translation by Hubert Nearman, for Shasta Abbey
__ __ __
 Ungan Dongo once asked Dogo Enchi, "What use does the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion make of His ever so many hands and eyes?" Dogo replied, "He is like someone in the night who reaches behind himself, his hand groping for his pillow." Ungan remarked, "I get it, I get it!" Dogo asked, "What did you get?" Ungan said, "That His whole body is hands and eyes." Dogo replied, "What you have said is very well put. Still, it only expresses eighty or ninety percent of the Matter." Ungan responded, "Well, so much for the likes of me. How about you, my elder brother in the Dharma, what do you make of it?" Dogo replied, "That His whole being, through and through, is hands and eyes." [...]

The main point of what Dogo said here is that Ungan’s expression is very well put. ‘Putting it very well’ means that what one says hits the mark and that it clarifies the Matter, with nothing left unexpressed. When what has not been expressed before is now finally expressed so that nothing remains that has not been expressed, it will still only be expressing eighty or ninety percent of the Matter.

Even if your exploration of the intent behind what Ungan said were one hundred percent, if you are still unable to put It in words, then you have not thoroughly explored the Matter. And even if Ungan’s way of putting It was eighty or ninety percent of the Matter, it was still his expression of It, which might be eighty or ninety percent on the mark or one hundred percent on the mark. At that very moment in time, Ungan might have stated the Matter through hundreds of thousands of myriad expressions, but his abilities were so wondrous that he offered only a bit of his abilities and expressed a bare eighty or ninety percent of the Matter. For instance, even if he had had hundreds of thousands of myriad abilities to bring forth the whole universe, what he actually said would surpass his leaving the Matter unsaid. At the same time, were he to take up just one of his abilities, it would not be an ordinary, worldly-wise ability. The meaning of this eighty or ninety percent is like this. Even so, when people hear the statement by an Ancestor of the Buddha that someone has expressed eighty or ninety percent of the Matter, they understand it to mean that it is only eighty or ninety percent because it does not come up to an expression that would be a hundred percent of the Matter. If the Buddha Dharma were like this, It would not have reached us today. You need to explore through your training that the so-called ‘eighty or ninety percent’ is an eighty or ninety percent of ‘hundreds of thousands’, as if we were speaking of ‘ever so many’. Dogo had already stated ‘eighty or ninety percent of It’ and he certainly knew that It must not be confined to a literal eighty or ninety percent. We need to explore through our training that this is the way that the Ancestors of the Buddha speak.
__ __ __

(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