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Dharma Class with Myoki Raizelah Bayen : Discovering Your Genjo Koan Workshop

  • Saturday, February 03, 2024

Myoki Raizelah leads class participants in an exploration of Eihei Dogen's Genjo Koan during this workshop session of her shuso's class, Discovering Your Genjo Koan.  This class was offered in support of the community's Winter Practice Period.

Stream audio:

Stream video:

Myoki Raizelah's talk notes:

Genjo Koan Service - 20 minutes

Genjo Koan Talk - 20 minutes

Here are some translations: Realizing Reality as It Is. Being fully present with the present moment. Actualizing the fundamental point. Showing up fully. 

To review, Koan is traditionally used to denote an individual case which is recorded as a public law through a court of justice. Ko means “to make public or to equalize.” This is referencing a public case or the declaration of law based on a specific case, based on someone’s individual behavior. It references those principles and laws which make the world upright and orderly.  It refers to both differentiation (what is individual), as well as to fairness and equality. It refers to both individuality and globality. Here, both the relative and absolute; to differentiation and boundlessness. It’s both difference and harmony.

So, you could say a Koan refers to the ultimate question concerning life, the universe and everything. A Koan is not something you get an answer to and then say you're done. You can explore it forever. You can sit with it your whole life. 

Here are some questions for you:

What is the fundamental question for you?

How do you touch in with that? Can you touch this moment? 

Why are you practicing? Your reason for being here? What is your intention or motivation?

What is your fundamental question? Your fundamental reason for being here?

What is important to you? What do you want to know? Why are you here today?

How do you fully show up in your life? How do you actualize the fundamental point right now?

Why is there so much suffering? How do you meet this suffering?

This is another way to practice. Contemplation. 

I encourage you to sit with these questions, this type of inquiry, as we move through our exploration of the Genjo Koan. 

Remember the “An” in Koan  means to massage, to press or to touch. How do you massage Reality? Or massage the Absolute? How do you touch the Absolute? Think about it. Can you feel it with your hands or feel it with your body?

What is your Genjo Koan? 

How do you actualize the reality of yourself? How do you actualize your fundamental point? 

How do you fully show up?

What would your Genjo Koan mean?

I am encouraging you to hold these questions in your heart-mind as we move through our Genjo Koan exploration this morning and this practice period.


Writing Exercises 

I will chant one section of Genjo Koan and then ask you to write the line that stands out for you.  What line pops out at you? Call your attention? What makes your head turn or calls your attention?

(Read Section 1)

 Now I am going to give you 5 minutes to write a stream of consciousness about that line. There’s no correct way to do this. Just write what comes up -  whatever bubbles up for you.

(after 5 minutes)

Stop please and underline the line that feels most important or salient to you. What line stands out to you? What pops out to you?

Followed by a stream of consciousness writing about that line (5 min). Stop and underline the most important line that you wrote. Followed by a stream of consciousness writing about that line (5 min).

(Repeat this exercise 2 times for the 2 sections)

Now, please choose one line from each exercise and create a 3-line poem to share.

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