clear to me that D gen does not agree with what Guifeng Zongmi had written using the analogy of “one bright jewel”.

D gen’sCommentonTheSurangamaSutrain Shobogenzo Tenhorin (Turning the Dharma Wheel).

In Shoboenzo Tenhorin (Turning the Dharma Wheel) written in 1244, D gen discusses several Zen masters’ comments on an expres- sion from the Surangama Sutra as follows:

The expression quoted now, that “when a person exhibits the truth and returns to the origin, space in the ten directions totally disappears” is an expression in the Surangama Sutra. This same phrase has been discussed by several Buddhist patriarchs. Consequently, this phrase is truly the bones and marrow of Buddhist patriarchs, and the eyes of Buddhist patriarchs. My inten- tion in saying so is as follows: Some insist that the ten-fascicle version of the Surangama Sutra is a forged sutra while others insist that it is not a forged sutra. The two arguments have per- sisted from the distant past until today. There is the older translation and there is the new trans- lation; the version that is doubted is [not these but] a translation produced during the Shinryu era. However, Master Goso [Ho]en, Master Bussho [Ho]tai, and my late Master Tendo, the eternal Buddha, have each quoted the above phrase already. So, this phrase has already been turned in the Dharma wheel of Buddhist patri- archs; it is the Buddhist Patriarch’s Dharma wheel turning.7

The translation produced in the first year of the Shinryu era (Shenlong in 705 CE) is the ten- fascicle version of the Surangama Sutra. The older ones are entitled Surangama-samadhi- sutra, translated by Kumarajiva; this is a differ- ent sutra from the Surangama Sutra, which is a Chinese apocryphal scripture. Here D gen doubts the authenticity of the Surangama Sutra, but he says that once a sentence from the sutra is quoted and used by ancestors to express the Dharma, the statement can be thought of as turning the Dharma wheel.

Similar criticism in Bend wa, Question Ten

In Bendowa and Shobogenzo Sokushin- zebutsu (The Mind itself is Buddha), D gen criticized the theory that the mind-nature is permanent and forms are arising and perishing. This teaching is what D gen thought came from the same ideas Zongmi wrote based on the Surangama Sutra and the Complete Enlighten- ment Sutra. I think that to clearly understand D gen’s points in these two writings, it is impor- tant to know why D gen does not appreciate these two sutras. Question ten in Bendowa is about the problem. First D gen formulated the question, then he wrote the reply to the question.

[Question 10] Someone has said,

“Do not grieve over life and death. There

is an instantaneous means for separating

from life and death. It is to understand the

principle that mind-nature is permanent.

This means that even though the body

that is born will inevitably be carried into

death, still this mind-nature never per-

ishes. If you really understand that the

mind-nature existing in our body is not

subject to birth and death, then since it is

the original nature, although the body is

only a temporary form haphazardly born

here and dying, the mind is permanent

and unchangeable in the past, present and

future. To know this is called release from

life and death. Those who know this prin-

ciple will forever extinguish their rounds

of life and death and when their bodies

perish they enter into the ocean of origi-

nal nature. When they stream into this

ocean, they are truly endowed with the

same wondrous virtues as the Buddha-

Tathagatas. Now, even though you know this, because your body was produced by the delusory karma of previous lives, you are not the same as the sages. Those who do not yet know this must forever trans- migrate within the realm of life and death. Consequently, you need comprehend only the permanence of mind-nature. What can you expect from vainly spend- ing your whole life doing quiet sitting?” Is such an opinion truly in accord with the way of buddhas and ancestors?”8

Life and death in this case refers to transmi- gration within samsara. In this teaching, we don’t need to grieve over suffering in samsara, and we don’t need to practice. This mind- nature is shinsho(), shin is “mind;” sh is “nature.” This is one of the expressions Guifeng Zongmi used. We should see the per- manence of mind-nature. Even though phe- nomenal body and mind are impermanent, this mind-nature is permanent. Just to see the permanence of mind-nature is an instanta- neous method to become free from suffering. If this is true, it’s pretty easy to be released from samsara. We don’t need to practice.

This theory says that our life with this body is like a river. Until the river reaches the ocean, we are living as individual persons and experi- encing different things and we attach to certain things and we hate certain things and we suffer. But once we return to the ocean, we become free from the body. The body is the source of delusions, but this mind nature is always pure. When this mind-nature returns to the ocean of original nature, we are free from the suffering of samsara and become like buddhas. Why do we have to go through a difficult practice such as zazen?

According to this theory, we don’t need to practice. We just need to know that mind- nature is permanent and undefiled, and even if we don’t practice at all, when we die we become buddhas. This is an interesting teaching. As long as we are living, we’re no good, and our practice doesn’t work. What we have to do is wait until we die. Then we become buddhas. It seems easy. However, this means that as long as we are alive we are deluded and we have to suffer. I don’t think this is an easy way of life.

Bendowa: reply to Question Ten

D gen makes up this question and replies by himself as follows:

The idea you have just mentioned is not Buddha-dharma at all, but the falla- cious view of Senika.

This fallacy says that there is a spiri- tual intelligence in one’s body which discriminates love and hatred or right and wrong as soon as it encounters phenom- ena, and has the capacity to distinguish all such things as pain and itching or suffer- ing and pleasure. Furthermore, when this body perishes, the spirit nature escapes and is born elsewhere. Therefore although it seems to expire here, since [the spiritual nature] is born somewhere, it is said to be permanent, never perishing. Such is this fallacious doctrine.

However to learn this theory and suppose it is buddha-dharma is more

stupid than grasping a tile or a pebble and thinking it is a golden treasure. Nothing can compare to the shamefulness of this idiocy. National teacher Echu of Tang China strictly admonished [against this mistake]. So now isn’t it ridiculous to con- sider that the erroneous view of mind as permanent and material form as imper- manent is the same as the wondrous dharma of the buddhas, and to think that you become free from life and death when actually you are arousing the fundamental cause of life and death? This indeed is most pitiful. Just realize that this is a mis- taken view. You should give no ear to it.9

Senika is one of the non-Buddhist teachers that appears in the Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra. What D gen says here in Bend wa is the same as what he says in Eihei Koroku; this theory that insists that mind-nature is perma- nent is the same as the non-Buddhist teaching.

This spiritual intelligence is a translation of reichi() and that is exactly the same word that Guifeng Zongmi used to describe “one bright jewel” in his writing when he compared the four lineages of Zen in the Tang Dynasty. When this spiritual intelligence encounters a certain object, it creates some discrimination. This spiritual nature escapes from our body when we die as the owner of a house goes out when the house is burned and gets a new house.

D genrepeatsexactlythesamediscussionin Sh b genz Sokushin-zebutsu (The Mind Itself is Buddha). There he quotes a long conversa- tion between Nanyan Huizhong (Nanyo Echu, 675-775) regarding the same theory of Senika. The expression “mind itself is Buddha” is by Mazu (Baso), a disciple of Nanyan’s Dharma brother Nanyue Huairang (Nangaku Ejo, 677-744). D gen does not agree with the teaching of Guifeng Zongmi written in his text.

If we interpret Xuansha’s saying, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel,” according to the same usage of the analogy that appeared in Zongmi’s writing, then probably D gen didn’t agree with it. What is D gen’s understanding of Xuansa’s statement? Is there any difference between what Xuansha said and D gen’s interpretation of Xuansha’s saying? This is the point of studying Shobogenzo Ikka- myoju (One Bright Jewel). What I have been discussing is a kind of preparation before start- ing to read D gen’s insight about this analogy of “one bright jewel”.

D gen is really a difficult person with whom to practice. In a sense, he’s so stubborn and picky. Many Zen texts agree with this theoryinthesesutrasandZongmi’s.D genisa very unusual and unique Zen master. To be his student is a difficult thing.

Shodoka, a poem by Yongjia Xuanjue
I pointed to the examples of usage of this analogy of “one bright jewel” in Zen Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty. I think D gen didn’t agree the theory behind the expressions. He needed to make his own interpretation of what this bright jewel is. Obviously this bright jewel is a metaphor of Buddha nature, bussho in Japa- nese. We need to understand what D gen’s

understanding of Buddha nature is.

Before I start to read the text, I’d like to introduce one more example of the same kind of idea in one of the famous pieces of Zen literature written in the Tang Dynasty. This is a very well known and important poem written by Yongjia Xuanjue (Yoka Genkaku, 665-713). This person was another disciple of the Sixth Ancestor Huineng (Eno, 638-713), and yet he stayed with Huineng only one night. On the day he visited the Sixth Ancestor, he attained enlightenment and he left. He is a Dharma brother of Nanyan Huizhong and Nanyue Huairang. He used to be a Tendai monk, a great scholar and also a very skillful poet. He wrote a long poem entitled Shodoka (Song of Enlightenment of the Way).

I found a translation by D. T Suzuki. In this poem Yongjia Xuanjue wrote about this metaphor of mani jewel as follows:

The whereabouts of the precious mani-jewel is not known to people generally, Which lies deeply buried in the recesses of the Tathagata-garbha;
The six-fold function miraculously per- formed by it is an illusion and yet not an illusion,
The rays of light emanating from one per- fect sun belong to the realm of form and yet not to it.10

As it is generally said, people don’t see this bright jewel. It is something hidden deeply within us. In this translation it says “the six- fold function miraculously performed by it…” Six-fold function refers to the function of the six sense organs when they encounter the six objects of sense organs. This refers to what we do every day, the things happening between subject and object such as seeing, hearing, sens- ing and knowing. All these things we do are done by this hidden bright jewel, Buddha Nature. This bright jewel is the subject of seeing, hearing, etc.

D.T. Suzuki translates, “…is an illusion and yet not an illusion.” I’m not sure if this is the right translation or not. The original word Xuanjue used is ku () and fuku (). Ku is “emptiness” and fuku is “not emptiness.” This means that the conditioned color of blackness is empty but the bright jewel itself is not empty but substance as Zongmi said.

The next line, “The rays of light emanating from one perfect sun belong to the realm of form and yet not to it,” is like this in Chinese: is the same word as ikka in ikka-myoju, which means “one piece”. Even though D.T. Suzuki translated it as “perfect sun,” I think this “one-piece” refers to the mani jewel. (shiki fu-shiki) is form and not- form. I would translate this line : The perfect light of the one [bright jewel] is both form and not-form.

Of course ku and shiki came from the Heart Sutra, “shiki soku ze ku, ku soku ze shiki”. That is what this means. “Not ku” means shiki and “not shiki” means ku, so ku and shiki interpen- etrate each other. That is what is said in the Heart Sutra. Form is nothing other than empti- ness and emptiness is nothing other than form. The function between subject and object are performed by this hidden bright jewel. And

these are at the same time emptiness (conditioned color) and not emptiness (bright jewel) and the light of the bright jewel is both form and yet not-form. That is what is written in this poem. So here we can see a kind of a combination between the teaching of empti- ness and the theory of tathagata-garbha (buddha nature). The author of this poem or the theory in the Surangama Sutra and the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra combined these two. In a sense, this theory is an integration or mixture of theory of emptiness, Yogacara’s con- sciousness only, and tathagata-garbha.

D gen’s Understanding of the Bright Jewel

This poem is still considered as a classic of Zen Buddhism and no one thinks that this is a heretical teaching. This is considered an authentic Zen teaching. Probably D gen is a rare Zen master who didn’t like this idea. The interactions of our six sense organs and the six objects of the sense organs are something we carry out day-to-day. Yet this poem says that there is something which is hidden and that that hidden thing called tathagata-garbha (buddha nature) is the subject that performs these day-to-day things. Here are two layers of reality; one is phenomena and another is prob- ably, in Western philosophical world, called noumenon. Buddha Nature in this case is nou- menon and things happening between subject and object are phenomena, and these phenom- enal things are a function of the noumenon. That is the basic structure of this idea. I think this is what D gen didn’t like, probably because viewing it from his practice of zazen, this theory is dualistic. There is the duality of phenomena and noumenon, or Buddha nature and our day-to-day activities or one bright jewel and its conditioned black color. That is, I think, the basic problem for D gen; thus he thinks this theory is not in accord with Bud- dhist teaching.

Then, in the case of D gen, what is this bright jewel? I think, the bright jewel in D gen’s teaching is like a drop of water that is illuminated by moonlight. In the case of the structure of the theory of noumenon and phe- nomena, there’s no relation between phenom- enal things. But as D gen defines delusion and realization in his Genj k an, delusion and real- ization are only within the relationship between self and myriad dharmas. In Genj k an, D gen used the word jiko() and banpo(), and he said that conveying the self toward myriad things and carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion, and all myriad things coming toward the self and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization.

In Shobogenzo Sokushinzebutsu (The Mind is itself Buddha), D gen quotes Nanyan Huizong’s conversation with a monk from the south who criticizes the Zen teaching in the south, saying that the theory is the same as Senika’s, the non-Buddhist. Then the monk from the south asked Huizong, “Then what is the ancient Buddha mind?” Huizong replied, “Fences, walls, tiles and pebbles.” D gen quotes this saying in Shobogenzo Kobutsushin (The Ancient Buddha Mind) and says at the end of Sokushinzebutsu, “The mind that has been authentically transmitted is one-mind is all things and all things are one-mind.” Here there is no duality between noumenon (the bright

jewel) and phenomenal things (black color). I think Huizong and D gen mention the inter- connectedness of phenomenal things within the network of Indra’s Net.

It’s not a matter of there being Buddha nature that is like a diamond inside the self and to find this diamond is realization. D gen doesn’t like this idea. If this is the case, our practice is to find something inside ourselves, and we would be able to attain so-called real- ization or enlightenment when we’ve found this inner diamond. Then it would have noth- ing to do with our relationship with others. But inthecaseofD gen,practice-enlightenmentis to transform the way of our life. Transforma- tion of our life can be only within the relation- ship between self and myriad things.

In the same writing (Genj k an), he says that the self is like a drop of water; it’s a tiny thing, and it is impermanent. The moonlight is the light of myriad dharmas. The self is a part of the network of interconnectedness of myriad things. This way of existing is the bright jewel. The bright jewel is not a permanent nou- menon. We and all myriad things are born, stay for a while, and disappear; nothing is perma- nent. And yet this tiny drop of water is illumi- nated by all dharmas. There are numerous things and they are all interconnected with each other. Without this connection, this tiny drop of water cannot exist even for one moment. This bright jewel is like a knot of Indra’s net and each knot is a bright jewel. This bright jewel or drop of water is illuminated by everything, and this bright jewel or drop of water also illuminates everything. In this case, this self is a part of the moonlight. This is like five fingers and one hand. One hand is simply a collection of five fingers. One hand is not a nou- menon of five fingers. Practice-enlightenment or delusion and realization exist only within this relationship between self and all other beings. There is the difference of framework between the one bright jewel as noumenon and as a part of interdependent origination. I think this is the point D gen wants to show us.

When D gen interprets Xuansha’s saying, “This entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel,” he is talking about the relationship between self and myriad things within the structure of the network of interdependent origination.

Everything is reflected in one thing and, because this is a net, when we touch the one knot we touch the entire net. There is no sepa- ration between self and myriad things. It’s really one seamless reality. And yet within our views it seems subject and object are separate. Unless we understand this point and interpret the title “One Bright Jewel,” we don’t really understand what D gen is talking about and why he had to say it in this way. D gen’s inter- pretation might be different from what Xuan- sha expressed with this expression as I inter- preted in the last issue based on Zongmi’s com- parison of the four lineages.

  1. 1  This is a translation from Enlightenment Unfolds by Kazuaki Tanahashi. (Shambhala, 1999) p. 6-7
  2. 2  The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Robbert Buswell, Donald Lopez, Princ- eton University Press, 2014)p.874
  3. 3  The Surangama Sutra: with Excerpt from the Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua (Buddhist Text Translation society, 2009,). xli
  4. 4  Ibid
  5. 5  D gen’s Extensive Record (Wisdom Publi- cations, 2004) p.341-342.
  6. 6  D gen’s Extensive Record (Wisdom Publi- cations, 2004) p.341-342.
  7. 7  Master D gen’s shobogenzo Book 4 (Gudo Nishijima & Chodo Cross, Windbell Pub- lications Ltd., London, 1999) p.28
  8. 8  Okumura’s translation in The Whole- hearted Way (Tuttle Publishing, 1997) p.32
  9. 9  Idib

10 D. T. Suzuki, Manual of Zen Buddhism p.91






The 7th Chapter of Shobogenzo Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel) Lecture (3)

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Sanshinji, Indiana, U.S.A. (Edited by Rev. Shoryu Bradley)

In the last two issues, I discussed the mean- ing of the expression “One Bright Jewel” in the history of Chinese Zen and Dogen’s criticism of the traditional understanding of the phrase in Chinese Zen. !ose comments are based mainly on the studies of Soto Zen scholars at Komazawa University, particularly the writings by Professor Shudo Ishii. I also studied many works of Professor Seizan Yanagida, Yoshitaka Iriya and other scholars of Chinese Zen. Now we are ready to read the text of Dogen’s One Bright Jewel.

(Xuansha Shibei) [Text]

!e Great Master Zongyi (Shuitsu) [lived] at Mt. Xuansha (Gensha), in Fu Province, in Great Song China, in this Saha World; his dharma name was Shibei (Shibi) and his family name was Xie (Sha).

When he was a lay person, he loved “shing. He “shed on his boat, mingling with other “shermen on the Nantai River.

He might not have been waiting [for “sh,] even for the golden-scaled “sh that comes up by itself without being lured.


In the beginning of the Xiantong (Kantsu) era (860-873) of the Tang dynasty, he suddenly wished to leave the dusty world.

He left his boat behind and entered the mountains.

He was thirty years old at the time.

He realized the precariousness of the tran- sient world and knew the lofty preciousness of the Buddha Way.

He “nally went up to Mt. Xuefeng (Seppo) and devoted himself to the wholehearted prac- tice of the Way day and night under the guid- ance of the Great Master Zhenjue (Shinkaku).

Identifying Xuansha Shibei

In this “rst paragraph, Dogen presents the life of Zen Master Xuansha Shibei (Gensha Shibi, ,835-908) up until he practiced with his master Xuefeng Yicun (Seppo Gison, 822-908). !e oldest biography of Xuansha is an epitaph written by Lincheng in 930 CE, 22 years after Xuansha’s death. His biography is also included in Volume 10 of Zutang Ji (Sodoshu,, Anthorogy of the Patriarch Hall), compiled in 952 CE, and volume 18 of Jingde chuandeng lu (Keitoku Dentoroku,, Record of the Transmis- sion of the Lamp Compiled During the Jingde Period), compiled in 1004 CE.

According to Lincheng, Xuansha was born in 835 CE in Ming County of Fujian Province. His family name was Xie (Sha, ) and his Dharma name was Shibei. According to Lincheng’s biography of Xuansha, he was the third son of the Xie family.1 When Shibei was twenty-six years old, a Zen monk named Yitong from the monastery of Mt. Furong visited the family.2 Shibei and Yitong talked all night. Due to this conversation with the monk, Shibei wanted to become a Zen monk and repeatedly asked his parents to allow him to leave home. With his parents’ agreement, Shibei went to Mt. Furong with the monk. !e abbot of the monastery was Furong Lingxun (Fuyo Reikun, ? – ?), Mazu’s Dharma grandson. Lingxun established this monastery on Mt. Furong in 833 CE. In 863, at the age of twenty-nine, Shibei became a monk under Lingxun. In the next year, he traveled to a temple in Jiangxi Province and received the Vinaya Precepts from the Vinaya master Daoxuan. He then returned to Mt. Furong and continued to practice with Lingxun.

While Shibei was practicing at Mt. Furong

in 866, Xuefeng Yicun (822-908), the Dharma

heir of Deshan Xuanjian (782-865), visited the

monastery and practiced there for a while.

Yicun appreciated Shibei’s sincere practice and

called him Bei-toutuo (Bi-zuda). “Toutuo” (

) is a transliteration of the Sanskrit word

dhuta, which means “ascetic practice” or “a prac-

titioner who practices twelve ascetic practices”.

Yicun moved to Mt. Xuefeng to found his own

monastery in 870. In 872, Shibei went to Mt.

Xuefeng and began to help Yicun establish it.

At that time Shibei became a disciple of Yicun.

Was Shibei a Fisherman?

In neither the earliest biography of Lincheng nor the biography found in Zutang-ji is it writ- ten that Shibei was a “sherman before becom- ing a monk. But in Jingde chuandeng lu we read:

Since he (Shibei) was young, he loved !shing. He !shed on his small boat mingling with other !shermen on the Nantai River. In the beginning of the Xiantong (Kantsu) era (860-873) of the Tang dynasty, when he was thirty years old, he suddenly wished to leave the dusty world. He left his !shing boat behind, visited Zen Master Lingxun on Mt. Furong and shaved his head.

Dogen uses this information from Jingde chuandeng lu in this writing One Bright Jewel. It seems biographies dating before 1004 did not mention that Shibei was once a “sherman.

!ere are several accounts of an interesting story relating how and why Shibei the “sher- man became a monk. !e modern Soto Zen Master Bokusan Nishiari, for example, talked about the story in Shobgenzo Keiteki,3 his com- mentary on One Bright Jewel.

According to Shobgenzo Keiteki, Shibei was a son of a poor “sherman. Since a child he worked with his father “shing on a small boat. One night his father fell into the river. Even though Shibei stretched a bamboo rod into the water in an attempt to save him, instead of helping him it pushed his father farther down into the water. When he saw his father had drowned, he saw impermanence. He left the boat where it was and entered the mountains to become a Zen monk. According to Nishiari’s story, Shibei thought that if he had saved his father, both he and his father would have had to continue to !sh for the rest of their lives, creat- ing evil karma by killing living beings. “en both of them would have continued to be reborn in the evil realms of samsara. Since he did not save his father from drowning and became a monk, however, he was able to free his father from transmigration in samsara. Shibei reasoned that In the long run this would bring about a better result.

Professor Seizan Yanagida discussed the same story in one of his books.4 Yanagida wrote that this story appears in the General Discourse of Dahui, the Rinzai Zen Master of the 11th century.

Dahui said he read the story in a novel. As in the Shobogenzo Keiteki version, when Shibei’s father fell into the river Shibei tried to help him but was unable to save him, and his father drowned. Shibei then made up his mind to become a monk. He wished to study the ulti- mate Way and save his father who would possi- bly be reborn into a painful realm because he killed many !sh working as a !sherman. Shibei subsequently became Xuefeng Yicun’s disciple, attained the Way, expound the Dharma and helped many people.

Many years later, according to the story, a person died and went to the world of the dead. He saw an empty jail with a signboard stating that the jail was for Xuansha.

“e person asked the prison guard, “Why is this called the prison of Xuansha?”

“e guard said, “”e third son of the Xie family could not help his father when he fell into the river. We are waiting for him to come down here.”

“e person said, “Xuansha died many years ago. Why is this jail still empty?”

“e guard said, “I don’t know. What did he do while he was alive?”

“e person said, “I heard from my ancestor that he attained enlightenment and helped many people.”

When the guard heard this, he put his hand on his forehead. “en suddenly the wind blew and the jail disappeared.

According to Yanagida, this story was invented sometime in the Song dynasty in order to respond to a question from Chinese society: why does Buddhism encourage people to leave home, abandoning !lial piety? Basically the answer from Buddhists was that if one person left home to become a monk, nine generations of that person’s family members would be reborn in a heavenly realm. Not only this story about Xuansha, but similar stories about Huangbo Xiyun and Dongshan Liangjie aban- doning their mothers were also created in the Song Dynasty.

Anyway, there are various versions of the story of Xuansha’s life that are the same as Zen koan stories about him. Dogen, however, as in other of his writings, is in One Bright Jewel creating his own unique version of a well known story. It seems Dogen was not inter- ested in the story of Shibei and his father’s death. I think Dogen knew that Zen stories were invented and gradually developed by people living in later eras to make the stories more interesting and meaningful. Unlike we modern people, It seems he does not care which stories are historically true. We therefore don’t need to believe that what he writes here actually happened. Rather, he uses all of the information as material to express his under- standing and insight of the Dharma.

Another interesting point about Dogen’s version of Shibei’s life concerns Shibei’s enlightenment. As we will see, Dogen empha- sized Shibei’s experience of injuring his toe, but in the Jingde chuandeng lu that incident is not mentioned at all. Rather, it said Shibei clari!ed the “mind-ground” (or “mind-nature”) by read- ing the Shurangama Sutra. As I discussed in the last issue, Dogen did not appreciate this sutra, saying it includes non-Buddhist teachings, spe- ci!cally its teachings of original, permanent, and never-de!led “mind-nature’, also known as “original-nature”, “self-nature”, “mind-source”, etc. “erefore, Dogen deletes the sentence in Jingde chuandeng lu regarding Shibei’s enlight- enment, even when he describes Shibei’s life according to that text. “e scholar Shudo Ishi wrote regarding Dogen’s intentional deletion of the connection between Shibei and the Shuramgama Sutra, “Dogen Zenji tells a lie, to use a common expression.”5

Without Being Lured

In this paragraph, Dogen writes an interest-

ing sentence, “He might not have been waiting

[for !sh,] even for the golden-scaled !sh that

comes up by itself without being lured.” Dogen

writes this sentence because he thinks Shibei

was a !sherman. Shibei’s life as a !sherman did

not consist of waiting for something magni!- cent to happen. While working as a !sherman, he just worked wholeheartedly. As Dogen writes in Genjokoan, !rewood stays at the dharma position of !rewood. Although the time of it being a live tree existed before it became !rewood, and the time that it will become ash after being burned will come in the future, before and after are nonetheless cut o. “is present moment is simply and absolutely only this present moment. “e live tree is no longer here anymore; the ash has not yet come. Being a !sherman is not a preparatory stage for becoming a monk.

“e “golden-scaled !sh” is the bodhi-mind that transforms a !sherman into a bodhisattva. And “to come up without being lured” means to come up without biting some kind of bait. Often our activity is motivated by a desire to get something that we want. When we pursue this something we become like a !sh lured by a !sherman’s bait. In the same way a !sh is caught because it pursues some bait, we are caught when we pursue an object of our desires. When we want to get something and make it our possession, we “bite the bait”, and in biting this bait we are caught.

In the common way of thinking, there are three things involved in this process: a !sher- man, the bait, and a !sh. A !sherman wants to capture a !sh and the !sh wants to eat the bait. “e relationship between these things involves subjects and objects. When the subject and object “contact” each other, each takes action based on its desires. “at is how our lives become “running”; we are continually chasing after something or escaping from something.

In this case, however, Dogen is of course talking about “biting” the Dharma. !at means no one tried to lure Shibei but he instead “bit” the Dharma by himself. !at is what “the golden-scaled “sh comes up without being lured” means. In this case there is no subject- object separation and no taking of actions based on desires. And yet Dogen made another twist in his interpretation: he writes that Shibei did not even wait for any such golden-scaled “sh that comes up without being lured. !at means he was just enjoying “shing; his “shing was not a means to get a golden-scaled “sh. He rather was just “shing as a “sherman when he was a “sherman, and somehow he came to “nd this way of life was not precious. He therefore became like a “sh, “coming up” by himself. But that doesn’t mean he was waiting for this to happen. He had no plan or intention for it to happen, yet it happened naturally.

According to the oldest biography of Shibei, he was “lured” by the Zen monk from Mt. Furong. !e day after they talked all night, probably about their lives, the dharma and their practice, Shibei asked his parents to allow him to become a monk. So I think he actually was “lured”. But Dogen’s statement about the “sh coming up “without being lured” is a liter- ary expression of sorts that he uses to express how Shibei encountered the Dharma.

My Experience of “Being Reeled In”

Often when we start to practice we feel we

are being lured. In my case, when I was a teen-

ager I had many questions about life and I

doubted almost everything in it, and I was critical of many things happening at that time in Japanese society and all over the world. Because I doubted everything, I couldn’t “nd anything I really want to do. I felt I was com- pletely lost. !en I had a chance to read Uchi- yama Roshi’s book, Jiko, and afterwards I somehow wanted to become his disciple, even though I knew nothing of Buddhism, Zen, or the meaning of practice. Yet for some reason I wanted to live as he lived. I had a kind of appe- tite or hunger created by my doubts or some feeling of emptiness. I “bit” Uchiyama Roshi’s book and I was “hooked” and “reeled in”. I felt somehow this was not of my own doing or desire because I didn’t even know what it means to become a monk or to practice zazen. Rather I felt as if I was being sucked into that way of life, and I never returned after entering. I was reeled in like a “sh.

But from another side, no one lured me. Uchiyama Roshi wrote his book about his own journey of searching for the Way, explaining what he discovered and how he found it. !en he simply continued to practice the Way. !at’s all. He had no intention of “shing for people. But somehow I bit the bait. Probably we can say there is no one “shing, and yet somehow we are nonetheless lured. It’s an interesting and strange thing.

I think the same thing has happened to people in the United States. Fifty or sixty years ago, some Buddhist teachers came to this country from Asia, including Zen masters from Japan. Somehow American people bit these Buddhist teachings and the various kinds of meditation practices. I’m not sure whether those Buddhist teachers tried to !sh for those young American people or if American people just bit because of their appetites. Which is which? Did someone plan this? Or did it just naturally happen? I don’t think anyone created a plan for some American people to accept Buddhism, and yet it happened. So no one is !shing and yet somehow we are reeled in.

Leaving the Dusty world [text]

In the beginning of the Xiantong (Kantsu) era (860-873) of the Tang dynasty, he suddenly wished to leave the dusty world. He left his boat behind and entered the mountains. He was thirty years old at the time. He realized the precarious- ness of the transient world and knew the lofty preciousness of the buddha way.

“”e dusty world” refers to the mundane world, that is, samsara. Shakyamuni Buddha left his father’s palace because he woke up to the realities of suering: living, aging, sickness, and dying. He wished to !nd the Way of release from this suering. Fifty years later, on the evening of his passing away, Shakyamuni said to Subhadha,

“When I was twenty-nine, Subhadha,
I left home to seek the good.
Now more than !fty years have passed, Sub- hada,
Since I renounced the world.
I have walked only the realm of the correct principle and the Dhamma.
Outside that, there is no Wayfarer.”

Just as the Prince Gotama (Shakyamuni) left his father’s palace and became a mendicant when he was twenty-nine years old, at twenty- six Shibei left his small !shing boat and entered the mountains to search for the Way. As a !sh- erman entering the mountains, he had to give up everything he had learned and experienced in the mundane world. A !sherman in the mountains was really good-for-nothing. He had to begin learning everything again from zero. He became determined to !nd the Way because “he realized the precariousness of the transient world.” “is determination has been the foundation of the transmission of Bud- dhism for twenty-!ve hundred years in India, China, and many Asian countries, and this transmission today continues to many other countries throughout out the world. When we see the “precariousness” of the mundane world, we seek some place we can go to !nd the good, and we can !nd that place in the Dharma.

When we see the impermanence of all beings, including ourselves, we see that nothing is secure, that nothing lasts forever since things are always changing. We then see that clinging to certain things and living only for the sake of making ourselves wealthy, famous and in a high position are not ultimately ful!lling as the goals of our life. When we see this precariousness, some of us become monks and some of us try to !nd some kind of work for the bene!t of all beings rather than for the sake of personal fame and pro!t. When we see the impermanence of all beings and things in the world, we wish to transform our way of life, and becoming a Bud- dhist monk is one of the choices we have to make this transformation. Becoming a monk is not the only alternative, but somehow in the case of Shibei he chose this way. For him, being a monk was a lofty and precious way of life.

One event that contributed to my wanting to become a monk was my friend’s death. One of my classmates in high school died from cancer when he was seventeen years old. When I talked about becoming a monk to my mother, she said, “Why don’t you become a doctor?” I think my mother considered becoming a monk in response to my friend dying was going too far. Perhaps becoming a doctor might have been a good decision, but somehow becoming a monk seemed the only possible choice for me, even though I did not know what it meant.

A few years later, when I read Uchiyama Roshi’s book entitled !e Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo, I found this saying by Sawaki Roshi: “We should not forget that modern scienti!c culture has developed on the basis of our lowest consciousness.”

In the same book, Uchiyama Roshi made this comment on the lowest level of human consciousness:

“!e historian Arnold Toynbee said, ‘Our modern scienti”c culture has increased the speed of Adam’s original sin with explosive energy. !at is all. And we have never released ourselves from original sin.’ Real human advancement would liberate us from our lowest consciousness, which says, “I want to gain everything without working hard. To do that, I’m ready to “ght.”

When I read this article, I thought I under-

stood why I wanted to become a monk. It seemed to me that modern civilization puts too much emphasis on progress and reaching some goal. In this structure of life, the basic driving force is dissatisfaction. We don’t like who we are or the condition we are in, and we therefore are unsatis!ed. We think if we work hard and get something or achieve something, we will be satis!ed and happy. “en we start to run. When we live in this way, we are driven by the three poisonous minds: greed, anger or hatred, and ignorance. “at is what Sawaki Roshi meant by “the lowest consciousness.” Our life becomes a competition between who we are and who we want to be, and we also compete with other people who want the same kind of things. “is world of competition is really precarious.

As Uchiyama Roshi said, real human advancement would liberate us from our lowest consciousness, the three poisonous minds. “at is what Dogen meant when he wrote, “[Shibei] knew the lofty preciousness of the buddha way.

After entering the mountains and becom- ing a monk, Shibei met his true teacher, Xue- feng Yicun, and practiced with him diligently. Since they had practiced together under the guidance of Furong, originally the two were more like co-practitioners or Dharma brothers rather than teacher and disciple. Shibei was only ten years younger than Yicun, so their relationship was not like a father and son. Yicun moved to Mt. Xuefeng and began to establish his own monastery in 870. Shibei joined Yicun in 872 and helped Yicun from the outset to found a new monastery. Even years later, Shibei was like a younger brother to Yicun and was sometimes critical of him.

Shibei’s Awakening



Once he was leaving the mountain carrying his traveling bag to visit masters widely in the various regions and to thoroughly study [the Way]. On his way, he stubbed his toe on a stone. As it bled with terrible pain, he suddenly had a profound insight and said, “!is body is not existent. Where does this pain come from?”

He immediately went back to Seppo (Xuefeng).

Probably in 875 when the construction of the new monastery on Mt. Xuefeng was nearly done, Yicun recommended Shibei make a pilgrimage to various regions to visit Zen mas- ters. According to older texts, Shebei did not really want to do this, but because Yicun repeated this instruction four times, Shibei accepted. Yicun was famous for his visiting many Zen masters in various places. It was said that Yicun visited Touzi Datong (819-914) three times and Dongshan Liangjie (807-869) nine times and many other Zen masters besides his own teacher Deshan. Shibei, however, did not practice with any other masters after he met Yicun.

According to Zutangji, the first collection of Zen masters’ biography and sayings made in 952, he left the monastery on Mt. Xuefeng to begin making his pilgrimage, however he stumbled on a stone and injured his toe before leaving the mountain. Upon having the terrible pain, suddenly he had an awakening. He said, “Bodhidharma did not come; the Second Ancestor did not receive [the transmission].” He climbed up a tree to look in the direction of Jiangxi and said, “What shall I do with your mother?” !en he returned to Yicun’s monas- tery. I don’t really understand what “What shall I do with your mother,” means. In the Record of Transmission of the Lamp, as I mentioned above, this story is missing.

Dogen takes the newer version of this story from the Liandenghuiyao (Rentoeyo, ), the third of the “ve lamp history texts, com- plied in 1189. !ere the story is almost exactly the same as what Dogen writes here:

[Xuansha Shibei] !rst met Xuefeng. Later he wanted to widely travel various regions to visit masters. He was leaving the mountain carrying his traveling bag. He stubbed his toe on a stone. As it bled with terrible pain, he suddenly had a profound insight and said, “”is body is not existent. Where does this pain come from?” He immediately went back to Seppo (Xuefeng).

!e only dierence in this text is that Shibei went on pilgrimage due to his own mo- tivation rather than the encouragement of Yicun. !is might change the meaning of Shibei’s experience a little bit.

Shibei’s experience of pain is one example of “contact,” one of the important links in the Twelve-fold Chain, a Buddhist teaching of dependent origination. Because of “contact” between sense organs and their objects, we have various sensations such as love and hatred, and grasping and clinging; then our life becomes unstable, moving up and down between success and failure in the cycle of sam- sara. Physical pain is a particularly undesirable sensation. No one loves pain. And it is not just the feeling of pain that is distressful when we have a painful experience. We usually start to think, for example, “I have to go to such and such place to do such and such thing, but now I am injured and cannot go. What shall I do?” This is the kind of story we create in our mind and it makes us think we are in trouble.

Shibei directly saw his pain itself instead of getting involved in a story about the pain—he didn’t fret about the fact that his teacher had asked him to visit monasteries widely—he didn’t say to himself, “I left his temple a few hours ago, but now because of this accident I cannot visit other temples. If I go back to the monas- tery my teacher will be angry. Then …..”

Such story making is almost always hap-

pening in our minds. Instead of facing the pain

directly, we start to create a story about it. We

become upset and we don’t know what to do.

This makes our life suffering in samsara. But

Shibei directly faced his pain, seeing that his

body did not really exist. And not only the

body but also the mind is not really existent.

That is what emptiness means. Our life is

simply a collection of the five skandhas which

make up the body and mind. And Mahayana sutras such as the Heart Sutra teach that even the five skandhas are empty. But somehow our pain is so real, fresh and powerful. What is this? Where does this pain come from?

Pain is always very fresh and powerful. And yet when we try to find where the “pain” is, there’s no such thing we can call pain. I have a problem with my knees, for example, and when I sit I have some pain in them, but I don’t know if the pain is in my knees or in my mind. Where is it? When I take a painkiller I don’t feel the pain. Does that mean the pain ceases to exist, or is the pain still there and I simply don’t feel it? Which is true? We don’t really know if the pain is in my knee or in my mind.

Not only pain, but sound is also empty. For example, Dogen introduces in Shobogenzo Inmo (Thusness) a famous kōan story in which two Indian ancestors talked about the sound of a wind bell. They watched as the big wind-bell hanging from a roof of the temple building blew in the wind.

The teacher, Sanghanandi, asked his students, “You hear the sound. Is the bell ring- ing or is the wind ringing?” Then the student Geyasata said, “Neither the bell nor the wind, but my mind is ringing.”

Dogen questions this answer of the student and then negates all possible answers. Some vibration of the bell and then the air is made when the wind and the bell make contact. Is the sound already there or not? If it’s already there, then the sound is there whether we hear it or not. But is the sound there before the waves of the air reach my ear? Before the waves of air reach my ear it’s just a movement of the air. Without a hearer, does the sound exist? When we really try to !nd out where the sound is, in the bell, the wind or in our mind, this becomes a really interesting question. Basically Dogen says that the entire universe is ringing.

Pain is the same as sound in this way. Also color, taste and smells are the same. Where are they? Without this body and mind, is there sound? To me this is really interesting because living beings only appeared on this planet several billion years ago. Before that there were no living beings to hear the sounds, name them, think about them and evaluate them. Was sound already there, or did sound just start to exist when human beings began to live on this planet? Unless listeners are present, what we would otherwise call “sound” is only the vibration of the air. Sound didn’t exist before listeners; all was completely silent. Only when I hear the sound does the vibration of the air become a sound. Some vibrations make me happy, and some vibrations make me sad, and some vibrations make me angry. What is this? It’s really interesting and mysterious. When we try to grasp it, it disappears. It’s nowhere. “e sound is not in the bell, the sound is not in the wind, and the sound is not in our mind.

Shibei asked “Where does this pain from?” We can infer that he answered, “From nowhere.” He understood that his body and mind did not really exist, and yet there was pain in his toe or in his mind.

We also might understand that the body and mind don’t really exist, and yet pain can be a big problem for us. In my case, it sometimes controls my life or transforms my way of life. I could sit cross-legged comfortably for more than forty years, for example. But the last several years I have been sitting on a chair in the zendo because I have knee pain. “is is a big and signi!cant change to me.

What Shibei realized here is that both his body and the stone were empty, therefore the pain was also empty. And yet his pain was over- whelmingly powerful. “Where does this pain come from?” was not a question but rather his exclamation of his realization of the reality of form-and-emptiness. “ere were not two or more separate, independent things, therefore there was no “contact.” “e pain was not only in his toe or in his mind or in both; the entire universe was nothing other than pain. His !ve skandhas (body and mind) were dropped o, becoming free from self-clinging based on separation between subject and object, self and others, here and there. “en he found there was no longer any reason to travel here and there, visiting teachers to study dharma. Since wherever he went the pain or other things would always be with him, he had no need to study with various teachers. Immediately after this he went right back to the monastery –probably he didn’t want to go on pilgrimage from the beginning.

Uchiyama Roshi’s experience of pain

I’d like to introduce one very concrete, practical teaching about pain. “is is from Uchiyama Roshi. He wrote a collection of essays on Dogen’s teachings in Tenzo Kyōkun (Instructions for the Cook) entitled Refining Your Life. In one section he talks about Dogen’s teachings of “Other people are not me” and “If I can’t do it now, when else can I do it?” These are two sayings of the old tenzo monk who was working one hot summer afternoon on his temple grounds drying mushrooms. After lunch Dogen found this old monk working under the sun on a very hot day.

He asked, “You are quite old, why don’t you let younger people do this hard work?”

The tenzo said, “Other people are not me.”

Dogen asked the tenzo, “Why do you need to do it now, when in the evening it might be a little cooler.”

Then the tenzo said, “If I don’t do it now, when can I do it?”

When Uchiyama Roshi explained the mean- ing of this teaching, “only the self, here and now,” he introduced an experience he had of pain. It was related to begging (takuhatsu), which he did for many years to support his practice. When we practice takuhatsu, we wear straw sandals with bare feet and hold our oryoki (begging bowl) as we walk down the street saying “ho.” We stop and stand in front of each house or shop.

Uchiyama Roshi told of something that happened to him while he was doing takuhatsu sometime around 1952, seven years after the end of World War II. Japan was still very poor at this time and begging was very difficult. Uchi- yama Roshi said there were many professional beggars then, so he had lots of competition.

One day while on his way back to his home temple, Antaiji, after doing takuhatsu he hit his toe on a rock, just as Shibei did in the moun- tains. But Uchiyama Roshi’s case was much more serious. His toe was injured more severely. When he returned to Antaiji, he just washed the injury and took a rest for several days. After a few days, since the injury seemed to be healing, he went to do takuhatsu again. While he was walking it started to rain, and when his foot became wet an infection set in. When he returned to the temple his foot began to swell and he experienced terrible pain. The pain increased more and more until it became almost violent. He wrote about his experience as follows:

Finally the pain became worse and I devel- oped a high fever. It got so bad that I could no longer lie face-up because the pain from the toe went directly to my head. I piled up several quilts and laid on them. Though it was a cold November I could not stand clothing or blankets because of the fever and pain all through the left side of my body. I kept naked, cooling myself with the cold air, and suffered through this without a drop of sleep for three days and three nights. I frequently thought, well, if I am going to die then I’ll just die. But anyway, I was unable to see a doctor. Particularly during those days, the money I received from beg- ging just would not have been enough to pay a doctor’s bill. ….The following is something I wrote shortly after the incident:

Suffering a Foot Injury If I had a wife to care for me, If my parents were near,
If I had money,
I wouldn’t have suered.

In my dust-covered room laying on ragged quilts recalling Job –
“I can bear this hard pain” – I am grateful.

People worry –
“what if I lose my savings,” “what if I become ill,

lose my job?”
Always framing their thoughts, “what if…”
“ey’re afraid though their fears are groundless.
“ough I’m ill,
without savings,
or income,
unable to eat,
even if I starved
I wouldn’t think it strange.
And just for that
I’m grateful.

Usually when we are in this kind of situa- tion we make up a story around it and worry about what will happen. “en we become more and more overwhelmed and may even become increasingly depressed. But Uchiyama Roshi didn’t fall into such a vicious circle. He only experienced his pain, avoiding making up this kind of fabricated story. So he simply faced this pain.


After introducing this poem he wrote:

“rough this experience I realized that when I stopped #ghting the pain and just let it be inside of me, the burden of the suering would be lifted. I have always felt this was an extremely valuable experience in my life.7

In this experience he was released from suering because he didn’t follow fabricated stories but rather just faced himself, here and now. Basically this is what Dogen is saying here in One Bright Jewel.

But if Uchiyama Roshi thought that when- ever he encountered some kind of painful situ- ation he would be free from suering because he had this experience, that would be a delu- sion. So we have to meet and encounter every experience one by one, moment by moment, one at a time.

Yet usually we have a kind of fantasy that if we attain so-called enlightenment and #nd the bright jewel inside of us, we will no longer have any problems. “at is a problem. Dogen is writing a kind of caution here, saying there’s no such thing as an enlightenment that can be pre- served or frozen in the freezer and later taken out again when we need to use it.

1 “is biography is included in Gensha Koroku ge (editorial supervision by Yoshitaka Iriya, Zen Bunka Kenkyusho, Kyoto, 1999). In the biography of Shibei, Yoshio Nishiguchi says that Shibei’s family was rich (Gensha Koroku jo), p.240.

2 !is mountain is dierent from Mt. Furong in Shantong Province where the famous Caodong Zen Master Furong Daokai later lived during the Song Dynasty.

3 Shobogenzo Keiteki, jokan (Bokusan Nishiari, Daihorinkaku, Tokyo,1965), p.350.

4 Sodo-shuMonogatari:ZokuJunzennoJidai. (Zen Bunka Kenkyusho, Kyoto, 1985)p.215.

5 Chugoku Zenshu-shi wa:Shinji Shobogenzo ni manabu (Zen Bunka Kenkyusho, Kyoto, 1988), p. 488.

6 Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts, Volume 2, by Hajime Nakamura (translated by Gauynor Sekimori, Kosei Publishing CO., Tokyo, 2005), p.151.

7 Dogen and Uchiyama; From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment: Re#ning Your Life, pp. 79-81.



The 7th Chapter of Shobogenzo Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel) Lecture (4)

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Sanshinji, Indiana, U.S.A. (Edited by Rev. Shoryu Bradley)

In the last issue, I began to talk about the text of One Bright Jewel where Dogen Zenji describes how Xuansha Shibei (Gensha Shibi) became a monk and practiced with his teacher Xuefeng Yicun (Seppo Gison). Xuansha left Xuefeng’s monastery on a pilgrimage to widely visit various Zen masters, but as he left the foot of the monastery mountain, he stubbed his toe badly on a stone. In a moment of severe pain, he had a realization that changed his mind about the pilgrimage and he returned to his teacher’s monastery.

[Text] (3)

雪峰とふ、「那箇是備頭陀」。(那箇か是れ 備頭陀.)

Xuefeng asked him, “What is Bei-dhuta?”

玄砂いはく、「終不敢誑於人」。(終に敢て 人を誑かさず.)

Xuansha said, “I never deceive others.”

When Shibei returned after only a few hours, Xuefeng was perplexed and asked, “What is Bei-dhuta?

Bei is abbreviation of Xuansha’s dharma

name. Dhuta (zuda in Japanese) is a Sanskrit

word referring to ascetic practice that follows

twelve points. Some of the points include:

owning only a single set of three patched robes

(kasaya or okesa) dyed and made from abandoned rags, eating only before noon and only foods received through begging (takuhatsu), and living only outdoors in either graveyards, forests or mountains. The word dhuta as it is used here by Xuefeng refers to a person who practices keeping these standards. Dogen Zenji clearly respected such practice, since in Shobo- genzo Gyoji (Continuous Practice), he praises Mahakasyapa for following it. Mahakasypa was one of the ten major disciples of Shakyamuni and is also considered to be the First Indian Ancestor in Zen Buddhism. He chose to con- tinue living outdoors even after Shakyamuni established monasteries called viharas with the aid of wealthy donors.

Xuansha lived in Xuefeng’s monastery and therefore ate the food provided by the commu- nity; he also must have worn Chinese robes under his kasaya. Strictly speaking, then, according to Indian standards, he was not a dhuta practitioner. But because he practiced wholeheartedly, as Dogen describes later in this fascicle, without concern for food, clothing, and other possessions, his teacher, Xuefeng, called him Bei-dhuta.

When Xuefeng saw that Xuansha had come back so soon, he asked him, “What is Bei- dhuta?” That question meant, “What are you?” This is a strange thing to ask since the two knew each other very well. In this context, probably this question means, “What happened to you? Why did you come back so soon?” Traditional commentaries by Soto scholar-monks interpret this question to be the same as the one posed by Huineng, the Sixth Ancestor, to his disciple Nanyue when the two met for the first time.



That question was, “What is it that thus comes?” Scholar-monks say this sentence is not a question but a statement. They read the ques- tion as: “What thing, how come.” The name- less reality (what thing) is actually manifesting itself in such a way (thus come). Here they interpret Xuefeng’s statement as, “Bei-dhuta is thusness itself.”

Xuansha’s answer was, “I never deceive others.” This indicates the flame of the three poisonous minds was extinguished for Xuan- sha. That happened when he clearly saw the emptiness of his own body and mind at the moment of his toe hitting a stone. As a result, he would no longer deceive anyone; he was truly who he was. He no longer was deceived by the stories created through contact of the five aggregates and their objects (nama-rupa). His not deceiving others also meant he realized there is no separation between self and others. He realized there’s no self which deceives others and no other beings who can be deceived. This means the self and all beings in this world truly become one seamless reality; all separation between subject and object ceases. This is the same reality expressed in the saying, “When there is no self, there is nothing that is not self.”

In his Comments on the Sixteen Precepts (Kyojukaimon), of the forth major precept, “not speaking falsehood,” Dogen said:

Since the dharma-wheel has been turning from the very beginning, there is neither too much nor too little. When a drop of sweet dew moistens all beings, reality and truth become revealed.1

When we thoroughly see the true reality of all beings, we find everything reveals its own beauty and dignity. There is no way then to deceive others.

This is the same thing the Buddha said in a short sutta found in the Sutta-Nipata entitled, Disputes and Contention2. Here Shakyamuni said there exists a way to avoid “contact,” the one cause of disputes and contention. He said,

Contact exists because the compound of mind and matter (nama-rupa) exists. ….. There is a state where form cease to exist. It is a state without ordinary perception and without disordered perception and without no perception and without any annihilation of perception.

The “compound of mind and matter (nama-rupa)” refers to the objects of our six sense organs. When nama-rupa (objects) ceases to exist, the subject also ceases to exist. There is then no separation, and contact between sub- ject and object ceases to exist. Sensation, thirst and clinging, and disputes and contention will then also cease to exist. When nama-rupa ceases to exist, all things are Buddha-dharma. This is what Dogen writes in the beginning of Gen- jokoan. Without nama-rupa there is no way to speak falsehoods and deceive others.

When we see the interconnectedness of all beings there’s no contact. Because I think I am not some particular object and that object is not me, I have contact with that object. Yet self and object are interconnected, existing only in rela- tionship with each other and with all other beings and things, so there’s actually no way contact can exist; everything is already con- nected. “I never deceive others” therefore means that the separation between subject and object has ceased to be.

This is also the meaning of the phrase “the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel.” It means there’s no separation between the jewel, the self, and the myriad beings in the ten- direction world. Everything is reflected in every other thing existing in Indra’s Net. From the beginning, this is one seamless reality in which all things are interconnected with each other.

These first sections of One Bright Jewel appear at first to simply be a preface introduc- ing us to the life and practice of Xuansha. We might expect that the main text where Dogen discusses Xuansha’s expression “one bright jewel” is most important, but actually Dogen’s understanding of the phrase is already described here.

[text] (4)

このことばを、雪峰ことに愛していはく、 「たれかこのことばをもたざらむ、たれかこの ことばを道得せん」。

Xuefeng especially loved this utterance and said, “Who does not have these words? Who can utter these words?”

The Meaning of Dotoku
“Who does not have these words?” means

everyone is the same and there’s no separation

between subject and object. We all exist within

this reality of no separation between self and

others, therefore it is not possible to speak

falsely and deceive others. In this sense, all people have “these words,” i.e. the reality the words point to. It is true not only for those such as Xuansha who had this realization but also for all beings. All of us are existing within the seamless reality that lacks anything false. False speech and deception exist only within our discriminating minds. When we think with words, letters and concepts and interact with them as nama-rupa, there’s separation; the definition of this is different from the defini- tion of that; I like this or I hate that. But if this separation breaks down, this and that are one seamless reality, just as a wind bell, the wind, the person hearing the sound, and the sound itself are one reality. These then are one thing. When a wind bell is ringing, actually the entire universe is ringing. In a sense, even false speech reveals the reality of our condition: that we cannot see and accept the truth.

As I discussed in my last article, in Shobo- genzo Inmo Dogen commented on a story involving a wind-bell, the wind, and a person who said, “my mind is ringing.” Inmo is a Chi- nese word meaning something like “thus” or “thusness.” This seamless reality in which myriad things are happening without any sepa- ration between them is called inmo or thusness. And when we read Xuansha’s saying, “Where does this pain come from?” this “where?” or “what place?” or “which place?” can be inter- preted as inmo, “what,” or “thus.” Instead of being read as the question, “where does this pain come from,” this Chinese sentence can be read as the statement, “This pain comes from thusness,” where “thusness” is this seamless reality. That was Xuansha’s awakening. And that is why Xuefeng, his teacher, praised the saying, “I never deceive others.”
“Who can utter these words?”
“Utter” is a translation of dotoku (道得), “to speak,” “to make a statement,” or “to express.” Dotoku is an important expression in Dogen’s teaching. The character used here for “do” is the same one used for “way” or “dao,” but in this case this “do” means to “speak” or “to say something.” “Toku” means “to be able to,” “be capable of” or “to attain.” So dotoku means being able to speak. In Dogen’s fascicle of the Shobogenzo entitled Dotoku he said, “All the Buddhas and ancestors are dotoku. Therefore, when Buddha-ancestors select Buddha- ancestors, without fail, they ask if they have been able to express (dotoku) [the Dharma] or not3.” If we have some experience, we can naturally express what we have experienced. We have to say something or do something to express it.

Xuefeng said that even though all living beings are living within this seamless reality, not everyone can truly express something about this reality as Xuansha did. I think this is the same thing Dogen said in Bendowa: “Although this dharma is abundantly inherent in each person, it is not manifested without practice, it is not attained without realization.”4

[text] (5)

雪峰さらにとふ、「備頭陀なんぞ徧参せざ る」。

Xuefeng asked further, “Bei-dhuta, why don’t you visit [masters] widely?”

師いはく、「達磨不来東土、二祖不往西天」。 (達磨東土に来らず、二祖西天に往かず)といふ


The master (Xuansha) said, “Bodhidharma did not come to the East. The Second Ancestor never went to the West.” Xuefeng praised this utterance particularly.


As the conversation continues, Xuefeng asks, “Bei-dhuta, why don’t you visit masters widely?” This “widely visiting” is a translation of henzan (徧参). Hen means “widely” or “uni- versally” and “san (zan)” can mean “to visit” or “to meet.” In this case to it refers to visiting Zen masters to study with them. Henzan com- monly means to make a pilgrimage to visit teachers widely and investigate the dharma. This is one of the traditional practices of Zen Buddhist monks in China and Japan. During the three-month summer practice period, monks had to stay at a certain monastery in order to focus on study and practice under the guidance of the monastery’s abbot, but for the rest of the year they were free to travel around to find a suitable teacher.

When we interpret henzan in this way, we understand the story to mean that Xueheng advised Xuansha to make a pilgrimage visiting various Zen masters throughout the country, even though Xuansha did not really want to do it. Convinced by his teacher, Xuansha left the monastery, but because he had an awakening before leaving the mountain, he immediately returned. The master then asked him what happened. When Xuansha replied, “I never deceive others,” Xuefeng approved his experi- ence and his expression. But Xuegeng nonethe- less examined him further, asking him why he did not visit various teachers to deepen his understanding. Xuansha’s reply, “Bodhidharma did not come to the East. The Second Ancestor never went to the West” means that when we see the complete interdependence and seam- lessness of self, other, and our environment, there is no separation between this place and that place. We can therefore say Bodhidharma did not come to China and the Second Ances- tor did not go to India. In other words, this entire ten-direction world is the true body of Bodhidharma. What need did he have to travel here and there? Xuefeng again approved what Xuansha had to say.

Dogen offered the same teaching in Fukan- zazengi when he wrote, “On the whole, the Way is never separated from where we are now. Why should we wander here and there to prac- tice?” and “There is no reason to leave your own seat at home and take a meaningless trip to the dusty places of other countries.” 5

Of course we should remember that Dogen wrote Fukanzazengi immediately after he returned from a five year stay in China. And during this stay he actually made a pilgrimage for several months at least, visiting various mas- ters, although he did not find his true teacher until meeting Tiantong Rujing.

Shobogenzo Henzan: Henzan is Not Wan- dering Here and There to Practice

Henzan is an important expression in

Dogen’s writings. In fact he wrote a fascicle of

the Shobogenzo entitled Henzan, and in it he

actually commented on the above saying of

Xuansha. Now I’d like to introduce Dogen’s

comments on Xuefeng’s and Xuansha’s exchange in Shobogenzo Henzan. Perhaps this will help us to interpret this story a little differently.

Here Dogen presents only the exchange of questions and answers between Xuefeng and Xuansha. He mentions neither Xuansha’s expe- rience of stubbing his toe on a stone nor his awakening. Dogen writes,

We do not consider that heedlessly entering one monastery and leaving another monas- tery is henzan. We consider meeting [the reality] with the entire-eyeball is henzan; we consider complete attainment [of the ultimate reality] is henzan.6

Dogen does not understand henzan as “making pilgrimage and widely visiting [masters].” I therefore felt it necessary to trans- late henzan in this fascicle as “thorough investi- gation” or “thorough penetration.”

The text continues,

The essential point of Xuefeng’s saying about henzan (thorough investigation) is, needless to say, neither to encourage [Xuansha] to leave the Mount [Xuefeng] nor to encourage him to go back and forth between North and South. It is to help Xuansha’s thorough investigation of the reality “Bodhidharma did not come to China; the Second ancestor never went to India” to emerge.

Dogen does not think Xuefeng urged Xuansha to leave the monastery to visit other Zen masters. He believes, rather, that Xuefeng offered his question in order to enable Xuansha to express his insight that the self, others, and the world are one seamless reality in which all myriad things, including sentient and insen- tient beings, are interconnected.

Historically the statement, “Bodhidharma did not come to China” is not true. Or perhaps it is true – actually we don’t know if Bodhid- harma really traveled from India to China, but we commonly believe that he did. However the Second Ancestor, Huike, never went to India; that much we know is historically true. But Xuansha’s statement did not pertain to the history of Zen; it was rather an expression (dotoku) of his realization.
Dogen says,

Xuansha’s saying that Bodhidharma did not come to China is not a mistaken state- ment about coming or not coming; it is expressing the truth that “the great earth is without an inch of land.”

“The great earth” is daichi (大地) and “with-

out an inch of land” is mu sundo (無寸土). “The

great earth” is the entirety of the planet Earth

and “an inch of the land” is a tiny part of land.

When we point to the great earth, all of its tiny

parts of land are included. So when we say “the

great earth” there’s no land outside of it—there

is nothing extra. This refers both to the entirety

of the Network of Interdependent Origination

and to each part of the network we usually

think of as individual beings. When we see the

entirety of the network as one reality, there are

no individual things. And when we touch a

seemingly individual thing, we touch the

entirety of Indra’s Net. This is the reality alluded to in chapter six of the Vimalakirti- nirdesa Sutra where it says that Mt. Sumeru can be put into a single mustard seed and that all the waters of the four great oceans can be poured into a single pore of skin.7

Wherever we go, the self is there, and the self is one with the entire world of the self. Wherever we go, we don’t leave this place. “This place” means this seamless reality, this oneness with self and all beings. There’s no place that is separate from other places or things. Xuansha expressed this ultimate reality by saying, “Bodhidharma did not come to China and the Second Ancestor never went to India.”


Xuansha’s statement expresses the same teaching as Dogen’s commentary on the Heart Sutra, Shobogenzo Makahannyaharamitsu. The Heart Sutra says “form is emptiness, emptiness is form,” but for Dogen, this expression is still not close enough to reality. Instead he says, “form is form; emptiness is emptiness.” This means that if form and emptiness are really the same thing, when we say “form” emptiness is already there, and when we say “emptiness” form is already there. When we say, “form is emptiness and emptiness is form,” there are two different things—form and emptiness—and they are separate. By putting the word “is” between “a” and “b” (“form” and “emptiness”), we try to make two different things into one thing. This is what we do in our thinking mind. As the actual reality, however, if form and emptiness are truly one thing, we don’t need to say “form is emptiness” or “emptiness is form”; when we say “emptiness,” form is already there, and when we say “form,” empti- ness is already there. Therefore Dogen says, “form is form, emptiness is emptiness” – period. Otherwise we are still thinking about two different things as one thing. This “great Earth” and “an inch of land” are the same. So when we say “great Earth” there’s no inch of land at all. And if we say “an inch of land,” there is no great Earth.

From this perspective, Bodhidharma, India and China, are tiny parts of this entire Network of Interdependent Origination. There is no separation between Bodhidharma, his location, and India and China. Bodhidharma cannot come from one place to another. Wherever he is, he is right within “his” entire ten-direction world, which is neither India nor China.

Concerning the statement, “the Second Ancestor never went to India,” Dogen writes,

… because he thoroughly investigated India, he did not go to India. If the Second Ancestor went to India, he only lost an arm. By the way, why did the Second Ances- tor not go to India? He did not go to India because he leaped into [Bodhidharma’s] blue eyes. If he did not jump into the blue eyes, he would go to India without fail. Gouging out Bodhidharma’s eyeballs is thorough investigation (henzan). Going to India and coming to China are not thor- ough investigation (henzan). We do not consider going to Tiantai or to Nanyue, or traveling to Wutai or to the heavens above, as thorough investigation (henzan).

“If the Second Ancestor went to India, he only lost an arm,” means that if Huiko had not awakened to this seamless reality, cutting off his arm would have had no meaning. It would mean that the extraordinary act he used to prove to Bodhidharma he was worthy of his teaching was done in vain and simply wasteful. Dogen says that if the Second Ancestor hadn’t awakened to reality, he would have without a doubt gone to India, but since he found it, he didn’t need to travel anywhere. He “jumped into Bodhidharma’s blue eyes,” so it was unnec- essary for him to go to India. Of course “blue eyes” represent this seamless reality itself that his teacher pointed to. Huiko in other words entered into this reality and discovered there’s no separation between East and West or China and India. He lived in the entirety of the one world prior to separation between self and other and India and China. This is why he didn’t need to go to the West. Wherever we are, the entire ten-direction world is right there. We don’t need to go anywhere. We can just be right here, right now; that’s enough.

In conclusion Dogen writes,

In general, because we consider that com- pletely penetrating the truth of “the entire ten-direction world is the true human body,” is thorough investigation (henzan), we can directly study the truth: “Bodhid- harma did not come to China and the Second Ancestor never went to India. …. Judi’s meeting with Tianlong and attaining the one-finger is thorough investigation (henzan). Judi’s only raising one finger is thorough investigation (henzan).



Judi’s “one finger” is a famous koan that appears, for example, as case 84 of The Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku). When Judi was thinking of traveling widely to find a master, Tianlong visited him and taught him “one-finger Zen.” For the rest of his life, whenever he was asked a question he simply raised one finger. Judi did not travel at all, but Dogen says here that his thorough penetration of one-finger Zen is itself thorough investigation (henzan).

Let me now introduce one more quote from Shobogenzo Henzan. Near the end of this fascicle, Dogen writes,

Thorough investigation [henzan] is just sitting and dropping off body and mind. To be right here, right now, sitting with the entire body and mind and dropping off body and mind is henzan (widely visiting or thoroughly investigating).

Clearly seeing the nature of this body and the source of our pain is for Dogen the mean- ing of the word henzan, or in this translation “thorough investigation.” This is why, accord- ing to Dogen, Judi did not need to go some- where else to study.

Bodhidharma in Shobogenzo Gyoji

In the last issue, I introduced Kosho Uchi-

yama Roshi’s painful experience of injuring his

toe and his poem about how he found libera-

tion from the acute pain. He did this by simply

being with the pain while not making up a story

about it in his mind. This incident must have

been one of the most painful experiences of his

practice as a disciple of “Homeless” Kodo.

The first 20 years of Uchiyama Roshi’s prac- tice were for the most part full of difficulties. He was ordained by Kodo Sawaki Roshi on the day World War II broke out in 1941. For his first three years after ordination he was able to focus on zazen practice at a monastery, but for the next five years he did not have a particular place to live and practice. He moved from place to place, making charcoal in the mountains during the cold winter and carrying salt water for making salt in the summer. He settled down at Antaiji in Kyoto in 1948, but Antaiji was a small dilapidated temple without local supporting families or any other source of income. Uchiyama Roshi had to support his life and practice by begging (takuhatsu) during a time when most Japanese people were starv- ing. Even though he faced poverty and many other difficult circumstances, Uchiyama Roshi continued to practice.

In 1975, just before his retirement, Uchi- yama Roshi gave his last lecture at Antaiji. It included seven points of practice he had kept in his mind while abbot of Antaiji, wishing to transmit them to his disciples. The fourth of these points is about the significance of “living by vow and rooting it deeply.” He mentioned that when he felt discouraged, he found conso- lation and encouragement by reading the section on Bodhidharma’s coming to China in Dogen Zenji’s Shobogenzo Gyoji (Continuous Practice). The English translation of this lecture is included in Uchiyama Roshi’s book, Opening the Hand of Thought.8

Dogen Zenji’s description of Bodhidharma’s voyage to China begins as follows:

The First Ancestor in China came to the eastern land from the West following the direction of Venerable Prajnatara. Consid- ering his three-year voyage through the seasons of frost and flowers, winds and snows, and [other difficulties], he must have been more than miserable; how innumer- able were the raging ocean waves that he had to go through under clouds and mist. [Despite those difficulties,] he was deter- mined to arrive in an unknown country. Ordinary people who hold their lives dear can’t even think of [taking such trouble].

This must have been his “protecting and maintaining practice (gyoji)” that was solely based on his great compassion and [his vow] to transmit the Dharma and save deluded sentient beings. He was able to do it because he himself was the self of trans- mitting Dharma and [he was living in] the world of transmitting Dharma. He could live in such a way because the entire ten- direction-world is itself the true Way, the entire ten-direction-world was nothing but his self, and the entire ten-direction world is no other than the entire ten-direction world.

Which circumstances in our lives are not a

palace? And which palace cannot be a place

for awakening? This is the reason

[Bodhidharma] came from the West in such

a way. He had neither doubt nor fear,

because he was the self of saving-deluded-

sentient-beings. He had neither doubt nor

fear because [he was living in] the whole

world of saving-deluded-sentient-beings.9


According to legend, Bodhidharma was a prince in a kingdom of Southern India. After his master Prajnatara passed away, he sailed to China via the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. That route was part of a sea passage of the ancient network of trade routes some- times called the “Silk Road.” The Silk Road included the ocean routes used by traders who sailed between Arabia and China and further on to Rome. Indian Buddhism was transmitted through such routes to South Asian countries such as Myanmar, Thai, Cambodia, Indonesia, etc. Chinese Buddhist monks such as Faxian (Hokken, 339?-420?), Yijing (Gijo, 635-713) sailed these routes as well in their travels to India. Above Dogen imagines how hard it must have been to sail such a long distance, probably thinking about it in comparison to his own voyage from Japan to China which was actually much shorter. Even though it took him only about half a month, Dogen experienced many hardships such as heavy storms, sickness, etc. during that trip.

The point of our present discussion isn’t whether or not Bodhidharma really came to China by sailing this sea route. We are instead trying to understand the meaning of Xuansha saying Bodhidharma did not come to China. I already mentioned one possible meaning by quoting Shobogenzo Henzan: there is no separa- tion between India and China from the ulti- mate point of view.

Another meaning is found in Dogen’s Gyoji, and it corresponds exactly with his inter- pretation of Xuansha’s expression “the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel.” In Gyoji it is written that Bodhidharma came to China because of his compassion for all living beings. “To transmit the Dharma and save deluded sentient beings,” is an allusion to Bodhidharma’s verse of transmission to the Second Ancestor, Huike. The reason he could complete such a dangerous mission was that “he himself was the self of transmitting Dharma and [he was living in] the world of transmitting Dharma.” This point to the iden- tity of the self and the world in which the self is living. When Bodhidharma took a vow and determined to go to China to transmit the Dharma, he became the self of transmitting the Dharma and his world became the world of transmitting the Dharma. Dogen’s writing in Henzan was about the identity of India and China in space. Here Dogen mentions the identity of the self and the world through actions based on the Bodhisattva vow to trans- mit the Dharma and save all beings. This is why Bodhidharma had no doubt or fear even when faced with many difficulties.

Dogen continues,

He could live in such a way because the entire ten-direction-world is itself the true Way, the entire ten-direction-world was nothing but his self, and the entire ten- direction world is no other than the entire ten-direction world.

I believe this has exactly the same meaning as Dogen’s comments on Xuansha’s expression, “The entire ten-direction world is a bright jewel.”

“The entire ten-direction world is no other than the entire ten-direction-world,” means that when only the ten-direction world is there, there is no Bodhidharma, no Dharma to trans- mit, no India and no China. This is the same logic Dogen uses in Makahannyaharamitsu: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form; form is just form, emptiness is just emptiness.” So the self is the world and the world is the self, and the self is only the self and the world is only the world. There is no separation between Bodhid- harma, the Dharma, and traveling from India to China. All things there are simply the scen- ery of the entire ten-direction world.

In the story of Xuansha, because of the pain he experienced by stubbing his toe on a stone, Xuansha awakened to the reality that the five aggregates are empty, and yet the pain he expe- rienced was intensely fresh and powerful. Still, there was no separation between the person who felt the pain (subject) and the pain (object) itself. Furthermore, Xuansha expressed his realization that he and his world are one thing, having no separation, by saying, “Bo- dhidharma did not come to China and the Second Ancestor never went to India.” In other words there is, only the entire Network of Interdependent Origination, simply being and evolving as it is.

Uchiyama Roshi’s advice

In 1974, Uchiyama Roshi sent Rev. Koshi Ichida to Pioneer Valley Zendo in Massachu- setts. Steve Yenik, the main translator of Approach to Zen, (the original version of Open- ing the hand of Thought, published in 1973), went with Koshi. When they left Antaiji, Uchiyama Roshi advised they chant the above part of Shobogenzo Gyoji every day during morning service to remind them that they were living by vow and that they must root it deeply. Probably Uchiyama Roshi thought they would have to go through many difficulties in order to estab- lish a Zen community in America, as Bodhid- harma did when he traveled to China. The Roshi asked Steve to translate the piece into English, but Steve said it was better to chant it in Japanese.

In December, 1975, Rev. Eishin Ikeda and I left Japan, and in February, 1976 we joined Koshi and Steve. However, since we were not good disciples of Uchiyama Roshi, we never did morning service and never recited the piece from Gyoji. Under Uchiyama Roshi’s direction, focusing on Zazen practice without doing any ceremony, including morning service, was our way of practice at Antaiji. So I am not sure if we were really bad disciples or not.

Our lives at Valley Zendo in the woods of

Western Massachusetts were difficult. Only

three Japanese monks lived there together,

isolated from the rest of the world. We received

no financial support from Japan or people in

America. In the beginning, we had only a half-

built house and about six acres of wooded land.

We did not even have water. The first thing we

did every morning after zazen was walk to the

well in our neighbor’s property, pushing a

wheelbarrow and carrying two plastic contain-

ers to fetch water for the day. None of us had a

driver’s license. To go shopping, we had to walk

about an hour to the nearest town, but we also

asked friends to bring some groceries from the

local co-op once a week. The first work projects we did on the property were cutting trees, digging out stumps, and planting a vegetable garden. To earn some income, in the first year we helped our neighbors do maple sugaring, worked at a blueberry farm picking blueberries, and helped a potato farm with harvesting. This way of life continued for five years. In these circumstances, we continued to sit a five-day sesshin every month. Since I had grown up in the city, I enjoyed living in nature, although it was hard. During that period, Uchiyama Roshi’s teaching of living by vow and rooting it deeply became a great help, even though we never chanted Dogen’s writing about Bodhidharma’s going to China. This attitude toward life became the core of my practice. If I had forgot- ten that we lived as we did as part of our vow to transmit the Dharma, it would have all really been in vain and a waste of time and energy.

This experience helped me to understand that what Dogen writes in One Bright Jewel is, I believe, not simply a philosophical insight. It is also the source of compassion and the foun- dation of the bodhisattva vow to help all living beings, including ourselves. It allows us to live without doubt and fear.

[Text] (6)

ひごろはつりする人にてあれば、もろもろ の経書、ゆめにもかつていまだみざりけれども、 こころざしのあさからぬをさきとすれば、かた へにこゆる志気あらはれけり。

Since he used to be a humble fisherman, he had never read various sutras or scriptures even in a dream. However, because he put primary importance on his deep aspiration [to study the Way], his superior determination became apparent to others.

雪峰も、衆のなかにすぐれたりとおもひて、 門下の角立なりとほめき。

Xuefeng considered him outstanding among the monks in his assembly and praised him as one of the most excellent practitioners, like an animal’s horn.

衣は布をもちゐ、ひとつをかへざりければ、 ももつづりにつづれりけり。

Since he dressed in the same plain robe all the time, his robe was completely worn and tattered.

はだへには紙衣をもちゐけり、艾草をもき けり。

As underwear, he used a paper cloth. Some- times he added dried mugwort grasses [instead of cotton to make it warmer.]

雪峰に参ずるほかは、自余の知識をとぶら はざりけり。

Besides studying under Xuefeng, he did not visit any other teachers.

しかあれども、まさに師の法を嗣するちか ら辨取せりき。

And yet, he gained the capability to succeed to his teacher’s Dharma.

This section is about Xuansha’s sincere and

single-minded attitude towards the study and

practice of the Way. Dogen thinks that Xuan-

sha was a fisherman before he became a monk;

he did not receive good information in this

instance. Still, Xuansha did have a deep aspira-

tion and he was firmly determined to practice,

becoming an outstanding practitioner of his

community. He is compared to a horn because

a horn is on the top of an animal’s head, and

the head is the highest part of the body. Xue-

feng recognized that Xuansha was the most excellent practitioner in his assembly.

Because Xuansha did not care about cloth- ing, he wore the same plain cotton robe for many years. This was one reason Xuefeng called Xuansha Bei-dhuta. Dogen himself met a monk who wore a paper robe at one monastery in China:

Although we are in the final age [of dharma], in the monasteries in Great Song China, there are thousands and thousands of people who are studying the Way. There are some who have come from remote districts or left their home provinces. Most of them are poor. However, they never worry about [food and clothing]. Their only con- cern is that they have not yet attained real- ization of the Way. Sitting either in a lofty tower or by a magnificent hall, they think of the Way as if they had lost their father and mother. I personally met a monk from Sich- uan who had no possessions because he had come from a remote district. All he had was two or three pieces of ink sticks. They cost about two or three hundred mon in China, which is about twenty or thirty mon in this country. He sold them, bought some low quality Chinese paper that was very fragile, and made an upper and lower robe with it and put them on. Although when he stood up or sat down, his robe was broken and made strange noises, he never paid any attention to it and was not bothered. Some- one said to him, “Go back to your home town and bring some personal belongings and clothing.” He replied, “My home town is far away. I don’t want to waste time on the road and lose time to practice the Way.” He practiced the Way, without being con- cerned by the cold weather at all. This is why many good monks have appeared in China.10

Although it seems that Dogen was disap- pointed with Chinese Zen masters until he met Tiantong Rujing, he was impressed and encouraged by such sincere, nameless monks who thoroughly devoted themselves to practic- ing the Way in poverty. Dogen presents several examples of such monks in Shobogenzo Zui- monki.

Mugwort grass is used as mogusa [moxa]. It seems in ancient times people used the dried leaves of this grass as a substitute for cotton to make clothing warmer in the winter.

Besides studying under Xuefeng, he did not visit any other teachers. And yet, he gained the capability to succeed to his teacher’s Dharma.

As Dogen wrote in Shobogenzo Gyoji

(Continuous Practice), Xuefeng was known for

traveling widely and visiting many Zen masters

when he was young. But Xuansha practiced

only with one teacher, Xuefeng, without visit-

ing any other teachers. I am the same as Xuan-

sha in this way. Uchiyama Roshi was my only

teacher, and I feel I’m fortunate. When I met

Maezumi Roshi, who was the teacher at Zen

Center of Los Angeles, he said he had many

good teachers and he thought he was fortunate.

So either way is fine. But the important point is that we thoroughly explore the true reality of all beings through studying the self. To travel or not to travel is not the essential point. But to truly see the emptiness of the body and mind and the reality of interconnectedness of the self and the myriad dharmas is essential.

When we read Dogen’s comments on this story as well as other of his writings, we find that “one bright jewel” is not a kind of secret treasure called Buddha-nature that is hidden within us. Rather it is within the relationship between the self and the myriad dharmas. This also has something to do with Dogen’s style of practice. When we read Bendoho, part of Eihei Shingi, we find the expression “dai shu ichi nyo (大衆一如).” Daishu means “great assembly”: ‘dai’ means “great,” ‘shu’ is “assembly” ‘ichi’ is “one,” and nyo is “reality or thusness.” “The great assembly is one thusness”. In the monas- tic practice of Dogen’s assembly, all people in the Sangha practiced together as one body. In Bendoho he said of the great assembly: when other people sleep, we sleep, when other people, eat we eat, when other people sit, we sit, together with all beings as one body. So in Dogen’s practice there’s no hidden jewel within ourselves. Rather simply living and practicing together in peace and harmony with other people is the bright jewel. He writes:

In activity and stillness at one with the community, throughout death and rebirth do not separate from the monastery. Stand- ing out has no benefit; being different from others is not our conduct. This is the Bud- dhas’ and ancestors’ skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, and also one’s body and mind dropped off. Therefore, [engaging the Way] is the practice-enlightenment before the empty kalpa, so do not be concerned with your actualization. It is the koan before judgement, so do not wait for great realization.11

  1. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation.
  2. The Sutta-Nipata translated by H. Sad- dhatissa (Curzon Press1985), p.101-103.
  3. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation.
  4. See The Wholehearted Way: A translation of

Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa with commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi (translated by Sho- haku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton, 1997, Tuttle Publishing, Boston), p.19.

  1. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation.
  2. Quotes from Shobogenzo Henzan here is Okumura’s unpublished translation.
  3. See The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture (translated by Robert Thurman, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988), p.52-53
  4. See Opening the Hand of Thought (Kosho Uchiyama, Wisdom Publications,2004) p. 161. The following quote includes some differ- ences in translation from the version that appears the in the book.
  5. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation.
  6. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation of Choenji-bon version of Shobogenzo Zui- monki.
  7. See Dogen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community : A Translation of Eihei Shingi (translated by Taigen Dan Leighton & Sho- haku Okumura, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1996), p.63.




The 7th Chapter of Shobogenzo Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel) Lecture (5)

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Sanshinji, Indiana, U.S.A. (Edited by Rev. Shoryu Bradley)

(The Entire Ten-direction World Is One Bright Jewel)

In this section we read about the exchange between Xuansha and a monk concerning the one bright jewel.


(7) つひにみちをえてのち、人にしめすにいはく、 「尽十方世界是一箇明珠」
After having attained the Way, he (Xuansha) instructed people, saying, “The entire ten- direction world is one bright jewel.”

(8) ときに、僧問、「承和尚有言、盡十方世界是一 顆明珠、学人如何會得」。(承るに和尚言へる こと有り、尽十方世界是一顆明珠と。学人如何 会得せん。)
Once a monk asked, “I have heard that you said that the entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. How can this student (I) under- stand it?” 師曰、「盡十方世界是一顆明珠、用會作麼」。 (尽十方世界是一顆明珠、会を用いて作麼。) The master said, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. What is the use of understanding it?” 師、師来日却問其僧(来日却つて其の僧に問う)、

「尽十方世界是一顆明珠、汝作麼生会」。(尽 十方世界是一顆明珠、汝作麼生か会せる。) The next day, the master asked the same monk, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. How do you understand it?” 僧曰、「尽十方世界是一顆明珠、用会用作麼」。 (尽十方世界是一顆明珠、会を用いて作麼。) The monk said, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. What is the use of under- standing it?” 師曰、「知汝向黒山鬼窟裏作活計」。(知りぬ、 汝黒山鬼窟裏に向かって活計を作すことを。) The Master said, “I know that you are making a livelihood inside a demon’s cave in the black mountain.”

“The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel” was Xuansha’s teaching to his assembly. It seems he used this expression often and it became so well known that all of his disciples were familiar with this teaching. The monk in the story was perhaps a visitor to the assembly that heard it and asked what it meant.

Since this conversation is very simple and there’s no explanation provided, we must inter- pret it by ourselves. Since there are many pos- sible interpretations, we are free to choose whatever understanding we think most reason- able. I believe basically there are two ways to interpret it. One possibility is that this monk did not really understand what Xuansha meant, and another is that the monk com- pletely understood and was playing with Xuan- sha when he made his response.

First I’ll talk about Xuansha’s teaching and this conversation based on the framework

understanding that the bright jewel represents

the noumenon hidden within human beings.

According to this framework, the jewel is origi-

nally bright and free of any impurity, but in a

human being it becomes covered with dust (i.e.

karmic consciousness). Yet Xuansha found that

this bright jewel is one with the entire ten-

direction world and pervades every place and every being. This is the basic teaching of the

. three sutras I introduced previously, the Lanka-

vatara Sutra, the Sutra of Complete Enlighten- .

ment and the Śurangama Sutra. Probably Xuansha’s understanding was based on this teaching.

Previously in this fascicle Dogen wrote of

Xuansha’s life up until he attained the Way,

basing it on the biography included in the

Jingde chuandenglu (Record of Transmission of

Lamp). Dogen translated the biography from

Chinese to Japanese, and yet, as I mentioned in

lecture (3), he intentionally omitted one sen-

tence. The deleted sentence is: “Xuansha clari-

fied . the mind-ground by reading the

Śurangama Sutra.” “Mind ground” refers to the

Tathagata-garbha, Buddha nature, One-Mind,

or Mind-nature. As I discussed in lecture (2),

Dogen did not appreciate the theory of

“mind-nature” as noumenon mentioned in the

Śurangama Sutra
. “Mind-nature” had been

considered to be the bright jewel in the Zen

tradition since Guifeng Zongmi. The reason

Dogen deletes the sentence is, I think, that he

wants to cut off the connection between

Xuansha’s saying about the bright jewel and the

. mind-nature theory of the Śurangama Sutra.

Dogen’s Shobogenzo is not an academic work that should be used to introduce Xuahsha’s teaching objectively. The account of Xuansha and his sayings is a kind of fiction Dogen uses as a means to express his own insight of the Dharma. If we expect what Dogen describes here to accord with the historical Xuansha who lived in tenth century China, that is a mistake. Dogen is creating his own image of the one bright jewel using Xuansha’s saying.

First Interpretation: the Monk Didn’t Under- stand

In this view, the permanent transparent jewel without defilement is hidden within us. Since it is transparent, the jewel becomes any possible color, depending upon karmic causes and conditions. Whether it appears black, red, white, or any other color, whether beautiful or ugly, defiled or non-defiled, the jewel itself always keeps its transparency and never become defiled. The dust that covers the jewel is our karmic way of discriminative thinking and judgment making based on our prefer- ences. And our intellectual understanding is the function of this dust.

The monk asked how he could understand this bright jewel using his intellectual thinking, thinking that was itself nothing other than dust. But the jewel was beyond his condi- tioned, judging mind. It is hidden by exactly this kind of discriminating thinking. In fact according to this interpretation, the jewel is the real subject of seeing, hearing and thinking, rather than the monk.

Xuansha’s answer is very natural, “This bright jewel is one with the entire ten-direction world, what is the use of understanding?” Intel- lectual understanding is the dust that covers the jewel and prevents us from seeing the jewel directly. How can we use intellectual under- standing to really see this true subject that hears, sees and experiences all things? The monk didn’t understand what Xuansha tried to point out to his students, so he was still think- ing about the jewel and asked how he could understand it. Xuansha essentially told him to stop thinking and truly awaken to this bright jewel. There’s no way to grasp this jewel with thinking. What is the use of understanding? But this monk didn’t understand and still tried to comprehend Xuansha’s saying with concep- tual thinking. With his intellectual under- standing, the monk comprehended that this bright jewel could not be understood. But that was still just his intellectual understanding. To truly see the bright jewel that is one with the entire ten-direction world, the monk needed to get out of the pit of thinking.

Because Xuansha knew this monk hadn’t awakened to the real point of his teaching, the next day he asked the monk, “How do you understand it?” Then the monk just repeated what Xuansha had said the previous day. Xuan- sha found that this monk was merely thinking that the mind-nature was beyond thinking. That’s why Xuansha said this monk was still within a demon’s cave in the black mountain, the realm of delusive karmic thinking devoid of the light of wisdom. This is the first possible interpretation: the monk had not penetrated in the least what Xuansha was pointing out.

Second Interpretation: the Monk Did Under- stand

Another possible interpretation is as follows. The monk already had the same awak- ening as Xuansha and knew what the teaching meant before he asked the question. His ques- tion was really asking why, if this bright jewel is one with the ten-direction world and beyond intellectual understanding, did Xuansha need to say such a thing using words? Such instruc- tion would just cause more intellectual under- standing to arise in his students. If the bright jewel was really beyond discrimination and understanding, what’s the use of saying such a thing? To say “one bright jewel is the entire ten-direction world” is already extra. Why did Xuansha have to say such a thing, and how could one comprehend it without a mistaken understanding? Such an understanding is already a deviation from this reality, isn’t it? This monk asked the question to examine Xuansha’s intention. To say such a thing was already to bring this reality beyond discrimina- tion into discrimination. Why did Xuansha do such a stupid thing? That was the meaning of the monk’s question in this interpretation.

Then Xuansha said, “The entire ten- direction world is one bright jewel, what is the use of understanding it?”

“Use of understanding it” is 用會作麼(yu e somo). Yu is “to use” and e is “understanding” and somo is “what.” Usually this is read “what is the use of understanding?” But in this second interpretation this somo or “what” is not an interrogative but a noun which refers to ‘thus- ness,’ the reality beyond discrimination. This is a statement, not a question. Xuansha did not ask the monk what the use of understanding might be. We can read the phrase as “using understanding for the sake of what (thusness).” This means that Xuansha used understanding for the sake of pointing to this reality beyond discrimination for his students, allowing them to awaken to the reality. As a teacher Xuansha had to communicate and share his insight or awakening with his students. Therefore as a skillful means he used these words and his understanding as an offering. Xuansha was saying that his phrase was a skillful means allowing him to share that reality with his students. In this interpretation Xuansha and the monk were on the same level and kind of joking with each other in order to make sure they were both on the same page.

The next day Xuansha asked the monk, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel. How do you understand it?” Xuansha asked exactly the same question as the monk asked the day before. Then the monk repeated Xuansha’s answer. Both the monk and Xuansha knew that they were using words and under- standing to share this reality beyond thinking, discrimination, and language.

And finally Xuansha says, “I know that you

are making a livelihood inside a demon’s cave

in the black mountain.” In this case this “black

mountain” is not a metaphor for delusion, but

this complete black or darkness is a metaphor

for non-discrimination, and “making a liveli-

hood” means “using discrimination or under-

standing.” Xuansha actually praised the monk

and said that the monk was vigorously living

and freely using discrimination within the real-

ity of beyond discrimination. Both of them

used understanding or words, letters, and language, within non-discrimination. Language and the reality beyond language completely interpenetrated each other. This is the second possible interpretation of this conversation.

In Dogen’s comments he understands this conversation in a way close to the second inter- pretation. According to Dogen, however, even the monk’s first saying is not a question. This conversation between Xuansha and the monk is not a question and an answer exchange, rather both express their understanding of the Dharma together. Actually what Dogen writes here is not about a teaching of Xuansha’s that he repeats to a monk who doesn’t see the real- ity. According to Dogen, both of them under- stood that the reality is beyond thinking, and yet they nonetheless discussed how to express and show this reality using words. This is typi- cal of Dogen’s creative way of reading tradi- tional teachings.

Ten-direction world


(9) いま道取する「尽十方世界是一顆明珠」、はじ めて玄沙にあり。
The utterance “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel” was articulated by Xuansha for the first time. その宗旨は、尽十方世界は、広大にあらず、微 小にあらず、方円にあらず、中正にあらず、活 潑潑にあらず、露廻廻にあらず、さらに生死去 来にあらざるゆゑに生死去来なり。
The essential meaning of this saying is that the ten-direction world is neither vast nor tiny, neither square nor round. It is not centered and not straight. It is not vigorous like a fish jump- ing and not clearly revealed. Also, because it is not the coming and going of life-and-death, it is the coming and going of life-and-death. 恁麼のゆゑに、昔日曾此去にして、而今従此来 なり。

Thus, yesterday has gone from here and the present moment comes from here. 究辨するに、たれか片片なりと見徹するあらん、 たれか兀兀なりと撿挙するあらん。

Having completely penetrated it, who would thoroughly see it as each and every piece and who can investigate and hold it as the immov- able stillness?

Here Dogen begins to comment on this conversation between Xuansha and the monk in detail phrase by phrase.

The utterance “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel” was articulated by Xuan- sha for the first time.

Dogen praises Xuansha for coining this expression of Dharma. For him, to express the Dharma using a unique expression (dotoku) that has never been used by former ancestors is really important. Dogen begins his discussion by explaining what “the ten-direction world” is like.

…the ten-direction world is neither vast nor tiny,…

Measuring space

The ten-directions are east, west, south,

north, halfway between each of these, plus

downwards and upwards. “The ten-direction

world” commonly refers to this entire dharma world. When we hear this expression, we com- monly imagine our huge universe as boundless space. But Dogen says that this ten-direction world is neither vast nor tiny. This means that there’s no way to measure the size of it. This idea came from expressions found in Ma- hayana Sutras. For example, in the Vimalakirti Sutra, we read,

“The bodhisattva who lives in the incon- ceivable liberation can put the king of mountains, Sumeru, which is so high, so great, so noble, and so vast, into a mustard seed. He can perform this feat without enlarging the mustard seed and without shrinking Mount Sumeru…..Furthermore, the bodhisattva who lives in the inconceiv- able liberation can pour into a single pore of his skin all the waters of the four great oceans,…..”1

The universe has no size because there is no way to measure its entirety. When we measure the size of something in our daily lives, we use for example the length of our fingers, hands, arms, or feet; that is, we compare the thing to be measured with something we can see and are familiar with. Since things like hands and fingers differ in size from person to person, people began long ago creating devises like rulers to measure things using some unit common to the human world, ensuring that the measurements were precise and shareable with other people. But how can we measure this entire universe? Because no part of our bodies are usable to measure the size of the universe, we may try to use a more suitable unit like the light year. But the universe is getting bigger and bigger. I don’t think it is possible for us tiny parts of the universe to know exactly how big it is if the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light. There is no way to measure it even using light years.

Since there is no way to measure it, we cannot say whether this ten-direction world is big or small. And actually this expression “ten- direction world” itself is fictitious. When we hear this expression we think there are objec- tively ten directions, but this is not true, as I will explain below.

Measuring Time

Once I flew from San Francisco to Anchor- age, Alaska. When I arrived in Anchorage I heard an announcement saying there was a one hour time difference between San Francisco and Anchorage. I adjusted my watch. At that time, a question arose in my mind: “What time is it at the North Pole?” And I realized that there’s no time on the North Pole.

We imagine longitudinal lines connecting

the north pole and the south pole on the

surface of the planet Earth. With them we

divide the 360 degrees of the Earth’s equator

into 24 sections of 15 degrees each, and we

determine the time within a particular section

according to how far it is from the prime

meridian at Greenwich, England. When it is 3

p.m. in San Francisco, in Anchorage it is 2 p.m.

We follow this system of time without ques-

tioning it. However, at the North Pole what

time is it? That was my question. And I realized

there is no time there, and that this is true of

the South Pole as well. I had never thought of

this before. To me it was a very interesting question. Then I considered an imaginary situ- ation: if Santa Claus lives exactly at the North Pole, at the center of his house there’s no time, but within the rooms of his house he must have 24 different time zones. I think logically speak- ing this is true. Each time he takes a step, he has to adjust his watch.

Direction is the same as time in this way. I went to Anchorage in January to lead a sesshin. There I found that the sun rises from the south, stays in the south for several hours, and then sets in the south. I looked in an English dictionary and a Japanese dictionary to check the definition of “north.” In both of them the definition of “north” was “the left hand side when we face the direction the sun rises.” If Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, from which direction does the sun rise? For him all direc- tions are south; there’s no east and no west. When we look upon the planet earth from the North Pole, the entire planet is south of us. At the North Pole there are only three directions: south, up and down. So we can see that “the ten-direction-world” is just a concept that makes sense in a relative way on most parts of the planet earth. But there’s no such thing that really exists outside of our conceptual domain.

Another example illustrates this: some astronomers have been living at the Interna- tional Space Station for quite sometime, but is there south, north, west or east on that space station? This also shows that the expression “the ten-direction world” is valid only on the earth, and even here it doesn’t apply to two points on the planet. So there’s actually no such thing as “the ten-directions.” To me this shows how important it is to be free from our habitual and conceptual way of thinking. There is a well known Zen verse that says:

“When we are in delusion, the triple world is like [an impenetrable] fortress.
When we are in realization, the ten direc- tions are empty.

There is neither east nor west. Where are north or south?”

In Shobogenzo Komyo (Radiant Light), Dogen speaks about this expression appearing in the Introduction of the Lotus Sutra: “the Buddha emitted a beam of light, illuminating the eighteen thousand worlds in the east….” He writes:

When we see or hear the expression, “illu- minating the East,” it is contrary to our study of the buddha way to imagine it is as if one piece of white silk were extending to the East. The entire ten-direction world is only the East. The East is called the entire ten-direction world.

We think the twenty-four hours of a day

really exist, and we live following our estab-

lished system of time. But that system is also

simply a man-made fabrication. Time is not a

real thing; it’s a conventional product of the

human mind. And yet we usually think the

twenty-four hours of a day really exist. I wake

up at 4:30 a.m. five days a week to practice

zazen that begins at 5:10 a.m. And I need to do

certain things at a certain time each day, each

month, and each year. My life is ruled by this

system of time, but actually this time is fictitious. That means our way of living is also ficti- tious.

To understand this is really important in order to grasp what Dogen is saying here. There’s no such actual ten-direction world that exists objectively. This is something that instead reveals our way of thinking, our way of viewing things, and our belief within the con- ventional world. And this conventional world is created by our mind. As long as we live within human society, we must agree to follow this conventional or fictitious system. And yet as a reality there’s no actual twenty-four hours in a day. We may measure time using a day, a week, a year, a century or a millennium, but these are all man-made. No such things as these existed before human beings appeared on this planet. There’s no such measurement outside of the human mind. Measurement is performed only by us human beings.

Our picture of the world is also condi- tioned by the place we were born, our educa- tion, and many other elements of our lives. And yet, without conventions and a certain picture of the world, we cannot think at all. However the reality beyond our thinking is truly unreachable by our thinking, so we cannot encounter this reality by thinking. When Dogen says, “it is neither vast nor tiny,” this means our measurement is unusable in truly understanding this ten-direction world. It is not a matter of being enlightened or deluded. If we think the world we create in our minds really exists as it is, then we are truly deluded.

…, neither square nor round.


We have an image that the ten-direction world is like a sphere, but how can we know the shape of this universe? It is commonly believed that this universe is expanding, becoming bigger and bigger. And yet, what is the shape of this universe? We don’t really know because we cannot reach the edge of this universe, and we cannot leave this universe and view it from the outside. There’s no way we can judge the shape of the universe as round or square.

It is not centered and not straight.

This is a difficult sentence. The phrases “neither large nor small,” “neither square nor round” are clear. But the word used in the above sentence is chu sei (中正). Chu is “middle” or “center,” and sei is “right,” “correct” or “straightforward.” Large/small and round/square consist of opposites, and the words have differ- ent meanings. These can be pairs, but chu and sei are not opposites and do not constitute a pair. I don’t really understand what this means. But the opposite of chu would mean “lacking any edge or center,” and sei is in opposition with “incorrect,” “curved,” “crooked,” or “twisted.” So this sentence is saying we cannot judge whether the ten-direction world is twisted or straight; there’s no way to say any- thing. This is what “beyond our thinking” means.

It is not vigorous like a fish jumping and not clearly revealed.

These two are well-known Zen expressions. “Vigorous like a fish jumping (活潑潑)” is symbolic of the vigorous activity of living beings; living beings energetically move from place to place and are continually changing. “Com- pletely exposed (露廻廻)” means never hidden and never covered, being always exposed and revealed. These are two well-known Zen expres- sions, but here Dogen negates them. He says we cannot say that our life is vigorous like a fish jumping, and we cannot say whether the ten- direction world is always completely revealed or not. This means nothing can be said.

Also, because it is not the coming and going of life-and-death, it is the coming and going of life-and-death.

“The coming and going of life and death” refers to our life. We are born, live for a while, and then we die. We come into this world, stay in this world for a time, and then leave this world. This is a common way of viewing our life. In Buddhism, this is considered transmi- gration within samsara; we are born into the world, live for a while, and then die, only to be reborn somewhere else as another being, lifetime after lifetime. This is the meaning of coming and going within life and death.

And yet Dogen says this is not the coming and going of life and death. Then immediately after saying this, he says precisely because this is not the coming and going of life and death, it is the coming and going of life-and-death.

Elements come together in a certain way to form a person, stay in this condition for a while, go through changes under to the influ- ence of other elements, and finally disperse. This is due to the emptiness of the five aggregates. Because of emptiness, within this process nothing is actually born and nothing dies. There is and at the same time there is not the coming and going of life-and-death, precisely because of the emptiness of all things.

This logic, “because this is not A, this is A,” comes from ancient teachings such as the Dia- mond Sutra. We find the same kind of rhetoric there. It says for example:

*Buddha dharma is not Buddha dharma, there- fore it is called Buddha dharma.
*A world system is not a world system, there- fore it is called a world system.

*All living beings are not all living beings, therefore they are called all living beings.
*All dharmas (things) are not all dharmas, therefore they are called all dharmas.

According to traditional commentaries, this kind of contradictory statement should be applied to everything Dogen mentions in these sentences. It is neither vast nor tiny, therefore it is vast and also tiny. Because it is neither square nor round, it can be square or round. And because it is not centered, it is centered. Wher- ever we are can be the center of the universe since the universe is infinitely large, having therefore no particular place that is its absolute center. Every place, in other words, can be the center.

This is Dogen’s unique rhetoric based on

the insight of prajna, the wisdom that sees

emptiness. This means “the ten-direction

world” is neither big nor small, neither square nor round, therefore it can be big or small, round or square. These two views express two sides of reality – one is emptiness, another is form. Viewed from the perspective of empti- ness there are no such things as big or small, middle, round or square. But from another point of view, the view using our intellect, reason, and discriminating mind, we can say something is big compared to something smaller. The first of these two sides refers to the actual reality beyond thinking, and the other side refers to the copy of this reality created in our minds.

According to the framework of the bright

jewel found in the Śurangama Sutra, the

picture of the world or the copy of reality

created in our thinking mind is delusion. It

should be negated and we must directly see this



true reality or bright jewel in order to awaken. That is the meaning of this practice and realiza- tion. But what Dogen is saying in his commen- taty does not follow such simple logic. He said rather that both sides are the entirety of the jewel. Because the dust is also part of reality, he didn’t say we must wipe it away; dust is delu- sion only when we are deceived by it.

In Buddhist philosophy, this is the distinc- tion between the ultimate reality and the con- ventional reality. The conventional or relative truth created in our mind is not negated. Nagarjuna said in Mulamadhyamakakarika,

The teaching of the Dharma by the various Buddhas is based on the two truths; namely, the relative (worldly) truth and the absolute (supreme) truth. Those who do not know the distinction between the two truths cannot understand the profound nature of the Buddha’s teaching. Without relying on everyday common practices (i.e., relative truths), the absolute truth cannot be expressed. Without approaching the absolute truth, nirvana cannot be attained.2

In his commentary Dogen says the same thing he said when he interpreted this famous saying in the Diamond Sutra:

In general, all forms are void and illusive. To see all forms (諸相) as no-form (非相) is to see the Tathagata (凡所有相,皆是虛妄。 若見諸相非相,則見如來。).

In this case to see all form is negated. It says if we negate all forms and see no form then we can see the Tathagata. The Tathagata in this case is not a person, but reality itself. If we see forms, that is delusion created in our minds and we cannot see the Tathagata. But if we negate or become free from all forms such as big or small and square or round, then we can see the true reality of emptiness; that is the Tathagata.

In one fascicle of the Shobogenzo, Kenbutsu

(Seeing Buddha), Dogen reads this very simple

statement in a different way. He reads this sen-

tence as, “to see all forms (諸相) and no-form (非

相) is to see the Tathagata.” This tiny diver-

gence makes a great difference. Commonly

seeing all forms is negated as delusion, but

Dogen does not negate either side. He says we

need to see both all forms and no-form at the

same time. Then we see the Tathagata. By

seeing both sides, both are negated and affirmed at the same time. This is kind of a crazy thing from our habitual way of thinking. But according to Dogen, this is the way to see the true reality of all beings.

Dogen is saying the same thing here about the ten-direction world. There’s no such thing as the ten directions; they are fictitious as I said above. But it is also true that we are living in the fictitious, conventional world. If we ignore this fact, we lose the reality of our life as human beings in human society. Our lives become fictitious again in another way. But if we think the conventional world is the only one absolute reality, then we lose the true reality beyond con- ventions. When we see both, these two sides negate each other and also support each other.

This is what we actually do in our zazen. In zazen it is obvious that all thoughts are illusions since they come up almost randomly as we sit quietly before a wall, but when we grasp them as reality they become delusion. All different kinds of thoughts come and go in zazen, but it is our practice to release our grasping and let go of them. This means we don’t believe some thoughts are true and other thoughts are false. We don’t interact with thoughts, and we don’t make judgments based on thoughts. Thoughts are just coming and going, or in a sense the mind is “idling,” just as when we put a car into neutral gear and the motor still runs although the car doesn’t move. Our brain is still func- tioning and the function of our brain is to pro- duce thoughts. Thoughts are being produced but we don’t grasp them; we just let go. We don’t take any action based on those thoughts.


Thoughts are coming up from our karmic con- sciousness formed from our past experiences. When we let go and don’t take any action based on those thoughts, we are free from karma, even if it is for just one moment – the next moment we might “shift out of neutral gear.” Then we continue the business of karmic con- sciousness and take action. Both are there. Our thoughts are not really negated and eliminated; they’re instead coming and going freely.

Seeing no-form is our zazen itself. Within this no-form of zazen all forms are coming and going. All fictitious forms are there but we are not deceived by those forms and we don’t make karma based on those karmic thoughts. Within our zazen both are there. To me, this is what Dogen meant when he said, “Think of not- thinking, and how do you think of not- thinking? Beyond-thinking.” Thinking (思量) and not thinking (不思量) negate each other. But within zazen both are included. Our zazen is not a method to see this reality, but this real- ity is happening within our zazen, or our zazen itself is this reality – including both sides. Our zazen is not a method to improve our way of viewing things. But our zazen is itself the beyond-thinking (非思量) that includes both thinking and not-thinking, or all forms and no-form. Our zazen is really a simple practice; just sit and do nothing. But within this simple practice, the essential teaching of Buddhism is actualized. And yet when we start to think about what this essential teaching is, we miss it. When we let go of thought, this reality that includes both sides is already there.

Thus, yesterday has gone from here and the present moment comes from here.

This sentence is about space and time. Time is a very important part of Dogen’s teaching. He discusses the nature of time in Shobogenzo Uji (Being-time). U is “being” and ji is “time.” Dogen basically says in the fascicle that being and time are one thing; Uji (Being-time) is one word. Being is time and time is being.

Our common understanding of time is that it flows from the past through the present to the future. Dogen says this is also a fiction because the present moment is the only real reality. The past is no longer with us because it has already gone, and the future is not with us because it has not yet come. So time doesn’t really f low. Time is only this moment. There are no such things as the past and the future as actual existents. Past and future are man-made concepts created by our minds. Due to our memories of the past we think the past actually exists, and due to our hopes, plans and expecta- tions, we think the future exists although it has not yet come. We think of it as if it were some- where waiting for us. Obviously both of these consist merely of fantasies, memories and dreams, even though they are important to us. As reality, only this present moment exists.

And yet when we look closely at this pres- ent moment, this moment has no length. If it has even the slightest length we can still cut it into two parts, and one half is already in the past and another half is still in the future. So actually there’s no such thing as the present moment. The past and the future are not here and the present moment is zero, simply a border between the past and the future without any length. Then what is time? Time disap- pears. Time only exists in our way of thinking; time as a flow is a product of our mind. Because we remember things from the past and because we study history, we think things hap- pened in the past. Of course conventionally we know we did such and such a thing in the past, and at this time I’m now doing what I’m doing as a part of a sequence of events from the past up to now. Because I have been studying and practicing Dogen’s teaching, I now must discuss my understanding of what he wrote. This is my karma. But these things all actually exist only in my thinking. The actual reality is simply that I’m here now, writing about this strange teaching of Dogen’s.

There is no past, no future and no present. And yet because there’s no such particular time called the present, this moment is connected with the entirety of the past and the entirety of the future. The entirety of time from the beginning-less beginning to the endless end is one single moment if we don’t measure it with some unit such as a day, a week, a year, etc. The first moment of the big bang to the end of the universe is simply one unsegmented moment. The entire range of time is one seamless moment. Yet we make a separation when we say “yesterday,” “today,” or “tomorrow” in creating the story of our lives with our minds.

In Tenzo Kyokun (Instructions for the

Tenzo), Dogen introduces his conversation

with an old tenzo monk at Tientong monastery.

The tenzo monk was drying mushrooms in the

hot sun after lunch. When Dogen met him, he     asked,

“Why do you not have an attendant or lay worker do this?”
The tenzo said, “Others are not me.” Dogen said, “Esteemed sir, you are truly dedicated. The sun is so hot. Why are you doing this now?”

The tenzo said, “What time should I wait for?”
The tenzo monk told Dogen that only here,

now and the self exist as reality. This person, this moment, this place, and this work, are one. And yet, when we take a closer look, this one- ness disappears; it becomes zero. To me it is interesting that when this oneness becomes zero, it becomes one with all time, all space, and all beings.

This is also what Dogen writes when he describes his zazen as Jijuyu Zanmai in Ben- dowa. He says this short period of zazen is one with all beings throughout all time. So we can say that one equals zero and zero equals infinity (1=0=∞). That is my formula for this reality. That means in our mind we create this ficti- tious flow of time and we create histories or stories, thinking they are actual reality. But when we examine them closely we see they do not actually exist. The only reality is right now, right here, this one particular person doing this one particular thing. When in turn we take a closer look at this person, this place and this moment, they become zero. In this becoming zero, the entire seamless reality throughout time and space is revealed. This is a very strange idea, but this is what Dogen says not only about zazen but about the entire reality of our life.

In his writing “the ten-direction world” refers to this entirety of seamless time and space in which everything is connected. This moment comes from “here,” the entirety of time and space in which all things are happen- ing interdependently. This means nothing is outside of this seamless time and space, every- thing is included and the past and present are truly connected. This is one seamless moment and one limitless place that are connected with the entirety of space. Everything is connected throughout time and space. Everything comes and everything goes within this ten-direction world although the ten-direction world does not really exist.

Having completely penetrated it, who would thoroughly see it as each and every piece and who can check and hold it as the immovable stillness?

“Each and every piece” is to see each and every thing interconnected within the network of interdependent origination, or Indra’s Net, both within space and within time. Each and every being is interconnected in space and time. From the perspective of “to view all forms,” each and every thing is unique and independent. Who I am today is different from who I was yesterday; I’m independent from who I was. I’m also not you, and you are not me, so I am an individual person that is differ- ent from other people. This is what “each and every piece” means here. This refers to “all forms” (諸相), where each form is different.

And yet the next phrase, “hold it as immov-

able stillness,” shows another side of reality.

“Immovable stillness,” is a strange expression,

but this is the same expression Dogen Zenji uses in Fukanzazengi. The original word is gotsu-gotsu (兀兀). 兀 is an interesting Chinese character. It origins perhaps are connected to the shape of mountains, such as those you can see in the Western United States. In the desert there is perhaps a huge rock as big as a moun- tain. 兀 is suggestive of the shape of such a rock. There’s no change in the rock or its envi- ronment throughout the year because it is located in the desert where there is no water and no vegetation. So nothing grows in the spring, there is no greenery in the summer, and there are no fall colors in autumn. All the seasons are the same and the rock never moves. It is an extremely stable rock made of just one piece. This is part of the expression used in Fukanzazengi that is translated as “immovable sitting” (gotsu-za, 兀坐). So our sitting is as immovable and stable as such a huge rock. This expression “gotsu-gotsu” is the opposite of “each and every piece.” In the case of “each and every piece”, each thing is different and continually changing. But “gotsu-gotsu” refers to one piece, so there’s no discrimination, no separation, no individuality and no change. This opposition again shows both sides of reality; everything is independent, and yet at the same time every- thing is one immovable piece. This is of course very contradictory. But these two views are not two separate things. If we think they are sepa- rate, we create more discrimination and illusion.

An example I often use to illustrate this reality is that of a hand and five fingers. A hand is a collection of five-fingers and yet at the same time it is just one hand. The collection of five fingers and the single hand are exactly the same thing. When we see it as five fingers, each finger is different, having its own name, its own shape, and its own way of functioning. The thumb and little finger are different, for instance. Each finger of a hand is different just as each person in this world is different. And yet when we see the collection of fingers as a whole and call it a hand, difference or individu- ality disappears. In that case it is simply one hand like the one piece of rock. This doesn’t mean that the five fingers have disappeared – the five fingers are still there – but those five fingers lose their individuality or separation so there is simply one hand. These are actually not two sides of one reality but two ways of viewing one reality. These two ways of viewing things are called absolute truth and conventional truth. As I said, these two truths are not half and half of one reality or two sides of one real- ity, but they are two ways of seeing one reality. These two views exist only within our minds; they are not actually “out there” existing objec- tively. The reality is just this, here and now, and this reality can be called “one hand” and it also at the same time can be called “five fingers.” That’s all.

Sometimes it is useful to see reality as made up of individual things, calling it a collection of five fingers, so to speak. Sometimes it is useful to see things from a broader, more unitary per- spective. We can say a human being is a collec- tion of many cells, or we can say it is simply made up of flesh and bones, for example. There are many way of viewing things, but reality is just one reality. And this one reality ultimately has no name.

But an important point is that we sometimes think if we negate individuality we unite with something called “oneness,” the “one hand” as a kind of concept beyond our experi- ence. And that is probably what in Western philosophy is called “noumenon.” But in Bud- dhism if we create a distinction between the five fingers as phenomena and the one hand as noumenon, treating the two sides as two sepa- rate things, that is a problem. According to Dogen if we consider the bright jewel to be some permanent thing hidden inside things (noumenon) and our thinking or viewing things to be dust (phenomena) that hides the jewel, then we create this kind of separation and become dualistic. This is the point of Dogen’s writing these kinds of strange things. Basically the reality he tries to show us is very simple – it is one hand and also five fingers at the same time. But somehow within our minds we create all different kinds of philosophical possibilities or theories and we lose sight of this reality. What Dogen wants us to do is to return to this simple reality instead of chasing after all these different ways of thinking and grasping.

1 See The Holly Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Ma- hayana Sutra (translation by Robert Thurmon) p.52-53.

2 Nagarjuna: A translation of his Mulamadhya- makakarika with an Introductory Essay (by Ken- neth Inada, State University of New York at Buffalo), p. 146.



The 7th Chapter of Shobogenzo Ikka-myoju (One Bright Jewel) Lecture (6)

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Sanshinji, Indiana, U.S.A. (Edited by Rev. Shoryu Bradley)

In paragraph (7) Dogen began comment- ing on Xuansha’s saying, “The entire ten- direction world is one bright jewel.” In para- graph (9) he discussed the entire ten-direction world in terms of what it is not. There he says this world is beyond the realm of human think- ing that uses words and concepts, and it is neither big nor small, although at the same time it can be big or small, and so on. He con- tinues his discussion in paragraph (10) by pre- senting the actual meaning of the “entire ten- direction.” This is not simply the objective space of our world or the universe, rather it has something to do with our life experiences.



尽十方といふは、遂物為己、遂己為物《物を遂い て己と為し、己を遂いて物と為す》の未休なり。 The “entire ten-direction” means the ceaseless activities of chasing after things and making them into the self, and chasing after the self and making it into things. 情生智隔を隔と道取する、これ回頭換面なり、 展事投機なり。

When a student asked the meaning of “When an emotion arises, wisdom is blocked,” a Zen master cautioned his disciple, saying, “[Your wisdom is now] blocked.” This means that when you turn your head, your face is also turned around. This is [the disciple’s] unfolding the original matter and [the teacher’s] responding by throwing the function. 遂己為物のゆゑに、未休なる尽十方なり。 Because this is seeking after the self and making it into things, the entire ten-direction is cease- less. 機先の道理なるゆゑに、機要の管得にあまれる ことあり。

Because [this entire ten-direction] is the reality prior to any sign of movement, it is more than control of the functioning essence.

Chasing After Things And Chasing After The Self

The ‘entire ten-direction’ means the ceaseless activi- ties of chasing after things and making them into the self, and chasing after the self and making it into things.

Here Dogen says the ten-direction world is not simply the space in which we live, but it is also something created by our actions. This sounds strange because the ten-direction world, in our common understanding, is the bound- less space in which we live and all things exist, like a stage where actors play their rolls. Saying “space is activity” doesn’t make sense to our common, logical way of thinking. But Dogen says this entire ten-direction world refers to our ceaseless activities. He is saying “the ten- direction world” is not only a stage made of space but it is also the drama that is unfolding through the characters’ actions. This is the only way I can translate what Dogen writes here.

Almost all of the important expressions Dogen uses in Shobogenzo are taken from

certain sutras or certain pieces of Zen literature that have some particular meaning in their original contexts. Yet when he uses these expressions in his writings, he often twists around their meaning. Unless we clearly under- stand the meaning of those expressions in their original contexts and how Dogen twists them, we can’t really understand what Dogen wants to say. The expressions used in this sentence, “chasing after things and making them into the self,” and “chasing after the self and making it into things,” come from the Surangama Sutra and are also used in a Zen koan, but Dogen twists around their original meaning here. First, I will introduce how these expressions are used in the original texts and then I will discuss how Dogen twists them around.

The expressions, “chasing after things and making them into the self,” and “chasing after the self and making it into things” in Japanese are Chiku motsu i ko (逐物為己) and chiku ko i motsu (逐己為物). This expression, “chasing after things” placed together with “the self” comes from case 46 of the Hekiganroku (The Blue Cliff Record), and it is a paraphrase of a sentence found in volume 2 of the Surangama Sutra. The sentence from the Sutra is:

一切衆生從無始來迷己爲物。失於本心爲物所轉。 (一切衆生無始よりこのかた、己に迷うて物と 為し、本心を失いて物の為に所轉ぜらる。)

An English translation of this sentence is:

From the time without beginning, all beings have mistakenly identified themselves with what they are aware of. Controlled by their experience of perceived objects, they lose track of their fundamental minds.1

In this translation, 迷己爲物 (a possible literal translation might be, “being deluded in the self, they make it into objective things”) is translated as “mistakenly identified themselves with what they are aware of.”

The English translation of the sutra then reads, “Controlled by their experience of per- ceived objects, they lose track of their funda- mental minds.” “Their fundamental minds” refers to the One-Mind, Mind-nature, etc. as the noumenon I mentioned in an earlier article. In this section of the sutra, the fundamental mind (本妙明浄心, the pure and wondrous understanding mind) is compared to an inn keeper, and the thinking mind created by encountering objects is compared to the guests of the inn. Thinking is impermanent and ever- changing, but the inn keeper never leaves, so it is permanent. What the sutra means is that when we lose sight of the true essence of the self (the fundamental mind), we regard the things we encounter as the self and thus we begin to transmigrate within samsara. Being deluded by the “guest”self and considering it to be the fun- damental self is the cause of suffering. Xuansha and probably Jingqing attained enlightenment based on this sutra, and yet this sutra is one Dogen did not appreciate during his entire life. That was because it promoted this concept of an “original fundamental mind” as noumenon. When we read this paragraph of One Bright Jewel, we have to be careful of what the term “original fundamental mind” means to Dogen.

The name of the koan I spoke of that appears in the Blue Cliff Record is “Jingqing’s Sound of Raindrops.” (“Jingqing” in Thomas Clearly’s translation is “Ching Ch’ing” using the Wade- Giles system.) This person Jingqing Daofu (Kyousei Dofu, 868-937) was Xuansha’s dharma brother. I think the teaching Xuansha gave using this expression “one bright jewel” and what Jingqing tried to express with the phrase, “chasing after things…,” are connected. The conversation between Jingqing and a monk as it appears in the koan is as follows:

Jingqing asked a monk, “What sound is that outside the gate?”
The monk said, “The sound of raindrops.” Jingqing said, “Sentient beings are inverted. They lose themselves and follow after things.” (衆生顛倒、迷己遂物)

Then the monk said, “What about you Teacher?”
Jingqing said, “I almost don’t lose myself ” The monk said, “What is the meaning of ‘I almost don’t lose myself’?”

Jingqing said, “Though it still should be easy to express oneself, to say the whole thing has to be difficult.”2

In the koan, the Zen master Jingqing and his student are inside a building and hear some kind of sound. So this case is about the connec- tion between the six sense organs and the objects of the sense organs, in this case “ear” and “sound.” Because it was raining outside, the monk answered his teacher that the sound was the sound of raindrops.

Then Jingqing said, “Sentient beings are inverted. They lose themselves and follow after

things.” “Sentient beings are inverted (衆生顛

倒),” comes from another part of the Surangama

Sutra, and this is what “chiku motsu (逐物),”

the phrase used by Dogen, refers to. In his

response Jinqing changes one Chinese charac-

ter from the original, so that 迷己爲物 becomes

迷己遂物. In the Sutra, it just says people are

deluded about themselves (lose the self) and

consider things as their selves, but in Jingqing’s

saying, the expression becomes more active. He

says people chase after external things and

identify with them as themselves. They lose

themselves and they follow after external

things. Then the subject and the object become

separate. When these two are separate and then

interact, something happens in our mind. In

the above case, a thought is aroused in the

student’s mind and he said “that was the sound

of raindrops.” According to this master’s teach-

ing, at that moment the person loses the self

and chases after an object. According to the

Surangama Sutra, this means that all of the

interactions between the sense organs and the

objects of the sense organs are delusions. We

should therefore awaken only to this “bright

jewel” inside of ourselves that never interacts

with other things; it is the pure and bright fun-

damental mind, free of all defilement. So all

things located outside of the student and the

discriminating thoughts they caused to arise by

in the student’s mind are defilements. The Self

(One Mind) is the inn keeper and the thoughts

are the visitors. That is the meaning of this

expression, “chasing after things.” This conver-

sation is about this particular teaching of the

Surangama Sutra and its interpretation by Zen

masters. Dogen examines it because he didn’t

agree with the expression as it appears in the sutra and as it was taught by many Zen masters including Xuansha and Jingqing. So he re-interprets what the expression means. As I have already repeatedly mentioned, Dogen never liked this Sutra during his entire lifetime.

According to the Surangama Sutra, the One Mind, Buddha-nature, or bright jewel is hidden inside of us, but the surface of the self always interacts with things outside of it, creat- ing delusion and making life a cycle of suffering within samsara. The sutra says we should stop these interactions and just discover or awaken to this hidden bright jewel; then we can attain enlightenment. That is a common Zen teach- ing, and it is often considered authentic. How- ever, Dogen doesn’t agree with it.

Jingqing was saying that as the monk heard the sound of the raindrops he began interacting with it in a subject/object relationship. His point was that when the monk did this, thought about it, and then answered his teacher, he lost himself.

Next the monk asks his teacher whether or not he lost himself when he heard the sound of the rain, saying, “What about you teacher?” Jingqing replies, “I almost don’t lose myself ” The monk then asks, “What is the meaning of ‘I almost don’t lose myself’?”

He is wondering what this can mean. Can his teacher partially lose his “self” but not completely?
Then Jingqing answered, “Though it still should be easy to express oneself, to say the whole thing has to be difficult.”

This is the koan. In the commentary on this case by Rinzai Zen master Yuanyu Keqin (Engo Kokugan, 1063-1135,) the compiler of the Hekiganroku, it is said that Jingqing asked the same question three times possibly to three different monks:

You too should understand right here. When the ancients imparted their teaching with one device, one object, they wanted to guide people. One day Ching Ching (Jingqing) asked a monk, “What is the sound outside the gate.”

The monk said, “It is the sound of quail.”

It seems Jingqing often asked his monks, “What is that sound?” In the example above the monk answered that it was the sound of a quail, a bird singing. Then Jingqing said, “If you wish to avoid uninterrupted hell, don’t slander the wheel of the true dharma of the tathagata.” “Uninterrupted hell” refers to a very painful hell realm where dwellers experience incessant tortuous pain and suffer continually. That means, according to this teaching, if we interact with an object of our sense organs and grasp it as the sound of a quail or the sound of raindrops or anything else, we are slandering the wheel of the true dharma, the Buddha’s teaching. We should therefore stop such inter- actions, these kinds of intellectual or concep- tual ways of interaction and grasping, other- wise we will fall into hell and suffer.

In his commentary Yuanwu introduced

another case concerning another similar ques-

tion from Jingqing. This time he asked, “What

is that sound outside the gate?” A monk

replied, “The sound of a snake eating a frog.” This is the sound of samsara. We sometimes see this kind of thing happening around us. We don’t encounter it so much in the city, but in the mountains or the countryside we might see a snake eating a frog or other animals eating animals that are smaller than they are. Even in a suburban area we might see a cat hunting a bird or a dog catching a rabbit. These kinds of things are continually happening not only among animals in nature but also in our human world. This is one side of the reality of our life. No living being can continue to live without taking the life of other living beings.

Returning to Yuanwu’s case, Jingqing then said, “I knew that sentient beings suffer, here is another suffering sentient being.” This indi- cates that the monk who said, “This is the sound of a snake eating a frog,” is another suffering being, meaning he had lost the self and was chasing after things. It seems to me this expression “chasing after things” is a nega- tive one in the Surangama Sutra and in this koan story.

Dogen’s understanding

Yet here in Ikka-myoju Dogen says the entirety of the ten-directions is “the ceaseless activity of chasing after things and making them into the self and chasing after the self and making it into things.” According to this koan and the statement from the Surangama Sutra, “chasing after things” is delusion, the cause of suffering in samsara. But Dogen gives this phrase a very positive meaning. Rather than saying it is the cause of delusion and suffering in samsara, he says it is nothing other than the ten-direction world. For him this entire ten- direction world is itself our activity of chasing after the self and making it into things and chasing after things and making them into the self. This means the interaction between the self and the myriad dharmas is how we create a ten-direction world of our own. This is what he stated in Genjokoan. There he says it is only within this interaction between the self and the myriad things that there is realization and delu- sion. He also says in Genjokoan that when we convey the self toward the myriad things and try to carry out practice-enlightenment, that is delusion; but all myriad things coming towards the self and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization. That is Dogen’s definition of delusion and realization. Both are found, or are working together, within this rela- tionship between the self and the myriad dhar- mas. This is not negative at all, even though he includes both delusion and realization in this relationship. This is simply the way our lives create our own worlds.

Dogen wrote another fascicle of Shobogenzo

entitled Daigo (Great Realization 大悟). Where

he said “great realization (daigo, 大悟)” and

“returning to delusion (kyakumei, 却迷)” are

both important. For him returning to delusion

is not negative. Great realization is seeing the

equality and oneness of all beings, and return-

ing to delusion is to see all individual forms

and take care of them. So we need both great

realization and the return to delusion. Even

though Dogen says in Genjokoan that convey-

ing the self to all things is delusion, he doesn’t

necessarily view that as a bad or negative thing,

rather this is simply a part of our activity or life. We have to convey ourselves toward the myriad things in order to do things, to work with things. And at the same time the myriad things come toward the self and carry out practice- enlightenment. These two statements are not necessarily about two different people or two different times or events. Rather these two can happen at the same time.

This is similar to Dogen’s phrase found in the beginning of Ikka Myoju, “coming up with- out being fished for.” The person fishing has no intention to fish and the fish has no intention to bite the bate, to be fished out of the water. But somehow these things are happening at the same time, with the self and the myriad things working together. According to Dogen, delu- sion or discriminative thinking is not necessar- ily a bad thing we must always avoid. Still we must be careful not to deceive ourselves and create suffering. But when we see delusion as delusion and are not deceived, we can enjoy delusion. That is fine. We can live with delu- sion if we know it’s delusion. What he says here is the “entire ten-directions” is the way things work together or unfold as a relationship with the self and all myriad things.

In the suttas of the Pali Nikaya the objects of our sense organs are called nama-rupa or “name and form” in English. When we convey ourselves toward things we create a name for them, as Dogen says later in this fascicle. He says this jewel has no name, and yet Xuansha gave it a name, that is he “put this nameless reality into a name.” That is what Xuansha did, but it is not a negative thing. That is the way we study this reality as form, but if we think there actually is such a thing that corresponds to the name, we are deceived by nama-rupa. If instead we just use names, words, logic and conceptual thinking as devices of sorts or tools to under- stand or study the ways things are, we don’t disturb our practice or negatively affect our lives. Rather this helps us to live in a healthy way using our ability to think. We need to use nama-rupa instead of being deceived by nama- rupa or fighting it and and trying to destroy it. Dogen used a similar expression in Tenzo Kyokun as follows:

All day and all night things come to mind and the mind attends to them;
And at one with them all, diligently carry on the Way.

In this case “mind” means the tenzo or the self. Things come to the self and the self attends to those things. This is the way the self and things work together. The important point here is being attentive. This intimate working between the self and things is important. As Dogen said in Hokke ten Hokke, sometimes the self is turned by things, and sometimes things are turned by the self; in unison the self and things are working together, are turning and being turned.

Hokke ten Hokke is another chapter of

Shobogenzo. Hokke is “dharma f lower” or “lotus

flower”, ten is turning, and again hokke is

“dharma flower.” So the title of this chapter is,

“Dharma Flowers turning Dharma Flowers.”

“Dharma Flowers” refers to the name of the

Lotus Sutra, and this expression hokke ten hokke comes from a conversation in the Plat- form Sutra of the Sixth Ancestor. In the sutra there was a monk who had chanted the Lotus Sutra three thousand times, and yet he said, “I don’t understand what it means.” In reply the Sixth Ancestor said, “If your mind is deluded you are turned by the Dharma Flower and yet if your mind is enlightened you turn the Dharma Flower.” In other words, depending upon whether our mind is awakened or not, we are turned by the Dharma, or we can turn the Dharma. In Shobogenzo Hokke ten Hokke, Dogen said it’s not a matter of whether I turn the Dharma or whether I am turned by the Dharma, rather the Dharma Flower turns the Dharma Flower. That means both self and the myriad things are Dharma Flowers. Dharma Flowers are simply turning Dharma Flowers. It is a matter of the way we work with the myriad things as Dogen described in Tenzo Kyokun – our work is performed together with all beings and we do this work for the sake of Dharma. In the case of the tenzo, the tenzo works in the kitchen for the sake of the people who are prac- ticing in various parts of the monastic commu- nity. The tenzo’s work is an offering, it’s not work to benefit the tenzo. When we live with this attitude, with respect for others and an intention to benefit others, that is practicing with the four bodhisattva vows. Then our activ- ity or work with all myriad things is simply the Dharma turning the Dharma; there’s no such thing as “me” and no such thing as “that thing.” This is what Dogen is saying here. In the case of the tenzo working in the kitchen with such things as food ingredients, water, fire, and other kitchen workers, the kitchen itself is the entire ten-directions. A kitchen is a relatively small space, but it is the ten-direction world for the tenzo.

When we are sitting in the zendo, the zendo is the ten-direction world. The ten-direction world doesn’t necessarily refer to the huge space we call the universe or the world. The range of our activity, as Dogen said in Genjokoan, might be large or small depending upon the need. A big bird flies in a huge range, and a little bird like a sparrow flies in a small range. And yet, Dogen said that both a big bird and a small bird fly the entire sky. The entire sky for the sparrow is a tiny space, but for the big bird it is a big space. Whether small or large, both are flying the entire sky. This ten-directions means this entire sky, whether we are a small bird like a sparrow, or a big bird like a condor, and this applies to both a tiny flower like a violet and a big gorgeous flower like a sunflower or a rose. All of those f lowers are working with all beings, supporting them and being supported as they bloom. That is the ten-direction world. So we must change our image of this ten-direction world. When we simply hear that the ten- direction world is one bright jewel, I think we imagine that our huge universe is one small bright jewel. I’m not sure about Xuansha, but at least that is not what Dogen meant. What Dogen referred to was the quality of our atti- tude towards our work: doing it not for the sake of oneself, but for the sake of living har- moniously together with all beings. This is the way we can live in the entire ten directions, no matter how small our living space or work seems to be.

Emotion Arises, Wisdom Is Blocked

When a student asked the meaning of “When an emotion arises, wisdom is blocked,” a Zen master cautioned his disciple, saying, “[Your wisdom is now] blocked.” This means that when you turn your head, your face is also turned around. This is [the disciple’s] unfolding the original matter and [the teacher’s] responding by throwing the function.

In the original Japanese, this is all one sen- tence. “When an emotion arises, wisdom is blocked,” appears in a commentary on the Avatamsaka Sutra written by Qingliang Cheng- guan (Seiryo Chokan, 清涼澄観 738-839), the fourth ancestor of the Kegon School. It is said that Chengguan also studied Chan (Zen) of the Oxhead (Gozu) School. Guifeng Zongmi (Keiho Shumitsu, 780-841), who was intro- duced in article (1) of this series, was his suc- cessor. As I mentioned in that article, Zongmi was the first master who used “bright jewel” as a simile for buddha-nature in comparing the various schools of Zen existing during his time. Chengguan’s saying is quoted in case 67 of the Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku), “The Flower Ornament Scripture’s ‘wisdom’”:

Qingliang’s great commentary says, “Sen- tient beings contain natural virtues as their substance and have the ocean of knowledge as their source: but when forms change, the body differs; when feelings arise, knowledge is blocked. Now to bring about knowledge of mind and unity with the substance, arrival at the source and forgetting of feelings, I discuss this scripture, with illustrations and indications.”3

This is the source of the phrase “When feelings arise, knowledge is blocked” used by Dogen in this fascicle. Sentient beings’ sub- stance (性, nature) and their source (体, essence) refers to the mind-nature, mind-source, etc. So what this passage is saying is that sentient being’s essence is reality itself (tathata), but once discriminative thinking that is influenced by emotions or feelings of karmic conscious- ness arises, wisdom is blocked; we become deluded because subject and object are sepa- rated, and we start to chase after things. This is exactly the same thing that is said in the main case of case 67 in the Book of Serenity:

The Flower Ornament Scripture says, “I now see all sentient beings everywhere fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the enlightened ones, but because of false con- ceptions and attachments they do not real- ize it.”4

The third Ancestor of Kegon School,

Fazang (法蔵) called the meditation practice in

his school mojin-gengen-kan (妄尽還源観), “con-

templation for eliminating delusory thoughts

and returning to the source.” According to this

teaching, ocean water is the original mind-

nature that is peaceful and quiet and reflects

everything like a clean mirror. But when the

wind of ignorance begins to blow, waves arise.

Then the surface of the ocean is always moving

and agitated, no longer being able to reflect

things as they truly are. In this teaching, medi-

tation practice is a method to restore our origi-

nal peace by stopping the wind of ignorance, or

discriminative thinking, so that the original

mind-nature can reflect all things as they are.

This is called kaiin-zanmai (ocean-seal samadhi.) Dogen wrote in Shobogenzo Zazenshin (Accupuncture Needle of Zazen) about this sort of meditation practice:

Their writings seem only to discuss going back to the source or returning to the origin and to vainly endeavor to stop thinking and become absorbed in tranquility. That is infe