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[永平] 道元希玄 [Eihei] Dōgen Kigen

Title page of an 1811 edition of Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō



Végh József:
PDF: Dógen zen mester élete és művei

PDF: Dógen Zen mester magyarul elérhető írásai
Összegyűjtötte: Végh József

Hrabovszky Dóra:
Dōgen Kigen és a Fukan Zazengi

Általános javallatok a zen meditációhoz
Címet fordította: Terebess Gábor;
szövegford. Mák Andrea és Fábián Gábor

PDF: Fukan-zazen-gi
Hakuun Yasutani mester magyarázataival

Fordította: Hetényi Ernő

Dógen versei

Dógen önarcképe

A zazen dicsérete
Fordította: Végh József

Az ülő meditáció szabályai (Sóbógenzó zazengi)
Fordította: Végh József

A zazen ösvénye
Fordította: Szigeti György

A szívében a megvilágosodás szellemével élő lény (bódhiszattva) négy irányadó tevékenysége
(Sóbógenzó bodaiszatta sisóbó)
Fordította: Végh József

真字正法眼蔵 [Mana/Shinji] Shōbōgenzō

PDF: The True Dharma Eye: Dogen's 300 Koans
Translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi & John Daido Loori

PDF: Introduction to the Shinji Shobogenzo by Gudo Wafu Nishijima

PDF: Dogen and the Koan Tradition – A Tale of Two Shobogenzo Texts
by Steven Heine

仮字正法眼蔵 [Kana/Kaji] Shōbōgenzō

The True Dharma-Eye Treasury
Translated by Gudo Wafu Nishijima & Chodo Cross
PDF: Volume I.
Chapters 1 to 21
PDF: Volume II. Chapters 22-41
PDF: Volume III. Chapters 42-72
PDF: Volume IV. Chapters 73-96

PDF: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching
Translated by Hubert Nearman

Chapters of the Shôbôgenzô / English translations

The Way of Zazen (Zazengi)
Translated by Okumura Shōhaku

Lancet of Zazen (Zazen shin)
Translated by Carl Bielefeldt

Translated by Hakuun Barnhard

Bodaisatta shishōbō

PDF: First Dogen Book
Selected essays from Dogen Zenji's Shobogenzo
(Bendowa / Genjo Koan / Uji / Soshi Seirai I)
Translated by Bob Myers

普勧坐禅儀 Fukan zazengi

PDF: Six English Translations Comparison
PDF: Fukanzazengi Tr. by Norman Waddell and Masao Abe
PDF: Principles of Seated Meditation pp. 174-187. A Comparative Translation by Carl Bielefeldt

学道用心集 Gakudō-yōjinshū
Guidelines for studying the Way Tr. by Ed Brown & Kazuaki Tanahashi
Things to look out for in your Buddhist training Tr. by Yuho Yokoi et al.
PDF: Practical Advice on Pursuing the Buddhist Truth Tr. Gudo Nishijima

永平清規 Eihei shingi Eihei Rules of Purity
PDF: Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community
Translated by Taigen Dan Leighton & Shohaku Okumura

典座教訓 Tenzo kyōkun
Instructions for the Cook Translated by Griffith Foulk
Instructions for the Tenzo Tr. by Anzan Hoshin & Yasuda Joshu Dainen

永平廣錄 Eihei kōroku Dōgen's Extensive Record

傘松道詠 Sanshō dōei
Verses on the Way from Sanshō Peak

DOC: The Zen Poetry of Dogen - Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace
by Steven Heine

孤雲懷奘 Kōun Ejō (1198-1280)
Shōbōgenzō zuimonki

修證Shushō-gi, compiled in 1890
by Takiya Takushū (滝谷卓洲) of Eihei-ji and Azegami Baisen (畔上楳仙) of Sōji-ji
as an abstract of Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō

Dōgen founded this temple in 1233

PDF: A Study of Dogen His Philosophy and Religion (1992)
by Masao Abe

Viewing the Moon, Dōgen's Self-portrait

Dōgen's Zen Ancestors Chart

PDF: The Life of Dōgen Zenji
Eiheiji published an illustrated version (with 71 full-page woodcuts) of Menzan‘s annotated chronicle,
the Teiho Kenzeiki zue 「訂補建撕記図会」 (preface dated 1806, but actually published 1817).


“Zazen-shin,” Admonition Concerning Sitting-Meditation
Hoyu ISHIDA (Ishida Hōyū 石田 法雄)
Academic Reports of the University Center for Intercultural Education, the University of Shiga Prefecture, December 2009.



Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 12

Lancet of Zazen
(Zazen shin)

Shōbōgenzō zazen shin

Translated by
Carl Bielefeldt

© 2004 Sotoshu Shumucho

Kannon Dôri Kôshô Hôrin Ji <1>

Once, when the Great Master Hongdao of Yueshan was sitting [in meditation], a monk asked him, "What are you thinking of, [sitting there] so fixedly?"
The master answered, "I'm thinking of not thinking."
The monk asked, "How do you think of not thinking?"
The Master answered, "Nonthinking." <2>

Verifying that such are the words of the Great Master, we should study fixed sitting, we should participate in the correct transmission of fixed sitting. This is the investigation of fixed sitting transmitted in the way of the buddha. Although he is not alone in "thinking fixedly", Yueshan's words are singular: "thinking of not thinking". Thinking is the very "skin, flesh, bones and marrow"; "not thinking" is the very skin, flesh, bones and marrow. <3>

"The monk asked, 'How do you think of not thinking?'" Indeed, while "not thinking" may be old, here it is "how do you think"? Could there be no "thinking" in sitting "fixedly"? How could [it] fail to penetrate beyond sitting "fixedly"? If we are not the sort of fool that "despises what is near", we ought to have the strength, we ought to have the "thinking", to question sitting "fixedly". <4>

"The master answered, 'Nonthinking'." Although the employment of "nonthinking" is "crystal clear", when we "think of not thinking", we always use "nonthinking". There is someone in "nonthinking", and this someone maintains us. Although it is we who are sitting "fixedly", [our sitting] is not merely "thinking": it presents itself as sitting "fixedly". Although sitting "fixedly" is sitting "fixedly", how could it "think" of sitting "fixedly"? Therefore, sitting "fixedly" is not the "measure of the buddha", not the measure of the dharma, not the measure of awakening, not the measure of comprehension. <5>

The single transmission of this sitting "fixedly" by Yueshan represents the thirty-sixth generation directly from the Buddha Shâkyamuni: if we trace beyond Yueshan thirty-six generations, there is the Buddha Shâkyamuni. In what was thus correctly transmitted there was already "thinking of not thinking". <6>

Recently, however, some stupid illiterates say, "Once you attain [the state in which] the breast is without concerns, the concentrated effort at seated meditation is peace and tranquility." <7> This view does not compare with that of the scholastics of the Lesser Vehicle; it is inferior even to the Vehicle of Men and Gods. How could one [who holds such a view] be called a person who studies the buddha dharma? At present, there are many such practitioners in the land of the Great Sung. How sad that the way of the ancestors has become overgrown.

Then there is another type of person [who says,] "To pursue the way in seated meditation is a function essential for the "beginner's mind and the latter-day student", but it is not necessarily an observance of the buddhas and ancestors. 'Walking is Zen, sitting is Zen; whether in speech or silence, motion or rest, the substance is at ease.' <8> Do not adhere solely to the present concentrated effort [of seated meditation]." Many of the type calling itself a branch of the Linji [lineage] are of this view. It is because they are deficient in transmitting the right life of the buddha-dharma that they speak thus. What is the "beginner's mind"? Where is there no "beginner's mind"? Where do we leave the "beginner's mind"?

Be it known that, for studying the way, the established [means of] investigation is pursuing the way in seated meditation. The essential point of its standard is [the understanding] that there is a practice of a buddha that does not seek to make a buddha. Since the practice of a buddha is not to make a buddha, it is the realization of the kôan. The embodied buddha does not make a buddha; when "the baskets and cages" are broken, a seated buddha does not interfere with making a buddha. At just such a time, from one thousand, from ten thousand ages past, we originally have the power "to enter into Buddha and enter into Måra". Stepping forward and back, its measure fully "fills the ditches and clogs the moats". <9>

* * * * *

When the Chan master Daji of Jiangxi was studying with the Chan master Dahui of Nanyue, after intimately receiving the mind seal, he always practiced seated meditation. Once Nanyue went to Dajii and said, "Worthy one, what are you figuring to do, sitting there in meditation?" <10>

We should give concentrated effort to the investigation of this question. Does it mean that there must be some "figuring" above and beyond seated meditation? Is there not yet a path to be "figured" outside the bounds of seated meditation? Should there be no "figuring" at all? Or does it ask what kind of "figuring" occurs at the very time we are practicing seated meditation? We should make concentrated effort to understand this in detail. Rather than love "the carved dragon", we should go on to love the real dragon. We should learn that both the carved and the real dragons have the ability [to produce] clouds and rain. Do not "value what is far away", and do not despise it; become completely familiar with it. Do not "despise what is near at hand", and do not value it; become completely familiar with it. Do not "take the eyes lightly", and do not give them weight. Do not "give weight to the ears", and do not take them lightly. Make your eyes and ears clear and sharp. <11>

Jiangxi said, "I'm figuring to make a buddha."

We should clarify and penetrate this saying. What does he mean by saying "make a buddha"? Is he saying "make a buddha" is to be made a buddha by the buddha? Is he saying "make a buddha" is to "make a buddha" of the buddha? Is he saying "make a buddha" is one or two faces of the buddha emerging? Is it that "figuring to make a buddha" is "sloughing off", and [that what is meant here is a] "figuring to make a buddha" as [the act of] sloughing off? Or is he saying by "figuring to make a buddha" that, while there are ten thousand ways to "make a buddha", they become entangled in this "figuring"? <12>

It should be recognized that Daji's saying means that seated meditation is inevitably "figuring to make a buddha", seated meditation is inevitably the "figuring" of "making a buddha". This "figuring" must be prior to "making a buddha"; it must be subsequent to "making a buddha"; and it must be at the very moment of "making a buddha". Now what I ask is this: How many [ways of] "making a buddha" does this one "figuring" entangle? These entanglements, moreover, must themselves "intertwine" with entanglements. At this point, entanglements, as individual instances of the entirety of "making a buddha", are always direct expressions of that entirety, are all individual instances of "figuring". We should not avoid this one "figuring". When we avoid the one "figuring", we "destroy our body and lose our life." When we destroy our body and lose our life, this is the entanglement of the one "figuring". <13>

At this point, Nanyue took up a tile and began to rub it on a stone. At length, Daji asked, "Master, what are you doing?" <14>

Who indeed could fail to see that he was "polishing a tile"? Who could see that he was "polishing a tile"? Still, "polishing a tile" has been questioned in this way: "What are you doing?" This "what are you doing?" is itself always "polishing a tile". This land and the other world may differ, but [in both] there is the essential message that "polishing a tile" never ceases. Not only should we avoid deciding that what we see is what we see, we should be firmly convinced that there is an essential message to be studied in all the ten thousand activities. We should know that, just as we may see the buddha without knowing or understanding him, so we may see water and yet not know water, may see mountains and yet not know mountains. The precipitate assumption that the phenomena before one's eyes offer no further passage is not the study of the buddha. <15>

Nanyue said, "I'm polishing this to make a mirror."

We should be clear about the meaning of these words. There is definitely a reason for "polishing [a tile] to make a mirror": there is the "kôan of realization"; this is no mere empty contrivance. A "tile" may be a "tile" and a "mirror" a "mirror", but when we vigorously investigate the principle of "polishing", we shall find there are many standard models. The "old mirror" and the "bright mirror" -- these are "mirrors" made through "polishing a tile". If we do not realize that these "mirrors" come from "polishing a tile", then the buddhas and ancestors have no utterance; the buddhas and ancestors do not open their mouths, and we do not perceive the buddhas and ancestors exhaling. <16>

Daji said, "How can you produce a mirror by polishing a tile?"

Indeed, though [the one who is] "polishing a tile" be "a man of iron", who does not borrow another's power, "polishing a tile" is not "producing a mirror". Even if it is "producing a mirror", it must be quick about it.

Nanyue replied, "How can you make a buddha by sitting in meditation (zazen)?"

This is clearly understood: there is a reason that sitting in meditation does not await "making a buddha"; there is nothing obscure about the essential point that "making a buddha" is not connected with sitting in meditation.

Daji asked, "Then, what is right?"

Although this saying resembles a simple question about this, it is also asking about that "rightness". Consider, for example, the occasion when one friend meets another: the fact that he is my friend means that I am his friend. "What" and "right" emerge simultaneously. <17>

Nanyue replied, "When someone is driving a cart, if the cart doesn't go, should he beat the cart or beat the ox?" <18>

Now, when he says, "if the cart doesn't go", what does he mean by the cart's " going " or the cart's "not going"? For example, is water's flowing the cart's "going", or is water's not flowing the cart's going? We can say that flowing is water's "not going", and it should also be that water's "going" is not its flowing. Therefore, in investigating the saying, "if the cart doesn't go", we should approach it both in terms of "not going" and in terms of not "not going"; for it is time. The saying, "if [the cart] doesn't go" is not saying simply that it does not go. <19>

"Should he beat the cart or beat the ox?" Should there be "beating the cart" as well as "beating the ox"? Are "beating the cart" and "beating the ox" the same or are they not the same? In the world, there is no method of "beating the cart"; but, though commoners have no method of "beating the cart", we know that on the way of the buddha there is a method of "beating the cart"; this is the very eye of study. Even though we study that there is a method of "beating the cart", it should not be equivalent to "beating the ox"; we should make detailed, concentrated effort [on this point]. Even though the method of "beating the ox" is common in the world, we should go on to investigate and study "beating the ox" on the way of the buddha. Is this "ox-beating" the water buffalo? Or "ox-beating" the iron bull? Or "ox-beating" the clay ox? Is this beating with a whip? Is it beating with the entire world? Beating with the entire mind? Is this to beat out the marrow? Is it to beat with the fist? There should be the fist beating the fist; there should be the ox beating the ox. <20>

Daji had no response.

We should not idly miss [the import of] this. [In it,] there is "throwing out a tile to take in a jade"; there is "turning the head and reversing the face". By no means should we do violence to his "no response" here. <21>

Nanyue went on, "Are you studying seated meditation or are you studying seated buddha?"

We should investigate this saying and discern the essential function of the ancestral lineage. Even without knowing the actual meaning of "studying seated meditation", we do know here that it is "studying seated buddha". Who but a scion of correct descent could say that "studying seated meditation" is "studying seated buddha"? We should know indeed that the "seated meditation" of the beginner's mind is the first "seated meditation", and the first "seated meditation" is the first "seated buddha". In speaking of this "seated meditation", [Nanyue] said,

"If you're studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting or reclining." <22>

What he says here is that "seated meditation" is "seated meditation"; it is not "sitting or reclining". From the time the fact that it is not "sitting or reclining" has been singly transmitted [to us], [our] unlimited "sitting or reclining" is our own self. Why should we inquire about close or distant familial lines? How could we discuss delusion and awakening? Who would seek wisdom and eradication? <23> Nanyue said,

"If you're studying seated buddha, buddha is no fixed mark." <24>

Such is the way to say a saying. That the "seated buddha" is like one or two buddhas is because he has adorned himself with "no fixed mark". When [Nanyue] says here that "buddha is no fixed mark", he is speaking of the mark of the buddha. Since he is a buddha of "no fixed mark", the "seated buddha" is difficult to avoid. Therefore, since it is adorned with this "Budddha is no fixed mark", "if you're studying seated meditation" is a "seated buddha". "In a nonabiding dharma", who would "grasp or reject" [anything] as not the buddha? Who would "grasp or reject" it as the buddha. It is because it has already sloughed off "grasping and rejecting" that it is a "seated buddha." <25> Nanyue says,

"If you're studying seated buddha, this is killing buddha."

This means that, in further investigating "seated buddha", there is the virtue of "killing buddha". The very moment of a "seated buddha" is "killing buddha". Indeed, when we pursue it, the marks and signs and the radiance of "killing buddha" will always be a "seated buddha". Although the word kill here is identical with the term used by commoners, it is not simply the same as the [usage of the] commoner. Moreover, we must investigate in what form it is that a "seated buddha" is "killing buddha". Taking up the fact that "killing buddha" is a virtue of the buddha, we should study whether we are killing people or not killing people. <26>

"If you grasp the mark of sitting, you're not reaching its principle."

To "grasp the mark of sitting" here means to "reject the mark of sitting" and touch "the mark of sitting". The reason for this is that, in being a "seated buddha", we cannot not "grasp the mark of sitting". Since we cannot not "grasp the mark of sitting", though "grasping the mark of sitting" is crystal clear, we are "not reaching its principle". Such concentrated effort is called "sloughing off body and mind." <27>

Those who have never sat do not have these words: they belong to the time of sitting and the person who sits, to the sitting buddha and the study of the sitting buddha. The sitting of a person's sitting and reclining is not this sitting buddha. Although a person's sitting naturally resembles a "seated buddha", or a buddha's sitting, it is like a person's "making a buddha", or the person who makes a buddha: though there are people who make buddhas, not all people make buddhas, and buddhas are not all people. Since all buddhas are not simply all people, a person is not necessarily a buddha, and a buddha is not necessarily a person. A "seated buddha" is also like this.

Nanyue and Jiangxi, the master superior, the disciple strong, were like this. Jiangxii is the one who verifies that the "seated buddha" is "making a buddha"; Nanyue is the one who points out the "seated buddha" for "making a buddha". There was this kind of concentrated effort in the congregation of Nanyue and sayings like the above in the congregation of Yueshan.

* * * * *

Know this, that it is the seated buddha that buddha after buddha and ancestor after ancestor have taken as their essential function. Those who are buddhas and ancestors have employed this essential function, while those who are not have never even dreamt of it. To say that the buddha dharma has been transmitted from the Western Heavens to the Eastern Earth implies the transmission of the seated buddha, for it is the essential function. And where the buddha dharma is not transmitted, neither is seated meditation. What has been inherited by successor after successor [in this transmission] is just this essential message of seated meditation; one who does not participate in the single transmission of this essential message is not a buddha or an ancestor. When one is not clear about this one dharma, one is not clear about the ten thousand dharmas, not clear about the ten thousand practices. And without being clear about each dharma, one cannot be said to have a clear eye. One has not attained the way; how could he represent the present or past [in the lineage] of the buddhas and ancestors? By this, then, we should be firmly convinced that the buddhas and ancestors always singly transmit seated meditation.

To be illumined by the radiance of the buddhas and ancestors means to concentrate one's efforts in the investigation of this seated meditation. There are a bunch of fools who, misunderstanding the radiance of the buddha, think it must be like the radiance of the sun or moon or the light from a pearl or fire. But the light of the sun and moon is nothing but a mark of action within transmigration in the six destinies; it is not to be compared with the radiance of the buddha. The radiance of the buddha means receiving and hearing a single phrase, maintaining and protecting a single dharma, participating in the single transmission of seated meditation. So long as one is not illumined by the radiance [of the buddha], one is not maintaining, nor has he accepted, [the buddha dharma]. <28>

This being the case, even from ancient times there have been few who know seated meditation as seated meditation. And at present, in the [Chan] "mountains" of the land of the great Song, many of those who are heads of the primary monasteries do not know, and do not study, seated meditation. There may be some who have clearly known it but not many. Of course, the monasteries have fixed periods for seated meditation; the monks, from the abbot down, take seated meditation as their allotted task; and, in leading their students, [the teachers] encourage the practice. Nevertheless, there are few abbots who know [seated meditation].

For this reason, although from ancient times to the present there have been one or two old worthies who have written [texts entitled] "Inscriptions on Seated Meditation", "Principles of Seated Meditation" or "Lancets of Seated Meditation", among them there is nothing worth taking from any of the "Inscriptions on Seated Meditation", and the "Principles of Seated Meditation" are ignorant of its observances. They were written by a bunch who do not know seated meditation, who do not participate in its single transmission. Such are the "Lancet of Seated Meditation" ( Zuochan zhen ) in the Jingde chuandeng lu and the "Inscription on Seated Meditation" ( Zuochan ming ) in the Jiatai pudeng lu . <29> What a pity that, although [the authors of such texts] spend their entire lives passing among the "groves" of the ten directions, they do not have the concentrated effort of a single sitting-- that sitting is not their own, and concentrated effort never encounters them. <30> This is not because seated meditation rejects their bodies and minds but because they do not aspire to the true concentrated effort and are precipitately drunk in their delusion.

What they have collected is nothing but models for "reverting to the source and returning to the origin", vain programs for "suspending considerations and congealing in tranquility". [Such views] do not approach the stages of "observation, exercise, infusion, and cultivation", or the views of the "ten stages and virtual enlightenment"; how, then, could they singly transmit the seated meditation of buddha after buddha and ancestor after ancestor? The Song chroniclers were mistaken to record them, and later students should cast them aside and not look at them. <31>

Among the "Lancets of Seated Mediation", the only one that is of the buddhas and ancestors is that by the Reverend Zhenjue , the Chan Master Hongzhi of the Jingde Monastery at Tiantong, renowned Mt. Taipai, in the district of Jingyuan in the Great Song. This one is a [true] "lancet of seated meditation". This one says it right. It alone radiates throughout the surface and interior of the dharma realm. It is [the statement of] a buddha and ancestor among the buddhas and ancestors of past and present. Prior buddhas and later buddhas have been lanced by this "Lancet"; present ancestors and ancient ancestors appear from this "Lancet". Here is that "Lancet of Seated Meditation".

* * * * *

by Zhengjue
by imperial designation the Chan Master Spacious Wisdom <32>

Essential function of buddha after buddha,
Functioning essence of ancestor after ancestor --
It knows without touching things;
It illumines without facing objects.
Knowing without touching things,
Its knowing is inherently subtle;
Illumining without facing objects,
Its illumining is inherently mysterious.
Its knowing inherently subtle,
It is ever without discriminatory thought;
Its illumining inherently mysterious,
It is ever without a hair's breadth of sign.
Ever without discriminatory thought,
Its knowing is rare without peer;
Ever without a hair's breadth of sign,
Its illumining comprehends without grasping.
The water is clear right through to the bottom;
A fish goes lazily along.
The sky is vast without horizon;
A bird flies far far away.

The "lancet" in this "Lancet of Seated Meditation" means "the manifestation of the great function", "the comportment beyond sight and sound"; it is "the juncture before your parents were born". It means "you had better not slander the buddhas and ancestors"; "you do not avoid destroying your body and losing your life"; it is "a head of three feet and neck of two inches". <33>

"Essential function of buddha after buddha." The buddhas always take the "buddhas" as their "essential function" -- this is the "essential function" that is realized here; this is "seated meditation".

"Functioning essence of all the ancestors." "My master had no such words" -- this principle is "the ancestors". The dharma and the robe are transmitted. The faces [that are reversed] when we "turn the head and reverse the face" are the "essential function of all the buddhas"; the heads [that turn] when we "reverse the face and turn the head" are the "functioning essence of all the ancestors". <34>

"It knows without touching things." "Knowing" does not mean perception; for perception is of little measure. It does not mean understanding; for understanding is artificially constructed. Therefore, this "knowing" is "not touching things", and "not touching things" is "knowing". [Such "knowing"] should not be measured as universal knowledge; it should not be categorized as self-knowledge. This "not touching things" means "When they come in the light, I hit them in the light; when they come in the dark, I hit them in the dark". It means "sitting and breaking the skin born of mother". <35>

"It illumines without facing objects." This "illumining" does not mean the "illumining" of luminosity or spiritual illumination; "without facing objects" is "illumining". "Illumining" does not change into the "object", for the "object" itself is "illumining". "Without facing" means "it is never hidden throughout the world"; "it does not emerge when you break the world". It is "subtle"; it is "mysterious"; it is "interacting without interacting". <36>

"Its knowing inherently subtle, it is ever without discriminatory thought." "Thought" is itself "knowing", without dependence on another's power. "Its knowing" is its form, and its form is the mountains and rivers. These mountains and rivers are "subtle", and this "subtlety" is "mysterious". When we put it to use, it is "brisk and lively". When we make a dragon, it does not matter whether we are inside or out of the Yu Gate. To put this single "knowing" to the slightest use is to take up the mountains and rivers of the entire world and "know" them with one's entire power. Without our intimate "knowing" of the mountains and rivers, we do not have a single knowing or a half understanding. We should not lament the late arrival of "disciminatory" thinking: the buddhas of previous "discrimination" have already been realized. "Ever without" here means "previously"; "previously" means "realized". Therefore, "ever without discrimination" means "you do not meet a single person". <37>

"Its illumining inherently mysterious, it is ever without a hair's breadth of sign." "A hair's breadth" here means the entire world; yet it is "inherently mysterious", inherently "illumining". Therefore, it is as if it is never brought out. The eyes are not to be doubted, nor the ears to be trusted. "You should clarify the essential meaning apart from the sense"; "do not look to words to grasp the rule" -- this is "illumining". Therefore, it is "without peer"; therefore, it is "without grasping". This has been preserved as "rare" and maintained as "comprehending", but "I have my doubts". <38>

"The water is clear right through to the bottom; a fish swims lazily along." "The water is clear." The "water" that has to do with the sky does not get "right through to the bottom" of clear water; still less is that which forms clear, deep pools in the "vessel world" the "water" of "the water is clear". That which has no shore as its boundary -- this is what is meant by clear water penetrated "right through to the bottom". If a fish goes through this "water", it is not that it does not "go"; yet, however many tens of thousands the degree of its progress, its "going" is immeasurable, inexhaustible. There is no shoreline by which it is gauged; there is no sky to which it ascends, nor bottom to which it sinks. And therefore there is no one who can take its measure. If we try to discuss its measure, it is only clear water penetrated "right through to the bottom". The virtue of seated meditation is like the "fish going": who can calculate its degree in thousands or tens of thousands? The degree of the "going" that penetrates "right through to the bottom" is the "path of the bird", along which the whole body does not "go". <39>

"The sky is vast without horizon; a bird flies far far away." [The expression] "the sky is vast" here has nothing to do with the heavens: the "sky" that has to do with the heavens is not the vast sky; still less is that which extends everywhere here and there the vast sky. Neither hidden nor manifest, without surface or interior -- this is what is meant by the vast sky. When the bird flies this "sky", it is the single dharma of "flying sky". This observance of "flying sky" is not to be measured: "flying sky" is the entire world, for it is the entire world "flying sky". Although we do not know how far this "flying" goes, to say what is beyond our calculations, we say "far far away". This is "you should go off without a string beneath your feet". When the "sky" flies off, the "bird" flies off; in the "bird's" flying off, the "sky" flies off. In a saying that investigates flying off, it is said, "It is right here". This is the lancet of [sitting] fixedly: through how many tens of thousands of degrees does it declare "it is right here"? <40>

Such, then, is the "Lancet of Seated Meditation" by the Chan Master Hongzhi. Among the old worthies throughout all the generations, there has never been another lancet of seated meditation like this one. If the "stinking skin bags" throughout all quarters were to attempt to express a lancet of seated meditation like this one, they could not do so though they exhaust the efforts of a lifetime or two. This is the only lancet in any quarter; there is no other to be found. When he ascended the hall, my former master often said, "Hongzhi is an old buddha." He never said this about any other person. When one has the eye to know a person, he will "know the music" of the buddhas and ancestors. In truth, we know that there are buddhas and ancestors in Tongshan. <41>

Now, some eighty years and more since [the days of] the Chan Master Hongzhi, reading his "Lancet of Seated Meditation", I compose this "Lancet of Seated Meditation". The date is the eighteenth day of the third month in Mizunoe-tora, the third year of Ninji; if we calculate back from this year to the eighth day of the tenth month in the twenty-seventh year of Shao-xing, there are just eighty-five years. <42> The "Lancet of Seated Meditation" I now compose is as follows.


Essential function of all the buddhas,
Functioning essence of all the ancestors-
It is present without thinking;
It is completed without interacting.
Present without thinking,
Its presence is inherently intimate;
Completed without interacting,
Its completion is inherently verified.
Its presence inherently intimate,
It is ever without stain or defilement;
Its completion inherently verified,
It is ever without the upright or inclined.
Intimacy ever without stain or defilement,
Its intimacy sloughs off without discarding;
Verification ever without upright or inclined,
Its verification makes effort without figuring.
The water is clear right through the earth;
A fish goes along like a fish.
The sky is vast straight into the heavens,
A bird flies just like a bird. <43>

It is not that the "Lancet of Seated Meditation" by the Chan Master Hongzhi has not yet said it right, but it can also be said like this. Above all, descendants of the buddhas and ancestors should study seated meditation as "the one great concern". This is the orthodox seal of the single transmission.

Zazen shin Notes

1. The temple name does not appear in the Kenkon'in ms; it is supplied from the Kôfukuji text.

2. "Great Master Hongdao": The posthumous title of Yueshan Weiyan (751-834).

Yueshan's expression "not thinking" (fu shiryô tei) here might also be understood as "what cannot be thought" (fu ka shiryô), but Sôtô treatment of the expression typically takes it as a mental state; the expression "nonthinking" (hi shiryô) can as well be read "it is not thinking". For more on these terms, see glossary: "shiryô"; for discussion of the passage as a whole, see supplemental note 1 .

3. "Although he is not alone in "thinking fixedly", Yueshan's saying is singular": Usually interpreted to mean that, while the practice of thinking fixedly in zazen is the common heritage of the buddhas and patriarchs, Yueshan's words are the best (or ultimate or only true) expression of it. (See, e.g., SBGZ MG. 4,67; SBGZ KT. 2,521.) The translation "singular" here attempts to span something of the range of Dôgen's term sono (or sore) itsu, which carries the senses of "one of them" and "the first (best) of them", but may also suggest (in a usage based on Chapter 7 of the Zhuangzi ) the "oneness" of the great sage.

"Thinking is the very 'skin, flesh, bones and marrow' (hi niku kotsu zui); 'not thinking' is the very skin, flesh, bones and marrow": Usually interpreted to mean that, in zazen, both thinking and not thinking are the entirety of the practice (or of the practitioner). (See, e.g., SBGZ KT. 2,522-523.) While the terms "skin, flesh, bones and marrow" have a common abstract sense of "essence" or "entirety" (for which, see glossary: "hi niku kotsu zui"), as SBGZS ( SBGZ CKZS. 4,70) points out, we should probably not overlook the possibility that Dôgen is here identifying thinking and not thinking in zazen with the physical body of the practitioner.

4. "Indeed, while 'not thinking' may be old, here it is [the further question] 'how do you think'?": Most commentators take "old" here to mean "well known" (e.g., SBGZ KT. 2,523). The antecedent of "it" (kore) here is unclear; the most common reading identifies it as "not thinking" (e.g., SBGZ KT. 2,523) and thus understands the second clause to be identifying "not thinking" with "how do you think" (ikan shiryô) (for this type of interpretation, see supplemental note 1 ).

"How could [it] fail to penetrate beyond sitting 'fixedly'?": A tentative translation; see supplemental note 2 .

"If we are not the sort of fool that 'despises what is near' (sengon no gu)": From the old Chinese saying, "The ordinary person values what is distant and despises what is near."

"We ought to have the strength, we ought to have the 'thinking', to question sitting 'fixedly'": Here, as below, the translation loses Dôgen's play on the element ryô ("measure") in the expressions shiryô ("thinking") and rikiryô ("strength").

5. This is one of the more obscure passages in the text; for a possible interpretation of its argument, see supplemental note 3 .

"Although the employment (shiyô) of 'nonthinking' is crystal clear (reirô), when we 'think of not thinking', we always use 'nonthinking'": Usually interpreted to mean that the enlightened state of nonthinking is always operating in the practice of thinking of not thinking.

"There is someone (tare) in 'nonthinking', and this someone maintains (honin) us (ware) ": Interpretators often follow SBGZS ( SBGZ CKZS. 4,74) in associating "someone" here with thinking and not thinking, and "us" with nonthinking; thus, thinking and not thinking maintain nonthinking.

"It presents itself as sitting 'fixedly'": The translation here attempts to preserve something of the grammatical play in Dôgen's sentence, in which gotsugotsuchi is both subject and object of the predicate. In the predicate, "present", the graph in kotô (usually "to lift the head") should probably be taken as a colloquial nominalizer.

"Measure of the buddha (butsuryô), measure of the dharma (hôryô), measure of awakening (goryô), measure of comprehension (eryô)": Dôgen is here again playing with the graph ryô ("measure") in shiryô ("thinking"), beginning with the common Buddhist term butsuryô (for which, see glossary: "butsuryô"), and then extending this to other possible authorities, or "measures".

6. Yueshan Weiyan is listed as the thirty-sixth ancestor in the lineage of Rujing given in Dôgen's SBGZ Busso ( DZZ. 2,67).

7. The translation follows the usual reading of this passage; it could also be read, "Once you attain [the state in which] the breast is without concerns through concentrated effort at seated meditation, this is peace and tranquility." The passage has not been identified as a direct quotation from any known source. A similar passage appears in Dahui's letters, where he criticizes those who make concentrated effort (kufû) in a quiet place: "If they happen to achieve a state in which the breast is without concerns (kyôchû buji), they think this is the ultimate ease and joy (anraku). They don't realize it is simply like a stone pressing down grass." ("Letter to Councilor Fu", Dahui yulu, T.48.921c; Araki, 54.)

8. "Walking is Zen, sitting is Zen; whether in speech or silence, motion or rest, the substance is at ease (tai annen)." From the Zheng dao ge, attributed to the early eighth-century figure Yongjia Xuanjue ( JDCDL, T.51:460b16).

9. A slightly different version of this same passage occurs in the Himitsu Shôbô genzô text of the Butsu kôjô ji ( DZZ. 1:233-34), where it serves to define what Dôgen calls there "studying [the buddha way] with the body" (mi ni shite narafu). For a possible interpretation of the passage, see supplemental note 4 .

"Entering into Mâra [The Evil One]" (ma ni iru) is used to express the spiritual freedom of advanced Zen practice, as in the saying, "You can enter into Buddha, but you cannot enter into Mâra. (See, e.g., Dahui's Zongmen wuku, T.47.950a15.)

"Filling the ditches and clogging the gullies" (mizo ni michi tani ni mitsu): See Glossary: "Kôgaku".

10. Chan Master Daji is the posthumous title of Mazu Daoyi (709-788); Chan Master Dahui is Nanyue Huairang (677-744). Their conversation can be found at JDCDL, T.51.240c18ff; but note that Dôgen's introduction to the conversation here (as in his SBS, DZZ. 2.202) includes elements from Mazu's biography ( JDCDL, T.51.245c26f) to make it appear -- as the original version does not -- that Mazu had already received his master's certification when the conversation took place. A similar version of the story appears in SBGZ kokyô.

11. "Do not 'value what is far away'": see above, note 4.

"Do not 'take the eyes lightly'": From the old Chinese saying, "To give weight to the ears and take the eyes lightly is the constant failing of the common man".

The "carved dragon" (chôryû) alludes to the ancient Chinese story of the Duke of She, who loved the image of the dragon but was terrified of the real thing. For interpretation of the two dragons here, see supplemental note 5 .

12. "Sloughing off" (datsuraku): no doubt an ellipsis for "sloughing off body and mind ( shinjin datsuraku ), Dôgen's famous term for Zen awakening.

"Entangled" here renders kattô su, Dôgen's verbal form of the "vines and creepers" used in Zen to express the spiritual complications of language -- including the language of Zen discourse on the basis of which the meditator "figures to make a Buddha." See Term Glossary: "kattô".

13. "Destroy our body and lose our life" (sôshin shitsumyô): From the famous problem, posed by the tenth-century figure Xiangyan Zhixian, of the man hanging by his teeth over a thousand-foot cliff who is asked the meaning of Bodhidharma's arrival from the west: "If he opens his mouth to answer, he will destroy his body and lose his life". ( JDCDL, T.51.284B23ff.)

The notion of entertwining entanglements here is probably from a saying of Rujing, that the bottle gourd vine intertwines with itself ( Nyojô goroku, T.48.128b20), a remark praised as unprecedented in SBGZ kattô. There Dôgen interprets kattô as succession to the dharma (shihô) and claims that true Buddhist practice is not merely, as is usually thought, to cut off the roots of entanglements but to interwine entanglements with entanglements.

For an interpretation of this passage, see supplemental note 6 .

14. Or, "What are you making?" (sa somo).

15. Dôgen discusses the difficulty of knowing water and mountains in his SBGZ Sansuikyô.

"This land and the other world (shido takai)": Some commentators take this to indicate all the various realms in all directions, including the various buddha lands. (See, e.g., SBGZ MG. 4,101.)

16. The "old mirror" (kokyô) and "bright mirror" (meikyô) are venerable symbols for the Buddha nature, or Buddha mind, which are by definition unproduced, and by standard Chan account quite unaffected by polishing. Dôgen seems to be saying here that, while the tile cannot become the mirror, there is no mirror apart from polishing the tile; i.e., the act of polishing is itself the mirror. Cf. his similar remarks on this line in SBGZ kokyô ( DZZ. 2:43.5ff).

17. Mazu's question here (ikan sokuze) might be more naturally put, "Then, what should I do?" But (as in his earlier treatment of "how do you think" and "not thinking") Dôgen seems to be reading the question as a declarative sentence and suggesting that the interrogative term "what" ( ikan; often taken here to indicate the practice of zazen) is itself what is "right" ( sokuze; usually understood here as "making a buddha"), or that, like the relationship between the effort of "figuring" and the goal of "making a Buddha", the two are interdependent.

"'What' and 'right' emerge simultaneously": Literally, "'what is right' is a simultaneous appearance." The translation takes apart the expression ikan sokuze in keeping with the above interpretation.

18. "Should he beat the cart?" (tasha sokuze): The translation here loses the syntactical parallel to Mazu's question (and Dôgen's analysis of it); literally, "to beat the cart is right?"

For the metaphor of the cart, see supplemental note 7 .

19. In this passage, Dôgen is doubtless playing on the Buddhist paradox of impermanence: that, while all things are changing and hence always "going" even when seemingly at rest, each dharma is momentary -- or, as is said, "abides in its own position" (jû hôi) -- and hence does not "go" through time.

"Water's flowing (suiryû)": The notion of water's "not flowing" is best known from the line attributed to Fu Dashi (497-569): "The bridge flows and the water doesn't" ( JDCDL, T.51.430b7). Dôgen explores this and other notions of water in his SBGZ sansuikyô.

"For it is time (toki)": There are two lines of interpretation of this cryptic remark: (a) that, whether the cart is going or not going, it is [present in] time; (b) that both going and not going are present in each time. SBGZ MG (4.115): "Impermanence (mujô) is itself permanence (ujô)"; SBGZS (4.116): "The kôan is realized (kôan genjô) in each time (ichiji) as this 'going' and 'not going'; SBGZKT (2.564): "Both 'going' and 'not going' are 'time'."

20. "Beating the cart" here is most often interpreted to refer to the physical practice of zazen, and "beating the ox" to the mental process of "making a buddha". (E.g., MG. 4.115; KT. 2.559.) The distinction here is perhaps akin to that made in the SBGZ shinjin gakudô, where Dôgen speaks of "studying with the mind" (shin o mote gaku [su] and "studying with the body" (mi o mote gaku su). (1:27.8-9)

"Ox-beating" (dagyû su): This odd English expression seeks to retain something of the style of Dôgen's use here of the double accusative in such forms as suikogyû wo dagyû su.

For more on bovines and beating, see supplemental note 8 .

21. "Throwing out a tile to take in a jade" (hôsen ingyoku): In Chinese literary usage, a polite way to ask another for a capping verse for your poem; used in Chan for the give and take of Chan repartee (as, e.g., by Zhaozhou, at JDCDL, T.51).

"Turning the head and reversing the face" (kaitô kanmen): A common expression in Chan literature suggesting the notions both of a spiritual reversal and of the inseparability of awakening and delusion -- or, as probably in this case, of master and disciple.

22. "Sitting still" zaga: The translation follows the interpretation of most commentaries, which treat this term in reference to the "four postures": walking, standing, sitting and reclining (gyô jû za ga); hence, "sitting and reclining". The element ga here could also be interpreted as an intensive; hence, "sitting still" or "repose".

23. "Close and distant 'familial lines'" (shinso no meimyaku): Usually interpreted as referring here to the relationship between (our human) sitting and (the Buddha's) seated meditation.

"Wisdom and eradication" (chidan): The acquisition of enlightened knowledge and elimination of the "defilements" (bonnô; klesa) that are the two primary accomplishments separating a Buddha from an ordinary human.

See supplemental note 9 for an interpretation of this passage.

24. "No fixed mark" (hijôsô): The phrase might be more colloquially put, "not a fixed form". The translation here tries to preserve the technical sense of the "mark" (sô; laksana) of the Buddha's body, with which Dôgen will play in his comments. The discussion of this mark draws on the famous doctrine in the Diamond Sûtra that the true mark of a Buddha is not his thirty-two major marks and eighty minor physical signs of spiritual excellence but precisely his transcendence of all "marks", or phenomenal characteristics.

The translation here loses the play on the term ("fixed", "settled", "determined", etc.), used in the Buddhist lexicon for "meditation" (from samâdhi: "to hold [the mind] steady"); hence, the secondary sense here, "buddha is not marked by meditation".

25. Dôgen is here alluding to a sentence from Nanyue's answer to Mazu that he does not bother to quote: "In a nonabiding dharma, there should be no grasping or rejecting (shusha)".

26. Dôgen is no doubt alluding here to one of the most famous sayings of Chan, attributed to the Tang-dynasty master Linji: "If you meet the buddha, kill the buddha; if you meet an ancestor, kill the ancestor." ( LJL, T47:500b22)

"Killing buddha" (setsubutsu): Dôgen's treatment of this binome plays on the syntatical parallel with zabutsu ("seated buddha"), to suggest that buddha is subject as well as object of the predicate. A similar play is possible with "killing people" (setsujin), the common term for "murderer".

27. In his commentary on this difficult passage, Nishiari Bokusan advises us to take the verb "grasp" (shû) here to mean complete identification with seated meditation, and to understand the expression "not reaching its principle" to mean "has already reached its principle." ( SBGZ KT. 2:574.) He is probably right that, to make sense of this passage in its context, we must assume that here again Dôgen wants to give a positive connotation to both clauses of Nanyue's sentence, though clearly in this case we shall have to reach quite far for his principle.

28. The "radiance of the buddha" (butsu kômyô) refers to both the "physical" aureola said to emanate from his body and the inner effulgence of his perfect wisdom that "illumines" the world. In his SBGZ kômyô ( DZZ. 1:116-17), Dôgen identifies this radiance with the spiritual tradition of Bodhidharma and, as here, criticizes those who think of it as visible light. In this, he may well have had in mind the mystical visualization of such light (bukkô zanmai) popularized in his day by the Kegon master Kôben.

"Light from a pearl or fire" (juka no kôyô): Following the usual interpretation of juka as "pearl and fire". But note SBGZ STR (4:215), which suggests that it may refer to the light of the "fire pearl" (kaju) known from ancient Chinese sources.

29. The last roll of the JDCDL, compiled in 1004, includes a "Zuochan zhen" by Wuyun (Zhifeng) Heshang (909-85) (T.51:459c-60a); the Jiatai pudeng lu, compiled in 1204, records a "Zuochan ming" by Foyan (Longmen Qing) Yuan Chanshi (1607-1120) (ZZ.2B, 10:214b).

30. Taza sude ni nanji ni arazu kufû sara no onore to sôken se [zu]. A tentative translation of a passage variously interpreted. Some take the point to be simply that they never properly sit and hence do not engage in true practice; some would prefer to read the second clause to mean that, in their practice, they never encounter their (true) selves. Note that here and in the following sentence Dôgen has personified Zen practice as a conscious agent that encounters and chooses us.

31. "Reverting to the source" and "returning to the origin" (gengen henpon, more often in reverse order, henpon gengen) both suggest a notion of spiritual practice as the process of recovering the "original mind"; the expression is best known in Zen as the title of the ninth of Kuoan's famous Ten Oxherding Pictures (Jûgyû zu).

"Suspending considerations" and "congealing in tranquility" (sokuryo gyôjaku) suggest calm transic states free from all thinking; a similar expression, "suspending considerations and forgetting objects (xi lü wang yuan)," appears in Wuyun's "Zuochan zhen" (T.51:459c27), though the text itself also warns against attachment to the cultivation of samâdhi.

"Observation, exercise, infusion, cultivation" (kan ren kun ju): a set of terms, taken from the Dazhidu lun and used especially in Tiantai systems for the various "undefiled ( muro; anâsrava ) meditations; they are identified by Tiantai Zhiyi as the second of his three levels of meditation -- the "transmundane" (shutsu seken; lokottara) practices that rank above the "mundane" but below the "supreme (jôjô) transmundane" (see, e.g., his Fahua xuanyi).

"The ten stages and virtual enlightenment" (jûji tôgaku): The final phases of the bodhisattva path according to the fifty-two stage system, the latter being the penultimate state, just preceeding, but virtually equivalent to, buddhahood.

32. The text appears in the Hongzhi guanglu, T48:98a29-b5. Zhenjue received his title, "Chan Master Spacious Wisdom (Hongzhi chanshi)," from the Sung emperor Gao Zong.

33. A series of classical allusions to Chan expressions of wisdom, seen here as medical "lancets".

"Manifestation of the great function" (daiyô genzen): See Yuanwu's commentary to the Biyan lu, T.48:142c5.

"Comportment beyond sight and sound" (shôshiki kôjô igi): After a line by Xiangyan Zhixian (d.898), Liandeng huiyao, ZZ.2B,9:283c8.

"Juncture before your parents were born (or, in some interpretations, "before your parents gave birth")" (fubo mishô zen): After a question to Zhixian by his master Gueishan, ibid., 283b15.

"You had better not slander the buddhas and ancestors" (maku bô busso kô): Here probably after a remark of Guangxiao Huijue (dates unknown), LDHY, ZZ.279a16.

"Do not avoid destroying you body and losing your life" (mimen sôshin shitsumyô): Again from Zhixian (see note 13); also see Linji lu , T.47:496.

"A head of three feet and a neck of two inches" (zuchô sanjaku keitan nisun): From Dongshan Liangjie (807-69), JDCDL, T.51:323a8.

34. "My master had no such words" (senshi mu shi go): From a remark of Huijue, LDHY, ZZ.2B,9:279a16; usually understood to mean that the true ancestory lies beyond words.

"The dharma and robe are transmitted": A reference to the bequest of the teaching and robe of Bodhidharma that marks the Chan ancestral lineage.

"Essential function" and "functioning essence" translate yôki and kiyô, respectively. As binomes, both terms mean roughly what is pivotal, or essential; but it seems clear from his association of them with the head and face (for which see note 21) that Dôgen wants to understand the two component graphs in each case as expressing the classical metaphysical categories of "substance" ( tai, the "head") and "function" ( yô, the "face"), or essence and expression -- hence the rather forced translation.

35. Zaha jô shô hi: In colloquial usage, the term zaha may be read simply as "breaking" (as in expressions like zakyaku); the translation here reflects the Zen tradition of associating the element za with zazen.

"When they come in the light...": From a saying attributed to the wild Chan monk Puhua in the Linji lu (T.47:503b20); though its interpretation is much debated, it is usually taken here to suggest the detached spontaneity of the mind in meditation.

36. Ego fu ego: From a line in the Can tong qi, of Shitou Xiqian (700-791), JDCDL, T.51:459b10; usually interpreted to mean that [subject and object] are both independent and interdependent.

"Never hidden throughout the world" (henkai fu zô zô): From a saying of Shishuang Qingzhu (807-88), JDCDL, T.51:321a4; usually glossed here as [the object] is always manifest.

"It does not emerge when you break the world" (hakai fu shuttô) : source to be identified.

37. Fuhô ichinin: From Dongshan Liangjie's "definition" of the trackless path of his famous "way of the birds" (niao dao), on which one is said not to "meet anyone." ( JDCDL, T.51:322c22.)

The "Yu Gate" (umon) refers to Longmen (present-day Shansi Province), the rapids on the Yellow River beyond which the climbing carp is said to change into a dragon; here, taken as a metaphor for the point of awakening.

"Brisk and lively (kappatsupatsu): The translation loses the piscine imagerey of this term, an onomatopoeic expression, much favored in Chan, for the leaping of the carp as it climbs upstream.

"Buddhas of previous 'discrimination'" (isô funbetsu naru butsubutsu): For an interpretation of this rather obscure passage, see supplemental note 10 .

38. Dôgen's "doubts" (gijaku) here are usually taken in the sense, "there is more to this than meets the eye."

"Sign (chô): A "portent", or indication of what is to come; hence Hongzhi's mysterious illumination is usually taken as knowledge of that which "precedes" all things.

"It is not yet brought out" (imada shôrai se[zu]): sometimes identified as an allusion to a question posed to the Chan master Zhaozhou by his disciple Yanyang Shanxin: "How is it when nothing's been brought out?" ( Zongrong lu, no. 57, T.48:263a25).

"Without peer" (mugû), "rare" (ki): The translation loses the play in Honzhi's verse on "odd" (gû) and "even" (ki); hence, the additional sense, "its knowing is 'singular', not 'dual'".

39. Kotai no fugyô chôdô: an allusion to Dongshan's remark that "[the original face] does not follow the path of the bird" ( JDCDL, T.51:322c26).

The "vessel world" (kikai, bhâjana-loka) refers to the natural world, seen as the container of sentient beings.

Dôgen's commentary here takes advantage of Hongzhi's expression, tettei, which conveys both a literal and a figurative sense of "getting to the bottom of something."

40. Shi zai shari: Dôgen is here alluding to a conversation between the Tang-dynasty masters Bochang and Mazu over a passing flock of wild geese. When Mazu asked where the birds were going, Bochang said they had flown away. Mazu twisted Bochang's nose and said, "You say they've flown away, but from the beginning they're right here." ( Shôbô genzô sanbyaku soku, DZZ.2:233. Dôgen's text seems to conflate the original story [see Liandeng hui yao, ZZ.2B,9:247b] with the interlinear comments in the Biyan lu [T.48:187c21].)

"You should go off..." ( jiki shu sokka mu shi ko: from Dongshan's "explanation" ( JDCDL, T.51:322c23) of how one is to follow his "path of the bird"; usually interpreted to mean one should go without leaving a trace (of his sandal strings).

"Sky" kû: The translation, of course, misses the play throughout this passage on the Buddhist use of this graph to represent sûnyatâ, "emptiness".

41. That is, in Hongzhi's (and Dôgen's) Caodong lineage descended from the Tang master Dongshan Liangjie.

"My former master" (senshi): I.e., Tiantong Rujing. Dôgen's appeal to his Juching's appreciation of Hongzhi is repeated in the SBGZ ô saku sendaba (DZZ.1:595); in the context there, it seems clear that Dôgen had in mind in particular a remark in the Nyojô goroku (T48:127a25). Hongzhi, of course, had been the most famous abbot of Rujing's Tiantong monastery.

"Know the music" (chi in): The translation tries to preserve the etymological sense of this expression meaning "to know another's true heart", "to be a true friend"; from the ancient Chinese story of Zhong Zi Qi, who is said to have known the state of mind of his friend Bai Ya from the sound ( in ) of his music.

42. "Third year of Ninji": I.e., 1242.

"Twenty-seventh year of Shaoxing": I.e., 1157, when Hongzhi died.

43. "Present" (gen) and "completed" (jô): The two elements of the binome, genjô, translated earlier as "realization".

"Intimate" (shin) and "verification" (shô): From the term, shinshô, "intimate verification," an expression for enlightened understanding much favored by Dahui.

"Stain or defilement" (senna): Famous in the saying, "The way does not depend on cultivation; only don't defile it" -- words often directed against meditation (as by Dahui, at Dahui yulu, T.47:b2).

"Upright or inclined" (shôhen): Terms for absolute and relative used in the famous schema of five ranks (wu wei) developed by Dongshan and Caoshan (on which Hongzhi wrote an appreciative verse [ Hongzhi guanglu, T.48:99a]).

Zazen shin Supplemental Notes

1. This passage, known as "Yueshan's not thinking" (Yakusan fu shiryô tei), appears in Yueshan's biography in the JDCDL (T.51.311c26ff), ZMTY (<cite fasc. 7>), WDHY (<cite ZZ.>), etc., as well as in Dôgen's SBGZ sanbyaku soku ( DZZ. 5,196,case 129). The passage is one of the prime sources for Dôgen's meditation teachings: it forms the core of his description of zazen in his (vulgate) Fukan zazen gi ( DZZ. 5.6), SBGZ zazen gi (1.224), and Bendô hô ( DZZ. 6.40), and is cited several times in the SBGZ and EHKR (fasc 5, DZZ. 3.238, entry 373; fasc. 7 DZZ. 4.104, entry 524).

The traditional Sôtô treatment of this passage as a kôan often takes it not as a set of questions and answers but as a series of declarative sentences, each expressing the mystery of zazen, a style of reading that is already suggested in the SBGZS ( CKZS, 4,67). Under this interpretation, the interchange of the protagonists can be read somewhat as follows: (1) Monk: "Thinking in fixed sitting is [only describable as] 'what' (somo)." (2) Yueshan: "[Such] thinking is not thinking." (3) Monk: "Not thinking is [is not merely not thinking but] 'how' (ikan) thinking." (4) Yueshan: "It is thinking of [the ultimate] 'negation' (hi)." (See, e.g., ZGDJT, s.v. "Yakusan fu shiryô tei".)

For an extended example of one modern Sôtô treatment of this passage (and Dôgen's comments on it), see Kishizawa Ian's commentary on the SBGZ zazen shin ( SBGZ zenkô 11,34-102). BACK TO NOTES.

2. "How could [it] fail to penetrate beyond sitting 'fixedly' (gotsugotsuchi no kôjô nani ni yorite ka tsû sezaru)?" : This sentence is subject to various interpretations, none perhaps entirely convincing. The subject here is unexpressed; given the context, this translation interprets it as the "thinking" of the previous sentence. On such a reading, then, Dôgen is asserting that thinking must operate both within and (in some sense) beyond zazen. Another reading (suggested, e.g., at Mizuno 1,227,n.11) has it that zazen must go beyond the state of sitting fixedly in zazen. Menzan ( MG [ CKZS. 4,69]) interprets the sentence to mean that sitting fixedly in nonthinking itself goes beyond either thinking or not thinking. Nishiari ( KT. 2,523), on the other hand, reads kôjô here not as "beyond" sitting fixedly but as "in", or "in regard to" ( ue ), sitting fixedly; on this reading, Dôgen is asking how, in regard to zazen, one could fail to "penetrate" (i.e., understand) the thinking of "how do you think?" BACK TO NOTES.

3. The argument of this difficult passage might be interpreted something like the following. Although nonthinking is an enlightened activity, free from all obstructions to knowledge (as in the expression, "all eight sides are crystal clear" [ hachimen reirô ]), it is a distinct act of cognition, with its own agent (the "someone" present in all our cognitive states). Yet the activity of nonthinking in zazen is not merely a matter of cognitive states: it is the identification with the act of "sitting fixedly" itself. When one is thus fully identified with the act, it is beyond what can be thought of or measured, even through the notions of Buddhahood or awakening. BACK TO NOTES.

4. One way of paraphrasing this passage might be as follows. Zazen is the orthodox practice of Buddhism, yet at the same time it is not merely a utilitarian device for producing a perfected state of enlightenment ( sabutsu ) but the expression of a more fundamental perfection inherent in all things ( gyôbutsu ). When one understand it in this way, the practice of zazen itself becomes the actualization of ultimate truth ( kôan genjô ), and the practitioner, just as he or she is, becomes the embodiment of perfect enlightenment ( shinbutsu ). This higher understanding -- beyond the mundane categories ( rarô ) of cause and effect, universal and particular, and so on -- gives true zazen ( zabutsu ) its power to produce the experience of enlightenment ( sabutsu ) in the practitioner. In this experience, one recognizes that one's own zazen is nothing but the primordial activity of all things -- always present even before we recognize it, always perfected even in one's most benighted states, always functioning throughout the world around one. BACK TO NOTES.

5. While in one sense the admonition to "love the real dragon" can be read simply as the advice to see the true import of Nanyue's question, commentators since Kyôgô have tended to identify the "carved dragon" here with zazen and the "real dragon" with its fruit (see, e.g., SBGZCKZS 4.89). Nishiari suggests that the "carved dragon" may be taken as zazen of the body ( mi no zazen ), while the "real dragon" may be understood as zazen of the mind ( shin no zazen ). He goes on to associate the former with "what is near" and the latter with "what is far". ( KT. 2,538-539) BACK TO NOTES.

6. One way of paraphrasing what seems to be the point of this difficult passage is this: the effort to practice and achieve the goal of Buddhism "entangles" us in Buddhism; yet complete entanglement in Buddhism -- both in its discourse and its cultus -- is itself the goal of Buddhism; hence, the practice of "figuring" is completely "entangled" in the goal of "making a Buddha". Dôgen is clearly enjoying himself here with the multivalent notion of "entanglements": as the constricting language within which we ordinarily "figure", as the liberating language of the Zen kôan , and as the interdependence of the two in Zen study. BACK TO NOTES.

7. Huairang's metaphor of the cart and the ox here undoubtedly reflects a story in the Da zhuangyan lun jing, in which a bhiksuni, coming upon a brahmanical ascetic engaged in the pañca-tapas ( gonetsu, "five fires": the yogic ordeal of sitting in the sun surrounded by four fires), criticizes him for broiling the wrong thing. When the ascetic asks in anger, "What should I broil?" the bhiksuni replies, "You should broil the mind of anger. It is like driving an oxcart: if the cart doesn't go, you should whip the ox, not the cart. The body is like the cart; the mind, like that ox." (T.4:266a) BACK TO NOTES.

8. References to various bovines appear frequently in Zen literature; we may take Dôgen's use of them here as an evocation of the rich spiritual resonance of his root text.

"The water buffalo" ( suikogyu ): Water buffalo often appear in Zen lore. Perhaps best known is from the saying of Nanquan Puyuan (748-835) when asked where he would be in a hundred years: "I'll be a water buffalo down the mountain." ( JDCDL, T.51.259a; repeated by Guishan Lingyou [771-853] at T.51.265c.).

"The clay ox" ( deigyu ): Clay oxen were used in ancient China as ritual offerings at the beginning of the new year. Because they were whipped as part of an agricultural rite, the term can connote the deluded, discriminating mind. A particularly famous instance of the term occurs in the records of Dongshan Liangjie (807-869): Dongshan asked the master Tanzhou Longshan (d.u.) why he was living on Longshan; the master answered, "I saw two clay oxen fighting till they fell in the ocean, and since then there's been no report of them." ( JDCDL, T.51:263a; see also DSL, T. 47:521a.)

"The iron bull" ( tetsugyu ): An allusion to a story about the legendary Emperor Yu, supposed founder of the Xia Dynasty circa 2000 B.C. Yu is famous for having saved his people from the devastation of a great flood. It is said that he made and worshipped a gigantic iron bull in order to help prevent the flooding of the Yellow River. From this bull derives the connotation of steadfast, immovable.

"Beat out the marrow" ( tahei zui ): A tentative translation. Dôgen is clearly playing with the colloquial verbal marker ta ("to beat"), but commentarial opinion on the interpretation of the predicate hei here is widely divided. The translation here follows perhaps the most common reading, that suggested by Menzan: to "ox-beat" till one's very bones and marrow gushs forth. Menzan ( Shôbô genzô chûkai zensho 4:118) likes the primary sense "to scatter" for hei (Morohashi entry 38929) -- hence, his "to cause to gush forth"; Kishizawa ( Shôbô genzô zenkô vol. 11, 328) prefers the sense "to put together" (Morohashi 746) -- hence, "the whole"; Kyôgô ( Shôbô genzô chûkai zensho 4:118) reads "to make use of" (Morohashi 12236); hence, "to beat with the marrow". BACK TO NOTES.

9. The argument here would seem to be that (a) seated meditation is (the act of) a seated buddha, not merely human sitting; (b) yet, once we recognize why this is so, we recognize that (greater) self -- or inherent buddhahood -- that is present even in our human sitting; (c) in the light of this recognition, the distinction between our sitting and the buddha's meditation, or between ignorance and enlightenment, is no longer ultimate. BACK TO NOTES.

10. "Buddhas of previous 'discrimination'" ( isô funbetsu naru butsubutsu ): The translation here loses something of Dôgen's play on Hongzhi's line, "It is ever without discriminatory thought" ( sô mu funbetsu shi shi ). He appears to be reading the line as something like, "thought never discriminating", against which he balances his own "buddhas already discriminating". While the term funbetsu ("discrimination") typically carries a negative connotation, as in Hongzhi's line, Dôgen seems here to be using it in reference to the buddha's power to discern things as they really are. On this reading, the passage as a whole might be taken to mean something like the following. The "subtle knowing" of the buddhas clearly discriminates all phenomena (the "mountains and rivers"). We should not think that this (higher) "discriminatory thinking" is something for which we must wait; it is "already realized" in each mind's inherent power of discrimination ("the buddhas of previous discrimination"). Zhengjue's "ever without [discriminatory thought]" here refers to this inherent power, which is "realized" even in ordinary perception. The spiritual practice of one who understands this is free to travel Dongshan's "way of the birds". BACK TO NOTES.




Translated by Hakuun Barnhard

Zazenshin – Eihei Dogen's dialogue with Hong-zhi Zheng-jue

The fundamental activity of all the Buddhas,
The active foundation of all the Ancestors,
Is letting appear – not based on thinking,
And accomplishing – not based on reacting.

The appearance not based on thinking,
Is naturally ‘ one's intimate self ';
The accomplishing not based on reacting,
Is naturally bearing witness of the Truth.

The appearance which is naturally one's intimate self ,
Has always been free of defilement;
The accomplishing, which naturally bears witness of the Truth,
Has never shown true or false.

‘One's intimate self' which has always been free of defilement,
Is an intimate self without evil cast off;
The bearing witness of the Truth, which has never shown true or false,
Is free of any effort or intent.

The water's clarity permeates the earth,
Fish swim as fish;
The sky's vastness reaches beyond heaven,
Birds fly as birds.



Végh József:
Dógen zen mester 道元禅師 élete és művei a japán hagyomány tükrében

Széljáró füzetek, TKBF jegyzet, 2008. 48. oldal

A Shōbōgenzō ülő meditációról szóló magyarázatának végén (S12 / S27, Zazenshin 坐禪箴) mestere mesterének Zhengjuenek98 a korábban kifejtett kínai versét költötte át, gondolta tovább és mintegy összegzésképpen dicsérte vele az ülő meditációt. Zhengjue a „csendes megvilágosodás” (mokushō zen 黙照禪) tanításáról híres, amelyet eleinte a kortárs iskolák lekicsinylő módon használtak a mester tanításaival szemben, és ő a forrása Dōgen zazen-átadásának is. A beszéd nyolcvanöt évvel Zhengjue halála után, 1242. március 18-án, a Kōshōhōryūji (興聖寶林寺) templomban íródott.

A zazen dicsérete

1. Buddhától Buddháig ez a lényeg,
2. Az elődöktől az elődeinkig a lényeg ez:
3. Gondolatok nélkül, egyszer csak ott van.
4. Akadálytalanul kiteljesedik,

5. Gondolatok nélkül, egyszer csak ott van és [3]
6. Magától értetődően belső élmény.
7. Akadálytalanul kiteljesedik,
8. Kiteljesedése belülről igazolja önmagát.

9. Magától értetődően belső történés, [6]
10. Beteljesülésében szennyezetlen, tiszta.
11. Teljesedése belülről igazolja önmagát.
12. Nincs benne feltörő vagy elhajló.

13. Belső élményként mindig tiszta és szennyezetlen. [10]
14. Magát az élményt nem nyerjük, és nem veszítjük el.
15. Igazolódásában semmi sem tör fel vagy hajlik el.
16. Megvalósulása minden terv nélkül történik.

17. A tó vize fenekéig áttetsző.
18. A hal úgy úszik, mint a hal.
19. Az ég a mennyekig üres.
20. A madarak úgy szállnak benne, mint a madarak.