Here are some pictures of the sutra tracing and copying practice (shakyo 写経) that we will be working from in our practice group. These are from the short sutra Boundless Life Ten Line Kannon Sutra.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth patriarch tells the story – and it is a story, it didn’t actually happen – of the contest to the succesion of the fifth patriarch, Hongren. He asked his followers to write a poem to demonstrate their understanding. His senior disciple, Shexiu was the only monk who wrote a poem, which was as follows:
The body is the bodhi tree
the mind the bright mirrors stand
always polish attentively
to prevent dust from settling.
This was famously countered by an illiterate labourer staying in the monastery, Huineng, who responded:
Bodhi originally has no tree
the mirror has no stand
the buddha nature is always clear and pure
where is there room for dust?
In this video the meaning of the first line of Shexiu’s poem is explored.
More on the mind verses competition can be found here:
further references on the mind verses competition can be found here:
A practitioner’s perspective, on and off the zafu – One
When I started sitting with the group the suggestion was to wear something dark and loose to allow for flexibility and minimise distraction.
My first stage of experience with Zen was dominated by a preoccupation with finding the right trousers. Somewhere there was a pair of trousers credible enough to wear to the office and stretchy enough to help me navigate zazen (sitting meditation).
This continued as an undercurrent. Although I had a sense that the sitting I was doing was worthwhile, I gathered aiming to get results was not quite the point so put much of my effort into sourcing the right trousers.
By now I was accumulating a fair number of stretchy black trousers and began to feel optimistic about integrating my work and sitting needs via my wardrobe. Then I cracked it and found a pair which had it all – accommodating but not baggy, pockets, the works.
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
In his essay Genjōkōan, written in 1233 for a lay practitioner, Dogen makes this instructive statement about the nature of enlightenment:
“To carry the self forward and illuminate myriad things is delusion, that myriad things come forth and illuminate the self is awakening”
In this short video the meaning of this phrase is illuminated by discussing the various meanings of ‘self’.
For More on Dogen’s Work Genjo-Koan, see this link below:
Earns his living
Video adapted from kusen given on may 12th 2020.
A monk asked Tôzan, “what is Buddha”? Tôzan replied “three pounds of Flax”
This video teaching is adapted from kusen given on 9th May 2020
For some references to the gateless gate see the following post:
The Odaimoku お題目 chant – repeating the title of the Lotus Sutra Namumyohourengekyou 南無妙法蓮華経 – is principally associated with the Nichiren-shu school but was originally part of a Tendai chant, the school in which Dogen Zenji grew up with.
Here I am walking in a quiet Glasgow park whilst chanting, at a fairly slow pace so I’m not too much out of breath! We have been chanting it in our Chanting Group recently online.
The Boundless Life Ten Line Kannon Sutra is chanted at various times such as by monks at Takuhatsu ritual begging while they walk in all weathers. It has a lot of energy and you can try it walking, or running slowly.