The Sansui kyô represents
one of the earlier texts of the Shôbôgenzô,
written at Kôshôji, the monastery just south of the
capital where Dôgen lived from 1233 to 1243. According
to the colophon of an ancient manuscript of the work thought
to be in the author's own hand, it was composed in the autumn
of 1240, the year in which he seems to have begun to work in
earnest on the essays that would make up his Treasury of the
Eye of the True Dharma. This was a time when Dôgen
was at the height of his literary powers, and the Mountains
and Waters Sutra is widely appreciated as one of the most
elegant of his essays.
Several months before he wrote
the Sansui kyô, Dôgen composed another text
of the Shôbôgenzô entitled Keisei
sanshoku ("Sound of the Stream, Form of the Mountain"),
inspired by a verse by the famed Song-dynasty poet Su Dongbo:
The sound of the stream is his
long, broad tongue;
The mountain, his immaculate body.
These evening's eighty-four thousand verses -
How will I tell them tomorrow?
In the Sansui kyô,
Dôgen returned to the theme of this poem, to explore in
detail the meaning of mountains and rivers as the very body and
speech of the buddha. As he says in his opening lines, the natural
landscape that surrounds us here and now is the "expression
of the ancient buddhas". The term "expression"
(dô genjô) here should probably be taken in
two senses: as the words of the buddha and as his practice. In
the Sansui kyô, the mountains and waters are at
once preaching a sutra that reveals the dharma and themselves
putting that dharma into practice, themselves, as Dôgen
says in his final line, becoming wise men and sages.
This translation is based on
the text in Kawamura Kôdô, ed., Dôgen zenji
zenshû, vol. 1 (1991), pp. 316-328. Examples of other
English translations of the Sansui kyô can be found
at Masunaga Reihô, "Introduction to Sansuikyô
and Translation of Text," Shûgaku kenkyû
24 (1962); Kôsen Nishiyama and John Stevens, Shôbôgenzô:
The Eye and Treasury of the True Law, vol. 2, (1977), pp.
163-170; Carl Bielefeldt "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye:
Book XXIX, The Mountain and Rivers Sutra", in M. Tobias
and H. Drasdo, ed., The Mountain Spirit (1979), pp. 41-49;
Hee-Jin Kim, Flowers of Emptiness: Selections from Dôgen's
Shôbôgenzô (1985), pp. 295-306; Kazuaki
Tanahashi, ed., Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master
Dôgen (1985), pp. 97-107; Thomas Cleary, Shôbôgenzô:
Zen Essays by Dôgen (1986), pp. 87-101; Yokoi Yûhô,
tr., The Shôbô-genzô (1986), pp. 357-368;
Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Chodo Cross, Master Dogen's Shobogenzo,
Book 1 (1994), pp. 167-179.
This translation of the Sansui
kyô reflects the version published in Dharma Eye 9 (October 2001), pp. 10-17.
More complete annotation will be made available in a subsequent
version on this site.