New books from the Dōgen Institute

We are proud to announce the availability of two new books published by the Dōgen Institute:

Boundless Vows, Endless Practice

In honor of Sanshin Zen Community’s 15th anniversary, Shohaku Okumura and ten of his dharma descendants from around the world present a series of writings on making and carrying out bodhisattva vows in the 21st century. The book includes new translations by Okumura Roshi of material never before published in English.

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Life-and-Death: Selected Dharma Poems from Kosho Uchiyama

A translation of selected Dharma poems by Okumura Roshi’s teacher Uchiyama Roshi, with notes.

Accompanied by beautiful photographs from Jisho Takahashi.

“As human beings who cannot avoid physical life and death, all of us wish to see clearly exactly what life-and-death is, and to settle on our attitude toward it. Even though there may be no way to avoid the physical pain, we would all at least like to face death without the mental torment as though having fallen into hell. What is important here is how to live having settled on our attitude towards life-and-death. These poems are on life-and-death.” — Kosho Uchiyama

“After giving his last teachings to his disciples and talking about impermanence, the Buddha said, ‘From now on all of my disciples must continuously practice. Then the Thus Come One’s dharma body will always be present and indestructible.’ This ‘indestructible dharma body’ is the Buddha’s eternal life in the Lotus Sutra. I think the interpenetration of impermanence and the eternal life of Buddha is what Uchiyama Roshi is teaching us about in this collection of his poems. ” — Shohaku Okumura

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See our publications page for a complete listing.

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

With wholehearted vigor

(c) Can Stock Photo / romvo

Dogen’s Chinese Poem (4)


Mountain Dwelling (2)


幾悦山居尤寂莫 (幾くか悦ぶ山居尤も寂莫たるを、) How delightful, mountain dwelling so solitary and tranquil.
因斯常讀法華經 (斯れに因って常に讀む法華經、) Because of this I always read the Lotus Blossom Sutra.
專精樹下何憎愛 (專精樹下何ぞ憎愛せん、) With wholehearted vigor under trees, what is there to love or hate?[1]
妬矣秋深夜雨声 (妬ましきかな秋深き夜雨の声) How enviable; sound of evening rains in deep mountain.[2]

This is verse 4 in Kuchugen and verse 99 of vol. 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record, p.638), one of the verses about mountain dwelling. Line 4 in Manzan’s version is different:

月色可看雨可聽  (月色は看るべし雨は聽くべし)
The moonlight is seen and the sound of raindrops is heard.

Dogen is delighted to live in a deep mountain in Echizen in order to practice with his sangha without interruption from mundane affairs. It is peaceful and quiet. They only hear the sounds of raindrops in the evening.

“Reading the Lotus Blossom Sutra” does not necessarily mean to read or recite the written text of the Mahayana scripture. Just living, practicing zazen, and doing daily activities mindfully in the mountain is itself hearing and reciting the Lotus Sutra. Dogen says in his waka poems on the Lotus Sutra:

Throughout night, /All day long, / Everything we do following the way of Dharma, / Is the sound and the heart of this Sutra.

In the valley, vibrating sounds, / On the peak, monkeys’ intermittent chattering, / I hear them as they are / exquisitely expounding this sutra.

Colors of the mountain peak / and echoes of the valley stream / all of them as they are / are nothing other than / our Shakyamuni’s / voice and appearance.

The third line of this poem: “With wholehearted vigor under trees, what is there to love or hate?” refers to a verse from the 19th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, The Blessing of the Dharma Teacher (法師功徳品):

The whole group of monks
Always persevering for the Dharma,
Whether sitting or walking around,
Reading or reciting a sutra,
Or devoting their energies to Meditation
Beneath trees in the forest…[3]

In this chapter, the merits of dharma teachers, either monks or lay people, who receive and maintain, read, recite, explain to others, or copy the Sutra, are expounded. The Sutra says that when dharma teachers practice in such a way, their six sense organs will become pure and clear. In the case of the eye,

“Such good sons or good daughters, with the pure physical eyes received from their parents at birth, will see what ever exists, whether exposed or hidden, in the three-thousand great thousandfold world – the mountains, forests, rivers, and seas down to the deepest purgatory and up to the highest heaven.”[4]

Those dharma teachers’ eyes can function as the heavenly eye, that is, one of the six divine powers. When they see with purified eyes, the objects of their eyes can be seen as they are, pure and clear. The practitioners and things outside are working together to purify their entire ten direction world. I think this is the same rhetoric as when Dogen writes about his zazen as jijuyu-zanmai in Bendowa:

When one displays the Buddha mudra with one’s whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi even for a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes Buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment.[5]

The person’s zazen influences all beings including Buddha-tathagatas. Their dharma joy will be increased and the adornment of the way of awakening will be renewed. All beings in the entire world will become clear and pure in body and mind, realize great emancipation, and their own original face appears. And they begin to turn the dharma wheel and express the ultimate prajna. Then their awakening returns to the person sitting, and the zazen person and the enlightenment of all things assist each other. At this time, earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in ten directions carry out buddha work.

Dogen says one person’s zazen influences all beings in the entire world; the zazen person’s entire world will be transformed. And the transformed world influences  the zazen person.

“Reading the Lotus Blossom Sutra” can mean practicing zazen and other activities wholeheartedly; then all things including themselves begin to expound the Dharma. The zazen people will be released from any dichotomies such as love and hate.

To me, it is difficult to understand line 4, particularly the word “enviable,” because being enviable belongs to the realm of love and hatred. Manzan’s version makes more sense to me. The moonlight is just seen and the sound of raindrops is simply heard without being influenced by love or hate. However, in this case, since seeing the moonlight and hearing the sound of raindrops cannot be done at the same time, this poem becomes the expression of his “thinking” about the mountain dwelling, instead of the description of things happening at that very moment.


[1] “With wholehearted vigor under trees” is a quote from the Lotus Sutra chap. 19, “The Merit of Dharma Teachers”: “At the foot of trees in a forest, with single-minded vigor sitting in dhyana.” See Hurvits, Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma, p.272.
[2] (Dogen’s Extensive Record 10-99, p.638) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc.,
[3] Translation by Gene Reeves in The Lotus Sutra (Wisdom, 2008) p.329
[4] The Lotus Sutra p.321
[5] Translation by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton in The Wholeherted Way (Tuttle, 1997) p.23

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

Waka by Dōgen

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

Polishing the moon, cultivating clouds

photo (c) David S. Thompson

Dogen’s Chinese Poem


「山居」(門鶴本 10−100)

Mountain Dwelling

西來祖道我傳東 (西來の祖道我東に傳う、) The ancestral way come from the west I transmit east.
瑩月耕雲慕古風 (月を瑩き雲を耕して古風を慕う、) Polishing the moon, cultivating clouds,
I long for the ancient wind.
世俗紅塵飛 (世俗の紅塵飛んで豈に到らんや、) How could red dusts from the mundane world fly up to here?
深山雪夜草庵中 (深山の雪夜草庵の中。) Snowy night in the deep mountains in my grass hut.[1]

This is verse 3 in Kuchugen and verse 100 of vol. 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record).

There is an important difference in the first word of line 2 of Manzan’s version.

月耕雲 (月に釣り雲に耕す)
Fishing for the moon, cultivating the clouds,

This is the same in verse 12 of Dogen Zenjji Goroku, selected sayings from Eihei Koroku.

Since Manzan’s version of Eihei Kouroku was published as a woodblock printing, and Kuchugen spread Manzan’s version of Dogen’s Chinese poems, this phrase, “Fishing for the moon, cultivating the clouds” (月耕雲, chogetsu koun) has been widely known as Dogen Zenji’s expression. This phrase has been often quoted and also many people made calligraphies of this phrase. Dainin Katagiri Roshi used these phrases in the names of his two temples in Minnesota; Koun-zan Ganshoji and Chogetsu-zan Hokyoji.

However, this is not Dogen’s original expression. The important Chinese Soto Zen master Hongzhi Zhengjue (Wanshi Shogaku, 1091–1157) used this expression in his verse included in vol. 8 of Wanshi Zenji Koroku (宏智禅師広録, Hongzhi’s Extensive Record).

Hongzhi also used the similar expression 耕雲種月 (koun shugetsu), cultivating underneath the clouds, planting seeds in the moon light. This expression is also well known in the Japanese Soto Zen community because it was used by the famous monk poet Daichi Sokei (1290-1366) in his poem.

In the Monkaku version of Eihei Koroku, the first kanji in the phrase is different. 月耕雲 (keigetsu koun) instead of 月耕雲. A question is which was Dogen’s intention? Did Dogen use Hongzhi’s phrase without any changes or with a slight twist? Another question is: what do these phases mean?

The meaning of 耕雲種月 (koun shugetsu) is clear. 種 (shu) means “seeds” or “to sow seeds.” This phrase describes a farmer’s diligent hard work. The farmer cultivates the field during the daytime underneath the clouds, and sows seeds in the moonlight. He works all day until evening. This phrase describes monks’ diligent, continuous practice.

月耕雲 (chogetsu koun) can be interpreted in two ways. The first is the same as the above. A fisherman is fishing in the moonlight and a farmer is cultivating the field underneath the clouds. This means the monks are practicing diligently day and night, the same as the fisherman and the farmer working in their respective places.

The second possible meaning is “Fishing for the moon and cultivating the clouds.” Both the moon and clouds are objects of the verbs, fishing and cultivating. In this case, monks are doing different kinds of work from that of the fisherman and the farmer. The monks are fishing for the moon, the true reality of all things or the universal truth; and cultivating clouds, the field of emptiness.

In the case of 月耕雲 (keigetsu koun), obviously the moon and clouds are the objects of the verbs. means “clear,’” “bright,” “shine,” or as a verb, “to polish.” The monks’ practice is polishing the full moon that is already perfectly clear and bright, and cultivating the field of emptiness. I think this expression is suitable to Dogen’s insight about the identity of practice and verification.

This is one of Dogen’s 15 poems about mountain dwelling (山居, sankyo), written after moving to Echizen. Dogen describes his practice with his sangha in the deep mountains during a cold, snowy winter night. He and his monks quietly practice the ancestral way transmitted from the west by Bodhidharma and further transmitted to Japan by Dogen himself. Their practice is like polishing the full moon that is already perfectly bright and clear, not like polishing a mirror to take off the dust. Their practice is also like cultivating the field of emptiness that is like clouds. This is the practice following the ancient ancestor Bodhidharma’s style of practice, no-gaining. “Ancient wind” here means ancient style of practice. Within this practice, there is no way the dust of the mundane world can sneak in. In the deep mountains, it is snowing quietly. Since the poem includes the phrase “in my grass hut,” this poem might have been composed within their first winter in Echizen in 1243 before the new monastery building was constructed.

When I practiced with two dharma brothers at Valley Zendo in the woods in Western Massachusetts, I often remembered this poem. Especially in the quiet evening in the winter, when the ground was covered by deep snow and illuminated by the bright full moon, I felt I did not belong to any man-made system or organization, but practiced together only with the moon, snow, mountains and trees.

[1] Dogen’s Extensive Record 10-100, p.638 © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc.,

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

Waka by Dōgen

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

What is the meaning of “Bodhidharma came from the west”?

Flower of Emptiness: 9 talks on Shobogenzo Kuge

Dōgen says,

The place where the principle of one flower penetrates is, “I originally came to this land to transmit the Dharma and save deluded living beings.”

As five fingers are a part of one hand, if we see we can exist only as a part of one hand, we see other beings are within this system called one hand.

When we see everything is connected, that awakening of interconnectedness is the foundation of the Buddhist bodhisattva vow to save all beings.

If we think we are separate and if we think, “I am a great person, I am such an enlightened person, and all other beings are deluded, so I have to go to China to teach all those deluded people” — that is arrogance.

So what is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the west? The Dharma was already there in China. If that was so, Bodhidharma coming from China was something extra, and Bodhidharma was a deluded and arrogant person. Why did Bodhidharma have to come to China to teach that Dharma which is already in China? Why did he have to transmit something which is already there?

Dōgen’s sentence is his answer to this question. What does this Dharma transmission of saving human beings mean?

It means when we see the interconnectedness, our way of life should be the way we can offer something in order for these five skandhas to benefit. One hand as a collection of five fingers, these are called all living beings. So our practice of bodhisattva vow is not, “I have wealth, and there are many poor people, so I give what I own to those in need.” But the bodhisattva vow is to share everything because I am part of it. To share things with all beings is the motivation not only for Bodhidharma but for the bodhisattva vow. To offer something we can, whatever we have, no matter how small. This vow of offering things to share with all beings came from the awakening of this reality that one hand is five fingers, five fingers is one hand, one flower opens as five petals. We awaken to the basic reality of independent origination.

Listen to the talk:

Please follow this link to Sanshin’s bandcamp page for the entire digital album.

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Rōshi

> Other albums by Shōhaku Okumura

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community


(c) Can Stock Photo / glopphy

Dogen’s Chinese Poem

生死可憐休又起、 生死憐れむべし休して又た起こる、 In birth and death we sympathize with ceasing then arising.
迷途覚路夢中行、 迷途覚路夢中に行く、 Both deluded and awakened paths proceed within a dream.
雖然尚有難忘事、 然りといえどもなお忘れがたき事有り、 And yet there’s something difficult to forget,
深草閑居夜雨声。 深草の閑居夜雨の声。 In leisurely seclusion at Fukakusa, sound of evening rain.[1]

This is verse 2 in Kuchugen and verse 69 of vol. 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record, p.627). There are some differences in lines 1 and 3 in Manzan’s version in Kuchugen:

The first line is:
生死可憐雲變更 (生死可憐れむべし雲の變更)
[Living in] birth and death is pitiful, [everything is] like [always] changing clouds.

The third line is:
唯留一事醒猶記 (唯一事を留めて醒めてなお記す)
Even in awakening, [there is] one single thing inscribed [in my mind].

In the first line of the poem, Dogen mentions the impermanence of human life, in which everything is always changing. We feel pity or sympathy for all living beings, including others and ourselves, who all experience rapid change and the reality that nothing can stay without changing. There is nothing we can rely on. The original word for “pitiful” or “sympathy” is “aware 憐れ” in Japanese, which was an important word for ancient Japanese poetry and aesthetic sense. “Aware” or “monono aware” refers to the “appreciation of the fleeting nature of beauty.” Just so, in this poem, Dogen is not simply expressing the pessimistic feeling about impermanence. In Dogen’s teachings, “seeing impermanence” is not negative. In the first section of Gakudo-Yojinshu (Points to Watch in Studying the Way), he said,

“The Ancestral Master Nagarjuna said that the mind that solely sees the impermanence of this world of constant appearance and disappearance is called bodhi-mind. …. Truly, when you see impermanence, egocentric mind does not arise, neither does desire for fame and profit. Out of fear of time slipping away too swiftly, practice the Way as if you are trying to extinguish a fire enveloping your head. Reflecting on the transiency of your bodily life, practice as diligently as the Buddha did when he stood on tiptoe for seven days.[2]

The second line says, whether we are walking in the samsara that is the path of delusion, or the bodhisattva path of awakening, our life is like walking in a dream. In Buddhist texts, ‘dream” is used with at least two meanings. One is “sleeping and dreaming,” in opposition to awakening. When we are deluded, we feel that everything we think or experience is really happening. But when we awake, we see the emptiness of all things, that is, we see everything is like a dream. At the end of the Diamond Sutra, there is a verse that says:

“As a lamp, a cataract, a star in space
an illusion, a dewdrop, a bubble
a dream, a cloud, a flash of lightning
view all created things like this.”[3]

Whether we are deluded or awakened, our life is like a dream. Dogen Zenji wrote the following in Shobogenzo Muchu-setsumu (Expounding a Dream within a Dream):

“Because the wondrous Dharma of all buddhas is simply “only buddha together with buddha,” all things either in the dream or in awakening are true reality. Within awakening there are arousing bodhi-mind, practice, awakening, and nirvana; within dreaming there are arousing bodhi-mind, practice, awakening, and nirvana. Both dreaming and awakening are true reality.”

In the third line of this poem, Dogen says that in the bodhisattva way—  practicing with all beings both in samsara and in nirvana in which everything is like a dream— there is “something” difficult to forget (Monkaku-version) or “one thing” we should remember (Manzan-verson). There are three opinions in the commentaries regarding this “one thing (ichiji, 一事).”

According to the first interpretation, this “one-thing” is the sound of evening rain in Fukakusa. In this interpretation, the poem was written later, after he founded his own monastery Koshoji or Eiheiji. He is writing about his memory of the secluded life in Fukakusa.

The second interpretation is that this “one-thing” refers to Dogen’s determination to transmit the true dharma to Japan to save living beings. In Bendowa (Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way), he wrote:

“After that, I returned home in the first year of Sheting (1227). To spread this dharma and to free living beings became my vow. I felt as if a heavy burden had been placed on my shoulders. In spite of that, I set aside my vow to propagate this, in order to wait for conditions under which it could flourish.”[4]

Bendowa was written in 1230 when Dogen lived in secluded life (kankyo) in Fukakusa. Although he had set it aside, he could not forget his vow to spread the dharma and save all beings.

The third is Sawaki Roshi’s interpretation. He said “one-thing (ichiji, 一事)” is an abbreviation of ichi-daiji (一大事, one great matter), which comes from the Lotus Sutra. In the Second Chapter of the Sutra, it says, “All buddhas, the world-honored ones, only because of the one great matter, appear in the world.” In this case, “one-thing” refers to teaching the true reality of all beings (shoho jisso, 諸法実相). All buddhas appear in this world to open the gate of the true-reality, show it, and allow all living beings to open their eyes and enter the gate living within the true reality. This true reality is that each and every individual beings are living in their own unique ways only within the network of interdependent origination.

The final line expresses that Dogen himself sitting in the hermitage, and rain falling outside the hermitage are both part of interconnectedness. This poem reminds me of a waka poem of Dogen’s entitled Jingqing’s Sound of Rain Drops:

Just hearing
without extra mind [that grasps them],
the jewel-like raindrops
dripping from the eaves
are myself.


[1] © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc.,
[2] Okumura’s translation in Heart of Zen: Practice without Gaining-mind (Sotoshu Shumucho, p.6)
[3] Translation by Red Pine, The Diamond Sutra, Counterpoint, p.27
[4] Okumura and Leighton’s translation in Wholehearted Way, Tuttle, p.20)

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Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

Waka by Dōgen

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

Tenzo Kyōkun 7 – Putting the Mind of the Way to Work

“In the previous paragraph of Tenzo Kyōkun, Dōgen said we should see things not with our common eyes, but we should see things with the dharma eye or Buddha’s eye; and here he’s saying: anyway, we do have a competitive mind. How can we use this competitive mind for our practice? First he said: “If you’re resolute in your intention and are most sincere, you will vow to be more pure-hearted than the ancients and surpass even the elders in attentiveness.”

So he said that instead of competing with the contemporaries, the people around you, you should compete with the ancient masters, or elders. This is kind of a tricky thing, an interesting thing. Dōgen said when we really, sincerely want to work as a tenzo, in order to develop or improve our ability to make better dishes, somehow we need to compete; compete with ourselves and compete with others. How can we use this competitive mind to become better?”

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This talk continues Shohaku Okumura Roshi’s commentary on Dogen Zenji’s Tenzo Kyokun – Instructions for the Zen Cook. (Covering the third paragraph on page 37).

This talk was originally given at Sanshinji in Bloomington, IN on September 26, 2007.

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

Leisurely seclusion

With this post, we are excited to bring you a new series on Dōgen by Okumura Roshi.

Dogen Zenji’s Chinese Poems

In Dogen’s Extensive Record (Eihei Koroku), more than 400 Chinese poems are included. Menzan Zuiho (1683 -1769) selected 150 poems from the text and made a collection of Dogen’s Chinese poems entitled Kuchugen (句中玄;Profundity within Phrases) published in 1759. This became a popular collection of Dogen Zenji’s Chinese poems among Soto Zen practitioners in Japan. Menzan used the Eihei Koroku text revised by Manzan Dohaku (1636-1715). Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton and I translated Monkaku-bon version of Eihei Koroku, which is older than Manzan’s version. I will select the poems from Kuchugen but use our translation of the Monkaku version. When there are important differences between the Monkaku version and Manzan’s version, I will point them out.

In the introduction of Kuchugen, Menzan said:

Our ancestor Eihei [Dogen] visited to the South [part of China] and returned to the East (Japan) and composed numerous verses. However, because those verses are included here and there in his Extensive Record (Eihei Koroku), unless they are old and well-educated masters, people seldom hear of [Dogen’s verses]. Young students most rarely memorize them. I, a stubborn old man, using some free time from Zen practice, have selected some of them and allowed the novices in my assembly to recite the poems [by Dogen]… Now, I wish to circulate [Dogen’s poems] by publicizing [this collection] with wood-block printing. I sincerely wish that young novices of our school read this collection, recite them, and memorize them in their mind, [then] they will receive the unseen blessing from the Buddha-ancestors. Their capability to carry on the great Dharma in the future will be naturally strengthened.

In Japan, since the time of Menzan, Soto Zen novices have been reciting and memorizing these poems; doing so, they become familiar with Dogen Zenji’s expressions. Since Eihei Koroku is a massive text written in Chinese, it is not possible for young students to read it without much study.

Beginning this month, I will introduce some of his Chinese poems from Kuchugen using the translation in Dogen’s Extensive Record (Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2004) with my short comments. The original Chinese poems and Japanese way of reading them (yomikudashi) is from Dogen Zenji Zenshu (Complete Collection of Dogen) vol.13 (Kagamishima Genryu, Shunjusha, Tokyo, 2000). Kodo Sawaki Roshi gave teisho on some of the poems from Kuchugen. The transcriptions of his teisho are included vol. 5 and vol. 7 of Sawaki Kodo Zenshu (Complete Collection of Sawaki Kodo, Daihorinkaku, Tokyo, 1962). I will mention what Sawaki Roshi said when it is helpful to appreciate the poem.

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An impromptu work during the time of leisurely seclusion¹

阿誰取舎雖悄然、 阿誰か取舎せん悄然なりと雖ども、 Though settled, no longer picking up or discarding,²
万物同時現在前、 萬物同時に現在前す、 At the same time before me myriad things appear.
仏法従今心既尽、 佛法今從り心既に盡きぬ、 [Within] Buddha Dharma, from now on
[seeking] mind’s abandoned.
身儀向後且随縁。 身儀向後且た縁に隨う。 After this my activity will just follow conditions.

Kankyo (閑居) means a quiet and secluded life in a hermitage. When used in negative sense, it can mean idle or lazy life without working for the society. There is a proverb that says: When pipsqueaks live leisurely (kankyo) they do evil things. (Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.)  In Buddhism, this is almost always used in a positive way as a retreat in a secluded hermitage. In Dogen Zenji’s life, the period after he moved from Kenninji to Fukakusa in 1230 until he founded his own monastery, Koshoji in or around the same place in 1233, is called Fukakusa kankyo. In this case, kankyo means living quietly in a hermitage without many followers as a sangha. This verse is considered to be made during that period.

Sawaki Roshi said that kankyo does not necessarily means to live by oneself at a quiet place without much actions. Even when we live alone in a quiet place, same as the proverb, if we are controlled and moved by some mistaken views or our personal desires for fame and profit, it is not kankyo at all. Ultimately speaking, kankyo means sitting in zazen letting go of all thoughts and quietly and peacefully abiding within beyond-thinking (非思量, hishiryo).

Even when we are living in a busy life with so many things to do, if we clarify and settle down within our self, being free from our self-centered desires and competition with others, our life is in serenity. We are not controlled by causes and conditions, but we are able to work with causes and conditions in a healthy and harmonious way. This is what Dogen Zenji is saying in this poem. He expresses his determination to live in such a way. Therefore, even after he established his monastery, and working hard to teach and practice the Dharma with his assembly and to protect his sangha within society, he did not stop doing kankyo.


¹ This is verse 65 in volume 10 (p. 626) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc.,
² In Manzan’s version, the first line is a little different: 雙忘取捨思翛然 (Forgetting both picking up and discarding, my thoughts are settled.)

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

Waka by Dōgen

Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community