In the legend as told in the Wumenguan, the Buddha holds up a flower and no one in the assembly responds except for Arya Kashyapa who gives a broad smile and laughs a little. I hand it over and entrust these encouraging words to Kashyapa. In pre-modern times there were four major versions that consisted of 60, 75, 12, and 28 fascicles, with the 60 fascicle version being the earliest and the 28 fascicle version the latest. It is unclear which chapters this fascicle version would have included and in what order.
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When Dogen compiled the Shinji Shobogenzo, he did not include any of the commentaries, introductions, or remarks by Hsueh Tou J.
Nor did Dogen add any comments on these koans in the Shinji Shobogenzo, so there are no comments other than brief ones by Nishijima, most of which are a simplified retelling of the story and some remarks on the story. These comments are not meant to be teishos and they do not go into the koan in any depth.
He does, however, give an explanation of some of the literary allusions and metaphorical language. For example, on the koan "A Dialogue of Manjusri and Wu Chu", Blue Cliff Record 35, the final line by Manjusri "… three in front and three-and-three behind" was, according to Nishijima "a very common expression in Buddhism in China, used to illustrate a concrete and particular situation. Here it also suggest "few" in relation to the three or five hundred expressed by Master Mujaku.
This is, as far as I am aware, the only readily available translation of the whole of the Kana Shobogenzo. In his paper, Understanding the Shobogenzo , Nishijima breaks the chapter Kana Shobogenzo into these four categories. The great master said, "What is that? Hyakujo cried out in pain. As they walked along they saw a group of wild ducks flying in the sky.
Master Baso said: What are they? Master Hyakujo said: Wild ducks. Master Baso said: Where are they going? Master Hyakujo said: They have flown away. Master Hyakujo could not tolerate the pain and cried out: Aagh! Master Baso said: Although you said they have flown away, you are always at this place.
Master Hyakujo immediately broke out in a sweat, and just then he experienced a reflection of the truth. It is impossible to say whether this particular koan was recorded by Dogen differently but Victor Sogen Hori 34 N. Daishi said, "What is it? Daishi said, "There, how can it fly away? Although there are these differences in translations, the words themselves are never the point of a koan, especially in Rinzai practice. As Cleary has said about koans, "they reveal themselves as guides to specific exercises in Zen perspective and perception.
Yamada, xxx Another understanding of the use of koans as practice is that "before enlightenment one should look into the intent; after enlightenment, one may then look into the expression as a communicative tool. Quite the opposite. Hiene lists of the Shinji Shobogenzo koans as showing up in various writings of Dogen. Hopefully, this will lay to rest the simplistic misunderstanding that Soto Zen does not use koans while Rinzai does. Both sects use koans. The difference lays in how they are used and how they are viewed.
Tai-hui saw koans as a barrier, something to break through, a "nonconceptual, nondifferentiable and ineffable truth. Dogen, on the other hand, saw koans as an expression of reality, not something to be condensed but expanded and elaborated upon as expressions of realization.
Nishijima, ii Hence, genjo-koan means the "realized law of the universe, that is Dharma, or the real Universe itself". There is no table of contents other than a listing of the three books that make up the Shinji Shobogenzo nor is there an index. This makes it very difficult to find any particular koan.
Joshu put his sandals on his head and left. Nansen said, "If you had been here, you could have saved the cat. Somehow, I find this explanation unsatisfactory.
Or would you still doubt? These books are more complete, inasmuch they include introductions, verses and commentaries in some depth. A competent teacher should be able to guide here. Robert Aitken 98 theorises this as an ancient Chinese sign of mourning.
Cleary a: 68 sees it as a "farcical act [that] silently remarks that to be enslaved by something that originally was supposed to foster liberation is like being worn by a pair of shoes instead of wearing them.