MAKING MOUNTAINS WALK: Okumura Roshi’s ‘Mountains and Waters’ Commentary
Allow me to speak from the heart, and please think what you will:
This is the finest book on Zen practice and teachings I have encountered in some 40 years of reading Zen books. Blow out the candle. This book makes mountains walk.
To my eye, this is the most precious of our precious books on Zen in modern times in English, so ring the bell. I feel so. Let me be among the first to call it a classic of our Soto Path. It brought me to tears many times.
This is Shohaku Okumura Roshi’s masterful commentary to Dogen Zenji’s masterful Shobogenzo-Sansuikyo, “The Mountains and Waters Sutra.” Ring a ding ding, the presentation of Master Dogen’s Way of Shikantaza is a gift that has always been ours. As astounding as have been Okumura’s prior works such as “Realizing Genjo Koan” … as cherished as are other modern classics like “Beginner’s Mind” and “Opening the Hand” … this offering is on a level of refinement a step beyond. (I put it on the line saying that.) Okumura has reached to new heights in his reaching old age.
But for that same reason, I am actually going to CAUTION some prospective readers:
Perhaps no book in English (in my heart) has ever so perfectly captured our way of Dogen and Shikantaza, “Just Sitting that Hits the Mark” … but to truly appreciate these essays, the reader needs to have a mature understanding and feel for both already deep down. If you understand Dogen, you will understand this book. If Dogen and our ways of “Goalless” Just Sitting are still a puzzle for someone, then aspects of this book may be just as puzzling. It is not a simple book for newcomers and those who don’t dig Dogen to the bone.
I might even say that reading this book is something of a test of one’s maturity in this Practice. The brilliance of these pages might elude some, but others will surely get what cannot be got. The trip through these mountains and rivers is worth it. I know of no English Zen book better equipped to bring understanding. This book is enlightenment itself.
Read it, walk with the mountains, flow with dancing waters.
Do I sound like I liked this book a little? 🙂
From the book description:
““Mountains and waters are the expression of old buddhas.”
So begins “Sansuikyō,” or “Mountains and Waters Sūtra,” a masterpiece of poetry and insight from Eihei Dōgen, the thirteenth-century founder of the Sōtō school of Zen.
Shohaku Okumura—renowned for his translations of and magisterial teachings on Dōgen—guides the reader through the rich layers of metaphor and meaning in “Sansuikyō,” which is often thought to be the most beautiful essay in Dōgen’s monumental Shōbōgenzō. His wise and friendly voice shows us the questions Dōgen poses and helps us realize what the answers could be. What does it mean for mountains to walk? How are mountains an expression of Buddha’s truth, and how can we learn to hear the deep teachings of river waters? Throughout this luminous volume, we learn how we can live in harmony with nature in respect and gratitude—and awaken to our true nature.”
Aug 7 2018 – Facebook post by Jundo Cohen