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Chapter 2: Dissolved, Just like Ice

Hence the master is one of the most miraculous phenomena. He is and he is not. He is to you, from the outside; he is not at all from the inside. Inside is pure space. This you have to remember before I talk about Dogen, because he is talking about the difficulties of the disciple.

Dogen wrote:

Now, when we see the followers of an enlightened Zen master..

In fact a Zen master has no followers. That is the beauty of Zen: he has lovers, he has people as fellow travelers, but not followers. Others have followers - following means imitating, following means preparing oneself step by step in a discipline. It is more or less creating yourself in the image of your master, but that again is hypocrisy.

I will not say,.followers of an enlightened Zen master. If there are followers then the master is not enlightened. If the master is enlightened there are only lovers, fellow travelers. The question of following does not arise.

I make this statement with absolute authority, that Dogen has missed the point.

He says:

. we realize that they have many difficulties in hearing his true teachings. True aspirants of Buddhism amount to twenty or thirty - nay, to one hundred or to one thousand. In this case, if a master tries to lead every one of them, he will find the days and nights too short. Further, they have no ear for his teachings, however hard he may try to lead them.

Dogen does not understand the working of a master. Perhaps these statements were made by him before he himself became a master. There is a difficulty, because in those days there was no printing, no writing, just disciples taking notes. So it is very difficult to know whether it is Dogen’s own mistake or the mistake of the person who was taking the notes.

But anyway we don’t know who took the notes. One thing is certain, that Dogen must have said something to create the fault.

First, True aspirants of buddhism. He is still talking in terms of “isms” and Zen is not an “ism”. Zen is freedom from all “isms” - Buddhism included. And aspirants are for the truth, not for Buddhism, not for Hinduism, not for Christianity. These are not aspirants, these are conditioned people who are following their conditioning. They may find a certain solace, a consolation, but they will never find the truth, because truth is not part of any theology.

Dogen’s statements are very amateurish. true aspirants is enough; don’t say of Buddhism. Why should anybody be an aspirant of Buddhism? Everybody is a buddha himself. So it is better to say: “Seekers, aspirants, searchers of one’s own being.” Why bring theologies in? That is not the Zen way.

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