References: Kusen 284 Dogen’s Dharma Hall Discourse number 24

Not Attaining, Not Knowing . Dharma Hall Discourse Here is a story. [Tianhuang] Daowu asked Shitou, “What is the essential meaning of Buddha Dharma?” Shitou said, “Not attaining, not knowing.” Daowu said, “Beyond that, is there any other pivotal point or not?” Shitou said, “The wide sky does not obstruct the white clouds drifting.” Not attaining, not knowing is Buddha’s essential meaning. The wind blows into the depths, and further winds blow. The wide sky does not obstruct the white clouds drifting. At this time, why do you take the trouble to ask Shitou? Blue Mountains Walking; Giving Birth at Night . Dharma Hall Discourse Deeply see the blue mountains constantly walking.


References: Kusen 280. The expression of the water

Sansui Kyo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchIn this book, Dōgen equates mountains and waters with the Buddha’s body and speech

Sansui kyō (Japanese: 山水經), rendered in English as Mountains and Waters Sutra, is a book of the Shōbōgenzō by the 13th century Sōtō Zen monk Eihei Dōgen. It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful of all of the 95 books of the Shōbōgenzō according to Stanford University professor Carl Bielefeldt. The text was written in the fall of 1240 at Dōgen’s monastery


References: The Gateless Gate, Case 18


 Tung-shan’s Three Pounds of Flax 


 A monk asked Tung-shan, “What is Buddha?” Tung-shan said, “Three pounds of flax.


Old Man Tung-shan attained something of clam-Zen. He opened the two halves of his shell a bit and exposed his liver and intestines. Be that as it may, tell me: where do you see Tung-shan? 


References: Kusen 277

Artwork by Margaret Kerr
Artwork by Margaret Kerr

A parable in the Lotus Sutra describes a man whose house catches on fire while his children are inside, absorbed in their games. In order to lure his children out of the burning house, the father tells them there is a wonderful white cow outside.

A monk asked, “The white cow outside-what is it like?”

Joshu said, “Under the moonlight there is no need for color.” The monk asked, “That cow-what does it feed on?” Joshu said, “It never bites at anything.”
The monk said, “Master, please answer.”
Joshu said, “It is only proper that I should be like this.


References: Kusen 276. Mind verses Competition

Question: “If one becomes [a Tathgata] without transformation and in one’s own body, how could it be called difficult?” Answer: “Willfully activating the mind is easy; extinguishing the mind is difficult. It is easy to affirm the body, but difficult to negate it. It is easy to act, but difficult to be without action. Therefore, understand that the mysterious achievement is difficult to attain, it is difficult to gain union with the Wondrous Principle. Motionless is the True, which the three [lesser vehicles] only rarely attain.”[?] At this Conditionality gave a long sigh, his voice filling the ten directions. Suddenly, soundlessly, he experienced a great expansive enlightenment.


References: Book of Serenity, Case 47

Case 47:  Zhaozhou’s “Cypress Tree” 


The cypress tree in the yard, the wind-blown flag on the pole–it’s like one flower bespeaking a boundless spring, like one drop telling of the water of the ocean. The ancient Buddhas, born periodically, go far beyond the ordinary current, not falling into words and thought. How can you understand verbally? 


 A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Chan Buddhism?  Zhaozhou said, “The cypress tree in the yard.”


References: 274 The Heart of the Heart Sutra

The 2nd Chapter of Shobogenzo: Maka-Hannya-Haramitsu (Maha-Prajna-Paramita)

Lecture (1)

Rev. Shohaku Okumura

Director, Soto Zen Buddhism International Center

(This article is rewritten based on my lecture at Clouds in Water Zen Center, Minnesota in 2004, transcribed and edited by Rev. Charlie Korin Pokorny. Rev. Kando Dorsey edited the revised version.)

About the text of Shobogenzo “Maka-Hannya- Haramitsu”

This is the second chapter of the 75 chapter Shobogenzo.


References: The Blue Cliff Record, Case 53

Pai Chang’s Wild Ducks


The whole world does not hide it-his entire capacity stands alone revealed. He encounters situations without getting stuck-with every move he has the ability to assert himself. In his phrases there’s no partiality-everywhere he has the intention to kill people. But say, in the end, where do the Ancients go to rest? To test I’m citing this old case: look!



References: The Gateless Gate, Case 2

Pai Chang (Hyakujo) and the Fox

Artwork of Fox in Spring by Laura Naismith


Once when Pai-chang gave a series of talks, a certain old man was always there listening together with the monks. When they left, he would leave too. One day, however, he remained behind. Pai-chang asked him, “Who are you, standing here before me?”

The old man replied, “I am not a human being. In the far distant past, in the time of Kāśyapa Buddha, I was head priest at this mountain. One day a monk asked me, ‘Does an enlightened person fall under the law of cause and effect or not?’ I replied, ‘Such a person does not fall under the law of cause and effect.’ With this I was reborn five hundred times as a fox. Please say a turning word for me and release me from the body of a fox.”


References: Kusen 273

‘It is not entirely without reason that Zen Buddhism is known as the Meditation School. Visitors to the modern Zen monastery, even if they are prepared to find meditation there, cannot but be struck by the extent to which the practice dominates the routine. The novice monk spends his first days almost entirely within the meditation hall, and, although he is expected during this period to learn some rudimentary features of clerical decorum, it is primarily his willingness to submit to the discipline of long hours of meditation in the cross-legged posture that will determine his admission into the community.’