Monday, June 04, 2007

Not a Hollow Cheer

Yesterday it was my turn to lead the monthly festival ceremony. We celebrated the life and teaching of Dogen, and then afterwards I gave a talk to the gathered community and visting guests. Now it's time to pack up the very many books I've been reading of Zen Master Dogens writings, and the commentaries on his writings, and file away my own voluminous notes on Dogen.

Over the last month I've gained a greater appreciation of our first Japanese Ancestor and his particular contribution to Buddhist thought and practice. In the statement the celebrant makes at the time of offering incense at the beginning of the ceremony I used the word stupendous to describe Dogen. While I do not find myself adequately equipped to wax lyrical, or write in detail about his teaching I can at least stand and cheer. He was stupendous, awesome in fact. That, however, is all to no avail if we were not to put his teaching into practice. That would make for a hollow cheer would it not? Here is the blessing verse:
This ceremony is offered in memory of the Great Priest, Eihei Dogen. First Japanese Ancestor and a stupendous figure in our Dharma Family.

“Time flies quicker than an arrow and life passes with greater transience than dew. The life of this one day, to-day, is absolutely vital life.”

Let us daily express gratitude. Let us keep alive the Smile of Shakyamuni Buddha as well as the Smile of all the Buddhas and Ancestors of present, past and future.
Blessing statement for Dogen Day, 2007.

The table where I studied while in Wales on retreat in May.