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Dropping Off Body and Mind


Great Master Dogen’s expression dropping off body and mind has actually recorded the creativity of lots of who have actually heard it and has actually been the topic of much research study and scholarship. The expression appears to come from with Dogen’s master Tendo Nyojo, taking place often times in Dogen’s record of his discussions with his master.

Dogen himself utilizes the expression in a regularly priced estimate passage from Genjokoan, a crucial chapter in his Shobogenzo:

To research study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To research study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be confirmed by all things. To be confirmed by all things is to let the body and mind of self and the body and mind of others drop off. There is a trace of awareness that can not be comprehended. We constantly reveal the ungraspable trace of awareness.

The above translation is by Shohaku Okumura, from the chapter called Dropping Off Body and Mind in his bookRealizing Genjokoan Here becomes part of Okumura’s description of dropping off body and mind from the exact same chapter:

We have various experiences throughout the course of our lives, and in the procedure of experiencing these billions of things we produce a self-image. We pertain to consider ourselves as incapable or capable, remarkable or inferior, abundant or bad, truthful or deceitful. We specify ourselves in this method and hang on to concepts of who we are; we produce the karmic self. But when we being in zazen, we released all these self-images. When we open the hand of idea, these ideas drop off and the body and mind are launched from karmic bindings.

These billions of experiences have actually not simply produced a self-image, they have actually produced our entire world-view and method of remaining in the world. Another term for this is conditioning— we have actually been conditioned by whatever that has actually taken place to us in our lives. Meditation reveals us that we do not require to be bound by our conditioning, we do not need to be restricted by what has actually taken place to us in the past, by the method things have actually been.

And it is not simply our minds, however our bodies likewise, that are short-term collections of particles, continuously in flux, difficult to hang on to.

As another of the Soto Zen forefathers, Sekito Kisen, puts it in Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage (trans. Taigen Dan Leighton):

Let go of centuries and unwind totally.

Open your hands and walk, innocent.

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