Tag Archives: Shobogenzo Zuimonki

The three teachings

Copyright©2021 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (40)

Following the Rhyme of Examination Graduate Wenben

「和文本秀才韻」(文本秀才の韻に和す)

The three teachings’ idle names were originally unspoken.
With one word slightly mistaken all aspects are contrary.
Clearly know both people and objects are without self.
Traversing the mysterious barrier arrive at your own home.[1]

三敎閑名其本寂 (三敎の閑名其れ本より寂なり、)
一言纔錯萬般差 (一言纔かに錯れば萬般差う、)
了知人法兼無我 (人法の兼ねて無我なることを了知すれば、) 
蹈破玄關自到家 (玄關を蹈破して自ら家に到らん。)

 

Following the Rhyme of Examination Graduate Wenben

This is verse 39 in Kuchūgen and verse 6 of volume 10 of Eihei Kōroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). Manzan’s version of this verse is identical. It is one of the six poems Dōgen wrote responding to a government official, Wenben. Poem 38 in Kuchūgen, which I introduced last month was also offered to this person.

The three teachings’ idle names were originally unspoken.
With one word slightly mistaken all aspects are contrary.

Like verse 38, this poem also presents the idea of identity of the three teachings, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. As I said in my commentary on the previous poem, Confucius did not talk about anything beyond the phenomenal world. When he was asked about serving ghosts and spirits, he said: “You haven’t learned to serve the living, so how could you serve ghosts?” Then he was asked again, “Might I ask about death?” Confucius said, “You don’t understand life, so how could you understand death?” Confucius’ teaching was about how to live benevolently in this lifetime as a good member of society. Laotsu and Chuang Tzu criticized this worldly teaching of Confucius, and said the Way is beyond conventional social morality.

But during the Song dynasty, influenced by Daoism and Buddhism, Confucians established so-called Neo-Confucianism using metaphysical ideas. These three teachings were considered together as the three legs of a tripod kettle. Government officials were basically Confucianists, but they supported and controlled Daoist and Buddhist institutions to support the system of government centered on the emperor. To become the abbot of a prestigious monastery, Buddhist monks needed to get support from high-ranking government officials. However, there must have been various blends of these ideas. Some officials supported Daoism more than Buddhism, and others liked Buddhism more than Daoism.

It seems Wenben is an experienced practitioner of Zen Buddhism who has this understanding that the three teachings are basically identical in the realm beyond logic and theories. In this understanding, the names, concepts, and rhetoric of the three teachings are not essential; the core of these three teachings is the “unspoken reality” beyond any conceptual thinking. “Unspoken” is a translation of 寂 (jaku), meaning “serene,” “quiet,” or “solitary.” This word was used to describe an aspect of the Daoist “Way.” In Laotsu’s Tao Te Ching it is said, “There was something formless and perfect / before the universe was born. / It is serene (寂). Empty. / Solitary. Unchanging. / Infinite. Eternally present. / It is the mother of the universe. / For lack of a better name, / I call it the Tao (道).”[2] In Chinese Buddhism, this word was used in referring to nirvāṇa (寂滅 jakumetu, Skt. Nirodha). For many Chinese people who didn’t know the Sanskrit word and its meaning in the context of Buddhist teachings, the difference between Daoist “Way” and Buddhist “nirvāṇa” or “enlightenment” was not so distinct.

It seems that the 26-year-old Dōgen accepts this idea; however, in the second line, he is also saying that if we carelessly speak in a syncretic or eclectic way, we will lose the essential meaning of each of the three teachings. We must be careful because having a discussion about ultimate reality is already not ultimate reality itself. Possibly, this is a seed of Dōgen’s later strict criticism opposing the idea of the identity of the three teachings.

Clearly know both people and objects are without self.
Traversing the mysterious barrier arrive at your own home.

 In the third line, Dōgen says the essential points of Buddhist teaching are no-self of people and no-substance of objective things. Traditionally it is said that early Buddhism negated the self (atman) and insisted on no-self (anatman), but Mahāyāna Buddhism negates both the permanent self (atman) and also negates the permanent nature of all objective things. This is called 我法二空(ga ho ni ku: both self and things are empty)

We can find from reading the sutras that Shakyamuni Buddha negated atman and said the self is only a collection of five aggregates or eighteen elements, but he also said that the five aggregates are not substance. He said that the five aggregates are rather like a lump of foam, a bubble, a mirage, a plantain tree, or a magical illusion.[3] No-self of people and no-substance of things are concepts which are not found in either Confucianism or Daoism. As a Buddhist, Dōgen says that these are the most essential points.

“The mysterious barrier” is a translation of 玄関 (genkan). 玄 means “darkness” or “profundity,” one of the important concepts in Daoism. Kan (関) means a barrier, such as when used in the title of the famous kōan collection, 無門関 (Mumonkan, The Gateless Barrier). In Tao Te Ching it is said, “Yet mystery and manifestations / arise from the same source. / This source is called darkness (玄). / Darkness within darkness (玄之又玄). The gateway to all understanding.”[4] This word was adopted in Zen Buddhism to refer to the ultimate reality beyond discriminative thinking. At Chinese Zen temples, the main entry hall of a temple building is called genkan (the gate to the darkness). This tradition was continued in Japanese Zen temples; and owing to that tradition, the entrance of any Japanese house is called genkan even today.

Dōgen is saying that to see emptiness of both the self and objective things is the gate to ultimate reality, and that this is our own original home.

Dōgen’s Criticism against Poetry

The last five poems I introduced, Kuchūgen 35 to 39, are all written in 1226 and probably 1227, during Dōgen’s stay at Tiantong monastery in China. This period might have been the most satisfying and happiest time in his life. In 1225, although he had lost his Japanese teacher Myōzen, he found Rujing, his authentic teacher. Under the guidance of abbot Rujing, he practices zazen alongside sincere training monks, following a very strict schedule, as he describes in some episodes in Zuimonki. He is able to study the Dharma one-on-one with Rujing. He is allowed to visit the abbot’s room freely when he has questions to ask; Dōgen’s questions and Rujing’s responses were recorded in Hōkyōki. By 1226, he has a circle of acquaintances which includes very well-educated lay practitioners. He enjoys genuine practice, dharma study with an authentic teacher, and a group of people with whom he exchanges poetry. After returning to Japan, when he founds his first monastery, Kōshōji in Fukakusa, he might have wished to create such a community.

In Zuimonki 3–9, Dōgen talks to his assembly at Kōshōji regarding writing poetry:

In my childhood, I was fond of studying classic literature on Chinese history and other texts. Up to that point, reading both Buddhist and non-Buddhist texts was necessary to [go to China] and transmit the Dharma, and to become familiar with the local Chinese language. I thought it was important, and in fact, it was an extraordinary thing even in worldly society. Lay people also appreciated it as exceptional and wonderful.

I think that Dōgen is talking about his experiences with the people who practiced with him at Rujing’s assembly. However, in the same talk, he criticizes writing poems with too much of a focus on literary techniques:

Although in a sense it was necessary, when I reflect deeply on it now, it was a hindrance to studying the Way. When we read Buddhist scriptures, if we understand the meaning of the sentences phrase by phrase, we can grasp the principle expressed by the words. However, people tend to pay more attention to the rhetorical devices such as couplets, rhythm, and tone. They judge them as good or bad, and then think about the meaning as an afterthought. Therefore, it is better to understand the meaning from the beginning without caring about such things. Also, in writing dharma words, trying to write according to the rules of rhetoric or being unable to write without thinking of rhyming and tone are the fault of having too much knowledge. Let the language and style develop as they may. What is most important is to write down in detail the truth we want to communicate. Even though people in future generations might think that our rhetorical technique is poor, for the Way it is essential to enable them to understand the truth. This is the same for other fields of study as well.[5]

When I started to practice zazen and read talks such as this in Zuimonki, I stopped writing poems and other hobbies to focus on zazen practice and studying Buddhist teachings. I am still happy about the decision. However, this does not mean that Dōgen discontinued writing Chinese poems or encouraged people not to write poems. Even at Eiheiji, he had a poetry-writing gathering with his monks, writing poems on the words of Rujing about the harvest full moon, as I have discussed in earlier commentaries. We find more than four hundred Chinese poems in Eihei Kōroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record) and more than fifty waka poems. I am also happy that I can read, appreciate, and write about Dōgen’s Chinese poems.

— • —

[1] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10–6, p.611) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] Tao Te Ching (by Stephen Mitchell, Harper Collins,) p.25.
[3] The Samyutta Nikaya Part III section 22, No. 95 (3) A Lump of Foam (p.951).
[4] Tao Te Ching (by Stephen Mitchell, Harper Collins) p.1.
[5] Okumura’s translation of Chōenji-version of Zuimonki, which will be published from Wisdom Publications.

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

— • —

For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright©2021 Sanshin Zen Community

This very mind watches the moon

Copyright©2020 Misaki C. Kido

Dōgen’s Chinese Poems (27)

十六夜、「即心見月」に頌す
The Night of the Sixteenth;
Verse on “This very mind watches the moon.”

We hold up this kōan on the sixteenth night.
Wishing for fullness of the moon’s body, you miss moon of mind.
Seeing the moon somewhat clearly, just then moon is born.
How can we grasp the moon in mid-autumn?[1]

拈来十六夜公案、 (拈来す十六夜の公案、)
身月欲円心月欠、 (身月円かならんと欲すれば心月欠けぬ、)
見月纔明即月生、 (見月纔かに明らかなれば即ち月生ず、)
如何捉得中秋月。 (如何が捉得せん中秋の月。)

This is verse 26 in Kuchugen and verse 82 of volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dōgen’s Extensive Record). This is the second of the six poems about “harvest moon” in Kuchugen based on Juching (Jp. Rujing)’s dharma hall discourse. In Menzan’s version, this poem has some differences in lines 1 and 3:

拈來公案難休歇 (公案を拈じ來って休歇し難し、)
Having been holding this kōan, it is difficult to rest.
非暗非明即月生 (暗に非ず明に非ず即月生ず、)
[When we see, it is] neither dark nor bright, the moon is born.

We hold up this kōan on the sixteenth night.
Wishing for fullness of the moon’s body, you miss moon of mind.

The expression, “This very mind watches the moon” is from Juching’s jodo (formal dharma hall discourse) on the occasion of the mid-autumn full moon. Dōgen Zenji is asking his monks to hold up this expression as a kōan.

The night of the 16th is called izayoi, which means “the night of hesitation.” This is the night directly after the full moon night. Because the moon rises a little later than it does on the evening of the full moon, people think the moon is hesitating. Even though the moon of the 16th night is not so different from the full moon, there is a slight difference each night. The full moon is the symbol of perfection, yet the next day, in the process of waning, it is not perfect anymore, the same as our practice.

As I mentioned in my comment on Juching’s jodo, this moon is not simply the moon in the sky— rather, using the beautiful full moon as metaphor, Juching is talking about the structure of the network of interdependent origination. This “mind” is neither thinking-mind that is the subject which sees the moon as object, nor the “mind-nature” that is a hidden, permanent substance stored inside of us, like a diamond hidden in the rock and dirt, as mentioned in some Buddhist texts based on the theory of tathagata-garbha. This “mind” is the mind that is together with all dharmas, as Dōgen discussed in Shobogenzo Sokushinzebutsu (Mind is itself Buddha).

As Dōgen said in Shobogenzo Tsuki (Moon), the mind is swallowed by the moon and also the mind swallows the moon. The mind and the moon are not in the common relation as subject and object. The moonlight is the light of the myriad dharmas in which the self is included. Only moonlight is there, there is no self (mind). From another side, there is no moonlight beside the self (mind). Further, they vomit each other and become two (not-one) as subject and object. We see the moon that includes us, and the moon sees us who are part of the moon. This is the pattern of logic which Dōgen used in Shobogenzo Makahannyaharmitsu (Mahaprajna Paramita), “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is form; emptiness is emptiness.” Our practice is to awaken to that reality, to live in accord with the reality, and to notice and express the reality with our body and mind.

In Shobogenzo Shinjingakudo (Body and Mind Studying the Way), Dōgen said this about the mind:

In any case, mountains, rivers, and the great earth; the sun, the moon, and stars are nothing other than the mind.[2]

And he said this about the body:

The entire ten-direction world is nothing other than the true human body. Coming and going within life-and-death is the true human body. Turning this body, we depart from the ten unwholesome deeds, keep the eight precepts, take refuge in the Three Treasures, give up our home and become a home-leaver; this is studying the Way in its true meaning. Therefore it is called the true human body.[3]

As ultimate reality, both body and mind are together with all beings within the network of interdependence. This is the full moon.

From the side of our concrete study and practice, Dōgen said in Shobogenzo Zuimonki:

Is the Way attained with the mind or the body? In the teaching schools, it is said that because body and mind are not separate, the Way is attained [not only with the mind, but also] with the body. Yet it is not clear that we attain the Way with the body, because they say body and mind are not separate. Now, in my [Dharma] family, the Way is [truly] attained with both body and mind.[4]

We study and practice the buddha way with both body and mind and attain the way with both body and mind. This is possible because both body and mind are together with all beings. But in a practical way, it is very difficult. Sometimes, we put too much emphasis on studying and understanding the Dharma and ignore practicing with our body. Sometimes, we think that having understanding is not important, and that we should just practice without thinking. In one of the Dharma Words included in Eihei Koroku, Dōgen said:

We could say that the situation of Buddha’s house is the oneness in which the essence, practice, and expounding are one and the same.[5]

Essence is shu (宗), the ultimate reality; practice is gyo (行), activities with the body; expounding is setsu (説), which refers to studying, understanding, discussing, and teaching using the mind. These three should be one. This oneness is the full moon. But in our actual practice, we put the emphasis either on just doing it, or on thinking and discussing without practicing. Then, the full moon (essence) is waning a little, like the moon of the 16th day.

Seeing the moon somewhat clearly, just then moon is born.
How can we grasp the moon in mid-autumn?

When we see the moon that is together with the moon and yet separate, seeing this reality from both sides, moon as our life is born, or our life becomes the moon. In Shobogenzo Genjokōan, Dōgen said:

When a person attains realization, it is like the moon’s reflection in water. The moon never becomes wet; the water is never disturbed. Although the moon is a vast and great light, it is reflected in a drop of water. The whole moon and even the whole sky are reflected in a drop of dew on a blade of grass or a single tiny drop of water. Realization does not destroy the person, as the moon does not make a hole in the water.

However, even seeing this reality from both sides, we are endlessly asking, “How can we grasp the moon in mid-autumn?” This is the meaning of butsukojoji, our continuous and endless practice as ever going-beyond Buddha.

— • —

[1] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 10-82, p.632) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.
[2] Okumura’s unpublished translation.
[3] Okumura’s unpublished translation.
[4] From Okumura’s unpublished translation of the Choenji version of Zuimonki. Forthcoming from Wisdom Publications.
[5] (Dōgen’s Extensive Record 8-11, p. 521) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.

— • —

For further study:

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2020 Sanshin Zen Community

Brush and inkstone already discarded

Dogen’s Chinese Poems (6)

「同(山居)」

Mountain Dwelling (4)

For a long while I’ve abandoned human realms,
beyond attachments,
Writing with brush and inkstone already discarded.
Seeing flowers and hearing birdsong brings little attraction.
Though dwelling in mountains, I’m still ashamed
at my lack of talent.[1]

久舎人間無愛惜 (久しく人間を舎てて愛惜無し、)
文章筆硯既抛來 (文章筆硯既に抛て來る)
見花聞鳥風情少 (花を見鳥を聞くに風情少なし、)
乍在山猶愧不才 (山にあり乍ら猶を不才を愧ず。)

This is verse 6 in Kuchugen and verse 105 of Volume 10 of Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record, p.639). This is one of the poems about mountain dwelling. In Manzan’s version, the first line is:

久在人間無愛惜
Although I’ve been abiding in the human world for a long time, I am without attachments.

And the fourth line is:

一任時人笑不才
I completely leave to it the people of this time if they laugh at my lack of talent.

In Shobogenzo Zuimonki, Dogen said:

Zen monks these days are fond of studying literature as grounding to compose verses or write dharma-words. This is wrong. Even if you cannot compose verses, just write what you think in your mind. Even if your style [of either rhyme or prose] is not sophisticated, write down the dharma-gates. People without bodhi-mind will not read it if your writing style is not well polished. Even if the style were embellished and there were excellent phrases in it, [however,] such people would only play with the words without grasping the principle [behind them]. I have been fond of studying [literature] since my childhood, and even now I have a tendency to contemplate the beauty in the words of non-Buddhist texts. Sometimes I even refer to Wenxuan (Monzen) or other classic texts. Still, I think it is meaningless, and should be completely discontinued.[2]

This poem is in accord with what Dōgen said while he was staying at Koshoji in Fukakusa. According to his biography, Kenzeiki, Dogen read a collection of Chinese poems when he was four years old. From that point, he received the best possible education available at that time. His father, Minamoto Michitomo and his grandfather, Minamoto Michichika were both well-known waka poets. Aristocrats were not only politicians or government officers, but also had to be scholars and poets. And yet, after becoming a Buddhist monk, Dogen gave up studying and writing poetry and thinking of literary techniques and styles in his writing. Even so, he wrote some Japanese waka poems and more than 400 Chinese poems.

In the Monkaku version, even though he has abandoned the desire to write with sophisticated literary techniques, he is still ashamed his poems are not good enough in comparison with his idea what poetry should be like. It seems he is also ashamed of having such a feeling, because it shows that he is not completely free from his karmic consciousness as a well-educated, aristocratic person. But in Manzan’s version, he did not express such complicated feeling of shamefulness. To me, the Monkaku version expresses his sentiment honestly.

Steven Heine’s translation of this poem is as follows:

Another mountain retreat verse:

For so long here without worldly attachments,
I have renounced literature and writing;
I may be a monk in a mountain temple,
Yet still I am moved in seeing gorgeous blossoms
Scattered by the spring breeze,
And hearing the warbler’s lovely song –
Let others judge my meager efforts.[3]

This is a translation of Manzan’s version. But the third to the sixth lines in this translation are not literal. The beginning of the third line of original poem (見花聞鳥) only says “seeing flowers,” and “hearing birds.” Dogen does not mention anything about “gorgeous blossoms scattered by the spring breeze,” and “the warbler’s lovely song.” At the end of the third line of the original poem (風情少) fuzei, (literally, wind sentiment 風情) is something like “feeling a sense or a taste of elegance” that makes a person to write a poem. Sukunashi (少) means “little.” All of the commentaries I have at hand interpret this line as, “I have little taste for elegance that urges me to write a poem of beauty about the flowers and birds.” I think that this is not, “Yet still I am moved,” as in Heine’s translation but rather, “I am hardly moved.”

Dogen Zenji also wrote these waka in the same vein:

(24)
By the spring wind / My words are blown and scattered / People may see them / The song of flowers

(32)
Although seeing the moon of the mind, / in the great sky, / being deluded in the darkness, / I praise it for its shape and color.

(39)
Seeing flowers in spring, / crimson leaves in autumn, / and white snow in winter,
I am regretful for / that I have appreciated them as the objects / [that entertain my feeling].

Sawaki Roshi said, “Unfortunately, I read Zuimonki first where Dogen Zenji said it is fine not writing beautiful prose or poetry. I felt that’s it! It was easier to speak what I thought than writing poems. … This is also a quality of ‘mountain dwelling.’ If worldly people laugh at me, that is fine.” I also read Zuimonki first and quit writing poems when I began to practice zazen. I feel I was lucky.

—–

[1] (Dogen’s Extensive Record 10-105, p.639) © 2010 Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura, Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., http://www.wisdompubs.org.

[2] Choenji version Zuimonki 3-6. This is Okumura’s unpublished translation. Wenxuan (文選、Monzen) is a collection of about 700 well-known poetry and prose writings by about 130 important writers compiled in China in 6th century. In Japan this collection was studied as a text of Chinese literature.

[3] The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountian of Eternal Peace (Steven Heine, Dharma Communications,1997) p.148

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi.
Image attribution: Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

> More of Dōgen Zenji’s Chinese Poems


Copyright 2018 Sanshin Zen Community

Certain to Attain the Way

As Practice and Realization Are One

植て見よ Uete miyo Plant the tree!
花のそだたぬ Hana no sodatanu There is no village
里もなし Sato mo nashi where no flower grows.
心かようぞ Kokoro kayou zo The [bodhi-]mind will be penetrated
[with the buddhas’ minds],
身はいやしけれ Mi wa iyashi kere even though we are of humble birth.

This is the second of the 13 addendum waka in the Shunjusha text. This waka is included only in the Ryugenji version and the source is unknown. There is a verse almost the same in a collection of Ryokan’s waka compiled by Toyoharu Togo and published by Tokyo Sogensha in 1959 (waka number 638, p.108). This waka is widely known as Ryokan’s and is included in Great Fool : Zen Master Ryokan, Poems, Letters, and Other Writings by Ryuichi Abe and Peter Haskel. The waka in Ryokan’s collection is:

植えて見よ  /  花の育たぬ  /  里もなし  /  心からこそ  /  身はいやしけれ
uetemiyo / hana no sodatanu / sato mo nashi / kokoro kara koso / mi wa iyashikere

Go ahead, plant the seed!
There isn’t a village
Where flowers won’t grow.
The very notion of being “lowborn”
only comes from people’s minds.1

As you see, only the third line is slightly different (kokoro kayou zo / kokoro karakoso).

However, in the newer collection of Ryokan’s waka compiled by Toshiro Tanigawa and published by Shunjusha in 1996, this verse is not considered to be Ryokan’s own waka.2 It might be possible. Ryokan might have written a calligraphy of someone else’s waka but the owners of the piece thought that the verse was composed by Ryokan himself. There are many such examples. However, according to the Tanigawa’s collection, the source of this waka is not Dogen but the Mandai-waka-shu, one of the large collections of waka compiled in 1249 while Dogen was still alive. I tried to find this waka among the almost four thousand verses in the Mandai-waka-shu, but I gave it up.

It’s possible that this waka is neither Dogen’s nor Ryokan’s work However, if it was composed by Dogen, he wanted to say that there is no way that people cannot attain the Way if they practice. In Dogen’s time, the idea of mappo (the age of the Last Dharma) was very popular; people widely believed that because they lived in the degenerate age of the Last Dharma, even if they practiced it was not possible to attain the Way. That was one of the reasons Pure Land Buddhism became popular in medieval Japan. People believed the age of the Last Dharma began in 1052. However, Dogen did not agree with this theory.

In Shobogenzo Zuimonki, he acknowledged that many people believed in the age of the Last Dharma, saying, “Many people in the secular world say, ‘Although I have aspiration to study the Way, the world is in the age of the Last Dharma. People’s quality has been declining and I have only inferior capabilities. I cannot bear to practice being in accordance with the Dharma. I would like to follow an easier way which is suitable to me, to just make a connection [with the Buddha], and expect to attain realization in a future lifetime.’”

And Dogen expressed his counter-argument:

“Now, I say that this saying is totally wrong. In the Buddha Dharma, distinguishing the three periods of time — the age of True Dharma, Semblance Dharma, and Last Dharma — is only a temporary expedient. The genuine teaching of the Way is not like this. When we practice [following the teaching], all of us should be able to attain [the Way]. Monks while [Shakyamuni] was alive were not necessarily superior. There were some monks who had incredibly despicable minds and who were inferior in capacity. The Buddha set forth various kinds of precepts for the sake of bad people and inferior people. Each and every human being has the possibility [to clarify] the Dharma. Do not think that you are not a vessel. When we practice in accordance [with the Dharma], all of us should be able to attain [the Way]. Since we already have a mind, we can distinguish between good and bad. Since we have hands and feet, we don’t lack anything for doing gassho and walking. In practicing the Buddha Dharma, we should not be concerned with the quality [of people]. All beings within the human realm are all vessels [of the Buddha Dharma].3

Dogen’s opinion expressed as in this waka is that if we arouse bodhi-mind and study and practice the teaching, we are certainly able to attain the Way. This is one of the reasons he emphasized the identity of practice and realization. When we practice, realization is manifested right there. His saying about the mind agrees with what the Buddha said in the first two verses in Dhammapada:

(1) What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.
If a man speaks or acts with an impure mind, suffering follows him as the wheel of the cart follows the beast that draws the cart.

(2) What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure mind, joy follows him as his own shadow.4

— • —

Translation and commentary by Shōhaku Okumura-roshi

1 This is the translation in Great Fool: Zen Master Ryokan (translated with essays by Ryuichi Abe and Peter Haskel, University of Hawaii Press, 1996), p.211.
2 Ryokan Zenwakashu (The Complete Collection of Ryokan’s Waka, Toshiro Tanigawa, Shunjusha, Tokyo, 1996) p.409.
3 This is Okumura’s unpublished translation from the Choenji-version of the Zuimonki. Okumura’s translation of the same section in Menzan’s version is in Shobogenzo Zuimonk: Saying of Eihei Dogen Zenji recorded by Koun Ejo (Sotoshu Shumucho, 1988) p.154.
4 This is translation by Juan Mascaro (Penguin Books, 1973).

> Other Waka by Dōgen


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