Lesson
16

Genjo Koan in always in front of you

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Finding the place where you are: Genjo Koan

The term Genjo Koan — actualizing the fundamental point —only appears twice in the Genjo Koan.

Genjo Koan in always in front of you

Reflect on how Dogen's teachings in Genjo Koan relate to your practice; to zazen and practice.

Genjo Koan is, to a large extent, a kind of song — an expression of confidence and faith. It’s not an expression of confidence and faith that you can grab on to. It’s something that’s beyond that. When you are engaged with everything, then everything is a practice.

Dogen is talking about an attitude receptivity and activity in each moment. It’s about participating with things in a real way. It’s not about “If only I had this set of conditions I could practice” or “If only this were happening things would be really good.” Setting up conditions can certainly be useful — not because the conditions are useful, but rather because we’re clarifying our minds and opening to meeting things.

The Genjo Koan is always before you. It's always, "Aha!" And can you meet it?


 


Only Buddha and Buddha

Another fascicle of Dogen's Shonbogenzo, "Only Buddha and Buddha" (Yuibutsu yobutsu), has many of the same elements — birds and fishes, time and ash, the seasons... — as the Genjo Koan. If you found the Genjo Koan engaging, reading "Only Buddha and Buddha" may help you understand what Dogen is after.

When you realize buddha-dharma, you do not think, "This is realization just as I expected.". Even if you think so, realization invariably differs from your expectation. Realization is not like your conception of it.

There's a section that completes some of the ideas introduced in Genjo Koan:

Both Genjo Koan and Only Buddha and Buddha are found in Moon in the Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi.

Click to purchase.

Michael Wenger is Dean of Studies of San Farncisco Zen Center:

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