Bob’s translation of Dogen’s Genjo Koan

My translation of Dogen’s Genjo Koan, called The Present Issue, is now on-line.

One Response to “Bob’s translation of Dogen’s Genjo Koan”

  1. PieyAnd Says:

    Gavin How has a bi-lingual approach eienchrd your practice? The quick answer is that it’s eienchrd my approach enormously, but the reason is that after all these years, I am at least to a degree that’s useful to me bilingual. It would be a waste for me not to explore the practice in both languages. But does it make sense for everyone to? Probably not. Sometimes I’m surprised at how much non-English chanting goes on in rooms where no one speaks any of the language being chanted. But I do sympathize we’re all, in our ways, wrestling with the fact that our teachers (or our teachers’ teachers) talked inside their heads in a language that is not ours. How to maintain the dialogue?I do think there’s real value in chanting as a pure act, without the added layer of dissecting the actual content as we go. For that, the dharanis, or mantras, of the tradition serve a nice purpose no one who chants Dai Hi Shin Darani really knows what it means beyond being a kind of cheer for Avalokiteshvara, so we can just bring a kind of hopefulness about compassion to it and chant our lungs out. There’s a place for that. But I wouldn’t ask Westerners to chant, for example, Harmony of Difference and Equality in classical Japanese. That’s one that Japanese people can understand (albeit with difficulty) in the original, so I think it’s only reasonable that we should have the same luxury. I also feel strongly that the dedication of merit should be in the language of the people actually participating. I can’t think of a reason for doing otherwise.But I’m saying this as someone who gets to design the service. What to do if you find yourself confronted with an all-Japanese service? Just go for it. Enjoy offering up your voice in that moment, and in another moment, go back and figure out what you’ve been saying. I understand what you’re saying about Halloween, but it’s only play-acting if you’re also play-acting. You always have the option to choose to do it for real.Gassho,-koun

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