Genjo Koan continued
===== Awakening the Archive - Tape #11, by Shundo David Haye =====
In the spring of 1966, having previously spent a number of years primarily lecturing on the Blue Cliff Record, Suzuki Roshi gave a series of talks on Dogen's Genjo Koan (an edited compilation of his teaching on this piece, including later talks given in the first practice period at Tassajara, was published in "Dogen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries").
In an interview on with David Chadwick, (http://www.cuke.com/Cucumber%20Project/interviews/tanahashi.html), Kaz Tanahashi recalls suggesting to Suzuki Roshi that, rather than the koan cases, he should teach the "best" that Japanese Zen had to offer. Kaz and Robert Aitken produced a translation of the Genjo Koan in 1965, which Suzuki Roshi used in this series of talks. While we can hear echoes of Dogen in talks that were taped during 1965, the following year, Suzuki Roshi was teaching this profound work directly.
No record of this particular piece of audio, or any kind of transcript of it, existed before the recent work on the archive, so now we have an eighth talk to add to the existing seven in this series, which appear to have been given between March and August 1966, though due to the unreliability of the labeling of the tapes at that time, it is not certain that the dates the talks have been given are completely accurate. If they are, Suzuki Roshi deals with the different paragraphs of the text out of sequence. There is also the problem that this is another tape where the audio is badly compromised, so some parts are unintelligible.
The box for this talk is dated 3/13/1966, though as can be seen in the photographs, the reel itself and the box have different historical label numbers - SR002 and SR008 - so even this date is doubtful. Since he begins by saying, "I want to continue the lecture about Dogen Zenji's Genjo Koan," we can assume it is not the first talk in the series. In the other talk on the Genjo Koan contained on this same reel (https://suzukiroshi.engagewisdom.com/talks/genjō-kōan-1–3a)
he says near the beginning, "And we have finished the first paragraph, anyway," so that talk was given after this one, where he also states "The first paragraph is very important, so I want to spend two or three lectures -- I want to discuss the point of this particular paragraph." Perhaps an introductory talk in this series may yet appear - or maybe this talk (https://suzukiroshi.engagewisdom.com/talks/sesshin-lecture-genjo-koan-pa...–2) came first, even though it is dated as being from May (you can click on the "genjo koan" keyword on the page to see other lectures where he talked about this text).
With all that said, we can appreciate the wisdom that Suzuki Roshi brings to interpreting Dogen’s masterful work for his audience. In this talk he goes into great, and perhaps bewildering, detail about Tendai's three views of existence (Dogen initially trained as a Tendai monk), as a key to understanding the Genjo Koan - being able to hold views of existence and non-existence at the same time without sticking to either. He is preparing his listeners for a profound shift in their ways of thinking, as Dogen's provocative and unsettling use of language demands: "If you listen to my lecture and understand what he means by ignorance, maybe you will deepen -- you will make your values different. You will put some new ideas into your framework." (3:14)
Simply sticking to the conventional view that everything exists will not do - this is naiveté. Nor will dwelling in the view that because things don't exist forever nothing really exists - this is nihilism. We have to break through both of these to the third "superior" view:
"So here we have the teaching of "form is not permanent", and -- in context to the view of non-existence, "don't be discouraged," we have to say, we have to encourage them -- "don't be discouraged, that everything changes, that actually what you see does not exist. But in that smallest particle of time it really, actually exists, so don't be discouraged." (22:38)
As often happens, perhaps sensing his students getting lost in what he is saying about "double negation," or caught up in conceptualization, Suzuki Roshi offers some incentive:
"Through this process of thinking -- we are just discussing, just thinking [laughs] -- through this discussion you will realize what is your life, and you will have thorough understanding of -- and you set up the perfect understanding of this life." (32:39)
I want to continue the lecture about Dogen Zenji's Genjo Koan. It is almost impossible to translate this part into English. I'm not so interested in translating ?? Buddhist thoughts. It is so difficult. But this translation may not be perfect - pretty good I think - so I want to use this. As he himself says, this is not perfect, and the word -- the words he used is not as good. But he want you to find some new meaning in your language, through study of Shobogenzo, so you yourself put some new meaning to those words he uses in his translation. For instance, he says ignorance, but ignorance is not accurate. But he -- what he meant is partly ?? partly good (?) ?? not like you. But his -- Dogen Zenji's way of life is so simple and very essential, so he put tremendous meaning in one short word. So we actually -- we need to have some technique (?) to -- so instead of the technical terms ?? he would use these words 'ignorance' ?? that would make sense, but if you listen to my lecture and understand what he means by ignorance, maybe you will deepen -- you will make your values different. You will put some new ideas into your framework. This is what I want you to study, and I want you to repress your language by Buddhist -- by study of Buddhism.
The first paragraph is very important, so I want to spend two or three lectures -- I want to discuss the point of this particular paragraph: "When all things are Buddhist phenomena, we have enlightenment and ignorance; studies, birth and death; Buddhas and people. When all things are without self, we have no ignorance, no enlighentment; no Buddha, no people; no life, and no death. The Buddhist way is beyond being and non-being, therefore we have life and death; ignorance and enlightenment; people and Buddhas. However, flowers fall with our attachment and weeds grow with our detachment"
The first statement is "When all things are Buddhist phenomena, we have enlightenment and ignorance; studies, birth and death; Buddhas and people." This is -- this statement is -- in Tendai school, this statement is called the view of existence. "And when all things are without self, we have no ignorance, no enlighentment; no Buddhas, no people; no life and death." This statement is so-called it view of non-existence, according to Tendai. And the next statement, "The Buddhist way is beyond being and non-being, therefore we have life and death; ignorance and enlightenment; people and Buddhas." And this statement is, according to Tendai, past superior aspect, beyond non-existence and existence. So we call it superior aspect. And last statement, "However, flowers fall with our attachment and weeds grow with our detachment," this is how we apply those three statements in their actual meaning (?)
I want to explain Tendai's three important aspects. According to Tendai, our aspects -- our view of life may be put into three categories. Most people have just two categories. Third one is Buddhist category. And one (?), existence and non-existence -- usual view of existence and non-existence. The first view -- according to the first view of life, we exist here, flowers exist, and everything exists - everything we see exists. This is view of existence. But if you think more, and don't know whether everything we see exists in that way -- so from when we don't think, or when we -- our understanding is not deep enough, we may accept that view of existence. But if you think more, you will find out contradiction in your view of life, because everything is changing. If everything changes, we don't know whether things we see exist as it is forever changes. So as long as it changes, it doesn't exist in that way as you think. So, this view is called view of non-existence. Nothing exists - this is the second view. While we have two categories is -- for Buddhists we have some reason why we have views like this, but for non-Buddhists it is quite natural (?) for Zen to have those two views of life. One is quite naive, primitive view of life, the second one is more advanced view of life - more considered, and more deeper view of life.
When -- but there's no reason why you should this kind of -- two kinds of view of life. For Buddhists there is some view. Because it is necessary -- for Buddhists it is necessary to have those two views of life. So before you understand what is Buddhism, it is necessary for you to have some deeper understanding, actual understanding of the two views -- two views of life. Because if you have the accurate understanding of one and the second view, you will have the superior view, which is the third view. Before you had accurate understanding about the second -- the first and second view, you cannot understand the third view.
And when you understand the first view and the second view, you will understand that both is necessary. One is not good. And both categories are contradictory, it's stupid (?) Here it is necessary to have the third view, which is superior view. It is not difficult to understand the first view, because even though it is not perfect, everyone observes things in that way. When you see the flower, you think as if it exists in that way, forever, that -- at least this is the feeling you have when you see the flower. It is true, but when you think "it is true" -- when you just think "but not always", then according to the second view, although we think it is -- it lasts forever, but actually it is true . So what we see is not act-- real flower. It is reality, real flower, small part of the flower (?). So it doesn't exist in that way. So here you have contradiction. We want things to exist to exist forever. At least you feel in that way. But you cannot accept the flower. As Dogen Zenji says, 'Flower falls when -- with attachment.' [Laughs] Although you attach to that, or you go to attach to it, the flower will live forever (?) The moment you attach to it, the flower is eroded (?) actually, and you feel sad. But -- and if you do not like something, it will live [laughs], because of your detachment. When you do not like something -- if you do not take it ?? punish immediately ?? Because you [laughs] do not like it, it lasts in your mind for ever like that [laughter]. This is a kind of absurdity of ??? contradiction. But this is the contradiction, we have to accept it. We have to accept this contradiction as long as we live. So how to accept this contradiction is the third, superior view.
Why we have -- corresponding idea or teaching to the view of existence is teaching of forms. Forms is not permanent. But unfortunately this view is the conventional view for human beings. But actually -- but we have to, we are very sorry to say, but you see it is not permanent. Form or color is ?? So here we have the teaching of Buddha of third [laughs] The form is not permanent, color is not permanent. And we are not immortal. So here we have the teaching of "form is not permanent", and -- in context to the view of non-existence, "don't be discouraged," we have to say, we have to encourage them -- "don't be discouraged, that everything changes, that actually what you see does not exist. But in that smallest particle of time it really, actually exists, so don't be discouraged."
So we have to have guard (?) against sorrow. Sometimes we say "don't be discouraged," and sometimes we say "don't be fooled (?) to behave, don't be too hard (?), don't be too attached to something. Don't rely on something." So we deprecate (?) something. This is actually the third view. So we -- here we have the thought to break the view of existence, and to establish the teaching of --- the third view. And to break -- when you break the view of existence there we have the third view. When we set up the view of non-existence, there we have the third view too. To break the understanding -- the view of -- the commonplace view of existence is to have deeper understanding of the first view, which is view of existence.
If you do not deny the view of existence, you cannot have proper, thorough understanding of the first view. Before you deny it, your view is just naive view. When you deny it, although I say it is not perfect, when you accept the imperfections of the first view, it means you have already the deeper understanding of the first view. When you deny the second view, which tells you everything does not exist, then you will see the view from -- view of ?? Although we deny the existence of -- existence which we see as ?? it does not mean we do not exist. Form or color [laughs] ?? is just after you, which is Jane (?). Actually something exists. So by denying the first view, you will get -- you will be relieved from the view of confusion (?) So to -- this negation means to have more deeper understanding of your own view. So actually if you have deeper understanding of the first and second view, there is actually no need to set up the third view [laughs].
But in Tendai school, anyway, they set up the third view, which is the -- which is supposed to be the superior understanding. So the third view has -- is ??. By one side - by one ?? it will deny the negation which, the one which is the other is to break the preview -- view of -- activity and existence. So they call it double or no -- double negation of existence and non-existence -- double function of here ?? the other side ??. And existence -- view of existence and view of non-existence here is the side -- shadow side. And the other side the view of existence and view of non-existence. And double negation, so we -- hmm, not double negation we -- on one side a part, we accept the one second view, existence and non-existence view. And the other side, we deny -- negate -- aspect of existence and aspect of non-existence. Here we put the other side to it, and on this side we accept, on the other side we negate -- negative and positive attitudes towards the first and second view. This is the third view.
Through this process of thinking -- we are just discussing, just thinking [laughs] -- through this discussion you will realize what is your life, and you will have thorough understanding of -- and you set up the perfect understanding of this life. Being free from thinking ?? When thinking, it is impossible to accept or negate this contradiction. But in reality is so [laughs]. In thinking it is not so [laughs]. If I talk in this way, you will say "he is crazy [laughs]. He says that is not true yesterday, today yes that is true [laughs]. He is crazy. What, all of us should be crazy [laughter] No wonder people treat us -- call us -- they call Buddhists crazy people." I don't know which is crazy [laughs]. I don't know whether you are thinking, but if you explain it, they have to accept it [laughs]. They will join crazy people. This is the third aspect.
So those three teachings in Tendai school here brought something new, concerning to the understand-- way of treating the teaching. Our teaching -- usually people arrange teaching according to some -- according to circumstances, or according to the nature of people, like medicine. For them, this medicine is good ??; for you as you ?? [laughs] this medicine will be better. In this way, Buddha taught us various teachings. That was out of his mercy and kindness. But that kindness -- if you rely on this kindness, and this medicine for everyone. This medicine is the most effective medicine, and this medicine could be -- that medicine may be poison for someone. So the teaching which was told already by someone is not perfect.
So it is quite natural to say this teaching is for the people who have -- who is -- stick to the first view; this teaching is not for the people who stick to the second view, without knowing the purpose of the medicine. The purpose of the medicine is to release the short disavantage of the medicine, and to give some help to the patient, to the people who have ?? view. So -- but it does not mean that medicine is almighty medicine. It means we should not stick to the teaching which was told by him, but we should know the purpose of the medicine. To know the purpose -- what is purpose of the medicine is more important than to rely on just some teaching taught -- already taught or already prepared by some special person. It will give you some idea, but we should not stick to it. But unfortunately we make this kind of mistake always.
Tendai school says the Lotus Sutra is the best sutra. And Pure Land School says the three of their scripture is the best teaching told by Buddha. And for the Shingon School there is Diamond Sutra which is the supreme teaching [laughs]. This is very dangerous, I think. So, we -- that is why we have those three viewpoints: first, second and third. If you put various teaching in those three categories and treat the teachings as maybe (?) -- as Buddhists do, you will have proper understanding of each. Without having this kind of viewpoints, if you are not prepared for those three categories, you will be caught by -- you will lose your freedom in your religious ?? But if you have this categories, even in your intellectual understanding, you will caught by some particular teaching. And you will find out proper meaning of each sutra and each teaching. This is why we have talked through viewpoints, viewpoints.
But the conclusion is anyway, 'flowers -- however, flowers fall with our attachment and weeds grow with our detachment.' [laughs] This is conclusion. But you -- for a beginner this is not good news this is bad news, telling this kind of thing (?)
And after ?? and Buddha said without ?? So he says ?? ?? and flowers are ?? This is -- I think we have to make one mistake. But that we -- in this realm we went through all the view of -- views of life and in this realm, through this understanding, we will -- he is going to explain what is enlightenment and what is correlation to ignorance: "That we move ourselves and understand all things is ignorance.""That we move ourselves and understand all things is ignorance." ??
In the realm of this understanding, in the realm of the world which exists in this way -- in that way, we sometimes try to understand something -- sometimes try something. If we know already we move. But sometimes we try to enjoy ourselves by studying. If you know everything ?? [laughs] so you will ?? know everything [laughs] So we try ??? when we try to forget all about what I studied now.
If you have this kind of perfect understanding of our life, there is no joy in our life [laughs]. So if you forget for a while all what I -- we studied, and start to study again something new, feeling something new [laughs] completely new, after forgetting all about what I think of it, that is ignorance. Actually that is ignorance. Buddhism isn't something new. Buddhism is the teaching which everyone should know -- everyone knows before you study, and everyone should accept. But if I say you should not -- you should not be ignorant ?? So -- but if you forget all about it, you accept the teaching that the flower fade out with concepts which you have forgotten, and you -- when you have some feeling in this way ?? you will start -- you will be -- you will start to be interested in doing something. That is powerful (?) -- that is a delusion. But we have to enjoy ?? . We have to teach something, mentally, physically (?) - that is delusion. Is it delusion? [laughs] Or enlightenment? Which? [laughs]
You have to decide for yourself. Which is enlightenment? Which is delusion? To have complete -- to set up complete view of life -- to set up, to understand, to have complete understanding of our view of life is to start to be interested in something, feeling this is quite good. It must be delusion. If, to feel some fresh feeling in your life is enlightenment, to have perfect understanding of human life is delusion (?)
We cannot say which is delusion, which is enlightenment ?? [laughs] Do you know which is which? Which is good, which is poor(?)? What is Zen? It is very hard to touch or feel sometimes -- words (?) ???? ????? it is impossible to catch the fish ?? [laughter] We don't know what to do in Zen [laughter] We don't like it. It maybe better to go away [laughs] ?? But here, there is true meaning [laughs] Then he says, "That things advance and understand themselves is enlightenment." So things are always developing themselves and understanding manifests itself and understand themselves -- by themselves, for themselves. That is enlightenment.
???? There is no idea of self. "It is Buddha who understands answer (?). Buddha understands ??" That is Buddha, that is ?? To know -- to know the first and second statement is ??? "It is people who are ignorant of enlightenment." It is people who are ignorant, Dogen says (?). It is people who have fallacious view of enlightenment. So Buddha -- Buddha is someone who understand our life which ???? And it is people who have fallacious view of enlightenment, although we have -- we are enlightened, but in the -- without knowing it, we attach to ??? ???? something ??? ??? So Buddha and people are good friends. When you tell some story to the students, the students knew the story you are going to tell them, you will be discouraged -- people -- students. So for the students it is better not to know what he is going to talk. And for the Buddha it is better, I think, if the student does not know the talk which he is going to talk. So Buddha and people are good friends -- should be good friends. Here in this building there's ?? This is ??