Lesson
14

Why, then, do you fan yourself?

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The last section is a koan.The Genjo Koan ends with a koan.

Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then, do you fan yourself?"

" Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

" What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.

The actualization of the buddha-dharma, the vital path of its correct transmission, is like this.

If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind. The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings for the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.

Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then, do you fan yourself?"


Do you find this annoying? Are you wondering, "Why is he bothering with this?"

How does the world work?

"Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

You know we may understand some principles; but the principles are all inter-reacting with each other So fanning relates to the movement, it relates to the person, it relates to the environment.

"What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself.

Hah- how annoying!

The monk bowed deeply.


If we’re always present in the moment, why do we have to practice? Why do we have to be present if we’re already always present?

Presence needs your effort. To be present in the moment includes effort, it includes your inquiring mind. To think that you’re present just because you’re present is a mistake. This lacks the element of actual engagement.

The actualization of the buddha-dharma

...the vital path of its correct transmission, is like this. If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind

You’re just a smart guy. But one without wind.

The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings for the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.

Dogen’s personal question is “If we’re already enlightened why do we need to practice?” Which is the basis of this koan. But his answer to is: Because we’re enlightened we need to practice. We don’t need to practice in order to be enlightened. The very nature of enlightenment has engagement, effort, actualization.

We think of ourselves as dead beings, as inanimate matter. But it takes our life to bring it forth. Buddhism isn’t dead pages and dead words and dead ideas. Our Buddha nature is something alive, that needs to be nourished and actualized. Something to be fanned.

Is this koan the Genjo Koan in a nutshell?

Genjo Koan is how to practice with each situation

It's not that Buddha nature doesn't exist, but Buddha nature includes your effort.
You accept the responsibility of the wind, rather thinking, ”It’s just wind – I have no responsibilty. It's got nothing to do with me “ That’s a different understanding of me. That’s the absence of me which is as much me as “Me!”

The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings for the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.

The gold of the earth; fragrant cream of the long river... Reflect on these images. Is Dogen telling us that practice (the wind of the Buddha's House) is in harmony with Buddha mind (the permanent wind of the universe)?


Is fanning in this koan action? Is it practice?

Fanning is action; it's practice. There’s wind.

Because you have buddha nature actualization happens.