Circle of the way #2

“Our practice is not a kind of training for the sake of making an ignorant person smart, clever and finally enlightenment. Each action, each moment of sitting, is arousing Bodhi mind, practice, awakening and nirvana. Each moment is perfect and yet within this perfect moment we have a direction, the bodhisattva vows.”

— Shohaku Okumura Roshi

This explanation of Dogen’s Circle of the Way is explained by Okumura Roshi in his introduction to the book, which he translated for Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, The Wholehearted Way.

Gyoji dokan means circle of the way. Gyoji means practice or protection of practice.

Do means way. Kan means circle. Which is:

  1. Hosshin, arousing Bodhi mind
  2. Shugyo, practice
  3. Bodhi, awakening
  4. Nirvana

Dogen’s circle is not one directional from starting point to goal. Rather the way is a circle:

  1. We arouse Bodhi mind moment by moment
  2. We practice moment by moment
  3. We become fully aware moment by moment
  4. And we are in nirvana moment by moment

We practice all four of these moment to moment and we continue to do it ceaselessly.

“Our practice is perfect in each moment and yet we have a direction toward buddha.”

“The four bodhisattva vows are our direction within our moment-by-moment practice. And yet each moment is perfect. Since our delusion is inexhaustible, at no time can we eliminate all our delusions. Still we try to do it moment by moment. But even though we try as hard as possible to do it, we cannot be perfect. So we should repent. And repentance becomes energy to go further, to practice further in the direction of buddha. Our practice is endless. Enlightenment is beginningless.”

From Gakudo Yojinshu, Dogen Zenji wrote:

Practitioners of the Way must first of all have faith in the Way. Those who have faith in the Buddha Way must believe that one is within the Way from the beginning, that one is free from delusive desires, upside-down ways of seeing things, excesses or deficiencies and mistakes”

Each action in our day-to-day lives should be a manifestation of the Way. We practice because we are already in the Way.

We are in the Way from beginningless beginning, and yet we are deluded human beings to the endless end. So our practice, our vow is endless. If we practice in that way, then each activity, each practice moment by moment, is the perfect manifestation of the buddha way.

— Okumura Roshi