If you must follow the Way, you may read the Dharma for hours on end or you may brew a pot of tea for your teacher, or bring your student a towel and basin. Which two steps along the way will you take?
A reflection on Case 61 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
You may ask many things of any teacher you meet but the wisest of them will only offer you unending questions. When you look to them to point you to the Way they are doomed to failure for your feet obscure the Way, and it is only by looking within and down through your legs and feet and toes that you can see the way
A reflection on Case 63 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
The wise one delivers most knowledge without opening his mouth. The sagacious student does not hide the wisdom he inherits but offers it in utter silence. What is it you wished to say for I am ready not to listen.
A reflection on Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans Case 34 (True Dharma Eye)
If I come before the teacher he will give me thirty blows. If I do not come before the teacher he will give me thirty blows. It is the same for everyone, his arms never grow tired but if I never see my teacher, I give him thirty blows and my arms are suddenly heavy.
A reflection on Case 31 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
I can still smell the formaldahyde, see the frog pithed to the board as I went about dissecting it, taking copious notes on what I found, identifying organs, both of us hidden in a corner of our fourth grade classroom so the other students didn’t feel like they had to vomit.
This Yom Kippur, even though I no longer practice the faith of my youth and early adulthood I shall seek the forgiveness of the frog who thought he was giving his life in the early training of a doctor, not one who ended up practicing law, and know he will probably forgive me for even amphibians have compassion for us, despite our obvious shortcomings.
It was probably that moment just after we sat down at our new, huge or so they seemed, desks and the large person in the front of the room smiled at us and said “I will teach you all that you need to learn this year so pay attention.”
Perhaps we stopped thinking the year before during kindergarten, but I do think the first day of first grade truly marked the moment of our mental subjugation.