Saturday, July 30, 2011

Closing The Eye

It's been fully nine months since I cracked open the Shobogenzo, and finishing it leaves me feeling at a bit of a loss. There are books it has taken me longer to read: the first time I took on The Lord of the Rings, when I was eleven or twelve, it took me a whole year to plough through it, though I managed to do it in three weeks a couple of years later, when eating and sleeping were less important; as a student I also devoted an entire year to A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, though since I spent most of that year living in Paris, I did have many other divertissements as well. When I finished that, I had an immediate impulse to start it all over again, which I didn't, and haven't since, though it still sits patiently on my shelf. I am not sure I want to go all the way through the Shobogenzo again, though I imagine I shall be cherry-picking my favourite sections on a regular basis. There are still a few paragraphs I would like to quote, so don't be surprised to see it popping up here - in fact if I get organised, I might pre-load some entries to come out during sesshin...
In the meantime, and somewhat serendipitously, a dear friend asked if I would plug her new venture:
"I am drawn to tweet the Shobogenzo.  My hope is to post the entirety of Kaz's translation, in increments of 140 characters or less.  The project's Twitter handle is @dogenzenji108
Could you mention this on your blog?  I was hoping other people might start tweeting Dogen as well and we could cultivate a sort of Diamond Sutra-style digital entwining chorus of texts".
Only too happy to oblige. I think you can land on this planet here - I am no more on Twitter than I am on Facebook. So if the passages I have posted have been too dense for you, perhaps the condensed versions might trigger something more easily. May we never be without Dogen in our lives.

16 comments:

Myomon said...

Shundo, I did the same thing while @ Tass from Sept. 2010 until Apr. 2011. Decided to read the fascicles I had never read before and then read (again) everything else. I didn't quite make it through the more familiar ones, but I did pretty well. A question: though I love the idea of a virtual Diamond sutra-like rendition of the Shobogenzo by whatever means, wouldn't tweeting the entire thing, even 140 characters at a time, be an infringement of Kaz's copyright? Or am I hopelessly out of it (and I don't have a Twitter account, either).

peter said...

Not being a tweeter, I cannot write directly to the person who’s planning to post the Shobo Genzo in its entirety. Unless she has written permission from Shambhala Publications, such an undertaking would be a gross infringement of copyright.

Anonymous said...

I am the respectful tweeter. The citation is the profile of the account, and I have been posting the citation every day, and every thirty or forty tweets. I had hoped this would be a communal practice that would be an expression of devotion to the text. It would take years to tweet the book. I guess this question will end the project even as it has barely begun.

Anonymous said...

The copyright is held by San Francisco Zen Center.

Shundo said...

The plot thickens...

peter said...

Indeed! "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo," edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, is published by Shambhala Publication, with the copyright held by San Francisco Zen Center.

Melanie G, Austin Zen Center practitioner said...

Has it really been that long? As a relatively new practitioner (about a year and a half), Dogen was initially intimidating to me. Thanks to your posts, Shundo, I feel like he is more accessible and even inspiring. Thank you.

Shundo said...

I think it's okay to feel intimidated by Dogen. I don't really have any idea what he is talking about.

Myomon said...

Hello Dogen devotees,

Maybe all that's required is an inquiry to the copyright holder. In the old analog world, you could quote short passages with credit given and not run afoul of copyright. You could seek permission for using larger chunks. It's a brave new world, in any case.

One of my favorite Dogen passages: "The spring breeze and the autumn moon of five or ten years, unbeknownst to us, have the ring of emancipation beyond sound and form. This voice is not known to the self, not understood by the self. You should learn to treasure each moment of sustained practice. Do not assume that not to speak is useless. It is entering the monastery, leaving the monastery. The bird's path is the forest. The entire world is the forest, the monastery." (Gyoji)

Shundo said...

That's very beautiful, Myomon, even I haven't the patience to count to see if that would fall into the realm of tweeting.

LWA said...

Try pasting it into a word processing document and using word count.

Shundo said...

I definitely don't have the patience to do that...

ksellman said...

Tolkien goes a lot faster when you skip the Elvish poetry. (Er, *ahem* so I've heard...)

Ruth said...

485,341. Words, that is. At 140 characters per tweet, it would depend on how long the words contained in each particular tweet. Say an average of 14 words per tweet = 34,667 tweets. One tweet per day = 94 years... I think the copyright might have expired by then :-)

Shundo said...

Obviously I have all kinds reading this blog...

Melanie G, Austin Zen Center practitioner said...

Somebody needs to start reading Dogen to their newborn in tweet length and hope they live through their 94th year. I guess if the reading started in utero they could shave off some months.