How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Jikan » Sun May 05, 2013 1:51 am

viewtopic.php?f=69&t=11060

the above-linked thread includes some discussion (some of it heated) on the topic of rebirth in the context of a Soto Zen-oriented organization. To me this invites the question: how did the great master Dogen teach such foundational doctrines as karma, rebirth, and dependent origination? And how are these teachings best understood in the context of Dogen's overall teaching?

Thank you in advance for any knowledge any of you have to offer.
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby kirtu » Sun May 05, 2013 3:42 am

To some extent that is a can of worms. Dogen has been characterized as a "mystic" because he perceived the outer world directly as the body of the Buddhas, etc. So how did the outer world arise? Through action of course but Dogen kind of doesn't seem to say this directly. His major concern was getting people to recognize their minds as Buddha. He was not interested in "metaphysics".

All of this is in the Shobogenzo and little of it is systematic. Different interpretations of Dogen are openly permissible.

However it is clear that Dogen viewed karma and rebirth as literal facts and everything was dependent origination.

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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 10:13 am

Here is an interesting quote from Dogen, but the footnotes aren't in the online preview for this book, so I can't tell which of his texts it's from:

"As we investigate the matter in this way, it becomes clear to us that 'all evil' has all along had to do with [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit.' Encouraged by such realization, we penetratingly see [the meaning of] 'not to commit any evil' and, thereby, sit in meditation through and through.... Consequently, evil does not arise from causes and conditions [in abstractions], but depends solely on [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit;' evil does not perish by causes and conditions [in abstractions], but depends solely on [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit.' ... Pitiful are those who see that evil is produced by various causes and conditions, but who fail to see that these causes and conditions intrinsically possess [the power of] 'not to commit.'"


from
http://books.google.hu/books?id=WoX4urt ... th&f=false
pages 108 and 109
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Jikan » Sun May 05, 2013 12:40 pm

Luke wrote:Here is an interesting quote from Dogen, but the footnotes aren't in the online preview for this book, so I can't tell which of his texts it's from:

"As we investigate the matter in this way, it becomes clear to us that 'all evil' has all along had to do with [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit.' Encouraged by such realization, we penetratingly see [the meaning of] 'not to commit any evil' and, thereby, sit in meditation through and through.... Consequently, evil does not arise from causes and conditions [in abstractions], but depends solely on [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit;' evil does not perish by causes and conditions [in abstractions], but depends solely on [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit.' ... Pitiful are those who see that evil is produced by various causes and conditions, but who fail to see that these causes and conditions intrinsically possess [the power of] 'not to commit.'"


from
http://books.google.hu/books?id=WoX4urt ... th&f=false
pages 108 and 109


To me, this appears to be a very traditional approach to the teaching of karma: most meaningfully, karma is about conduct and intention, the things we do, not about some kind of baroque or scholiastic fatalism. Peter Hershock describes this at length as it is articulated in Ch'an. It seems to me that Dogen is, in this respect, right in line.
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby kirtu » Sun May 05, 2013 12:53 pm

Luke wrote:Here is an interesting quote from Dogen, but the footnotes aren't in the online preview for this book, so I can't tell which of his texts it's from:

"As we investigate the matter in this way, it becomes clear to us that 'all evil' has all along had to do with [whether or not we exert the vow of] 'not to commit.' ..."


from
http://books.google.hu/books?id=WoX4urt ... th&f=false
pages 108 and 109


This may be another translation of an excerpt from Shobogenzo Vol 1, Chapter 10 Not Doing Wrongs.

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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 1:26 pm

Jikan wrote:To me, this appears to be a very traditional approach to the teaching of karma: most meaningfully, karma is about conduct and intention, the things we do, not about some kind of baroque or scholiastic fatalism. Peter Hershock describes this at length as it is articulated in Ch'an. It seems to me that Dogen is, in this respect, right in line.

I'm certainly no expert at interpreting Dogen. From the exerpt I posted above, it's unclear to me how traditional or non-traditional his view of karma is, but what is clear to me is that he always emphasizes the opportunity for change and liberation in the present moment.

I'll see if I can dig up more quotes from him later...
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Astus » Sun May 05, 2013 7:13 pm

Dogen talks directly and indirectly about karma and rebirth. Some examples:

In the Shobogenzo (tr. Nishijima-Cross, Numata edition):

vol 1
ch9, Keisei-sanshiki (p. 118), on the power of confession cleansing past karma
ch10, Shoaku-makusa, the entire chapter about retribution and precepts
ch12, Kesa-kudoku (p. 159), on the power of kesa/kashaya cleansing karma
ch14, Sansuigyo (p. 221), different beings see in different ways
vol 4
ch90, Shizen-biku (p. 272), criticises Kongzi and Laozi for their ignorance of past lives
ch84, Sanji-no-go, the whole chapter is about the karma in three times

In the Eihei Koroku (tr. Leighton-Okumura):

4.275 (p264); 5.383 (p340) fruit of past lives
5.386 (p344) "If people who study Buddha Dharma have no genuine faith or true mindfulness, they will certainly dispense with and ignore [the law of] causality."
6.437 (p392) denying karma is wrong view, zazen with wrong view is useless
7.485 (p430); 7.517 (p460) 3 kinds of karma
7.504 (p450) "Tathagatas never go beyond clarifying cause and effect"
7.510 (p454) "Students of the way cannot dismiss cause and effect. If you discard cause and effect, you will ultimately deviate from practice-realization."
7.524 (p466) rebirth of relatives by the merit of one's leaving home
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Beatzen » Fri May 10, 2013 5:34 pm

kirtu wrote:Dogen has been characterized as a "mystic" because he perceived the outer world directly as the body of the Buddhas, etc. So how did the outer world arise? Through action of course but Dogen kind of doesn't seem to say this directly. His major concern was getting people to recognize their minds as Buddha. He was not interested in "metaphysics".


I've read Dogen Scholars, commenting on certain fascicles of the Shobogenzo, say with certainty that Dogen was attempting to teach that all objective phenomena were mind. I myself forget the chapter that addresses exactly that. In relation to that, he has this to say about the mind: [paraphrase:] when you add some thing, it falls short. When you subtract something, it's too much. The stars and the trees and the earth is all mind, just as it is.

How did the outer world arise? Dogen would probably respond to you with a question on the nature of causality in order to illustrate his point that all causes and effects arise simultaneously from thusness, in this and every subsequent moment.

Kirtu wrote:However it is clear that Dogen viewed karma and rebirth as literal facts and everything was dependent origination.


No argument here. He definately believed in retribution and becoming.

Luke wrote:I'm certainly no expert at interpreting Dogen. From the exerpt I posted above, it's unclear to me how traditional or non-traditional his view of karma is[...]


Traditional in relation to which tradition? It seems to me that Zen is somewhat looked at askance due to Hui Neng's rejection of ritual and traditional methods of practice/study. Which doesn't make sense to me. Even the Buddha realized that the traditions of his own day weren't helping him to overcome suffering and delusion.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri May 10, 2013 6:38 pm

As Astus, kirtu, and others have pointed out, my own readings of Dogen have shown that he holds very traditional views on karma and rebirth. Another one to look into vis-a-vis literal rebirth would be Hotsu Bodaishin in Shobogenzo:

In sum, as we pass from fully existing to intermediately existing, and
from intermediately existing to fully existing again, everything moves on, moment
by moment. Thus, whatever our intentions, we are led by our deliberate actions, so
that the cycle of birth and death rolls on without stopping even for a single
moment. With our body and mind rolling on like this through the cycle of birth and
death, we should immediately give rise to the enlightened intention of helping
others reach the Other Shore, even though we ourselves have not yet reached that place.
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Beatzen » Fri May 10, 2013 7:19 pm

[Allen] Ginsberg's theorem:

1. You can’t win. (restatement of first law of thermodynamics)
2. You can’t break even. (restatement of second law of thermodynamics)
3. You can’t even get out of the game. (restatement of third law of thermodynamics)

((((jk, jk.))))
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:50 pm

Beatzen wrote:
kirtu wrote:Dogen has been characterized as a "mystic" because he perceived the outer world directly as the body of the Buddhas, etc. So how did the outer world arise? Through action of course but Dogen kind of doesn't seem to say this directly. His major concern was getting people to recognize their minds as Buddha. He was not interested in "metaphysics".


I've read Dogen Scholars, commenting on certain fascicles of the Shobogenzo, say with certainty that Dogen was attempting to teach that all objective phenomena were mind. I myself forget the chapter that addresses exactly that. In relation to that, he has this to say about the mind: [paraphrase:] when you add some thing, it falls short. When you subtract something, it's too much. The stars and the trees and the earth is all mind, just as it is.


Characterizing Dogen as a "mystic" because he perceived the outer world as the body of the Buddhas is a misinterpretation of Dogen. Why? Because he followed the Zen/Chan Mahayana/Ekayana Buddha Dharma as taught in the Lankavatara Sutra that all dharmas and appearances are nothing but the manifestations of mind. Thus there is no actual "outer world," and to say "the body of the Buddhas" really means "this body of Awakening" where "body" is a synonym of "manifestation" or "realization."

Dogen’s fascicle, “Sanji Go,” “Karma in the Three Periods,” is centered on the transmission story of the Honored One Kumarata, the 19th Indian Zen ancestor, transmitting the Dharma to the Honored One Jayata, the 20th Indian Zen ancestor. The story that Dogen tells comes from the The Jingde Record of the Transmission of the Lamp (Jingde Chuandeng Lu) Taisho Tripitaka Vol. 51, No. 2076 景德傳燈錄, Scroll 2. (Also told in Zen Master Keizan’s Denkoroku .)

When they meet for the first time, Jayata complains that he looks as his diligent and proper parents and family receiving tragedy and hardship, while neighbors who are mean and practicing wrong livelihood are prospering. He wonders how accumulated merit is benefitting the apparent wrongdoers and what crimes has his family committed?

Lamp Record wrote:The Honored One [Kumarata] said, “How full of doubt! Surely, the recompense of good acts and the wicked exist in the three times. Common people persistently see the virtuous die young, the violent live long, the rebellious be fortunate, and the proper be doomed. Then they designate cause and effect as lost and blameworthy and fortunate acts as empty. Indeed, they do not know the shadows and echoes mutually following at a hair’s breadth blown by the changing winds. Even if they undergo hundreds, thousands, or myriads of eons, likewise they do not extinguish obstacles.”

At the time Jayata heard this talk, then immediately his doubts were set free.

The Honored One [Kumarata] said, “Although you already have faith in the three karmas, you have not yet clarified that karma is born from bewilderment; bewilderment is caused by the existence of consciousness; consciousness depends on unenlightenemnt; and unenlightenment depends on mind. The mind is clear and pure at the root, without birth or death, without making or doing, without reward or response, without victory or defeat. If you enter this Dharma gate you can be together with and the same as all the various Buddhas. All good and evil, with activity and without activity, in every case is like a dream and an illusion.”


So how does the "outer world" arise? In the same way as karma: from bewilderment, consciousness, unenlightenment, and mind.


Beatzen wrote:How did the outer world arise? Dogen would probably respond to you with a question on the nature of causality in order to illustrate his point that all causes and effects arise simultaneously from thusness, in this and every subsequent moment.

Kirtu wrote:However it is clear that Dogen viewed karma and rebirth as literal facts and everything was dependent origination.


No argument here. He definately believed in retribution and becoming.


Well, the fine point would be to ask what is meant by “literal fact”? I don’t see how any reader of Dogen could say that Dogen believed in “literal facts” when he is talking about firewood and ash manifesting free from the confines of literal time and space. In other words, what we may conventionally and mundanely call “literal” when referring to dharmas and things as “facts” is not the way Dogen views appearances. So we should not be complacent in a conclusion that Dogen accepts anything as a “literal fact.” (See also his fascicle on "Painted Rice Cakes" where he bends the convenntions of perception regarding what is literal.)

In his fascicle “Karma in the Three Periods” Dogen relates the famous “Wild Fox” koan of Baizhang, and the “conclusion” there is that while one does not either affirm or deny that even the person of accomplishment is subject to karma, a true person of the Way is not blind to karma. This is much more subtle than simply “believing” in karma.

Beatzen wrote:
Luke wrote:I'm certainly no expert at interpreting Dogen. From the exerpt I posted above, it's unclear to me how traditional or non-traditional his view of karma is[...]


Traditional in relation to which tradition? It seems to me that Zen is somewhat looked at askance due to Hui Neng's rejection of ritual and traditional methods of practice/study. Which doesn't make sense to me. Even the Buddha realized that the traditions of his own day weren't helping him to overcome suffering and delusion.


Dogen is traditional in the tradition of the Ekayana/Mahayana view of karma. Also, I don’t see that Huineng rejected ritual or traditional methods of practice and study. The Platform Sutra upholds all the major rituals of confession and repentance, recitation of the Sutras, sitting meditation (zazen), etc. It is just that while upholding the tradition, Huineng is scrupulous about Right View in interpreting the tradition. It is just that both Huineng and Dogen are scrupulous in upholding the Right View of the Mind School of Zen/Chan as the heart of the Mahayana of the One Vehicle.

_/|\_
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby shel » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:44 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:I don’t see how any reader of Dogen could say that Dogen believed in “literal facts” when he is talking about firewood and ash manifesting free from the confines of literal time and space. In other words, what we may conventionally and mundanely call “literal” when referring to dharmas and things as “facts” is not the way Dogen views appearances. So we should not be complacent in a conclusion that Dogen accepts anything as a “literal fact.” (See also his fascicle on "Painted Rice Cakes" where he bends the convenntions of perception regarding what is literal.)

It's kind of funny that Zen practitioners should be so concerned with words a phrases. The phrasing "literal fact" is rather redundant though, and I can see Dogen may not have cared for it. Did Dogen believe that some things were true and other things were false? Probably. :tongue:

In his fascicle “Karma in the Three Periods” Dogen relates the famous “Wild Fox” koan of Baizhang, and the “conclusion” there is that while one does not either affirm or deny that even the person of accomplishment is subject to karma, a true person of the Way is not blind to karma. This is much more subtle than simply “believing” in karma.

Nothing subtle about a "true person of the Way" making mistakes, it simply means they have a Ways to go.
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Re: How did Dogen present karma & rebirth?

Postby Michael_Dorfman » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:48 pm

Maybe it's just me, but this passage from the Sanji-Go looks pretty literal:

What we call the three temporal periods are the three time periods in which we receive the retribution from our good and evil acts. These are, first, the retribution experienced in one’s present life; second, the retribution experienced in one’s next life; and third, the retribution experienced in some later future life.Through your practice of the Way of the Buddhas and Ancestors you learn, first off, to clarify what the principle of karmic retribution in these three time periods is. If you do not do so, you will make many errors and fall into false views. You will not just fall into false views, you will also give rise to evil ways and undergo suffering for a long time.
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