Reclining Buddha
Commentary on Dogen Zenji's
ZENKI (全機) Ever Functioning, Never Dormant
citation from "LIVE FULLY, DIE FULLY"
from "Roar of the Tigress," Vol. II, Lectures by
Abbess P. T. N. H. Jiyu-Kennett, Roshi
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 I RECALL talking with someone at Blackfriars in Oxford: who was afraid of what his family might think if he meditated. He suggested that maybe if he did just a little bit each day, it wouldn't upset his family too much. I quoted Martin Luther to him, "If you are going to sin, sin vigorously!" (laughter)

 Really do it: either get on and do Buddhist training or don't do it at all! Piddling about doesn't get you anywhere except to keep the "soap opera" side of your life going. True Nature can only reveal Itself in life and death if we are fully present within them, and at the same time free of attachment.
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 [In the Zenki, Dogen says:]
It is the operating of this True Self that causes life to come about. The very moment when one fully manifests this functioning of one's True Self, it will not necessarily be something great or necessarily something small, or the whole universe or some limited bit of it, or something drawn out or something short and quick. Our life at this very moment is the True Self in operation, and the operating of our True Self is our life at this very moment.

Life is not something that comes, and life is not something that goes: life is not something that reveals itself, and life is not something that is accomplished. Rather, life is a displaying of one's Buddha Nature to the full and death is also the displaying of one's Buddha Nature to the full. [...]

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  When Dogen speaks of life he means our full and true life, not the dream world within which we normally live. And when he speaks of death, he means our full and true death. The moment of fully manifesting this for the first time is the moment of realization, the finding of the non-substantial liberated essence. It is in this way that True Self, or Buddha Nature "causes life and death to come about." This experience cannot be defined or limited by descriptions, such as large or small, slow or quick. If you would fully live and fully die, you have to experience that non-substantial liberated essence for yourself, either during life or at the time of death. And if you have not had any "rehearsals" beforehand, it is sometimes a little difficult to recognize it at the time of death, because there are a lot of other things going on. This is one reason why one meditates.
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 Translation of Dogen's text by Hubert Nearman, for Shasta Abbey
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(Zen Master) DOGEN ZENJI'S (道元禅師)
(Gender Inclusive) STUDIES OF THE WAY (學道) | (INDEX)
95-Fascicle SHOBOGENZO (正法眼蔵) & Other Writings
Photo (Top): earlywomenmasters.net (Parinirvana / Reclining Buddha)
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