Daido roshi on dropping off body and mind: case 108

Lighting incense, holding the heart/mind with ease:DSC_0056

Dropping Off Body and Mind

Dharma Discourse by Daido Loori, roshi

(from Mountain Record, vol XXI, no.1)

Koans of the Way of Reality, Case 108

Dogen studied with Master Rujing. One evening during the intensive summer training, in the first year of Pao-chang, 1225, Rujing shouted at a disciple, “When you study under a master, you must drop the body and mind. What is the use of single-minded intense sleeping?”

Sitting right beside this monastic, Dogen suddenly attained great enlightenment. Immediately, he went up to the abbot’s room and burned incense. Rujing said, “Why are you burning incense?” Dogen said, “Body and mind have been dropped off.” Rujing said, “Body and mind dropped off. The dropped-off body and mind.” Dogen said, “This may only be a temporary ability. Please don’t approve me arbitrarily.” Rujing said, “I am not.” Dogen said, “What is that which isn’t given arbitrary approval?” Rujing said, “Body and mind dropped off.” Dogen bowed. Rujing said, “The dropping off is dropped.”

Daido’s Commentary

“Body and mind fallen away” is a realm in which there are no doctrines or marvels, no certainties or mysteries. It’s just “when you see, there is not a single thing.” Having reached this place, Dogen expressed it to his teacher. Rujing then approved and Dogen bowed. Having passed through the forest of brambles, he then passed beyond the other side, too. Rujing said, “The dropping off is dropped.”

We should understand that this body and mind is not the bag of skin. So I ask you, what is it that is dropped off? Who is it that drops off? This is the place of inquiry that must be clarified. Haven’t you heard the words of the teachers of old? When the ten thousand things have been extinguished, there is still something that is not extinguished. What is it?

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The capping verse:

The thought-cluttered bucket’s bottom broken;
Neither water nor moon remains.

This is a capping verse that my teacher, Maezumi Roshi, wrote when we were working on one of the books at Zen Center of Los Angeles. I was collecting capping verses and he looked through his notes and pulled this one out. I loved it and I still love it.

The thought-cluttered bucket’s bottom broken. The bucket is the container, the bag of skin, the illusion, the thing that we think we are. It’s the thing that’s in a constant state of becoming and change, the thing that we cling to, put our armor around, and try to protect so desperately. It’s the illusion that separates us from everything else, from everything that we need and from everything that we love. The illusion. When the thought-cluttered bucket’s bottom is broken, the body and mind fall away. The illusion falls away.

Neither water nor moon remains. The water—mind. The moon—enlightenment. Both gone. What is it that remains? You should understand that when the ten thousand things have been extinguished, there is still something that is not extinguished. What is it?!

If you don’t know, you have an imperative to find out.


May the day be well,

Genju

4 thoughts on “Daido roshi on dropping off body and mind: case 108

  1. Yes, I’m unexpectedly moved by this passage of a teacher I’ve never met. I’ve spent time reading through his teachings online – quite wonderful – and also returning to some books that I had only skimmed before. What a gift his life has been!

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