The whole universe is one bright pearl Barry Magid April 11th 2015

Even if we're perplexed or trouble it's nothing but the bright pearl. Joko taught over and over seeing the absolute in every moment regardless of its content, and particularly in moments of emotional difficulty when we're troubled or perplexed. Our usual sense of those states is that we want to get into their opposites. Instead, Gensha, Dogen, and Joko encourage us to see being confused, anxious or angry as the bright pearl - as just another aspect of our life.

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Shobogenzo Ikka Myoju

The great master lived during the Tsung dynasty. Before he became a monk, he was fond of fishing and took his boat to then Nandai river where he learned fishing from various people. Surely, however, he did not expect to catch the golden fish of enlightenment that catches itself.

When he was thirty years of age, he recognized the preeminence of the Buddha's way and suddenly decided to renounce this transient world. He left his boat and retired to the mountains, finally settling on mount Seppo, where he became the disciple of the great master.

Gensha practiced the way day and night. One day he decided to visit some other masters so he could further perfect his practice. But just as he was leaving the mountain he stubbed his toe on a rock. It began to bleed and was extremely painful. But then unexpectedly he had a sudden self realization. "This body doesn't exist" he cried, "where is the pain coming from?" After he said this he immediately returned to his master, Seppo.

Seppo asked him "Did you go on pilgrimage just to cut your foot and have a bad time?" Gensha said "Please don't kid me." Seppo was greatly pleased with that answer and told him "What you just said should be spoken by everyone but they lack your sincerity. Why don't you continue to visit other masters?" Gensha replied, "Bodhidharma didn't come to China, the second patriarch didn't go to India." Seppo praised this answer.

Gensha was a fisherman for many years and he had seen none of the voluminous scriptures or sutras even in his dreams. But he put his earnest resolve above all else and by his strong determination excelled all other monks. Seppo considered him to be his best disciple. Gensha always wore a simple cloth robe full of patches. And beneath that he wore paper underwear. His only master was Seppo and he never deviated from his master's dharma.

After he attained the way he used this saying to explain the Buddha's teaching: "The entire universe is one bright pearl."

Once a monk asked him, "I've heard you teach that the entire universe is one bright pearl. How should we interpret that?" Gensha replied "The entire universe is one bright pearl. What is there to interpret or understand?" The following day the master himself questioned the monk "The entire universe is one bright pearl - what's your understanding of that?" The monk replied "The entire universe is one bright pearl, what is there to understand?" "You now know", said Gensha, "that even in the black mountain cave of demons, complete freedom is working."


The essence of causality never ceases and the pearl is always bright. It is our original face and enlightened eye. Hither to fore there have been many notions of what the pearl is or is not, but now Gensha's words have clarified the pearls true nature which is actually our body and mind itself. How is it possible to doubt that life and death are also the bright pearl. Even if we are perplexed or troubled it is nothing but the bright pearl. There cannot be any action or thought existing separately from the bright pearl. Consequently, even coming and going int he black mountain cave of demons is nothing but the one bright pearl.

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