A blade of grass is actualized
On the Shobogenzo: “All-inclusive study”
Augusto Alcalde (Roshi)
“All-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind.
At the moment of going there, you go there; at the moment of coming here, you come here.
There is no gap.
Just in this way, the entire body studies all-inclusively the great road’s [Tao’s] entire body. Stepping over the head of Vairochana is Samadhi without conflict.
To attain this firmly is to step over the head of Vairochana.
The complete practice of all-inclusive study by leaping out is gourd leaping out from gourd.
For a long time the gourd’s head has been the practice place.
Its vital force is vines.
Gourd studies gourd all-inclusively. In this way a blade of grass is actualized.
This is all-inclusive study”.
Please sit comfortably, if you wish.
This chapter is the last one of Dogen’s essay called “All-inclusive study”, and points to very interesting qualities of our practice and realization.
All-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind, says the first phrase. Yesterday we were talking about the three bodies of the Buddha, talking about Dharmakaya as the body of emptiness; Sambhogakaya as the body of fullness in which every single being, every single thing is complete in itself; and the Nirmanakaya, the body of uniqueness.
When Dogen is saying here all-inclusive study, that all-inclusive refers to the quality of completeness, totally including everything, “all-inclusive study”.
Thus here we are talking about Sambhogakaya practice, the quality of completeness and joy, the quality of nothing lacking at all.
He said that all-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting. “Single-minded sitting” we can wonder about the meaning of that phrase, but how many minds do we have?
Single-minded sitting: with just this mind, whatever the form that mind is having at this very moment. Sitting with that mind, in our very body, is just single-minded sitting.
All-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind, said our text.
That is a very interesting phrase: “dropping away body and mind”.
But, as we said in the first Teisho of our Sesshin, quoting Keizan Zenji, there is no body or mind to be dropped, from the very beginning, as his poem was saying.
So here, dropping away body and mind is just dropping away limits, those concepts of limited body or limited mind encapsulating ourselves into this skin-bag, not paying attention to the living fact that Dogen is pointing to when he says the true body is the wholeness of all forms, all living beings existing right here now.
And true mind is the wholeness of space, sky, stones, clouds, everything.
So we drop away body and mind, we shed off body and mind, we drop away concepts of limited body and mind; and we enter into timeless life, timeless Heart, which is a possible translation of “Enmei Jikku”, the Sutra dedicated to Kanzeon, limitless life.
In that way, all-inclusive study is just single-minded sitting, dropping away body and mind.
All-inclusively open and intimately one with the “sparky” quality of life in each moment; all-inclusively open and one with the energy of change and transformation that abides everywhere, with the aliveness, constantly reborn life, of our own body and mind, our own practice, and the practice of the universe.
Our text continues, saying: At the moment of going there, you go there. At the moment of coming here, you come here. There is no gap.
Going there, we just go.
Coming here, we just come here.
Probably “going there” can refer, in our own context of practice, to when we go away from our Mu, our particular Koan we are working with at the moment, or we go away from renewing shikantaza.
Dogen is saying: when you go there, just go there, because, you already know, it can’t be helped anyway. We just let it go.
But when we come here, just come here, just coming home, moment by moment.
That is the practice in which we learn how to use distractions, how to return home, how to start the process of zazen and trust that very process in such a way that we don’t feel the need to control it.
If we go there, falling into distraction, into fantasy, we just go there; and we take the vow that when we really know that we have been going astray, we come back home.
Every time we go away. Every time we dive into the Koan.
We open completely our shikantaza, open to this very moment.
And once we have started zazen, just let it be.
Let us trust the Dharma.
Zazen teaches zazen, this is an old saying in Zen.
So we start the process and trust the process, no need to direct it in any particular direction or way.
Our brothers and sisters in Dignity say:
“Do we know where we are going? yes.
Do we know what awaits us? Yes.
Is it worth it? Yes.
Who can answer the previous three questions with a yes and remain still and do nothing without feeling that something deep inside is tearing apart?”
There is no division, no gap, says Dogen.
So we sit there, into this very no gap.
Not in the self, not in others, not in oneself, not in Mu, but just in the fact of no gap, no division, going beyond oneself, beyond the Koan, beyond shikantaza itself.
Just in this way, the entire body studies all-inclusively the Great Road’s [Tao’s] entire body, continues our text.
“The entire body of the great Tao” the great Way, the Great Life.
“Just in this way”, Dogen is saying then that those sparks, the energy and aliveness of the Great Tao’s body that is our very life, this very moment, our Sesshin right here, and everything that comes forth from this, are just that. And the form and function they assume are beyond names and evaluation at all.
And if we find our self putting names and evaluating, that very naming and that very evaluating is beyond naming and evaluation!!!
Just in this way, the entire body studies all-inclusively the entire body of the great Tao.
So this study, this practice, is like surfing with no body, no board, all-inclusively personalizing the Great Ocean’s Tao.
The text continues, saying: Stepping over the head of Vairochana is Samadhi without conflict. To attain this firmly is to step over the head of Vairochana.
We say in our meal sutras: “Vairochana, pure and clear Buddha”, and this is the Buddha of Emptiness, pure and clear emptiness herself.
But here Dogen is saying we should step over the head of Vairochana: walk through that emptiness, walk over that emptiness itself.
So stepping over this, the natural question is: “Who is stepping?”
There is no person, only that very stepping itself, only that Koan going beyond the Koan, only that shikantaza beyond shikantaza itself.
This, Dogen says, is Samadhi without conflict; and that’s a very interesting phrase: “Samadhi without conflict”.
So when we see the fact of everything being complete, nothing lacking, dancing in joy in the whole universe, that is the natural coming forth of Samadhi.
And there is no conflict there, because there is no struggle.
Thus we touch there Sambhogakaya practice, which is, as the practice of Zen, the practice of wonder.
And we can say fascination is another word for Samadhi, and wonder another words for Great Inquiring.
Samadhi without conflict: in the same essay, Dogen says elsewhere: flying high with no strings attached or like clouds shooting below your feet.
No conflict at all.
Without conflict, we abide in the midst of wonder and fascination, as the living fact that we have no skin and that in this permeability all beings throughout space and time live, play and practice with us, as ourselves.
The text continues, saying: The complete practice of all-inclusive study by leaping out is gourd leaping out from gourd.
So that very dropping away of body and mind, that shedding off, comes from the very body and mind-heart itself, and that dropping away of body and mind is happening in the midst of the same, the very same, old body and heart-mind.
So nothing is lost there at all. How can it be? Where will it go???
And from there, the body mind and heart that have been dropped away do come forth and liberate the many beings.
For a long time the gourd’s head has been the practice place, says our text. We know that, huh?
The head has been the practice place, we know that.
We are in the fourth day of the Sesshin, and we know that, our head being the place of the practice.
He said for a long time it has been like that, but its vital force is vines.
Here we are touching the reality that is shown with the metaphor of Indra’s Net, in which every being, every single thing, in all time and all space, is so interrelated with all the others that there are really no others.
This is what we can call “vines”: such a deep intimacy with every moment, every being, every thing, that really there are no others, there is no self.
Here we find its vital force is vines.
There is an old saying in Chinese Zen pointing to this interrelation of Indra’s Net, that says: “When Chang drinks, Li gets drunk”.
Chang is always drinking, and we are always drunk.
Our vital force is always coming.
The only thing we can do is really to be available to that fact, so that we can allow the blood of life to go through those living vines.
When Dogen says all-inclusively here, let us be clear that that means that includes all: when earth practices earth, our body heart and mind practice our body heart and mind, all-inclusively, just the practice of the great Bodhisattva, this wonderful, mysterious living being that pervades all time and all space.
Gourd studies gourd all-inclusively.
And then it says: In this way a blade of grass is actualized.
Gourd studies gourd inclusively. In this way a blade of grass is actualized.
It’s very interesting, the outcome of that practice: a blade of grass is actualized.
Nothing to do with the gourd itself.
Gourd studies gourd, and something happens that has apparently nothing to do with that, a blade of grass comes forth and is perfectly actualized.
This is the fact of the outcome of practice, totally beyond cause and effect.
So please, let us give space to the mystery, give way to the unexpected Tathagata: true intimate with the Koan, true intimate with shikantaza, completely available to the mystery.
I remember a phrase by my Aitken Roshi saying: “Our task is not to clear up the mystery; it is to make the mystery clear”.
True indeed! Make the mystery perfectly clear, shining forth, and sit there, as the very mystery itself.
At that point, Dogen says: flying high with no strings attached or like clouds shooting below your feet. This being so, the world of blossoming flowers arises.
The world of blossoming flowers arises; this is the most wonderful expression of the realization experience, as far as I can see.
The world of blossoming flowers arises.
We said the vast sky does not hinder the white clouds from flying.
Let us become completely intimate with the Koan, completely intimate with this unique moment of life.
Dropping away body and heart-mind, shedding them off, and not hinder the actualization of that blade of grass.
Is there any other way to liberate the many beings?
Walking Words, from my Latino Land says:
“The church says: the body is a sin
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertizing says: the body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta!!!”
The shed off body-heart-mind dancing as the white clouds flying and dancing.
The world of blossoming flowers arise,
want to join the dance?