GENJO KOAN (現成公案, Practically Getting the Point)
Lotus Moon: The Poetry of the Buddhist Nun Rengetsu (trans. by John Stevens)
CITATION from the Afterword by BONNIE MYOTAI TREACE, Sensei
Illustration: Clear Morning after Snow at Kameyama, by
Rengetsu's contemporary, Utagawa Hiroshige (Wikipedia)
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 Winter Confinement in Shigaraki Village
by Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)

 Last night's storm was fierce,
As I can see by this morning's
Thick blanket of snow:
Rising to kindle wood chips
In lonely Shigaraki Village.

Shigaraki Village is where Rengetsu would go to get the clay for her pottery. This is such a beautifully simple poem — a woman enters a hut, she's come some distance, she's worked all day. Darkness comes. At dawn, she sees snow blanketing the hills and knows that there must have been a fierce storm in the night. She kindles the fire. In its thusness, it is just thus.
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 [Master Dogen says in the Genjo Koan:]
"To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be confirmed by the ten thousand things. To be confirmed by the ten thousand things is to cast off body and mind of self as well as that of others. No trace of realization remains, and this no trace is continued endlessly."
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 The fire of our freedom will always warm the hut, but somehow we won't feel it unless we kindle it. And the kindling of the fire continues. It's not on the clock, like a workday we can't wait to see the end. It's loving and essentially timeless. Practically getting this point means we're relieved of feeling we're behind or progressing too slowly in our training, or that we're spiritually talented and should set our sights on becoming teachers. It's just time to kindle the woodchips and get over yourself.

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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