Gorintu: the five mahabhutas
eMirror Vol 27, No. 01
Friday, January 6th, 2023
Edited by the Practice Council
The White Wind Zen Community:
An international community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985.
Now, when the Buddha begins to answer his son, he doesn’t say anything about mindfulness of the breath. He just starts off by saying, “Whatever is internal to the individual which is solid, or has become solid, or is derived from solidity, such as the hair on the head, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinus, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, pleura, spleen, lung, intestines, bowels, stomach, faeces, and whatever else is internal to an individual and is experienced as hard or solid is said to be the internal earth element. “ And then he says, "Rahula, the internal earth element, together with the external earth element, are the earth element." And he goes on to speak about water, fire, air, and space.
This is the teaching of the mahabhutas1 or dhatus, the elements that comprise body and mind and world as things that are arising. Usually the bhutas are presented simply as the four of earth, water, fire, and air, but in this case the Buddha adds a fifth, space. The mahabhutas are a description of the components of the first skandha of form. The Buddha is thus picking up from where he had left off in his earlier instructions to Rahula.
In this Teaching water does not just mean lakes and rivers and seas, or pus, blood, sweat, tears; it most basically means the quality of cohesion, of holding together.
Earth is not just bones, not just faeces, not just soil; it means the feeling of hard or soft, it means any quality of surface or texture.
Fire is not just something to light your cigarette with. And it is not just having a bit of a fever, and it is not just the heat of the sun; it has a quality of burning, something which consumes. This moment consumes itself, moment after moment, rising and falling. And it has a quality of something becoming lighter. As something has burned, is rendered to ash, its substance becomes more and more transparent.
Air is movement, vibration.
Space is the context of all things. Space is between things, space is around things, and I think if we look very closely, we will see that space is within things.
1 In Japanese the gorintu. See also the teachings on the mahabhutas in The Straight Path: Zen Teachings on the Foundations of Mindfulness by Ven. Anzan Hoshin Roshi, Great Matter Publications, 1994 and in the Complete Teachings of Reality: The Development of Buddhist Psychology.
-Ven Anzan Hoshin roshi, continuing Teisho Two: "The Elements of Bodymind" in the series "Flowers and Worms", Hanamatsuri sesshin, April 11th to 14th, 1991, Zazen-ji.
Fusatsu: January 18th.
Introduction to Zen Workshop Ottawa
The next Introduction to Zen Workshop will take place on Saturday, January 7th, at 1:45 p.m. To register: https://IntroductionToZenWorkshop.eventbrite.ca; for more information please see https://wwzc.org/introduction-zen-workshop-ottawa
January Two-day Sesshin:
The January two-day sesshin will begin at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 13th and will end at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 15th. Probationary formal students and formal students are reminded to send their schedule as soon as possible.
The Roshi is continuing an extended period of "self-isolation" due to underlying health issues until the COVID-19 situation clarifies.
Long Distance Training Program:
For students living an hour or more commuting distance from the monastery in Ottawa, please visit this Web Page: https://wwzc.org/long-distance-training-program
White Wind Zen Community Website Update
“River of Memory”: transcript of teisho presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi at Zazen-ji, on March 21st, 1991:
Rev. Chiso anagarika sat her weekly semi-retreat on Tuesday, January 3rd at her home in the Berkshires. Rodney Gallant sat a one-day retreat on Tuesday, December 27th at his home in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Julien Jefferson sat a four and a half-day retreat from Friday, December 30th to Tuesday, January 3rd at Dainen-ji. Thach Hoang sat a one and a half-day retreat from Sunday, January 1st to Monday, January 2nd at his home in Laval, Quebec. Beth Buerkle sat a partial retreat on Monday, January 2nd at her home in Chamcook, New Brunswick.
If you would like to sit a retreat at home please follow the schedule outlined in this page:
https://wwzc.org/retreat-schedule-public-students. After your retreat, please send an email to email@example.com to confirm that you sat a retreat and include the duration and location.
Recorded Teachings Schedule
Saturday, January 7th to Saturday, January 14th
Saturday, January 7th: "The Landscape of Reality" by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi: "The Practice of Wonder" (4 of 12, 24 minutes)
Sunday, January 8th: SAkN: "Questioning the Enigma" by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi: "Dukkha is Bad Space" (teisho 4 of 4)
Monday, January 9th: "The Touchstone" by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei: "The Touchstone 8, Honestly" (teisho 9 of 22, 22 minutes)
Thursday, January 12th: "The Touchstone" by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei: "The Touchstone 8, Honestly" (teisho 9 of 22, 22 minutes)
Saturday, January 14th: "The Landscape of Reality" by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi: "What the Wind Wants" (5 of 12, 26 minutes)
Listening to Teisho and Dharma Talks
Associate and general students should continue to follow the recorded Teachings schedule for the sitting you were attending at the monastery, and listen to that during your home practice.
You can access the online Recorded Teachings Library at wwzc.org/recorded-teachings-schedule.
You can also use the streaming site at app.wwzc.org to live stream recordings from the online Library. If you have forgotten your password or need assistance with accessing the recorded Teachings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that teisho should be listened to in the correct order and with none missed out as themes, metaphors, questions raised and answered evolve in spirals throughout the series.
Recorded Teachings for Public Access
While most of the online Recorded Teachings library is password-protected and only accessible to students of the Lineage of Zen Master Anzan Hoshin, a small selection of MP3 recordings of teisho are accessible to the public at wwzc.org/recorded-teachings Additional recordings will be uploaded periodically. MP3 recordings of four recorded teisho by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi are currently available:
Dharma Position https://wwzc.org/dharma-position
Eyes See, Ears Hear https://wwzc.org/eyes-see-ears-hear
Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi's reading of his translation of Eihei Dogen zenji's “Bendowa: A Talk on Exerting the Way”: https://wwzc.org/bendowa-talk-exerting-way
Translations and Texts
Photograph of Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi at Daijozan, mid-1980s,
by Ven. Shikai Zuiko sensei
Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi has recently completed translation work on some shorter texts by Eihei Dogen zenji from the Shobogenzo. The work on these particular texts is based upon the literal translations that he worked on with Joshu Dainen roshi at Hakukaze-ji around 1977-78 followed by many years of putting them down, picking them up, and polishing. Naturally, more essential texts such as Uji, Genjokoan, Shinjin Gakudo and some 40 others were completed first and have been given extensive commentaries by the Roshi. This batch of texts includes Baike: Plum Blossoms, Ryugin: Howling Dragon, and Udonge: The Udumbara Blossoming and many others are nearing completion. Annotation details and successfully conveying them across various document formats are the issue at this point.
Work on Bussho: Buddha Nature, a very long and nuanced text by Dogen zenji, is ongoing.
Roshi is also finishing an update to the Saijo Shingi: The Deportment of Radiance, our manual of monastic training standards which is a supplement to the ancient Eihei Shingi and Keizan Shingi.
(do not satisfy hunger)
Begun by Ven. Shikai Zuiko o-sensei
Finished by Rev. Fushin Comeau shuso following her death
Three worlds; Triloka (S, P); Sangai (J): Desire, form, formlessness. Coarse to subtle modes of conditioned experience or samsara.
Posted December 30th, 2022. New entries are posted every two weeks.
Office of the Tenzo
Dogen zenji taught in the Tenzo Kyokun: Instructions for the Tenzo (https://wwzc.org/dharma-text/tenzo-kyokun-instructions-tenzo) that the work of preparing and serving meals is "a matter for realized monks who have the mind of the Way “, or by senior disciples who have roused the Way-seeking mind." In alignment with this, part of Zen Master Anzan Hoshin's samu for the Community involves personally overseeing the activities of the ancient Office of Tenzo. Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei serves as Tenzo and Mishin godo and Saigyo ino offer assistance as tenzo-anja. The following meals were prepared on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings:
Frittata made from leftover noodles from Joya (Shanghai noodles with lots of thinly sliced vegetables in a spicy garlic sauce); warmed rolls and a salad of Romaine, leaf lettuce, radishes, celery, cucumber, thinly sliced red onion with dressing (mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, black pepper and honey).
Brown and white Thai rice; Thai curry (Aroy-D coconut milk cooked until reduced, red Thai curry paste, lime juice, thinly sliced carrots, leeks, bamboo shoots; Green beans and gailan with garlic and lime juice
Vegetarian option: Deep fried tofu added to their curry.
For those who wished to supplement their diet with meat: Sauteed pieces of chicken thigh added to their curry.
Calrose brown rice with scallions; mushroom soup (mushroom stock, slivered ginger, shaoxing cooking wine, white pepper) with chopped gai lan and bok choy; ‘crispy tofu’ (deep fried battered tofu); a dipping sauce of kecap manis, rice vinegar, minced Thai red chillies, and shoyu.
If you would like to thank someone for a contribution they have made, please feel free to send an email to Jinmyo sensei at rengezo@gmail dot com, but be sure to type "eMirror” in the subject line.
From Mishin godo:
Thank you to the Roshi for the recorded Teaching "Joya 2009: Blue Moon" which we listened to during Joya. Thank you to Jinmyo sensei for leading Joya and preparing a delicious meal for those attending Joya. Thank you to Saigyo ino for communicating with contractors to arrange for a broken window to be fixed. Thank you to Fushin shuso for tending to the care and feeding and frequent requests to sit on the roof deck of Kuro, a monastery cat. Thank you to Leonardo Nobrega for ripping the audio cassette tapes of the "Vimalakirti" teisho series into digital files as part of archiving activities. Thank you to David Gallant for setting up a larger and more robust set of drives to house important monastery files. Thank you to Greg Parker and Christina Comeau for cleaning the front hallway boot mats after the Monday evening sitting.
From Fushin shuso:
Thank you to Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi for Joya and for the teisho "Blue Moon" played on the evening of December 31st. Thank you to Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei for leading Joya and for written instructions on functional talking for the Sangha board on the first floor of Dainen-ji. Thank you to Julien Jefferson for a pleasing photograph.
From David Gallant:
Thank you to Mishin godo for arranging for the purchase of 6 new 'NAS grade' hard drives and a storage bay system so that I can work on replacing our current (9-year old) 20TB file server at Dainen-ji with a new fully mirrored 36TB file server.
From Stacey Loyer:
Thank you to the Roshi for allowing me to attend the Saturday morning sittings, which enables me to practise in-person with the Sangha while still meeting my weekly evening childcare obligations. Thank you to Mishin godo for the reminders and instructions during my recent practice interview, shared with a humorous and helpful metaphor. Thank you to the monastics and students who clean and maintain the shared spaces of Dainen-Ji, such as the practice rooms, washrooms, change rooms, and the area near the front door where we put our boots and coats.
From the Office of the Treasurer:
Thank you to Sam MacFarlane, Thach Hoang, and Adda Hernandez for donations.