Hokke Ten Hokke: Dharma Flower Turns Dharma Flower
This essay contains selected notes on Shohaku Okumura’s commentary at GGF August 2015, but the gems of his commentary, for me, are the following ten statements.
- · We practice as bodhisattvas not to become Buddha but to stay in the world as Buddha. To become a Buddha is not the goal, but the starting point.
- · Our practice IS the Buddha (interesting! Buddha is a verb)
- · Bodhisattvas are the 5 skandas. [my note: we tend to think of them as disembodied, magical beings.] We are bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas are ordinary beings and work through embodied interconnection.
- · Prajnaparamita is the five skandas. (We were amazed!)
- · Buddha’s “desire” (see paragraph 2) – “Desire” as sickness or malady. Buddha appears in Lotus Sutra because he wants all beings to know reality – to practice. Bodhisattvas have this desire and have to practice. Keep making VOW to walk to Buddhahood with all beings.
- · Freedom (from identification) from skandas is liberation. Skandas themselves are suffering. We are free from suffering when we see the skandas as empty. (first line of heart sutra.) Dogen: “dropping body and mind” is dropping the 5 skandas.
- · Dogen’s practice is not to stop thinking,. Thoughts are who we are. Thinking and not thinking are both there. This is why Dogen is unique. Only one to say you don’t have to stop thinking, just let go.
- · Dogen: taught everyday mind. (not some special mind.) Don’t [need] supernatural world. Dogen talked about the phenomenal world, nothing beyond this world and its emptiness.
- · Practicing in delusion (ours) is bodhisattva practice. (Not some pure bodhisattva practicing in someone else’s delusion!)
- · For Dogen, doesn’t matter if the mind is agitated. How we relate to others is what matters. Our mind becomes distorted when not relating well. When relations are good, our mind calms.
Hokke Ten Hokke is a unique fascicle: written as a letter to his student Etatsu on the occasion of his ordination. Dogen wrote the fascicle in both Chinese and Japanese, making translation more difficult.
comments re Mahayana (condensed):
That the Buddha practiced as a bodhisattva is the gem of the creation of the Mahayana.
There are two sets of buddha’s teaching: Do good and do not do evil; otherwise, a person could go to heaven or hell. (practice offerings, etc) The second set of teachings was to go beyond good and evil: beyond discriminatory mind and enter nirvana. Going beyond means no clinging to good deeds or afflictive emotions (like anger). Mahayana combined both sets of teachings.
Central tenet of Mahayana: samsara and nirvana are one. Prajna paramita sutras were the insight of emptiness. Basic goal is to become a buddha and stay in samsara AS A BUDDHA.
Not crossing over [from one plane of existence to another] results in samsara and nirvana being one. With this attitude itself, we discover nirvana (in the middle of samsaric world)
Dogen and the Lotus Sutra
Dogen became a monk in the Tendai tradition, and its main text was the Lotus Sutra [LS]
Buddha’s first statement in chapter two of the Lotus Sutra: Sho ho ji so: all dharma beings are true reality.
All people have a unique expression of Buddha’s life. Each one of us expresses the dharma.
Body and sound are one thing. Dogen’s realization: no separation subject and object. Everything (sentient and insentient) expresses the dharma when our eyes and ears are open. Those who hear the dharma are rare.
Main topic of LS chapter 2– 13: prediction that all bodhisattvas will become a buddha. Bodhisattvas will not enter nirvana, but stay in samsara.
To become a Buddha is not the goal, but the starting point.
Chapter 15 of the Lotus Sutra: buddha’s infinite lifetime
Nirmanakaya: Buddha’s human body and lifetime
Dharmakaya: Buddha’s teaching
Buddha: if you see dharma, you see me
BUDDHA IS YOUR PRACTICE. Must study and practice. Dharma body is always present, manifests when you practice
Commentary on Hokke Ten Hokke – Dharma Flower Turns Dharma Flower
( paragraph 1)
“Within the buddha lands in the ten directions” [direct quote from Lotus Sutra] is “only being” of the dharma flower.
Dharma flower is the flower of emptiness and refers to the Lotus Sutra. A lotus grows in muddy water. (symbol of samsara and nirvana)
“ten directions” everything, everywhere. Where you are.
All beings are turned by dharma flowers and turning dharma flowers.
Reality and awakening are within the same One Vehicle
“Within these buddha lands are “original practices within the bodhisattva path” [quote from Lotus Sutra] without backsliding or deviating [we cannot go backward], the wisdom of the buddhas that is extremely profound and beyond measurement and peaceful and calm samadhi that is difficult to understand and enter.” [the entire universe is in samadhi and cannot be observed. There is no way to know the dharma, because there is no separation into subject and object]
Practice for a bodhisattva: not to cling to change/impermanence. Shohaku: bodhisattvas are the 5 skandas. [my note: we tend to think of them as disembodied, magical beings. We are bodhisattvas.
Paragraph (2) Hokke Ten Hokke
This [Buddha’s Appearance ch 15 of LS] is nothing other than the one time he desires to “open” and “display [the Buddha’s insight] and “enable living beings” to “realize” and “enter” saying “I and the Buddhas in the ten directions are able to know this matter.” [Quotes are from LS]
LS says only Buddha can fathom reality. Dogen: ALL BEINGS. The entire universe is in samadhi.
Buddha’s “desire” Desire as sickness or malady. Buddha appears in LS because he wants all beings to know reality – to practice. Bodhisattvas have this desire and have to practice. Keep making VOW to walk to Buddhahood with all beings.
To find our own, unique activity is to share the dharma.
Paragrah: Dialogue between Huineng and Fada
Dharma in LS and Zen tradition are in the One Vehicle. It appeared in the world; “indeed it has appeared right here..” The dharma is right here, right now, in your life, not in some distant buddha land.
“Lifespan of Tathagatha” one seamless moment. Reality in seamless time and space.
“bestowing of the prediction.” In LS, Buddha’s prediction was that all beings will be Buddha. In Dogen, not about the future. Not in time. The actualized self is the prediction itself.
You must now believe that the Buddha’s insight is nothing other than your own mind.”
Shohaku spent time talking about mind:
Senika teaching: atman (essential self) is pure and unchanging and undefiled. Must do ascetic practices to mortify body to realize the atman. Buddha did these practices. This is a non-Buddhist idea. (a permanent, unchanging essence}
Senika influenced Huineng (6th ancestor) (Nanyo Echu] whose lineage led to Southern school and sudden realization. (Rinzai) (The philosophy changed through the generations.)
Buddha taught anatman - no self. There are 5 skandas and nothing else.
When asked “what is buddha-nature?” Shohaku said “I don’t know.” Idea of buddha- nature appeared with Nagarjuna.
“Mind itself is Buddha” was not in Indian Buddhism, but Chinese Chan, crafted by Baso
150-250 ad: Madyamika appeared. Idea of tathagarbatha. Womb nature, tiny golden buddha within a person. Not “the owner of the skandas as with the atman idea.” This idea needed to show a person could become a buddha. There must be the possibility of Buddhahood.
Dogen: mind is grass, trees, tiles and pebbles. See Dogen fascicle: Mind Itself is Buddha
Our mind is all dharmas, the reality of all being. Not beyond the phenomenal world.
For buddha, the 5 skandas are Mara. Buddha did not conquer mara, but lived with her/him. We identify with the 5 skandas, and this is the cause of suffering. We identify with the “I” of suffering, but no one is actually suffering.
Freedom (from identification) from skandas is liberation. Skandas themselves are suffering. We are free from suffering when we see the skandas as empty. (first line of heart sutra.) Dogen: “dropping body and mind” is dropping the 5 skandas.
Everything: prajna paramita, bodhisattvas, us are the 5 skandas.
Southern school: only sentient beings can have buddha-nature. Dogen, not so. This highly debated point and separated northern and southern schools.
Dogen: insentient beings can expound the dharma: pebbles, rocks, tiles, a stream.
See Dogen fascicle: Mountain Streams Chant Hearing with eyes. Subject and object one, unmediated.
Dogen’s practice is not to stop thinking,. Thoughts are who we are. Thinking and not thinking are both there. This is why Dogen is unique. Only one to say you don’t have to stop thinking, just let go.
Yakusan – Tozan – of northern school mixed with southern school teachings – intertwined like fibers of a rope. Can find idea of original mind or face in both. He did not reject Baso.
Dogen: everyday mind. Ordinary world. Don’t [need] supernatural world. Bodhisattvas are ordinary beings and work through embodied interconnection.
Dogen talked about the phenomenal world, nothing beyond this world and its emptiness.
“You should know that all beings without exception are rare treasures.”
Relates to famous story of son who ran away and becomes impoverished. His father the king is wealthy, and when his son returns, he puts him to work in the cowshed, because the son was not ready for the knowledge that he was the king’s son. After the son gradually learns to manage the kingdom, the king reveals to the son who he really is and that he is the owner of great wealth.
We are buddhas. We are the rare treasure. This is the message of the Lotus Sutra, of Buddha’s appearing in the world and his infinite lifetime.
Our treasure is interconnection: Indra’s net. Each node is a unique individual (five skandas) but Shohaku went on to say there is no being (because always changing), just connection. You are the entire network: therefore, everything is yours. (your treasure.)
(16) Dogen’s Dharma Flower turning
Shohaku: “having a question is practice”
Before Dogen: one practiced over time. One heard the teaching and put it into practice. Cause and effect. Then there was verification of satori based on evidence.
Dogen: not a matter of cause and effect. Practice/enlightenment is one word. Cause and result are one. Practice itself is the evidence.
Shohaku related this to the Genjo Koan:
When we carry ourselves to the dharma, we are in delusion. Satori comes to us is realization. It is a matter of direction.
When we try to control others and our life, we are in delusion. (discriminatory mind) When we are receptive to the world, we are in enlightenment.
For Dogen, doesn’t matter if the mind is agitated. Practice is not to stop the mind. How we relate to others is what matters. Our mind becomes distorted when not relating well. When relations are good, our mind calms.
A bodhisattva cannot escape from the world. Must make decisions in the world. Discriminating mind is important, therefore, delusion is not bad.
“Because [the dharma flower’s turning] is only the one Buddha Vehicle, and because it is the dharma flower as forms of suchness…Whether it is turning or being turned, it is the one Buddha Vehicle and the single great matter.”
Realization and delusion are one vehicle. Turning and being turned. Turned by both mayori (delusion) and satori (realization.)
We practice and put forth effort, and at the same time, all dharmas come to us and support us in our practice.
“Therefore, do not regret having mind delusions. Your activities themselves are bodhisattva practices.”
Practicing in delusion is bodhisattva practice.
“The phases of opening, displaying, realizing and entering are all instance of being turned by dharma flowers.”
Burning house metaphor: in order to get the children out of the burning house, the Buddha promised toys. This could be pictured as the house, the gate, and the open field. So through the Buddha’s teaching, one could travel out of the house, through the gate, and into the open field.
According to Dogen, we are in both the burning house (samasara) and the open field (nirvana.) Our minds are always in delusion. But delusion does not have the bad connotation that it has in English. We are always inquiring.
We are not trying to escape the burning house.
“right at the gate” Whether inside the gate, at the gate, outside the gate: we are at the place of “coming and going.” Right where we are; each moment of our lives.
Although called delusion, we are always walking toward the dharma (which is my own particular way and best way for me.)
We need “opening and displaying” by the teacher.
We should know that within the carriage there is the turning [of the dharma flower] enabling buddhas to “open” and “display” and [enabling living beings] to “realize” and “enter” the burning house. And on the open ground, there is turning which causes us to open, display, realize and enter the burning house.
Bodhisattvas choose to enter the burning house.
Outside (nirvana) and inside (samsara) the burning house is practice: One Vehicle, one practice.
Our practice is to enter the gate [to the burning house or to the open field] right were we are. There are boundless gates, and the gate we enter is the universal gate.
“Giving the prediction [of future Buddhahood in the Lotus Sutra] is nothing other than opening the Buddha’s insight within the self; it is the dharma flower’s turning that cannot be bestowed by others. This is exactly what is meant by “mind in delusion” is turned by the Dharma flower.”
When we practice Buddha’s teaching, our practice here and now is the prediction. Not some future event. [see Dogen’s fascile Juki, prediction]
(23) Mind in realization turns the dharma flower
“The dharma flower in turn manifests the energy of suchness that enables us to turn the dharma flower.”
Shohaku calls this energy of suchness, “the life force.” This energy allows us to practice and, in turn, manifest the life force.
Shohaku offered an analogy to the lines in Genjo Koan:
“To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening.”
How can we practice two seemingly different things?
T The first sentence is being turned by the dharma flower. Our individual life force goes out to practice. D e Delusion is not necessarily a bad thing. The second sentence is that myriad dharmas allow me to p ractice. When we practice with the attitude that we are being turned by myriad dharmas is realization. The attitude corresponds to Uchiyama’s famous expression, “opening the hand of thought.”
These two approaches happen at the same time. [see Dogen’s Zenki, Total Function.]
Buddha’s eternal life is manifested through our practice.