Clematis, Daylilies
CITATION from COMMENTARY on Dogen Zenji's
MITSUGO 密語 (Intimate/Esoteric Words)
from "The Incomparable Philosopher" by Thomas P. Kasulis,
Dōgen Studies, ed. William R. LaFleur
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An illuminating discussion occurs in the fascicle "Mitsugo" [Intimate (or esoteric) words] wherein Dogen discusses the traditional story of the birth of Zen — Sakyamuni's twirling of a flower and winking, a gesture by which the Dharma was directly transmitted to Mahakasyapa. Some interpret this episode to mean the Dharma, at least the Zen Dharma, can only be transmitted nonverbally, Dogen disagrees. [...] Dogen acknowledges the special intimacy of direct, nonverbal transmission, but this does not mean he rejects verbal teachings. The following passage explains this point more fully:

[Zen Master Dogen says:]
 If you regard Sakyamuni's verbalization as superficial, then twirling the flower and winking must also be superficial. If you regard Sakyamuni's verbalization as [just] names and forms, then you are not modeling yourself after the Buddha's truth (buppō). Although you have known verbalization to be names and forms, you do not yet know that there are no names and forms for Sakyamuni — your unenlightened feelings have not yet been molted. [...]

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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:, Spires and Hollyhock