On the Spiritual Question Before Your Very Eyes (Genjo Koan)

Eihei Dogen

This is one of the best known chapters of Dogen’s Shobogenzo, the great early summa of Zen monastic teaching. According to Shohaku Okumura, this is the best text to start to study Dogen’s work, and it is really important to understand the meaning of zazen practice and daily activities as boddhisatva practice. The title means that genjo —the reality actually and presently taking place— is koan —absolute truth and also a question from reality to us— and that koan is nothing other than genjo —things actually happening in front of our eyes.

The deeper the reflection, the higher the light: how long the period of your spiritual awakening will last depends on how large your drop of water is and how full your moon is seen to be.

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Follow this link for full access to the translation of the Shobogenzo, courtesy of Shasta Abbey.

Okumura-sensei’s comments are from the Soto Zen journal Dharma Eye, Nov. 1997.