Monday, June 14, 2010

Reflections: Visiting Antaiji - Rinko 14.6.2010

Summary: Shobogenzo-zuimonki 2-23 contrasts the way of a monk with the way of the world. 2-24 finds similarities between how a person in the world ideally approaches their occupation and how one should approach the buddha-dharma. Both passages offer insight for our practice if we are to become people of ‘great peace and joy’, become enlightened in this lifetime.

Since I can remember I’ve been taught to follow the ‘way’ of the secular world, which is goal-oriented and based on attainment of either objects or status in our society. Ego-gratification or end-gaining are some of the new fangled embellishments folks have come up with these days, but the term “goal” is simple and direct. Goal-oriented behavior has often caused me to put off what I want to do now in favor of some other activity that will eventually result in my attaining or acquiring of some ‘thing’, whether its new clothes, a house, an education, or even enlightenment. 2-23 is not an excuse for doing whatever comes to mind, however. Shobogenzo-zuimonki 2-22, and 2-24 temper and qualify what 'doing what I want to do now' should be for a practitioner of the buddha-dharma. Both 2-22 and 2-24 emphasize whole-hearted practice..

In 2-23 Dogen says the buddha-dharma is the opposite of this worldly way of thinking. He emphasizes that a person following the buddha way minimizes goal-oriented behavior, e.g. one meal a day should be enough for sustenance, so why worry about more? He doesn’t say we should eliminate goals entirely, but rather keep them to what is necessary for survival.

In this passage, Dogen states what the buddha-dharma is not…

In Shobogenzo-zuimonki 2-24, Dogen offers suggestions as to what the buddha-dharma is, drawing an analogy to an emperor in the world. If the emperor performs his job whole-heartedly, “the manner of governing is in accordance with the will of heaven.” As Buddhists practitioners, we want to behave and perform our function “in harmony with the will of Buddha”. This means we should make every effort. Don’t expect the buddha way to be easy. It is not a retreat from the world in terms of effort, but maybe just in terms of view. Dogen also says that we have scriptural teachings, teachers, and advisors (Dharma sibs?) that can help us figure out, ideally, what the Way or Path is and help us in our practice.

During discussion, questions concerning desire and goal-oriented behavior were raised. Docho-san used the analogy of a map and a mountain to address these points. Our desires and goals are “maps” that should give us direction in our trip up the mountain. Maps shouldn’t be our primary focus, nor should we spend our lives attaining and comparing maps, otherwise we’ll never make it up the mountain. However, we do need to plan ahead. Preparing for this Rinko, for example, or the Tenso planning and prepping for tomorrow’s meal, are necessary goal-oriented behaviors, but they should be carried out within a mindfulness of the present moment. But we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get lost in the planning...

...Just a simple Rinko prepped and presented at Antaiji. One tiny step.

I hope these efforts are helpful in clearing my own delusion as well as that of others. Comments are welcome.


Jordan said...

I wonder if there is a way to get the Shobogenzo-zuimonki mass reproduced for free distribution? I think that would be pretty cool to get this particular text out there into the general population.

Thanks for your efforts!

Happi said...

That would be wonderful wouldn't it?! Though the means are beyond me personally, I certainly can mention it. For the time being, at least its available online. ...Thanks for stopping by!