The lifetime teaching of Dogen can be found in one phrase: Genjo koan, says Nishiari Bokusan, the late head of the Soto school. : Dogen’s Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries (): Eihei Dogen, Nishiari Bokusan, Shohaku Okamura, Shunryu Suzuki, Sojun Mel. When Eihei Dogen compiled Shobogenzo, his collection of essays, he put the Genjo Koan first. The Genjo Koan, written by Dogen for a lay person, is his.

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We should realize that because of water there is life. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The place, the way, has not carried over from the past and it is not merely arising now. When birds fly in the sky, no matter how much they fly, the sky does not come to an end. Enlightenment does not destroy man any more than the moon makes a hole on the surface of the water.

We should realize that because of air there is life. Why should it become evident? The traces of enlightenment come to an end, and this traceless enlightenment is continued endlessly. To learn the Buddhist way is to learn about oneself. A bird flies in geenjo sky, and no matter how far it flies there is no end to the air.

In this way, no creature ever fails to realize its own completeness; wherever it is, it functions freely. Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent.

See all 11 reviews. Suzuki-roshi in the wilderness near Tassajara. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, who are in delusion throughout delusion. Get to Know Us. genjk

When dharma does not fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient. Driving ourselves to practice and experience millions of things and phenomena is delusion. If one attains this place, these daily activities manifest absolute reality. While this is so, the fish and birds have never been apart from the water and the sky—it’s just that when the need is large the use is large, and when the requirement is small the use is small.


The Buddhist way is beyond being and non-being. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. However, we should know that if birds are separated from their own element they will die. To say that one should not use a fan because the wind is constant, that there will be a wind even when one does not use a fan, fails to understand both constancy and the nature of the wind.

But this life and death does not just mean the problem of life and death.

Genjo Koan | Suzuki Roshi Dharma Talks

In like manner, if a person is confused about the mind-body and discriminates the myriad things, there is the error of thinking that one’s own mind or self is eternal. When the Dharma does not yet completely fill the mind-body, we think that it is already sufficient.

The first chapter in this collection is the GenjoKoan It was written when Dogen was 34 years old mid-autumn and given to Mitsuhide Koab, a layman in Kyushu. The moment the Dharma is been [ sic ] rightly transmitted to you, you become the Person of your original part.

And it can be said that the sky lives by birds and the water by fish, and those birds are life and fish are life. When all things are just what they are [apart from discrimination], delusion and enlightenment exist, religious practice exists, birth exists, death exists, Buddhas exist, genio ordinary beings exist. Dogen can be quite cryptic, and these commentaries can show you how to get gebjo to the world as he describes it. Those who deny the need for fanning because the nature of wind is stationary and because the wind is sensed without the use of a fan understand neither the eternal presence of the wind nor its nature.


Ash abides in the phenomenal expression of ash, which fully includes future and past. Know that water is life and air is life. Birth is an expression complete this moment. All—when all things are in Buddhist way or Buddhist phenomena, we are enlightenment and ignorance, something to study, life and death, buddha, and people.

Zen in daily life

But upon looking carefully at the ship, you see that it is the ship that is actually moving. A monk approached and said, “Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach.

Firewood becomes ash, and it does not become firewood again. A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s “Sansuikyo”.

Further, some are continually enlightened beyond enlightenment but some add more and more illusion. The secular world and the Buddhist world include a great many situations, but we can view them and understand them only as far as our eyes of Buddhist study allow. To study oneself is to forget oneself.

Just as ashes do not become logs again after becoming ashes, man does not live again after death. Yet the great ocean is not circular. Showing of 11 reviews. Those who deny the need for fanning because the nature of wind is stationary and be cause the wind is sensed without the use of a fan understand neither the eternal presence of the wind nor its nature. So we can conclude that water is life and the sky is life; at the same time, birds are life, and fish are life; it may be that life is birds and life is fish.