Posted inDogen, Koans, MC Podcasts

Teisho: Book of Equanimity Case 21, Ungan Sweeps the Ground

April 7, 2016

Description: Case 21, Book of Equanimity: Ungan Sweeps the Ground

When Ungan was sweeping the ground, Dôgo said, “You are working hard, aren’t you.” Ungan said, “You should know there is one who does not work hard.” Dôgo said, “Is that so? You mean there is a second moon?” Ungan raised his bamboo broom and said, “What number moon is this?” Dôgo was silent.

Gensha said, “That is precisely the second moon.”

Unmon said, “The man-servant greets the maid-servant politely.”

This koan is a dharma duel between Ungan and Dogo which sets up a seeming contrast between the relative and absolute worlds. Dogo presents the phenomenal realm and Ungan presents the essential, the Dharma-body where all things are empty. Through practice we can experience this essential realm in which the separate self is gone, a boundless world which is nonetheless in no way separate from the everyday world of phenomena. Students often feel they need to somehow go from one realm to the other, in order to have increasing contact with essential reality.  But Henry (along with most Zen teachers) believes this view is incorrect. Rather, as Dogen said, “Buddha’s way leaps clear of the many and the one.” Everything is free to be just as it is. Listen and enter into the Dharma of this intriguing  koan.

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Post & Featured Image Credit: Japanese Garden, Nordpark, Duesseldorf, Germany, by ri Sa, CC BY 2.0

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