August, 2004 NUMBER 14
 

Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Shobogenzo
Book 13
Ocean Seal Samadhi
Kaiin zanmai

Translated by Carl Bielefeldt with Michael Radich

Introduction.
AThis fascicle of the Shôbôgenzô was composed at Dôgen’s Kôshô monastery, on the outskirts of the capital of Heian (present-day Kyoto), in 1242, a year perhaps the most productive in its author’s career.

The work takes its name from a state of concentration, known in Sanskrit sources as the s“ara-mudrå-samådhi. In this state, likened to an ocean on which appear images of the forms of all beings, it is said that the bodhisattva can see the mental activities of all beings or, more generally, can discern all phenomena (dharmas) in detail. The samadhi is often, though not exclusively, associated with the tradition of the Avatamsaka Sutra, which is said to have been taught while the Buddha was absorbed in this state.

Dôgen’s piece represents a commentary on two texts. The first, which occupies him for some two thirds of his work, is a passage from the Vimalakirti Sutra, with a comment by the famous Tang-dynasty Zen master Mazu. The sutra tells how the bodhisattva should regard his body as merely the combination of dharmas arising and ceasing. In his comment, Mazu says that in fact the dharmas occur in each moment without relation to each other, a condition he identifies as the ocean seal samadhi. The second text is a teaching on the ocean by Tang figure, Caoshan, one of the founding ancestors of Dôgen’s Sôtô lineage.

Dôgen’s commentary takes up almost every word in these texts, playing with their interpretation and glossing them with cryptic allusions to the sayings and poems of the Zen masters. In the process, as is often the case in his writings, he seeks at once to lift the language of his texts to a more mysterious metaphysical plane and to ground the metaphysics in the spiritual practice of the buddhas and an cestors of his tradition. At times, the effort seems a bit - strained, and it is probably fair to say that the Ocean Seal Samadhi may not show us its author quite at his best; still, a test of these waters will give the reader a good taste of Dôgen’s idiosyncratic approach to reading his sources.

The following English version, like all the translations of the Soto Zen Text Project, seeks to retain as much as possible of the syntax and diction of the original, even at the expense of readability. In keeping with the format of this publication, I have tried to keep the annotation to a minimum; additional notes will eventually become available on the SZTP web site, at http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3. Other English versions of this work can be found at Kosen Nishiyama and John Stevens, Shôbôgenzô, volume 1 (1975); Hee-jin Kim, Flowers of Emptiness (1985) (partial); Thomas Cleary, Shôbôgenzô (1986); Yokoi Yuho, The Shobo-genzo (1986); and Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross, Master’s Dogen’s Shobogenzo, Book 2 (1996).

The text translated here is from the edition in Kawamura Kôdô, Dôgen zenji zenshu, volume 1, pp. 119-126. I should like to express my appreciation to Michael Radich, of Harvard University, for his invaluable contributions to the research and translation.

Translation
To be the buddhas and ancestors is always the ocean seal samadhi. As they swim in this samadhi, they have a time to teach, a time to verify, a time to practice. Their virtue of walking on the ocean goes to its bottom: they walk on the ocean as “walking the floor of the deepest ocean.” To seek to cause the currents of birth and death to return the source is not “what are you thinking?” While previous “passing through the barriers and breaking down the sections” may be the faces of the buddhas and ancestors, they are rivers returning to the source of the ocean seal samadhi.1

The Buddha said, “It is just the dharmas that combine to form this body. When it arises, it is simply the dharmas arising; when it ceases, it is simply the dharmas ceasing. When these dharmas arise, [the bodhisattva] does not state, ‘I arise’; when these dharmas cease, he does not state, ‘I cease’.” “In prior thought moments and subsequent thought moments, the moments do not relate to each other; in prior dharmas and subsequent dharmas, the dharmas do not oppose each other. This is called the the ocean seal samadhi.”2

We should work for a while at studying this saying of the Buddha. Attaining the way and entering verification do not necessarily depend on much hearing and many words. Those with the broad learning of much hearing will go on to attain the way through four phrases; those with the universal learning equal to the sands of the Ganges, will eventually verify their entrance through a gåthå of a single phrase. Much more [is this the case with] the present words, which do not seek original enlightenment on the path ahead and do not pick up initial enlightenment within verification. It may be a virtue of the buddhas and ancestors that they cause the occurrence of original [and initial] enlightenment, but it is not the case that the enlightenments of initial enlightenment, inherent enlightenment, and so on, are taken as the buddhas and patriarchs.3

The Buddha said, “It is just the dharmas that combine to form this body. When it arises, it is simply the dharmas arising; when it ceases, it is simply the dharmas ceasing. When these dharmas arise, [the bodhisattva] does not state, ‘I arise’; when these dharmas cease, he does not state, ‘I cease’.” “In prior thought moments and subsequent thought moments, the moments do not relate to each other; in prior dharmas and subsequent dharmas, the dharmas do not oppose each other. This is called the the ocean seal samadhi.”4

The moment of the ocean seal samadhi is the moment of “just the dharmas,” the saying of “just the dharmas.” This time is called “combine to form this body.” The single combined mark that has combined to form the dharmas is this body. This does not mean that this body is taken as a single combined mark. The dharmas combine to form it. It says [in short] that this body is [the activity expressed by the phrase] “combine to form this body.”

“When it arises, it is simply the dharmas arising.” This “dharmas arising” never leaves behind arising. Therefore, arising is not awareness, not cognition. This is called “he does not state, ‘I arise’.” In not stating that “I arise,” it does not mean that someone else sees, hears, senses, and knows these dharmas arising or discriminates them in thinking. When there’s a further encounter beyond this, one loses the advantage of the encounter.5

“Arising” is always “when the moment comes,” for time is arising. What is arising? It should be “arisen!” Since this is arising as time, it does not fail to expose the “skin, flesh, bones, and marrow.” Because arising is the arising of “combine to form,” arising is this body; arising is “I arise”; it is just the dharmas. It is not simply hearing and seeing sounds and forms. It is the dharmas that are “I arise”; it is the “I arise” that is “he does not state.” “He does not state” is not not saying anything, for a saying is not a statement. “When they arise” is these dharmas; it is not the twelve times. These dharmas are “when they arise”; they are not the profuse arisings of the three realms.6

An old buddha said, “Suddenly, a fire arose.” “A fire arose” is expressing the fact that this “arising” is not dependent on anything.7

An old buddha said, “When arising and ceasing don’t stop, what’s it like?”8

Thus, “arising and ceasing” “don’t stop” as “I arise” as I, “I cease” as I. We should let it be and pursue this saying “don’t stop.” It cuts off or continues “when arising and ceasing don’t stop” as the vital artery of the buddhas and ancestors. “When arising and ceasing don’t stop” is “who’s arising and ceasing?” “Who’s arising and ceasing” is “those who can attain deliverance through this body”; it is “manifesting this body”; it is “preaching the dharma for them.” It is “the past mind cannot be got”; it is “you’ve got my marrow”; it is “you’ve got my bones.” For it is “who’s arising and ceasing?”9

“When these dharmas cease, he does not state, ‘I cease’.” The time when “he does not state, ‘I cease’” is precisely when the dharmas cease. “Ceasing” is the ceasing of the dharmas; though it is ceasing, it must be dharmas. Because it is dharmas, it is not the adventitious defilements. Because it is not the adventitious defilements, it is undefiled. Just this undefilement is the buddhas and patriarchs. It is called “you’re also like this.” Who is not “you”? Prior thought moments and subsequent thought moments are all “you.” It is called “I’m also like this.” Who is not “I”? For prior thought moments and subsequent thought moments are all “I.”10 This “ceasing” is adorned with many “hands and eyes”: it is “the unsurpassed great nirvana”; it is “call it death”; it is “take it as annihilation”; it is “treat it as a dwelling place.” The “so many arms and eyes” such as these are in any case the virtues of ceasing. The “not stating” at the moment when ceasing is “I” and the “not stating” at the moment when arising is “I” have the same birth of “not stating,” but they are not the “not stating” of the same death.11

[“Ceasing”] is the ceasing of the prior dharmas; it is the ceasing of the subsequent dharmas. It is the prior thought moment of the dharmas; it is the subsequent thought moment of the dharmas. It is the prior and subsequent dharmas that constitute the dharmas; it is the prior and subsequent thought moments that constitute the dharmas. Their “not relating” constitutes the dharmas; their “not opposing” is the dharmas constituted. To make them “not opposed,” to make them “not related,” is a saying “eight or nine tenths complete.” There is a taking up, there is a taking in, that takes as “hands and eyes” the four great [elements] and five aggregates of ceasing; there is an advance, there is an encounter, that takes as its course the four great [elements] and five aggregates of ceasing. At this time, “hands and eyes throughout the body” are not enough; “hands and eyes as the entire body” are not enough. Ceasing is the virtue of the buddhas and ancestors.12

That now we have the words, “they are not opposed,” that we have the words, “they are not related,” means that we should realize that arising is arising in beginning, middle, and end; it is “officially, you can’t insert a needle; privately, you could drive a horse and cart and through it.” In beginning, middle, and end, [arising] is not related to, is not opposed to, ceasing. Though there is the sudden arising of dharmas where there had previously been ceasing, this is not the arising of ceasing; it is the arising of dharmas. Because it is the arising of dharmas, it is not marked by opposition or relation. Nor are ceasing and ceasing in relation or opposition to each other. Ceasing is ceasing at beginning, middle, and end. This is [a case of] “in meeting, he doesn’t bring it out; but if you raise the point, he knows it’s there.” Though ceasing occurs suddenly where there had previously been arising, this is not the ceasing of arising; it is the ceasing of the dharmas. Because it is the ceasing of the dharmas, it is not opposed or related. Whether it be the “this is” of ceasing or the “this is” of arising, it is just the ocean seal samadhi called “the dharmas.” The practice and verification of “this is” is not non-existent; it is just this undefilement called the ocean seal samadhi.13

Samadhi is a presence, a saying; it is “the night” when “the hand gropes for the pillow behind.” The groping for a pillow of “the hand groping for the pillow behind” in the night like this is not merely “hundreds of millions of tens of thousands of kalpas”; it is “in the ocean, I always preached only the Lotus Sutra of the Wondrous Dharma.” Because “they don’t state, ‘I arise’,” “I am in the ocean.” The former face is the “I always preached” of “the slightest motion of a single wave, and ten thousand waves follow”; and the latter face is the Lotus Sutra of the Wondrous Dharma of “the slightest motion of ten thousand waves, and a single wave follows.” Whether we wind up or let out “a line of a thousand feet” or ten thousand feet, what we regret is that it “goes straight down.”14 The former face and latter face here are “I am on the face of the ocean.” They are like saying “the former head” and “the latter head.” The former head and the latter head are “putting a head on top on your head.”15 It is not that there is a person in the ocean. “I am [in] the ocean” is not “where the worldly dwell”; it is not “what is loved” by the sages. “I am” alone in the ocean. This is the “preaching” of “always only.” This “in the ocean” “does not belong to the center”; it does not belong to “inner and outer”: it is “remaining forever,” “preaching the The Lotus Sutra.” Though it is “not in east, west, north or south,” it is “I come home with a fully empty boat, laden with moonlight.” This true return is “immediately coming back home.” Who could call it the conduct of “getting drenched”? It is realized only within the limits of the way of the buddha. We take this as the seal of “sealing water.” Going further, we say it is the seal of “sealing sky”; or further, we say it is the seal of “sealing mud.” The seal of sealing water is not necessarily the seal of sealing the ocean. Going further beyond this, there should be the seal of sealing the ocean. This is called the “ocean seal,” the “water seal,” the “mud seal,” the “mind seal.” Singly transmitting the mind seal, we seal water, seal mud, seal sky.16

* * * * *

Once, a monk asked the great master Yuanzheng of Caoshan, “In the received teachings, there is a saying, ‘The great ocean does not house a dead body.’ What’s the ‘ocean’?”
The master said, “It contains the ten thousand beings.”
The monk said, “Then why doesn’t it house a dead body?”
The master said, “Someone whose breath has stopped doesn’t belong.”
The monk said, “If it contains the ten thousand beings, why is it that someone whose breath has stopped doesn’t belong?”
The master said, “It’s not the merit of the ten thousand things to stop breathing.”17

This Caoshan was a [dharma] brother of Yunju.

Dongshan’s essential message is right on the mark here. This “in the received teachings, there is a saying” refers to the correct teachings of the buddhas and patriarchs; it is not the teachings of the commoners and sages; it is not the lesser teaching of the subsidiary buddha dharma.18

“The great ocean does not house a dead body.” The “great ocean” here is not an inner ocean or outer ocean, not the eight oceans. These are not what the student is asking about. He not only recognizes what is not the ocean as the ocean; he recognizes what is the ocean as the ocean. Even if we insist that they are oceans, they cannot be called the “great ocean.” The great ocean is not necessarily a deep abyss of the water of the eight virtues. The great ocean is not necessarily a ninefold abyss of salt water or the like. The dharmas combine to form it. Could the great ocean necessarily be nothing but deep water? Therefore, his question about the “great ocean” is speaking of the great o cean because the great ocean is as yet unknown to humans and gods. The person who would hear this [question] will try to shake his grasp of “ocean.”19 In saying “it does not house a dead body,” “not housing” is “when the bright one comes, I hit the bright one; when the dark one comes, I hit the dark one.” “A dead body” is “dead ashes”; it is “how many springs has it met without changing its core?” A dead body is a thing people have never seen. Therefore, they do not know it.20

The master’s saying “it contains the ten thousand beings” is speaking of the ocean. What he is saying about the main point is not that some single thing contains the ten thousand beings: “containing” is the ten thousand beings. He does not mean that the great ocean contains the ten thousand beings. Saying “it contains the ten thousand beings” means it is just the great ocean. Although we do not know what they are, for now we call them “the ten thousand beings.” Even our encountering of the faces of the buddhas and the faces of the patriarchs are for now confused with the ten thousand beings. When they contain, even mountains are not only “standing on the highest mountain peak”; even water is not only “walking on the deepest ocean floor.” Taking in is like this; letting go is like this. We say “the ocean of the buddha nature,” or we say “the ocean of Vairocana’s store”; these are simply the ten thousand beings. Though we may not see the face of the ocean, there are no doubts about the conduct of swimming. For example, in speaking of “Duofu’s one grove of bamboo,” while “one or two stalks are bent” and “three or four stalks are slanted” are conduct that causes the loss of the ten thousand beings, why does he not say “a thousand are bent, ten thousand are bent”? Why does he not say, “a thousand groves, ten thousand groves”? We should not forget the reason why the bamboo of one grove are like this. Caoshan’s saying, “it contains the ten thousand beings,” is still the ten thousand beings.21

The monk said, “Why is it that someone whose breath has stopped doesn’t belong?” Although this has the face of a mistaken question, it is “what are you thinking?” When it is “I’ve always had my doubts about this guy,” it is just an encounter with “this guy I’ve always had my doubts about.” “Where is it?” [is the question in] “why is it that someone whose breath has stopped doesn’t belong?” or “why doesn’t it house a dead body?” Here, [it is put,] “If it contains the ten thousand beings, why is it that someone whose breath has stopped doesn’t belong?” We should realize that containing is not “belonging”; containing is not “housing.” Although the ten thousand beings be dead bodies, “not housing” them means “it will only take ten thousand years”; “not belonging” means “this old monk makes one move.”22

Caoshan said, “It’s not the merit of the ten thousand things to stop breathing.” This means that, whether the ten thousand beings have stopped breathing, or whether they have not stopped breathing, they don’t belong. A dead body may be a dead body, but where there is conduct that studies together with the ten thousand beings, it should contain it, should be the containing of it. The prior state and subsequent state of the the ten thousand beings have their merit: they have not stopped breathing. This is “a blind person leading a crowd of the blind.” The principle of a blind person leading a crowd of the blind is furthermore a blind person leading a blind person, or a crowd of the blind leading a crowd of the blind. When it is a crowd of the blind leading a crowd of the blind, it is “containing the ten thousand beings” itself containing “containing the ten thousand beings.” Further, in however many great ways there may be, where they are not the ten thousand beings, they will not manifest their concentrated effort. This is the ocean seal samadhi.

Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Ocean Seal Samadhi
Book 13
Composed at Kannon Dôri Kôshô Hôrinji
Twentieth day of early summer [fourth month], third
year of Ninji (mizunoe-tora) [1242]

 

Notes

  1. “Walking the floor of the deepest ocean” is from a saying by Yueshan Weiyan (745-828): “We should stand atop the highest mountain, walk the floor of the deepest ocean.”
    “What are you thinking?’ (literally, “what mental act is is this?”) is a standard Zen retort to an inadequate statement. “Passing through the barriers and breaking down the sections” refers to successful Zen practice.
    The translation obscures Dôgen’s play in this paragraph with the graph gyô, rendered variously here as “practice,” “walking,” “goes,” and “thinking.”
  2. The entire passage here is from the Recorded Sayings of Mazu. The first quotation represents Mazu’s (slightly abbreviated) quote of the Vimalakirti Sutra, in which Vimalakirti is instructing Mañjusri on how a sick bodhisattva should regard his body. The second quotation is Mazu’s comment, in which he goes on to say that the samadhi collects all the dharmas as the ocean collects the water of all the rivers.
    The awkward translation “thought moment” tries to preserve something of the ambiguity of the term nen, used in reference both to moments of time and individual mental events. The term will reappear below in both senses.
  3. “Original” and “initial enlightenment” are terms widely used in East Asian Buddhism to distinguish respectively the bodhi inherent in the buddha nature and the bodhi attained at the end of the bodhisattva path.
  4. Some versions of the text, especially in the sixty-fascicle redaction, do not repeat the quotation here.
  5. The last sentence here is generally understood to mean that, in the higher “encounter” with “dharmas arising,” the “encounter” between self and other, subject and object, is transcended. The obscure preceding phrase, “never leaves behind arising,” is usually interpreted to mean that each instance of arising is complete in itself and does not leave behind some arisen “thing” that could be the object of knowledge.
  6. The “twelve times” are the twenty-four hours of the day, figured traditionally in two-hour divisions; the “three realms” are the realms of desire (kåma), form (rupa), and formlessness (årupya) that together make up existence in samsara.
    “Skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” is a standard Zen expression, much used by Dôgen, for the entirety, or complete truth, of something; from the responses of Bodhidharma to his four disciples, “You have got my skin”, etc.
    In his distinction between a “statement” and a “saying” here, Dôgen seems to be saying that, though it is not stated, “I arise” can be be a significant saying. The argument here is probably playing with the sense of arising alluded to in the remark, “it should be ‘arisen!’” which is taken from a saying of Caoshan Benji (840-901):
    [A monk] asked, “There’s a saying handed down from the ancients, ‘No one who has fallen to the earth can arise without depending on the earth.’ What is this ‘falling’?”
    The master said, “Consent to it.”
    [The monk] said, “What is ‘arising’?”
    The master said, “Arisen!”
    This passage occurs in the Jingde chuandeng lu just before Caoshan’s teaching on the ocean that Dôgen will cite below.
  7. From the famous Lotus Sutra parable of the burning house. Notice that Dôgen is here using the expression “an old buddha,” usually indicating a previous Zen master, for the Buddha Shakyamuni.
  8. From Loshan Daoxian: “Loshan asked Yantou, ‘When arising and ceasing don’t stop, what’s it like?’ Yantou said, ‘Who’s arising and ceasing?’”
  9. See above, note 8, for the expression “who’s arising and ceasing?” The three phrases beginning with “those who can attain deliverance through this body” are from the Avalokiteshvara chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which it said that, to those who can attain deliverance through contact with a particular body (a buddha, a pratyekabuddha, a shråvaka, etc.), the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appears as that body and preaches the dharma for them.
    “The past mind cannot be got” is from the Diamond Sutra. “You’ve got my marrow,” “you’ve got my bones,” are from Bodhidharma’s comment to his disciples, mentioned above, note 6.
  10. This passage reflects a conversation, much treasured by Dôgen, between the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng, and his disciple Nanyue Huairang. Here is the version of the story given in Dôgen’s Shôbôgenzô sanbyaku soku.
    The Zen Master Dahui of Mt. Nanyue visited the Sixth Ancestor. The Ancestor asked him, “Where do you come from?”
    The Master said, I come from the National Teacher An on Mt. Song.”
    The Ancestor said, “What is it that comes like this?”
    The Master was without means [to answer]. After attending [the Ancestor] for eight years, he finally recognized the question. Thereupon, he announced to the Ancestor, “I’ve understood what you put to me when I first came: ‘What is it that comes like this?’”
    The Ancestor asked, “How do you understand it?”
    The Master replied, “To say it’s like anything wouldn’t hit it.”
    The Ancestor said, “Then is it contingent on practice and verification?”
    The Master answered, “Practice and verification are not nonexistent; they’re not to be defiled.”
    The Ancestor said, “Just this ‘not defiled’ is what the buddhas bear in mind. You’re also like this, I’m also like this, and all the ancestors of the Western Heavens [i. e., India] are also like this.”
    The “adventitious defilements” (Sanskrit “antuka-klesha) are the spiritual defilements understood as extrinsic to the mind. The argument here probably hinges on the multivalent term dharma. While the dharmas (i.e., phenomena) may be both defiled and undefiled, the dharmas (i.e., the truths) taught by the Buddha are always pure. The “ceasing” of the dharmas in this latter sense is the truth that all dharmas in the former sense are “empty” of inherent existence.
  11. This obscure final sentence is subject to various interpretations. Some would take it to mean that, while both the arising and ceasing of the self are beyond what can be stated, they are not the same. Others would see the second clause as a reminder that “ceasing” here is not the same as death.
    The expression “so many hands and eyes” is an allusion to the thousand-armed Avolokiteshvara, who has an eye in each of the hands. Although here we may take the passage to mean simply that “ceasing” can be understood in many ways, the allusion to Avolokiteshvara’s hands and eyes introduces material that Dôgen will develop below, from a dialogue between Yunyan Tansheng (780?-841) and fellow disciple Daowu Yuanzhi (769-835).
    Yunyan asked Daowu, “How does the bodhisattva of great compassion use so many hands and eyes?”
    Wu said, “Like a person searching behind him for his pillow in the night.”
    Yan said, “I understand. I understand.”
    Wu said, “What do you understand?”
    Yan said, “The entire body is hands and eyes.”
    Wu said, “You talk big talk, but what you say is eight or nine tenths.”
    Yan said, “How about my fellow teacher?”
    Wu said, “Throughout the body hands and eyes.”
    The four phrases beginning with “unsurpassed great nirvana” are probably after a verse by Huineng (though the source of Dôgen’s substitution in the last line is not clear):
    The unsurpassed great nirvana,
    Perfect and bright, always quietly shining.
    The commoners call it death,
    The other ways take it as annihilation,
    Those who seek the two vehicles
    Treat it as the unconditioned.
  12. See above, note 11, for the allusions here. The “four great [elements] and five aggregates” refer respectively to the four primary forms of matter (mahåbhuta), earth, water, fire, and air, of which the physical world is composed, and the five “heaps” (skandha) into which the psycho-physical organism can be analyzed.
  13. Dôgen is here again alluding to the dialogue between Huineng and Huairang cited above, note 10. The odd locution, ”this is,” here is a play with the passage of Mazu cited earlier: “This is called the the ocean seal samadhi.”
    The expressions, “officially, you can’t insert a needle; privately, you could drive a horse and cart and through it,” and “in meeting, he doesn’t bring it out; but if you raise the point, he knows it’s there,” are popular sayings in Zen literature. Both seem to be used here to mean something like, “on the surface, not obvious, but nevertheless true.”
  14. Dôgen is alluding here to a poem by the Tang master Chuanzi (“the boatman”) Decheng (dates unknown):
    A line of a thousand feet goes straight down.
    The slightest motion of a single wave, and ten thousand waves follow.
    The evening is still, the water cold; the fish aren’t feeding.
    I come home with a fully empty boat, loaded with moonlight.
    The “hand groping for the pillow” at the opening of this paragraph is from the conversation, cited above, note 11, on the thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara. The paragraph then intertwines two passages from the Lotus Sutra. (1) From the Sadåparibhuta chapter: “After hundreds of millions of tens of thousands of kalpas, after an inconceivable period, they [the bodhisattvas] can hear this Lotus Sutra. After hundreds of millions of tens of thousands of kalpas, after an inconceivable period, the buddhas, the bhagavats, preach this sutra.” (2) From the Devadatta chapter: “In the ocean, I always preached only the Lotus Sutra of the Wondrous Dharma.”
  15. The awkward translations “former face,” “latter face,” “former head,” “latter head” struggle to preserve the play here on the colloquiual Chinese suffixes mien and tou. Though they would ordinarily function simply as nominalizers, Dôgen uses their primary semantic senses to move from former and latter “faces” to the “face” (i.e., surface) of the ocean, then from former and latter “heads” to the common Zen expression “putting a head on top of your head” (i.e., adding something superfluous).
  16. Dôgen is here invoking the so-called “three seals” of Zen: sky, water, and mud (sometimes interpreted respectively as the dharma, recompense, and transformation bodies of the buddha). The translation “sealing sky” loses the metaphysical connotation of the term inku, which could also be rendered “sealing emptiness.” The “mind seal” is of course a favored metaphor for the authentification of the transmission of the awakened mind from master to disciple.
    The expression “getting drenched” probably invokes the Chinese idiom “muddied and drenched,” used as a metaphor for immersion in complicated affairs or language.
    This paragraph introduces several phrases from the poem Caoan ge, by Shitou Xiqian (700-790):
    The person dwelling in his hermitage remains forever ,
    Not belonging to the center, the inside or outside.
    He doesn’t dwell where the worldly dwell;
    He doesn’t love what the wordly love . . . .
    He’s not in north or south, east or west . . . .
    Turning the light and shining it back, he immediately comes back home.
    (Notice that Dôgen’s version has substituted “what is loved by the sages” for Shitou’s “the worldly.”)
  17. From the Caoshan chapter of the Jingde chuandenglu. Great Master Yuanzheng of Caoshan is Caoshan Benji (840-901), disciple of Dongshan. The translation of the last line is tentative. In his quotation here (as in his Sanbyaku soku), Dôgen has cut off the last three graphs of the original text, making the syntax of the final sentence difficult to parse. (The original would read something like, “The ten thousand things are not its merit; stopping the breath has its virtue.”)
    The notion that “the great ocean does not house a dead body” is a fairly common one in Buddhist literature. It occurs, for example, in the Dazhidu lun, where it is said that those who break the monastic rule cannot remain in the sangha, just as the waters of the ocean do not house a dead body.
  18. “Yunju” refers to Yunju Daoying (d. 902), another disciple of Dongshan.
  19. The “inner ocean,” “outer ocean,” and “eight oceans” refer to the eight oceans surrounding Mount Sumeru in Buddhist cosmology, of which the first is called the inner and the remainder, the outer oceans. The “water of the eight virtues” refers to the excellent water in the oceans surrounding Mount Sumeru (and filling the lakes of the Pure Land of Sukhåvati). It is said to be sweet, cool, soft, light, pure, oderless, harmless to the throat, and harmless to the stomach.
  20. A series of allusions to Zen literature: “When the dark one comes . . . .” is a tentative translation for a notoriously obscure saying of Puhua, recorded in the Linji lu; “dead ashes” is a common expression, used in both positive and perjoratives senses, for the mind in trance, as in the idiom “dried wood and dead ashes”; “encountering how many springs, with core unchanged” is from a verse by Damei Fachang (752-839): “Broken dead wood keeping to the cold forest; how many springs has it met without changing its core?”
  21. “Duofu’s one grove of bamboo” refers to the following dialogue found in several sources:
    A monk asked, “What is Duofu’s one grove of bamboo?”
    The master answered, “One or two stalks are slanted.”
    The monk said, “I don’t understand.”
    The master said, “Three or four stalks are bent.”
  22. “It will only take ten thousand years” alludes to the answer by Shishuang (807-888) to the question, “How about when one threads a single string through many holes?” “This old monk makes one move” uses a metaphor drawn from board games; the translation loses the pun on the term chaku, used here both for “belonging” and “placing” (a piece on the board).
    For the expression, “what are you thinking?” see above , note 1. I’ve always had my doubts about this guy” is a remark by Linji in response to the saying by Puhua quoted above, note 20.

 

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