Baoche's Fanning

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Morning. So today I'd like to discuss the case that comes at the end of Genjo Koan, and of which this is a relevant instrument. I'll read you the case. Zen Master Baoche of Mount Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, Master, the nature of wind is permanent. and there's no place it does not reach. Why then do you fan yourself?"


Vāce replied, although you understand that the nature of wind is permanent, you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere. Okay, what's the meaning of it reaching everywhere? asked the monk again. Master Vāce, just kept fanning himself and the monk bowed deeply. So that's the case that comes at the end of Dogen Zenji's Genjo Koan. We were studying Genjo Koan in Arcada last week, inspired by two recent books that have come out. I think last year, Shoaku Okamura's book, Realizing Genjokan, was published by Wisdom, which is an excellent book.


The whole book is a commentary. And then most recently, as I think you've seen here before, is a book called Dogen's Genjokan, Three Commentaries, of which Soken Roshu is one of the editors and translators and their commentaries by Nishihari Bokusan who was a very key teacher in the middle to late 19th century. He died in 1910, I believe. Very influential in Dogen studies in the Soto Zen school and also commentaries by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, assembled from his talks and a commentary by Kosho Uchiyama, who was Shouhaku Okamura's teacher.


And they've been collected and published by Counterpoint, and I believe that we have copies for sale. And this is also a wonderful book. I've been thinking about it, and I really appreciated the opportunity to go into this with people in Arcada and try to make it accessible, which I think it is. So this case, I want to give you some background, but this case is really about our practice. It's metaphorical, but it's about our attitude towards practice and perhaps a problem that we might have sometimes in thinking about our practice.


Why are we doing this? So, this problem is the tension between the fact that buddha nature enlightenment the wind is present everywhere and the question of fanning or practice uh... and it may seem at first an abstract question but it really comes down to why am i here today why are you here why were we here for zazen what is it that uh what is it that we're doing that actually makes sense to us uh even in the midst of a tension like this so this was let me give you some some background on on dogen a little we talk about him frequently because he's really the fountainhead of


Soto Zen. He brought, he didn't call it Soto Zen, but he brought the teachings that he had encountered with his teacher, Rujing, in China. He brought them back to Japan around first quarter of the 13th century, and he was still a young man. This, by the way, is a a drawing of Dogen and I noticed that he's studiously looking in the other direction which maybe is wise and then actually I just realized and Bodhidharma is over here and he's also looking away. Nobody's looking, Sogen's looking at you. But Dogen what it said was that he aroused the question of his own nature and the nature of reality when he was very young when he was watching the smoke rise from incense at his mother's funeral and it was at that point that he felt a calling to become a monk and he became a monk in probably the


The predominant Buddhist school tradition at that time in Japan was the Tendai tradition. And when he went there, he was a monk for a number of years into his teens. And at least in one of the biographies that was written in the 15th century, uh he raised a question that is at least phrased in his biography whether this is actually Dogen's words I don't know he said both esoteric and exoteric teachings explain that a person in essence has the true dharma nature and is originally a body of buddha nature if so why do all buddhas in the past, present, and future, arouse the wish for and seek enlightenment.


In other words, the question that I was raising in relation to our practice, if Buddha nature is all-pervading, which was kind of a dominant perspective in Japanese Buddhism at that time, why do we have to practice? And he went to his teachers at Mount Hiei, his Tendai school teachers, and asked them this question, and they said, essentially, hmm, that's a really good question. You should go find a Zen teacher, because they know about this. They're reckoning with this problem. So he began to do that. He went to China to find a true teacher because he couldn't quite find what he was looking for in Japan.


And then when he met his teacher, Ru Jing, he was confirmed in his practice. And essentially, the answer to his question began to take shape. And he spent much of the rest of his life, he came back to Japan, he created a practice place, and in time he created what is now AAG Monastery. And meanwhile, for all this time he was writing and lecturing. Genjo Koan is often seen as the central and essential condensation of Dogen's philosophical perspective, his teachings on the relationship between practice and awakening.


It was written in 1233 and then he he did a revision just the year before he died. And when he assembled his own collection of writings, this was the first piece in it. And I've been thinking about, well, the meaning in some translations, it could be translated as actualizing the fundamental point. it breaks down, there's two groupings of two characters. Genjo means something like reality that is actually and presently taking place. And Koan means something like the absolute truth, the true reality that embraces


the relative truth. So one way that Shohaku Okamura translates the title is to bring forth true reality through the practice of our everyday activity. So the question is not just what do we do in here in this room but actually what are we doing moment by moment in our life. And I see this, as I've been reading it, I see this in a sense as Dogen's teaching on Right View, or Right Understanding, which is the first step on the Buddha's Eightfold Path. And in this case, what I see from reading Genjo Kōan is there are many views.


When he begins Genjo Kōan, he begins sort of famously with a series of propositions. I won't get into them in detail, but just to read them to you, when all things are buddhadharma there is delusion and realization practice birth and death and there are buddhas and sentient beings so in a sense this is looking at the world as we actually experience it and seeing that world in terms of this and that, in terms of that you could define as dualism except that it's sitting on the ground of something vaster.


So that's one perspective. The second proposition is when myriad things are without an abiding self, there's no delusion, no realization, no Buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. So this is very much like when we chant the Heart Sutra. No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue. It's looking at each of those things from the perspective of emptiness. Not emptiness in the sense that they don't exist, but emptiness in the sense that everything that we see is compounded of other realities, other states of mind, other elements. There's nothing inherent of self. So that's very much a sort of key essential Mahayana perspective.


And then there's what you might call Dogen Zen, which is that the Buddha way is basically leaping clear of the many and the one. Thus, there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and Buddhas. So, you could see this is Proposition 1 is, Proposition 2 is not, Proposition 3 is, but with a difference. What I see in this is sometimes people perceive this as a progression. But really, according to circumstances, causes and conditions, sometimes we look at things one way, sometimes we look at them another.


You could think of it, you know, if you want to the kind of 15 second teaching of physics where light is sometimes looked at as a wave and sometimes looked at as a particle. In certain circumstances one way of looking is relevant and other circumstances another way of looking is relevant and in another set of circumstances leap clear of all of these ways of seeing things and just accept birth is a moment, death is a moment, delusion is a moment, realization is a moment, sometimes we are sentient beings in a moment and sometimes we're buddhas in a moment and in the next moment


we may be sentient beings again. But it's one body, one body of existence, and this is what I really like, there's a commentary by Maezumi Roshi, and he writes, when the Buddha Dharma and my life are separate, when I do not see that my life is the one body, that is delusion. when I see that they are together, that is the so-called enlightened life. And then later in this commentary he says, so close the gap between yourself and yourself. This is what we are actually doing as we sit here. My friend Tighe and Leighton, his comment that he makes about the teaching of Genjo Kōan is this is our practice just to be the person on your cushion right now in this body and mind in the body and mind that we have but what does this mean to be the person so that


that is where we come to uh this case so i'm going to read the case again and then what i didn't read was uh my was uh the final comment by dougan which is a kind of commentary in this case zen master bao shei of mount 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? And Bhakye replied, Although you understand that the nature of wind is permanent, 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, and the monk bowed deeply. There's some ambiguity here, and there's also something left out, which is interesting.


In Dogen's collection of koans, in the record of Master Baoche, there's another line to this case, which is kind of a giveaway. But let me read it to you. It says, Baoche then comments after the monk bows, and you don't you don't know whether a lot of koans are enlightenment stories where it's very clear because they tell you uh then uh the monk was enlightened in this case uh they don't say it you don't know the meaning of the bow you don't know what was really what was that moment but uh Bauchi's record has this other line says Useless teachers and monks, there are a thousand of them. He had a big temple. There are a thousand of them. What is the merit of these monks if they don't have the actual function?


If they don't have the actual function, the real, the function of fanning. So, what Dogen, this is the closing words of Gensokyo on. He says 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 could 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 forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.


The nature of wind is permanent. Because of that, the wind of the Buddha's house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river. So, to go back, this young monk's problem is, this monk's problem is young Dogen's problem. It's sometimes called Hongaku or original enlightenment. and it's a problem of being caught in the absolute and Bauchee's response and Dogen's commentary are actually, they're not a philosophical response, it's an action. This is what Bauchee said in that


line that didn't appear in Gingoka, this is actual function. In other words, you have to do something. I have to do something. And this is a tension that goes far back in in Zen teaching. In the Platform Sutra, which Dogen had a lot of appreciation for the Platform Sutra, well no, he had a lot of appreciation for the sixth ancestor, Winning. He had some questions about the Platform Sutra, about whether it was really Winning's words. And there's a famous There's a famous poetry contest in the Platform Sutra, where the fifth ancestor invites his students to write a verse, to paint the verse on the wall of the temple, a verse to express their enlightenment.


And whoever writes the best verse is going to get the robe and the bowl and be named the sixth ancestor. And the head monk, nobody, everybody believes that the head monk, Shenshu, is so far above them, they don't even try, they just let him write something. But he's completely stuck. He knows that he doesn't have the kind of understanding that the fifth ancestor wants to see brought forth but he also he's caught because he has to write something so he writes he writes first he writes the bodhi the body is a bodhi tree the mind is a mirror is a bright mirror on a stand polish it constantly so no dust collects when the young


and supposedly illiterate monk, Huining, hears about this, he gets someone to bring him to the hall and read the verses, because he can't read, and he feels, well, this doesn't get it. And he convinces this guy to write his verse on the wall. And his verse is, Enlightenment is not a tree. The bright mirror has no stand. Basically, there's not a single thing. So where could dust collect? And according to the Platform Sutra, hands down, he wins the contest. And one can see why. But one can also see why I think that, in a sense, part of the Dogon skepticism about the Platform Sutra was based in the fact that these verses are not contradictory, they're complementary.


So, it's not enough that the wind is permanent, and all-pervading, you actually have to fan. It's not enough that there is no single thing, you actually have to keep polishing the mirror. The mirror, I'm the mirror, you're the mirror. We have to keep working with ourself because that's all that we have to work with. And the way that we work is first by sitting down and facing the wall of ourself, kind of relentlessly, rigorously, looking at our very delusions. not supposing that everything is already enlightened so that everything i think is just fine but actually working with my emotions working with my thoughts working with my reactions accepting that as buddha activity but not as buddha if if that makes some sense to you uh it's


It's absolutely incredible and marvelous that one can sit down cross-legged or in a chair and investigate oneself. This is beyond our imagining in its complexity, but there's something that has to be done in that process. That's the functioning part. Uchiyama Roshi talks about it, it's like breathing, we're always breathing and yet if we want to be alive we actually have to take the next breath and the next. The nature of wind is always present, the nature of enlightenment is always present But it's not actually enough just to believe in it. You have to do it.


We have to live that way. We have to practice. And then we take the practice with us moment by moment, which is the Genjokon aspect. We take it out into the world and use it in whatever way it is an appropriate tool. sometimes that means using it in duality, sometimes that means seeing a person as not who we want to boil that person down as in that moment, but as vaster and more capable than that, as a Buddha. So in the commentary, Dogen says, the wind of the Buddha's house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.


So, this is a line, Suzuki Roshi says, this is a line from the the last book of the Avatamsaka Sutra. I think it's translated the Gandhavi was entering the realm of reality, which is appropriate for Genjo Koan. And this was the key text for the Tendai school. But the gold of the earth is always there. It's potential and it's also lying just beneath the surface. You have to dig for it to get to the gold. It's not going to just jump into your pockets.


The cream of the long river is something that has to be brought forth with a transformation. we look at the river in a certain light we see it as blue in a certain light we see it as black and in a certain light we see it as flowing cream there's transformation but the real transformation that's being talked about here is transformation of myself, of yourself. It's this kind of alchemical process where we're refining ourselves by actually functioning and practicing fully. So that's just a start on this.


I wanted to leave a little time for questions, and I'm hoping that as the months go by, Sojin and others will be able to lead us through some of these commentaries. They're quite complimentary, and they're all about our practice. So, questions. Those two poems are not complementary, I would say. The first poem sets up a goal. And it says, you've got to always keep cleaning away that dust. So that there's no dust there. That's really... That's really... I'm trying to reign in my word, but I was going to say that's really deluded.


And that response of the other monk is the right response to that. You want to keep your thing from ever having any dust on it? Phooey! So I don't think that there's a problem about the Sutra's award of the robe and bowl. I don't think there's a problem about where the Robin Bowl was awarded, but, and I understand what you're saying, and that's, what I'm saying is, when I'm saying it's complimentary, what I'm saying is, in any given moment, I'm not talking about Shenshu, because Shenshu had his doubts, He's the first, yeah. I mean, it was not, it was not coming from the position of enlightenment.


How do you use it? How do you practice? How do I practice? That's my question. And that, I think, goes back, it's actually in the first, in those first propositions from Dogon. you actually have to polish. If you're always polishing then you have a problem. That's right. But sometimes polishing is the right thing to do. Okay. All right. Yeah. So I may have overstated it. But and sometimes just to note there's a passion that's flowing between you and me right now. That's functioning. That's being alive. Well, before we drop the passion, what do you think of the word permanent as a translation? I don't know, you know... Anyway, I don't like it.


I'm not crazy about it, but I don't know what the word is. You know, I'd have to... I'd really have to... Maybe unsee, see... Yeah, yeah, I don't know. I mean, it's... Do you? Omnipresent and all-pervading. That's better. You said omnipresent and all-pervading, which seems to me more where it's at. Permanent has some other complications, I think, in our own, in English. Walter? Ultimately, who is it that's doing the standing? Everybody's fanning. We have to be fanning. How do you think the wind... How do you think the wind happens? Over there, behind the mountain, there's six million people with fans.


Now we have to... This is where we take care of our own fanning, our own practice, but the great thing is that we have friends, and we're doing it together, because sometimes fanning can be a lonely activity. Jerry? I'm just testing what I thought I understood about this, which was that everything, the wind or enlightenment or everything, arises in a moment because of causes and conditions, so In this case, one cause and condition of fanning is actually moving the fan. And one cause and condition of wind is some movement of air that we do. So it's just so it's these things. The nature of wind is that certain causes and conditions have to be present for wind to be present.


Is that what? I think that's too abstract. This is not about wind. But it's not about wind, it's also about enlightenment, it's about anything. Right. Why I think it's abstract is everything in Genjo-Kon keeps pointing back to one's personal agency, function, and responsibility. So even though the focus keeps shifting all around, it's fundamentally about, that's why I say it's about right view, it's fundamentally about how one sees oneself. But I'm a condition. You are a condition, yes. So I can be a condition, I can create a condition in myself through practice.


Yeah, yeah. That allows me to be at risk of enlightenment. because Suzuki Roshi said, you may not like it. Yes, you're a condition. I think what I was responding to was just, there's a way that we can slip into a kind of abstract thinking about causes and conditions. So it's very personalized here throughout this. Yeah. Thank you for quoting my Sumi Roshi. in closing the gap between the self and what now would that be what we think is the self and what is what is the self in closing yeah i i think that's right between well uh domin talks about this in different places in shishobo he talks of bodhisattva shishobo the festival um he talks about uh


also give self to self and others to others. So, yes, it's about this interaction between the self that's actually sitting here, you know, feeling a little hungry, wearing this robe which kind of needs some mending, and the vast unknowable self. Closing that gap, recognizing that those are co-creating each other, I think. Yeah, thank you. By the way, I didn't mention Maizuri Roshi's commentary. I wish there were more of it. I'm not even sure this is in print. The Way of Everyday Life? I think it's out of print. really on the mark, really good.


I wish there were more of it. One more. Thank you for approaching the Cream of the Long River, which has been totally mystifying to me every time I read it. I felt it in a heartfelt way, and I don't know if I grasped it right. from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion, all of the time that we're living, everything that is going on, our particle selves in a flow, is the river. And the cream seems to be that which is nourishing, that which allows... That's a little harder for me to grasp, but the idea of riverness really knowing itself. Yeah. Well, cream is a nice image.


The image comes, as I said, it comes from the Gandavyuha Sutra. So it's a traditional image. And I must say, it's a little better than other translations, the cheese of the long river. But, but, ghee. Well, yeah. But whatever it is, it's about taking one substance, a basic substance, and transforming it into something else that we consider precious. Should I tell you something about the Indian metaphor? So it's very deeply embedded, I guess, all the way back to that gandav yohad. This simple metaphor about cream. Basically, without churning, you don't get the cream. The cream or the ghee is in the milk.


Without churning, how are you going to get it? That song I sang here at one of our skit nights in Kabir says, the fire is in the wood. Without striking, how are you going to get the fire? The ghee is in the milk. without churning, how do you expect it to come out? Great. So churning, sometimes we're sitting here facing the wall, churning. And then, but the other side is, you're not, after you've churned, you also have to let it settle. And you have to let things separate out and clarify. So it's a wonderful metaphor. even if it's not strictly vegan. Thank you very much.