Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shobogenzo Ch21: Kankin - Reading and Experiencing Sutras

A sutra is all the different threads of life coming together to create the present moment of "me". Another sutra is all the different threads of life coming together to create the present moment of "you". Each is unique in its perspective, each expresses its own truth, and yet each shares the same awareness. 

The above is also true for the written works traditionally referred to as sutras. All the different threads of life came together to inspire someone to write them. To read, recite and experience them. In each distinct instance -- in writing, reading, and experiencing -- they express truths about life.

All the sutras in the universe are teaching the same lesson through different lenses. All the sutras are pointing to the same thing: 

Just this. Life in the present moment. 

And life in the present moment can include reading a sutra. Reading a sutra is as much of an action as sitting is. 

Some people will say that the Buddha's truth can't be transmitted by reading sutras. Those people are probably thinking of “reading” as intellectual processing the way one might process material in a textbook. But in Kankin Dogen presents as many perspectives on "reading" and "sutras" as he does on "time" in Uji. In fact, the kanji he choose for the word reading in the title of this chapter can also mean seeing, which can also mean sensing and experiencing.

Why does anyone read the Shobogenzo, sutras or other Buddhist writings? 

Something about what the Buddha taught awakens a sense of curiosity which resonates and is compelling. I think it’s up to each person to figure out what the source of that resonance is. Good friends and teachers help. As I’ve kept on reading what “reading a sutra” might mean has come to include everything in the universe, including zazen.


Haiku for Kankin:

Trees, rocks, fields and space
Being totally themselves
Transmit the sutras.

Sutras always being held,
Always being read.