“Although the white clouds have no mind, wherever they go they seem to be attracted to the old mountains.
What are these white clouds? What are these old mountains?
Dōgen struck the sitting platform with his whisk. After a pause Dōgen said:
No guests remain within the dragon gate.
Turtles and cranes are inherently mountain sages.”
* * * * *
In Dogen’s Extensive Record: A Translation of Dogen’s Eihei Koroku, Taigen Dan Leighton footnotes as follows:
“These two sentences are a quote from Dongan Changcha, an early Song dynasty master descended from Yaoshan.
Clouds are images for monks or practitioners; mountains are images of masters or of ultimate reality.
The dragon gate is a legendary Chinese underwater gateway that fish swim through and become dragons.
Fish do not stay there, but either become dragons or don’t swim through.
Similarly clouds visit but do not remain on any mountain.
Turtles and cranes are symbols of longevity. “Mountain sages” are sennin, mountain hermits said to have very long lives.”
[Eihei Koroku, Dharma Hall Discourse 65]
Photo and creation by Rosa Bellino, used with her permission.