Full Bloom



A Compendium of Quotes, Poetry, and Notes about "Flowers in the Sky."

Starting From Poetic Reflections
On Zen Master Eihei Dogen's
Flowers in the Sky
and other essays from
The Treasury of the Eye of True Teaching



Michael P. Garofalo


July 15, 2005







                  In a flaming burst,
                          they kiss the earth,
                          shout to the sky:
                                "White!   Pink!   Yellow!"
                  Orchards of plums and peaches,  
                  Acres of mustard-greens.
                  From the Ten Directions:
                  "Spring brings on flowers,
                  Flowers bring on Spring."                                         


                  Coming, here, gone:
                  Flowers in the Sky.                                                                                          (2)
                  In the blink of one false eye,
                  In the blink of One True Eye,                                     (3)
                  Flowers in the empty sky;
                  Shimmering, scented ... gone,
                  Gone, gone, gone far beyond                                    (4)
                  Their seeds of arising.
                  But, staying, Here-Now,
                  A Great Marvel of Manifestation.                                (5)
                  Bodhisvattas - for the bees.


                  Soil, sun, rain, sky ...
                  Four Elements embracing,
                  Intertwined in mind.
                  Unfathomable Matrix;
                  Scaffolds on scaffolds
                  Grounded in Otherness.     
                            Below seeds, flowers, leaves,
                                       stems, roots ...
                            Below wet cells embraced,
                            Below atoms dancing on Energy ...
                            Deeper and deeper below into
                            What?  A Plenitude, sacredness. 
                                                    Emptiness in full bloom.
                            Above seeds, flowers, leaves,
                                        stems, roots ...
                            Above water, soil, air, sunlight ...
                            Above sensing, feeling, working, thinking ...
                            Higher and higher out towards
                            What?   "Vast emptiness, nothing holy."             (6)         
                                          Flowers in the sky.  


                            Leaping from the Ledge of Infinite Regress,
                            The Unmoved Mover fell into Formlessness:
                            Pure silence echoed between the galaxies,
                            Eons of eons vanished in a second,
                            Withered trees bloomed in fires,
                            Polar mountains melted, rivers went dry,
                            Thusness scattered in sixty directions,
                            Space became Time, time became things,
                            Black Holes filled with Nirvana,
                            A billion samadhi mirrors shattered,                   (7)
                            Galaxies snuggled within a single skull,
                            Many became One, One only, only One.           (8)
                            Then, the Divine Illuminatrix in All Beings
                            Opened Her clouded Eye, to see:
                                      Flowers in the Sky.




                             He sat for weeks under the Bodhi Tree
                             Before the morning sun Opened his Eyes;
                             Lotus blossoms fell from the sky.                      (9)
                             She walked through the Gateless Gate,
                             Upright, staff in hand;
                             Plum blossoms opened across the land.
                             Gnawing on his koan bone,
                             Suddenly, the taste of insight--
                             Blue flowers amidst the gravesites.
                             She sat and sat,
                             Till yea was nay, and nay was yea;
                             While roses bloomed on day by day.


                             Illusions, delusions, foolishness:
                             Those flowers falling from the sky.
                             Only the Mind's Eyes
                             Wishing for otherwise;
                             As always, embracing fertile lies.
                             Spinning fictions over facts;
                             Mythmaking, playful, eager to act,
                             Seeing what we want to see,
                             Seeking, yeasaying, seeding, giving it a try.
                             Having faith in Flowers in the Sky.





                             These yellow poppies are time,
                             These green fruits of white flowers are time,
                             These brown seeds of orange fruits are time,
                             These gray leafless trees are time.                   
                             And the five fingers of one black hand are time,
                             And the blinking of two blue eyes are time.
                             The dirty garden hoe and hoses are time,
                             And greasy tractor gears are time.                         (10)

                             The snows on Mt. Shasta melt time,
                             Moving Mojave sand dunes cover time,
                             Cold ocean waves at Gold Bluffs cut time,
                             The onion seedlings in Salinas sweeten time,
                             The roaring Feather River rapids erode time;
                             Ventura flower fields color time.                            (11)




                             Remembering is time, forgetting is time.
                             Black lines of scripture are time,
                             Great and small doubts are time,
                             Hungry ghosts and naked demons are time,
                             Newborn Gods are time.
                             Death is time, and conception is time.              
                             Vulgar time, broken time,
                             Our time, space-time, in time,
                             The Right time, before time, sublime time,
                             Standard time, beyond time, past time ...
                             Time and time again,                                             (12)
                             Explaining All and not explaining any-thing.
                             From Being-Lost, with no abode, selfless, bone dry;
                             Comes the time-Now for the enlightened cry:
                             "Flowers in the Sky!"





                             Imagine what the Will can Do,
                                          cannot do, will not do.       Imagine more.
                                          remove the offered flowers

                                          from the great stone Buddha's hands,
                                          before he's blown up at Bamiyan;
                                          and the dust and stones flying high,
                                          hide the flowers in the sky.                     (13) 




                             The Buddha raised one flower
                             Sharing a silent sign;
                             Maha-Kasyapa smiled,
                             Keeping an open mind.
                             Truly eye to eye, free and kind,
                             Outside any scriptures, beyond the lies;
                             Fresh flowers in a sunny sky.                               (14)



                             To dance at the still point of the Time beyond time,
                             Beyond pasts, within futures, this Moment
                             Now and forever, beyond minds.     
                             Not knowing of Who or why,
                             We stroll in rose gardens, and Love.
                             Precious flowers in the sky.                                  (15)




                             Speechless, Dogen stared,
                             Shivering in a turning white world
                             Raising cold dawn moons.
                             Bright white millions on millions
                             Of drifting flowery flakes
                             Fell fast from the Echizen sky.
                             Ice pure, elemental, quintessential
                             Wet, imperfect, flowing time
                             Packed by the hour, deeper
                             Deeper down to Winter's core.
                             The Temple of Eternal Peace creaked,
                             Snowflakes gathered on Dogen's robe,
                             One icy crystal streaked the True Eye
                             Glimpsing into Itself;
                             Another transmission:
                             Frozen flowers in the sky.  




                             To be continued ....




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Footnotes for Emptiness in Full Bloom


1.  "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 71.

     Where can you read Flowers in the Sky (Kuge) by Zen Master Dogen?

     According to Yasuda Joshu and Anzan Hoshin, the lecture 'Flowers of Space'
was "presented to the assembly at Kannondori-Koshohorin-ji on May 10th, 1243. 
Recopied by Ejo on January 27th, 1244 at the head monk's quarters in Kippo-ji;
copied again on August 28th, 1318 at the Guest Quarters of Eihei-ji." 

Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen
.   Translated by Thomas F. Cleary. 
Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1986.  The short essay, Flowers in the Sky,
is found on pages 64-75.  Shobogenzo means "Treasury of the Eye of True Teaching."  
Zen Master Eihei Dogen lived from 1200 - 1253. 

There is an on-line version of "Kuge: Flowers of Space" (33K) by Eihei Dogen zenji. 
It is translated by Yasuda Joshu roshi and Anzan Hoshin sensei.  Excerpted from the
forthcoming book Dogen: Zen Writings on the Practice of Realization.   

Master Dogen's Shobogenzo.    Translated by Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross
(Mike Cross).    Windbell Publications Ltd., 1994-1999.  1st Edition.  Four Volumes.  
Volume 3.   1997.   306 pages.   Contains:   Chapters 42 to 72 of Shobogenzo.  
Includes:  The Moon, Flowers in Space, All Things and Phenomena Preach
Dharma, Daily Life, and Samadhi.           

If the reader knows of other translations of "Flowers in the Sky," please send me the information.


2.   The phrase "Flowers in the Sky" is most often italicized in the Cleary translation. 
Dogen considers the use and meaning of the phrase by various Zen adepts.   The phrase
flowers in the sky is variously interpreted to mean:  Buddhist scriptures and teachings (p.67), 
enlightenment (p. 68), "the ineffable mind of nirvana" (p. 68), all phenomena (p. 69), 
beyond birth and death (p.69), visual disturbances caused by illness (p. 69),  
emptiness, illusions, non-substantiality.  

           "Nirvana and life-death are flowers in the sky." 
                  "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 72.
            "Enlightenment, nirvana, the body of reality, inherent nature, and so on are a
             few petals of the opening five petals of flowers in the sky." 
                   "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 68. 

3.   "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p 75.  

4.        "Gaté, Gaté, Paragaté, Parasumgaté Bodhi Svaha!"

            The Prajnaparamita is a great spiritual mantra,
            a great wisdom mantra,
            a supreme mantra,
            an unequalled mantra.
            It destroys all suffering,
            because it is the incorruptible truth.
            Hereafter, proclaim the great Prajnaparamita mantra:
            "Gate, gate, paragate, Parasumgate bodhi, svaha."

                                  -   The Heart Sutra



5.   "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 74.

6.    "Vast emptiness, nothing holy" is a phrase attributed to the Bodhidharma (circa 525).
         Refer to the Theosophy Library Notes on Bodhidrarma.

                     Originally, I came to this land
                     To rescue deluded people by transmitting the Dharma.
                     One flower will open with five petals
                     And the fruit will ripen by itself.
                            -    Bodhidharma
                                 "The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader,"  p. 9.


        In the "Platform Stura of the Sixth Patriarch," by Huineng (638-713),
translated and edited by Philip Yampolsky (Columbia University Press, 1967),
Huineng says:


If evil flowers bloom in the mind-ground,
Five blossoms flower from the stem.
Together they will create the karma of ignorance;
Now the mind-ground is blown by the winds of karma.

If correct flowers bloom in the mind ground,
Five blossoms flower from the stem.
Together they practice the prajna wisdom;
In the future this will be the enlightement of the Buddha.


7.         Enlightenment is basically not a tree,
            And the clear mirror is not a stand.
            Fundamentally there is not a single thing -
            Where can dust collect.
  -    Huineng, Sixth Zen Patriarch in China,  638-713
                          Transmission of Light, Thomas Cleary, p. 140  


8.   The fundamental reality is one, undifferentiated, empty, beyond words, free, pure,
      uncorrupted, non-dual.

                   "You should know that the sky is one plant."  
                          "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 70. 


9.   The skillful teacher uses a variety of methods to bring the seeker's spirit into full
blossom.   No one method works for everyone.   Zazen, koans, chanting, prayer,
good works, pilgrimages, accidents, morality, love, a kick in the butt, church/sangha
participation, fainting spells, baptism ... whatever.   All can cultivate a healthy soul;
all can rain flowers, all are flowers.


               "At that moment of the fourth watch when the dawn came up and all that moves
               was not stilled, the great seer reached the stage that knows no alteration, the
               sovereign leader, the state of omniscience.  When as the Buddha he knew this
               truth the earth swayed like a person drunk with wine.  The four quarters shone
               bright with crowds of siddhas and mighty drums resounded in the sky.  Pleasant

               breezes blew softly and heaven rained moisture from a cloudless sky and from
               the trees there dropped flowers and fruit out of due season as if to do him honor. 
              At that time, just as in paradise, the mandarala flowers, lotuses and water lilies of
              gold and beryl fell from the sky and bestrewed the place of the Shakya sage."
                                                          -   Ashvaghosa, Sanskrit poet
                                                              Quoted by Zoketsu Norman Fischer in his Talk Six



"All that is said about the Buddha Way is spoken for ordinary people, and if there
were not any ordinary people, then the Buddha Way would not be of any use.
Thus it is called unconditioned.  Unconditioned dharmas neither arise nor are
extinguished.  They neither come into being nor disappear.  They are not real
and actual; they are unreal, like a vision of flowers in space.  Thus the Buddha
sees the Buddha Way as being like flowers in space. "

                             -  Source Lost



10.   "There should be no inanity about existence or nonexistence confusing the
        context of the time of the flowers.   It is like flowers always being imbued
        with colors: the colors are not necessarily limited to flowers, and the times
        also have colors such as green, yellow, red and white.  Spring brings on
        flowers, flowers bring on spring."

                          "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 70. 

        Refer to 11 below, for more about Dogen's views on being-time.

        "The roots and stems, branches and leaves, blossoms and fruits, luster and color
        of the flowers in the sky are all the blooming of the flowers in the sky.  Sky flowers
        also produce sky fruits and give out sky seeds.  ...  It is this true characteristic
        of all things.   It is this flower characteristic of all things.  All things, ultimately
        unfathomable, are flowers and fruits in the sky."

                          "Flowers in the Sky," Cleary, p. 72.  


        Attention to detail, full awareness, and properly caring for the "things" of our world
        (i.e., our bodies, clothing, food, tools, gardens, home, music, books, motorcycles,
        tea utensils, etc.) is at the core of the fine and applied arts infused with the Zen spirit. 



11.   The magnificient scenery of California has been a source for inspiration for
        many modern poets:  Robert Creeley, Robert Haas, Robinson Jeffers, Kenneth 
        Rexroth, Adrienne Rich, Gary Snyder, Gary Soto, etc..
  For example, in the vein
        of a California and Zen influenced work, how about
Gary Snyder's fine "Mountains and  
        Rivers Without End":

                   "crows whuff over almond blossoms
                     beehives sit tight between fruit tree ranks
                     eucalyptus boughs shimmer in the wind--- a pale blue hip-roof
                     house          behind a weathered fence---
                     crows in the almonds
                               trucks on the freeways,
                                        Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack,
                                        rumble diesel depths,
                     like boulders bumping in an outwash glacial river

                             drumming to a not-so-ancient text"

               -   Gary Snyder, "Mountains and Rivers Without End," p. 66
                   (Washington, D.C., Counterpoint, 1996). 

                    This collection of poems will inspire a good deal of commentary.
                    For example, "Gary Snyder, Dogen, and 'The Canyon Wren.'"
                     See also:  The Geography of Home: California's Poetry of Place.
                     Selected and edited by Christopher Buckley and Gary Young.
                     Berkeley, Heyday Books, 1999.       



12.   Dogen's views on being and time are found in his seminal essay "The Time-Being" or
        or "Existence-Time" or "Uji."

"So the pine tree is time, the bamboo is time."  
-   Dogen's Being-Time from a translation at Zen in Daily Life.   Translation by Professor Masunaga Reiho

"The way the self arrays itself is the form of the entire world.  See each thing in
this entire world as a moment of time.   ...   Grass-being, form-being are both time.  "  
      -   "Moon in a Dewdrop," p. 77.   Translated by Dan Welch and Kazuaki Tanahashi. 

"The rat is time, the tiger is time too.  Living beings are time.   Buddhas are time too.
This time witnesses the whole world with three heads and eight arms, it witnesses
the whole world with the sixteen fooot tall golden body."
-   Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen, p. 106.  Translated by Thomas Cleary. 


"... because self and other are already time.   Practice-enlightenment is time.  Being
splattered with mud and getting wet with water is time."
      -   "Moon in a Dewdrop," p. 78.   Translated by Dan Welch and Kazuaki Tanahashi. 

"Being and time are the Activity of Aware Space.
Time is Activity: the radiance of Knowing expressing itself as spaces which are active as
forms, as beings, as knowns."
-   Wild Time:   Commentaries on Dogen zenji's Being Time.   By Ven. Anzan Hoshin. 


"Mind is the moment of actualizing the fundamental point; words are the moment
of going beyond, unlocking the barrier.  Arriving is the moment of casting off
the body; not-arriving is the moment of being one with just this, while being free
from just this.  In this way you must endeavor to actualize the time-being."
      -   "Moon in a Dewdrop," p. 82.   Translated by Dan Welch and Kazuaki Tanahashi. 


"So the real time human beings can live is only the moment at the present moment.
Therefore Master Dogen insisted the third principle, action at the present moment.
His expression is 'Instantaneousness of this world'.  So the idea that our life is just
action at the present moment means also, the world where we live is existence at
the present moment.  So the 'World' or 'Universe' or 'Dharma' is also instantaneous,
it is not eternal.  It exists at the present moment, now, now, now."
-   Nishijima Roshi, Lecture 2, 1996



         Readings on Existence-Time:    

         Concrescence and Pratityasamutpada   A comparsion of A.N. Whitehead and Dogen's views on time. 12K.       

         Dogen's Ideas of Time.   56K

         Enlightenment and Time: An examination of Nagarjuna's Concept of Time.  By Anthony Birch.  32K.

         Existential and Ontological Dimensions of Time in Heidegger and Dogen.   By Steven Heine. 
         State University of New York Press, 1985.   202 pages. 

         B-Series Temporal Order in Dogen's Theory of Time.   By Dirck Vorenkamp.  75K

         Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen
.    Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi.  North Point
         Press, 1995.  356 pages.  Uji is on pp. 76-83.  

         Temporality of Hermeneutics in Dogen's Shobogenzo.   By Steven Heine.    33K

         Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen
.    Translated with commentary by Thomas Cleary. 
         University of Hawaii Press, 1992.   132 pages.  Being-Time, pp. 104-109. 

         Uji,l'être-temps selon Dogen, traduction et commentaires Luc Boussard.   
         Deux versants: Zen and Art.  25K

         Uji.   Ser-tiempo (Uji) del maestro zen Dogen.   raducción española por Francisco José Ramos.

         Wild Time: Commentary on Dogen zenji's Being Time.   By Anzan Hoshin sensei.  21K. 

         Zen in Daily Life.   Includes a translation of Uji.



                                          O joy!
                                          Winter's gone;
                                          The blooming peach tree
                                          Sends me confetti.

                                                               -   Albert de Neuville
                                                                   Haikais et Tankas, Epigrammes a la Japonaise, 1908




13.   In March 2001, a few Islamic Taliban leaders in Afghanistan ordered their soldiers 
to blow up the huge ancient stone statues of the "infidel" Buddha at Bamiyan.  This
artless act of purification was reported in the press, e.g., Newslook.   Some troubled 
men want everyone to believe in only one kind of flower in the sky. 


14.   The following story is widely told in Zen circles: 


"The Zen legend of the beginning of the Zen transmission is that once
before an assembly Shakyamuni Buddha said nothing but held up a flower
and winked -- no one understood but the chief disciple
Maha-Kasyapa, who smiled.  Buddha said,
"I have the treasury of the eye of true teaching,
the ineffable mind of nirvana, the true form, which is formless -
this I hand on to Maha-Kasyapa."

-   Thomas Cleary, Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen, p. 75.



"Once when the World-Honoured One, in ancient times, was upon
Mount Grdhrakuta, he held up a flower before the congregation of
monks.  At this time all were silent, but the Venerable Kasyapa only
smiled.  The World-Honoured One said, "I have the Eye of the True
Law, the Secret Essence of Nirvana, the Formless Form, the Mysterious
Law-Gate.  Without relying upon words and letters, beyond all
teaching as a special transmission, I pass this all on to Mahakasyapa."

-  Translation by R. H. Blyth, Mumonkan, Zen and Zen Classics, Volume Four, p. 76.



15.   T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets.  New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1943.
        See  "Burnt Norton, " I -III. 




Additional Research Notes

Flowers in the Sky or Flowers Falling from the Sky

     Guatama Siddhahartha, The Buddha, upon his enlightenment.
           See writing by Ashvaghosa, the Sanskrit poet.  Quoted by Zoketsu Norman Fischer in his Talk Six.

     Orgyen Trinley, the 17th Tibetan Buddhist Karmapa.  A reported miracle of flowers falling from the sky. 

     Numerous references in Hindu scriptures to flowers falling from the sky. 
            Rudradvipa 1

     Customs and celebrations including throwing flowers up into the sky.  Consider confetti falling. 
                   "Apsaras are the most popular heavenly beings in the Dunhuang caves. They play music or
                    throw flowers in the sky when the Buddha gives sermon to believers.  In ancient Buddhist
                    texts, they were named Kinnara and Gandharva. They are now commonly called Feitian
                    (Flying Beings) in Chinese literature."   Dunhuang Art, by Ning Qiang.

     Flowers in the Sky:  Illusory images seen by those with eye-diseases; metaphorically, all that
     are perceived and conceived by unenlightened people are delusory phantoms like flowers in the sky.
     Glossary of Buddhist Terms

     "Strictly speaking, there should be no worship involved at all because all Buddhist deities are only
      symbolic personifications of the all-embracing Truth.   They are just as illusionary as you or I, like
      flowers in the sky, or the moon in the lake. Like a mirage, a dream, an echo or lightning, they
      possess no real natures of their own. Why worship something that is not real?  Therefore know
      that Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara cannot be found anywhere except in the Lotus of Compassion
      within our Hearts."   Hall of Fire

      "Devas, on seeing this display of the three perfections, namely, grace, glory and wealth,
       showered down a rain of flowers."   Atisha's Journey to Suvarnadvipa



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Links and Bibliography



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Zen Master Eihei Dogen
January 12, 1200 - September 29, 1253



About Dogen Zenji.    By Professor Masunaga.  20K.   Key Dates    Portrait A  

Actualizing the Fundamental Point.   (Genjo Koan)    1233.  Translated by Robert Aitken
and Kazuaki Tanahashi.   10K.

All Things Zen.    Useful for comments on Nagarjuna and Hui-neng.    200K+

Beyond Sanity and Madness: The Way of Zen Master Dogen.   By Dennis Genpo Merzel. 
Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1994.  276 pages. 

Bibliography   14K.

The Bodymind Experience in Dogen's Shobogenzo: A Phenomenological Perspective.
By David E. Shaner.  74K.

B-Series Temporal Order in Dogen's Theory of Time.   By Dirck Vorenkamp.  75K

Buddha Nature, Buddha Practice: Reflections on Dogen's Shobogenzo.   By Carl Bielefeldt.  46K.

Buddhism - Glossary

Chan and Zen References and Links  

Cold Mountain Buddhas

Dead Words, Living Words, and Healing Words   The Disseminations of Dogen and Eckhart. 
By David R. Loy.   50K.

Dogen   Portraits of Dogen; and a Dogen bibliography linked to booksellers.  28K. 

Dogen and the Meaning of Zen.   22K

Dogen Cubed.  Dharma Talk by Bonnie Myotai Treace Sensei.  17K.

Dogen on Dream-Making Within Dreams    By Robert L. Seltman.    4K.

Dogen's Ideas of Time.   From the book "The Soto Approach to Zen."   56K

Dogen - Portrait, Bibliography and Links

Dogen's "Ceaseless Practice."   By Daniel Zelinski.  44K.

Dogen's Reflecting Pool    17K

Dogen's Seven Principles.   Based upon comments by Taisen Deshimaru Roshi.  11K.

Dogen Studies.    Translations of 5 essays by Dogen. 

Dogen Studies.   Edited by William R. LaFleur.   Honolulu, 1985.

Dogen Studies - A Bibliography

Dogen Zen and Soto Zen      Links and references.   44K

Dogen Zenji's Genjo-koan Lecture      By Shohaku Okumura.   24K.

Dogen Zen Papers     Nine papers were presented to the symposium "Dogen Zen and
Its Relevance for Our Time", Stanford University, October 23-24, 1999.  Summary of
the symposium.   

Eiheiji Temple.  Founded by Dogen Zenji in 1244.  "Eiheiji ,the "temple of eterneal peace," is one the Soto Zen's
two head temples. It is located deep in the mountains near the rugged west coast of Japan, not far from Fukui City."

Emptiness in Buddhism and Theosophy.   14K.

Emptiness - Links   27K

Emptiness in Full Bloom.    A metaphysical poem stemming from reflections on Zen Master Dogen's "Flowers of Space."   Includes detailed notes.   By Michael P. Garofalo.  2001.

Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen.   Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi.
Shambhala Publications, 1999.  368 pages.

.    Based on Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Book 2, "Bussho,"   translated by Gudo Nishijima
and Chodo Cross.  52K. 

Existential and Ontological Dimensions of Time in Heidegger and Dogen.    By Steven Heine. 
State University of New York Press, 1985.  202 pages. 

Face to Face: The Meaning Comes Alive.    By Jiko Linda Cutts.   20K. 

Flowers in the Sky      "Emptiness in Full Bloom" by Michael P. Garofalo.  Poetic reflections on
Zen Master Dogen's "Flowers of Space."   Includes notes, bibliography, related quotations,
references, links and metaphysical poem.  2001.   120K+. 

Flowers of Emptiness:  Selections from Dogen's Shobogenzo.    Translated with essay by
Hee-Jin Kim.   Edwin Mellen Press, 1985.  350 pages.  This is volume 2 of a three volume edition by
Hee-Jin Kim.

From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment - Refining You Life
.    By Zen Master Dogen.   Translated by
Kosho Uchiyama and Thomas Wright.   Weatherhill.  122 pages.

Flowers of Space: Kuge

Fukanzazengi.    9K.

Genjo Koan: Actualizing the Fundamental Point.   10K.

Glossary.  The Whole Aoinagi Glossary.  102K




Hokke-ten-Hokke   By Dogen, 1241, 36K.  

How to Raise and Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in  Master Dogen's Shobogenzo.
  By Francis Dojun Cook.
Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2002.   180 pages.   


Intellectualizing Buddhism.    By John Dwyer.   20K.

Introduction to the Shobogenzo.   By Gudo Wafu Nishijima.   In French.    101K.

Katagiri Dharma Talks.    Talks by Dainin Katagiri Roshi.  41K.

Kego Arrays    "We use the word "kego", a Japanese word used by Eihei Dogen to
denote phenomena that appear.  Kego is also translated as "sky flowers" or "space flowers". 

Kuge: Flowers of Space.    By Eihei Dogen zenji.  Translated by Yasuda Joshu roshi and Anzan Hoshin
sensei.  Excerpted from the forthcoming book "Dogen: Zen Writings on the Practice of Realization."  33K.

Lectures and Articles by Nishijima Roshi    300K+

Living with Dôgen: Thoughts on the Relevance of His Thought    By Carl Bielefeldt.  6K. 

Mahayana Buddhism versus Materialism

Master Dogen's Shobogenzo.    Translated by Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross (Mike Cross). 
Windbell Publications Ltd., 1994-1999.  1st Edition.  Four Volumes.
Book 1.   1994.  376 pages.  Contains:   Chapters 1 to 21 of Shobogenzo.  Including:  Being-Time,
               Sutra of Mountains and Waters, The Realized Universe, Mind Here and Now is Buddha.
Book 2.   1996.  320 pages.  Contains:   Chapters 22 to 41 of Shobogenzo.  Including:  Buddha Nature,
               Great Realization, This, Conduct and Observance. 
Book 3.   1997.   306 pages.  Contains:   Chapters 42 to 72 of Shobogenzo.   Including:  The Moon,
               Flowers in Space, All Things and Phenomena Preach Dharma, Daily Life, and Samadhi.           
Book 4.   1999.   280 pages.  Contains:   Chapters 73 to 95 of Shobogenzo.  Including:  Great Practice,
               Life and Death, Transcending Family Life. 

The Mind of Dogen      18K. 

Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen.    Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi.  North Point
Press, 1995.  356 pages.  

The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism.   By Choong Mun-keat (Wei-keat). 2nd revised edition. 
Vedams eBooks, India, 1999.    132 pages.  

One Bright Pearl     By Dogen.   Translated by Francis H. Cook.  13K.  Mirror Version    (Ikka Myoju)

On Zen Language and Zen Paradoxes    By John King-Farlow.  41K.

The Path of No-Path: Sankara and Dogen on the Paradox of Practice.   By David Loy.  81K.

Philosophical Terms in Dogen    By Mark Unno.    13K

A Portrait of Dogen Zenji   

The Postmodern: Tracy, Taylor and Dogen.   By Charl le Roux.  58K. 

The Practice of Zazen.    By Dogen.   40K.

Primer of Soto Zen.    Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki translated by Reiho Masumaga.  
University of Hawaii Press, 1975.   128 pages.   

Pure Land Buddhism and Dogen's Zen Buddhism.   By Mark Unno.  14K.


Rational Zen: The Mind of Dogen Zenji.   Translated with commentary by Thomas Cleary. 
Shambhala Publications, 1992.  236 pages.

Remarks on the 800th Anniversary of Dogen Zenji's Birth.   By Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman. 22K.

Rock Samadhi.    By John McClellan.   See also: Nondual Ecology.    350K+. 



Green Way Blog by Michael P. Garofalo



Shasta Abbey - California

Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen.    Translated with commentary by Thomas Cleary. 
University of Hawaii Press, 1992.   132 pages. 

Shobogenzo Zuimonki:  Sayings of Eihei Dogen Zenji.    Translated and commentary by Koun Ejo
and Okumara.   Wisdom Books, 1987.   236 pages.

Shurangama Sutra.   Translated during the Tang Dynasty by Shramana Paramiti from central India. 
Reviewed by Shramana Meghashika from Uddiyana     110K+

Shurangama Sutra, Volume Four   Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society.  31K

Study of Dogen:  His Philosophy and Religion.    By Masao Abe.   Wisdom Books, 1992.  252 pages.

Sunyata:  The Emptiness of All Things

Time in Madhyamika Buddhism and Modern Physics.   By Victor Mansfield.  51K.   Version2.

To Transmit Dogen Zenji's Dharma.   By Otani Tetsuo.   26K.

Truth and Zen.   By T. P. Kasulis.   47K.

Uji.   L'être-temps selon Dogen.   Traduction et commentaire Luc Boussard.   25K

Wild Time: Commentary on Dogen zenji's Being Time.   By Anzan Hoshin sensei.  21K. 

Zen in Daily Life.   Zen teacher Dogen and the Soto Approach to Zen.   A extensive website about
Dogen with many essays, commentaries, links, and text translations.  Dedicated to the work of
Professor Masunaga Reiho (1901-1981), and Dan Waxman. 

Zen is Eternal Life.   By Roshi Jiyu-Kennet.    Wisdom Books, 2000.  376 pages. 

Zen Master Dôgen: An Introduction with Selected Writings.    By Yuho Yokoi. 
New York, Weatherhill, 1976.

The Zen Philosopher   A review article on Dogen scholarship in English.  By T. P. Kasulis.  80K.

Zen Poetry.   Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.   300K+




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Relevant Quotations





                       This "wanting to know" and "are not" are manifestations
                       of the wondorous, they are great wonders.  The meaning of
                       "sky flowers" and "earth flowers" spoken of by the
                       Buddhas and Ancestors is "graceful play."

                                         -  Dogen, "Flowers of Space"
                                                      Translated by Yasuda Joshu and Anzan Hoshin



                       Want to know and are not are the marvel of manifestation,
                       are a great marvel.  The doctrine of sky flowers and earth
                       flowers spoken by all the Buddhas and Zen Adepts is such
                       a flashing of style

                                         -  Dogen, Flowers in the Sky, p. 75
                                                      Translated by Thomas Cleary





Flowers - Selected Quotations




                                              just as it is,
                                              as it is,
                                              as is.
                                              Flowers in bloom.
                                              Nothing to add.

                                                                 -    Robert Aitken, Roshi, As it Is





The Oak Tree in the Courtyard





"If you rub your eyelids with your fingers, then stare towards a
light with your eyes closed, great splotches of colour will change
shape, and if you let your imagination work on them, they will
turn into almost anything you want.  Poetry aims at the same
sort of effect; so does music."

-   Colin Wilson
Poetry and Mysticism, 1970, p. 49




Bodhi is far beyond all notions of good and evil,
beyond all the pairs of opposites.
Daydreams are illusions and flowers in the sky never bloom.
They are figments of the imagination
and not worth your consideration.
-    Seng T'san, Third Chan Patriarch





Vegetable Nirvana





"In truth, all objects exist only as sets of relationships or dependencies--
between various objects and between the object and the knower who
mentally designates them.  No core of self-nature or intrinsic essence
supports our names, linguistic conventions, and projections.  Nothing
exists "underneath" our imputations or mental designations.  Objects
are none other than dependency relationships and names.  In other
words, all phenomena exist as a species of dependent arising--
dependent upon causes and conditions,
whole and part, and mental designation."

-   Time in Madhyamika Buddhism and Modern Physics.   By Victor Mansfield.





Spirituality in the Garden





Ku means "the sky," or "space," and ge means "flowers."  What are flowers in
space? Master Dogen uses the words "flowers in space" to express all phenomena
in this world.  According to the ideas of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant,
we cannot be sure whether things really exist in this world, but we can be sure
that there are phenomena which we can perceive with our senses.  Therefore, for
him, phenomena are not necessarily identified with reality although they do
actually appear in this world.  He refused to discuss the metaphysical problem of
"real existence" and based his philosophy on human reason.  The same idea was
present in ancient Buddhism.  Master Dogen thought that this skeptical attitude was
important in considering the meaning of our life, and so in this chapter he
explains the meaning of "flowers in space," which in Buddhism expresses real

-    Kuge: Flowers in Space  Shobogenzo, Book 3
     Lectures and Articles by Nishijima Roshi






Well versed in the Buddha way,
I go the non-Way
Without abandoning my
Ordinary person’s affairs.

The conditioned and
All are flowers in the sky.

Nameless and formless,
I leave birth-and-death.

Layman P’ang (740-808), Zen Poems






Zen Poetry:  Links, Bibliography, Studies, Selected Quotations





                            Only insentient beings hear the sermon of insentient beings;
                            Walls and fences cannot instruct the grasses and trees to
                                       actualize spring,
                            Yet they reveal the spiritual without intention, just by being
                                       what they are,
                            So too with mountains, rivers, sun, moon, and stars.

                                                        -   Dogen,
                                                            Translated by Steven Heine
                                                            The Zen Poetry of Dogen, 1997, p. 141





Out the tap, from a source
three hundreed feet down, so close
I feel the shudder of the earth, water
spills over my hands, over the scallions
still bound in a bunch from the store.
I had thought to make salad, each element
cut to precision, tossed at random
in the turning bowl.  Now I lay my knife
aside.  I consider the scallions.  I consider
the invisible field.  Emptiness is bound
to bloom-- the whole earth, a single flower.

              -   Margaret Gibson
                  "Making Salad"
                   Out in the Open (LSU Press, 1989)





Consider the person who, because of cataracts, saw flowers in space.
Once the cataracts were removed, the flowers in space disappeared. 
Were he to rush to the spot where the flowers disappeared
and wait for them to reappear,
would you consider that person to be stupid or wise?"
Purna said, "Originally there weren’t any flowers in space.

It was through a seeing disability that they appeared and disappeared.
To see the disappearance of the flowers in space is already a distortion.
To wait for them to reappear is sheer madness.
Why bother to determine further if such a person is stupid or wise?"
The Buddha said, "Since you explain it that way,

why do you ask if the clear emptiness of wonderful enlightenment
can once again give rise to the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth? "

         -    Shurangama Sutra, Volume Four  
                 Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society, 1998.  31K





Form does not differ from emptiness;
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness;
Emptiness itself is form.
So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness.

Heart Sutra


Form is form.  Emptiness is emptiness.
-   Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo: Makahannya-Haramitsu





Ananda, suppose a person with clear vision were to gaze at clear bright space.
His gaze would perceive only clear emptiness devoid of anything else.
Then if that person for no particular reason fixed his gaze, the staring would cause fatigue.
Thus in empty space he would see illusory flowers and other illusory and disordered unreal appearances.

         -    Shurangama Sutra, Volume Three  
                Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society





The Buddha told Manjushri and the great assembly,   "To the Tathagatas and the great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions, who dwell in this samadhi, seeing and the conditions of seeing, as well as thoughts regarding seeing, are like flowers in space—fundamentally
non-existent.  This seeing and its conditions are originally the wonderful pure bright substance of Bodhi. How could one inquire into its existence or non-existence?  

               -   Shurangama Sutra.  
                   Translated during the Tang Dynasty by Shramana Paramiti from central India. 





                                 By this glass filled with darkness to the brim
                                 and this heart that's never full,
                                 let us praise the Lord, maker of Nothingness,
                                 who carved our reason out of faith.

                                                       -    Antonio Machado
                                                           Siesta: In Memory of Abel Martin





                                 fluttering down
                                 mulch for the garden...
                                 cherry blossoms

                                                       -    Kobayashi Issa
                                                            Translated by David G. Lanoue






                                                      "Shariputra, All Things Are
                                                          Empty Appearances

It's like rubbing your eyes to make yourself see flowers in the air. 
If all things don't exist to begin with, what do we want with
'empty appearances'?   He is defecating and spraying pee
all over a clean yard.

                 The earth, its rivers and hills, are castles in the air;
                 Heaven and hell are bogey bazaars atop the ocean waves.
                 The 'pure' land and 'impure' world are brushes of turtle hair,
                 Nirvana and samsara, riding whips carved from rabbit horn."

                                        -    Zen Words for the Heart; Hakuin's Commentary on the Heart Sutra, p. 37
                                              Translated by Norman Waddell. 





By "mystical" I mean here a view of the natural world that sees it
not simply as empty dharmas but as the expression, or embodiment
of a sacred order, that sees the mountains and rivers of this apparent
world as participating in, or communicating with, higher realms hidden
from view, in the heavens and beyond.   Here, the dharmas come
together in a cosmic whole; here, emptiness comes alive as Vairocana,
whose body, speech, and thought generate and enliven all things.  As
conscious processes of the living cosmic body, the walking and talking
of mountains and rivers become more than metaphors, and "grasses
and trees become buddhas".
-   Carl Bielefeldt, Buddha Nature, Buddha Practice






Like the Chinese masters before him, he singles out discursive thought
as a series of empty reflexes, “flowers in the sky,” comprised of reflection (gigi)
and deliberation (shoryo).  These flowers are to be discarded, not just because
they are the knee-jerk mechanisms that Wilson claims they are, but because
they serve as an obstacle to the moonlike vision mentioned before, the “original
face,” or “honrai menmoku”.
-   The Mind of Dogen






                        Two come about because of One,
                         but don't cling to the One either!
                         So long as the mind does not stir,
                         the ten thousand things stay blameless;
                         no blame, no phenomena,
                         no stirring, no mind.

                         The viewer disappears along with the scene,
                         the scene follows the viewer into oblivion,
                         for scene becomes scene only through the viewer,
                         viewer becomes viewer because of the scene.
      -    Seng-ts'an,  600
                                                           Hsin-Hsin-Ming: Inscription on Trust in the Mind
                                                           Translated by Burton Watson
                                                           Found in Entering the Stream, p. 149





                      Enlightenment, nirvana, the body of reality, inherent nature,
                      and so on are a few petals of the opening five petals of
                      flowers in the sky. 

                                         -  Dogen, Flowers in the Sky, p. 68
                                                      Translated by Thomas Cleary




          Is there no change of death in paradise?
          Does ripe fruit never fall?   Or do the boughs
          Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
          Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
          With rivers like our own that seek for seas
          They never find, the same receding shores
          That never touch with inarticulate pang?
          Why set the pear upon those river-banks
          Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?

                             -  Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning, 1915







                For thirty years I have been in search of the swordsman;
                Many a time have I watched the leaves decay
                           and the branches shoot!
                Ever since I saw for once the peaches in bloom,
                Not a shadow of doubt do I cherish.

  Ling-Yün and the Peach Blossoms
                                       D.T. Suzuki,  Essays in Zen Buddhism, 1953, 2nd Series, p. 145,






Cherry trees will blossom every year;
 But I'll disappear for good,
 One of these days.

-   Philip Whalen, 1923 - June 26, 2002
Zen priest, Abbot of San Francisco Hartfort Street Zen Center
Beat poet








Shakyamuni held up a lotus
so Kashyapa smiled.
Not at all.
The lotus smiled
so Kashyapa smiled.

Nowhere was Shakyamuni!

-   Beyond the Self: A Smile, Ko Un







Subhuti was Buddha's disciple.  He was able to understand the potency of emptiness,
the viewpoint that nothing exists except in its relationship to subjectivity and objectivity.

One day Subhuti, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree.  Flowers
began to fall about him.

"We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness," the gods whispered to him.

"But I have not spoken of emptiness," said Subhuti.

"You have not spoken of emptiness, we have not heard of emptiness," responded the
gods.  "This is the true emptiness."  And blossoms showered upon Subhuti as rain.

-   Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Compiled by Paul Reps, 1957, p. 63






"[After Llew is slain]...The Welsh myth concludes with Gwydion pursuing the faithless 
Blodeuwedd through the night sky, and a path of white flowers springs up in the wake 
of her passing, which we today know as the Milky Way.  When Gwydion catches her, he 
transforms her into an owl, a fitting symbol of autumn, just as her earlier association with
 flowers (she was made from them) equates her with spring.  Thus, while Llew and Goronwy
 represent summer and winter, Blodeuwedd herself represents both spring and fall, as patron
 goddess of flowers and owls, respectively."

-   The Death of Lllew - A Seasonal Interpretation  
    Mike Nichols







How joyful it is!   From kalpa to kalpa is the Flower of Dharma, and from noon
to night, even though our own body-and-mind grows strong and grows weak, 
it is just the Flower of Dharma itself.  The reality that exists as it is is a treasure, 
is brightness, is a seat of truth, is wide, great, profound, and eternal, is profound, 
great, and everlasting, is mind in delusion, the Flower of Dharma turning, and is 
mind in realization, turning the Flower of Dharma, which is really just the 
Flower of Dharma turning the Flower of Dharma.

When the mind is in the state of delusion, the Flower of Dharma turns.
When the mind is in the state of realization, we turn the Flower of Dharma.
If perfect realization can be like this,
If perfect realization can be like this,
The Flower of Dharma turns the Flower of Dharma.

-   Zen Master Dogen, 1241, Hokke-ten-Hokke




                                                                                         The wonderful Universe which is like flowers 
                                                                                         Is moving the wonderful Universe 
                                                                                         Which is like flowers itself.






In the real world, it is impossible to attain true happiness, final and eternal contentment.  For 
these are visionary flowers in the air; mere fantasies.  In truth, they can never be actualized. 
In fact, they must not be actualized.  Why?  If such ideas were actualized, the search for the 
real meaning of our existence would cease.  If that happened, it would be the spiritual end 
of our being, and life would seem too foolish to live.
-   Arthur Schopenhauer




Well versed in the Buddha Way,
I go the non-Way
Without abandoning my
Ordinary person's affairs.
The conditioned and
All are flowers in the sky.
Nameless and formless,
I leave birth-and death.
-  Pang Yun, Two Zen Classics, p.263






All beings are flowers
In a blooming universe.
-  Nakagawa Soen Roshi





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Zen Poetry





Quotes for Gardeners 
and Lovers of the Green Way

Quotes, Sayings, Proverbs, Poetry, Maxims, Quips, Clichés, Adages, Wisdom
A Collection Growing to Over 2,700 Quotes Arranged by Over 130 Topics
Over 6 Megabytes of Text

Many of the Documents Include Recommended Readings and Internet Links.
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo





The Spirit of Gardening







Copyrighted © 2002 - 2003 by Michael P. Garofalo.  All rights reserved.


I Welcome Your Comments, Ideas, Contributions, and Suggestions
E-mail Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California



A Short Biography of Michael P. Garofalo



Poetry Notebook III of Michael P. Garofalo
Zen Poetry:   Emptiness in Full Bloom
143K, 12 May 2003, Version  1.4


Parts of this document have been published at:

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Emptiness in Full Bloom


Flowers in the Sky (Kuge) by Dogen

Links and Bibliography

Emptiness in Full Bloom: A Metaphysical Poem

Footnotes for Emptiness in Full Bloom

Related Information

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Being -Time