These past days, or is weeks now, I’ve had the space and opportunity to do some spiritual reading. This book fell off the shelf at me: Visions of Awakening Space and Time – Dogen and the Lotus Sutra by Taigen Dan Leighton. Zen Master Dogen quotes from the Lotus Sutra regularly in the Shobogenzo and clearly he holds this sutra in high esteem. For example it was Dogen, apparently, who added The Lotus Sutra at the end of the recitation of the Ten Buddhas which is spoken during formal meals and during a number of other ceremonies we do. The Lotus Sutra is included as a Buddha.
A few weeks ago while walking in the Lake District a woman asked about how I regarded the ‘flowery language’ of the Lotus Sutra and to be honest I’d never really applied myself to thinking about it. Off the top of my head I’d said I regarded such writing as helping the reader/listener to expand into a wider and deeper frame of mind, beyond the opposites, from where we are able to receive the teaching that follows. From my recent reading I understand the language of the Sutra and also the language of Dogen and where our Soto Zen emphasis of locating ‘practice’ in everyday living comes from. I’m so grateful for the chance to study a little.
Here is a verse Dogen wrote which appears in the last volume of Eihei Koroku (talks given to his monastic community). This verse is the first in a series called Fifteen Verses on Dwelling in the Mountains.
How delightful, mountain dwelling so solitary and tranquil.
Because of this I always read the Lotus Blossom Sutra.
With wholehearted vigor under trees, what is there to love or hate?
How enviable; sound of evening rains in deep autumn.
And spring rains here in this Black Forest valley are pretty wonderful too.