By coincidence the same part of Zen Master Dogen’s teaching from the Shobogenzo, in the chapter Genjo-koan (The Problem of Everyday Life), has come before me several times recently in a couple of books I’m dipping into. Here is the particular section:
“To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever”.
The matter of studying the self, of becoming thoroughly familiar with the self, is at the core of Buddhist teaching and fundamental to Zen Master Dogen’s teaching and instructions on meditation. The study mentioned in the quote does not result in understanding or knowledge in the normal way of thinking about study. Just sitting, when sitting, walking, lying down… or ‘when ever’, is to study oneself. Great! Simple, yet not easy.
Just in case there is any misunderstanding, studying the self is not to become self obsessed or self absorbed, that’s deliberately thinking about the self. One of the books I have beside me is, The Art of Just Sitting edited by John Daido Loori. Here is a review of the book.