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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Suzuki tells a Story (with a confused and humorous interruption)

 In Shobogenzo, on the first chapter, Dogen Zenji refers to interesting story.

There were a priest called Gensoku. Gensoku is the name of the priest who is taking care of a temple of Hogen Zenji. And he thought he understood Buddhism very well, so he didn't ask any question to the master for three years. At last, the Hogen Zenji asked him, “It-- it is already three years since you came here. Why don't you ask some question to me?” And Gensoku said-- 

[someone raises a hand to ask a question]

SR: Excuse me?

Student A: The Lankavatara Sutra says that, like, that there are two different classes of beings. And one class-- one person is called a “non-returner,” and one person-- one class is called the-- the “returners,” “the once-returners.”

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student A: I would-- I would imagine that the former are the ones who would maintain or keep their selfish desires, whereas the latter would-- would not keep their selfish desires.

SR: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah.

And “Why don't you come and ask some question?” the master said.

But that acolyte, you know, said, “I studied for a long time under Seiho Zenji, and I think I understand what is Buddhism completely.”

“How do you understand Buddhism, and what kind of teaching did you receive from him?”

And the priest said, “When my former master asked me, 'How do you understand?' He said, 'To study Buddhism is like a man who was born in the Year of Fire, seeking for fire. Fire seek for fire. And to study Buddhism is to Buddha studying Buddha. That is my understanding of how we study Buddhism.”

But Hogen did not, you know, accept it. He said, “That is what I thought. You don't understand [laughs] what is Buddhism is at all.”

So Gensoku was very much upset, and he went away. But before he traveled long, he thought, “Hogen is the famous Zen master. There must be some reason why he said what he said when I said to study Buddhism is fire seek for fire.”

So he thought, “It may be good chance for me to have a real understanding of Buddhism. He must have some good understanding of our way.”

So Gensoku went back to Hogen and asked him, “What is the way to study Buddhism?”  And Hogen said, “It is like a fire seek for fire” [laughs, laughter]. He repeated same thing.

And Dogen Zenji said, you know [laughs], and he was enlightened by the same words.             --------------------------- Excerpt from Shunryu Suzuki  lecture 69-04-08-bn - as found on shunryusuzuki.com. Edited by DC  - Going through Suzuki lectures and posting anything that can stand on its own. Not looking for zingers or "the best of." I find that following these excerpts daily provides another way to experience Suzuki's teaching.

DC note: I read this story with real time editing for today's Cuke Podcast.