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Dogen Eihei Koroku

edited August 2010 in Philosophy
The Family Style in the Golden Country

I. Dharma hall Discourse

For (following) the family style of relying on grasses, and the mind of grasping trees, the best practice place is the monastery. One rap on the sitting platform and three hits on the drum expound and transmit the subtle, wondrous sounds of the tathagata. At this very time , what do you Koshoji students say?

After a pause, Dogen said: South of the Xiang River and north of the Tan, there is a golden country where the countless common people sink into the ground.

What are everyone's thoughts on this passage from the Eihei Koroku?


  • edited August 2010
    here's what my thoughts are :

    "family style" is from buddha families or soto sect of zen.
    "to rely on" means to me to make practice of , and this would tie in with the "family style" of zazen called Shikantaza.
    "grass and trees" the book says this relates to monk practice and that it is like the vinyana and monastic rules
    "monastery" again in the book means sorin which means shrubs and woods. i like this statement that the monestary that Dogen is refering to is the outdoors and that he considers nature a monestary.
    I don't know what "rap on the sitting platform"means.
    "three hits on the drum" i have a strong intuition that this means the three turnings.
    "expound and transmit" im a little off for the meaning of expound but "transmit" i knwo means the dharma seal that bodhidharma brought to china. As theis is the first lecture in Dogen's Extensive Record and particularly first jodo in the newly founded monastary Koshoji, he is probably talking about how the buddha is able to explain and induce enlightenment experientially, by the transmission of a "mind seal"
    "subtle and wondorous sounds of the tathagata" This is an awesome statement, i like it (possibly from the tantric inference) of the "subtle" bodies of buddha. "sounds" to me means the seed syllables of the dharma, but i could be wrong.
    "tathagata" is a well known word but i think here he means buddha nature, because the next statement asks for the comprehension of the monks in relation to the discourse.
    "at this time" i have no idea what he is attempting to say. Possibly the moment is being brought to his monks to illustrate zazen and its experiential aspect ie. now.
  • edited August 2010
    "three hits on the drum" could mean the three foundations of ethics concentration and wisdom. This would also be an "expounding" of the dharma because it is said that no matter what teaching of the buddha you study , eventually it will fit into one of these three foundations. Also "three hits on the drum" could mean that the three jewels are present in each moment and this is how buddha transmitted teachings. The "drum" to me means emptiness. This could be what Dogen is getting at by the tense of the teaching. he mentions both analytical and placement meditation methods by Emptiness of the drum and Zazen respectively. I think it could relate to Ethics of "grass and trees" concentration " zazen and shikantanza" Wisdom "emptiness and subtle mind of the tathagata". Im not sure though if Dogen was familiar with the kayas . It sounds like he was , to me at least.
  • edited August 2010
    Could you be over-analyzing the 'three hits on the drum'? Perhaps he is simply referring to the three hits on the gong which initiate meditation in Zazen practice - considering he was a Zen practitioner and teacher. And the meditation in which the three hits initiate are done so in order to further acquaint yourself and behave as the tathagata.
  • edited August 2010
    Perhaps he is simply referring to the three hits on the gong which initiate meditation in Zazen practice

    No doubt, but why three, i think something so important to the beginning of practice has some other significance then "time to begin" don't you. Because if it just means like you say " initiate meditation" why would dogen say that Zen is constant meditation. I don't think your statement accurately states why Dogen would contradict himself. Otherwise the rap on the Sitting Platform would have been sufficent. (next time try to give some thought to your answer, used in the right way the mind isn't our enemy)
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