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Showing posts from December, 2019

Review of The Mountains and Waters Sūtra: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dōgen’s “Sansuikyō”, by Shohaku Okumura

These mountains and waters of the present are the expression of the old buddhas.

This opening sentence of the Sansuikyō chapter of Shobogenzo, the principal work of Eihei Dōgen, the grand master of Soto Zen, has lost nothing of its mysterious and intriguing beauty over the past 800 years. To this day it captivates followers of the Zen way and nature lovers alike. It also appears to be more accessible to the general audience than many of Dōgen’s other writings. In Sansuikyō Dōgen seems to talk about concrete things in the natural world as opposed to abstract topics like “being”, “time”, or “mind” like in other parts of Shobogenzo as Isho Fujita explains in the foreword. But as soon as we start reading the original, we quickly get a taste of Dōgen’s usual concoction of crystal clear logic and outrageous absurdity, of polemic and poetry. We meet the mountains that walk swifter than the wind and dance over water. Dōgen shows us drops of water full of buddha lands and palaces inhabited by …