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増永霊鳳 Masunaga Reihō (1902-1981)



What is Zen
The Role of Zen in Modern Age
Western Interest in Zen
Zen and Judo
The Standpoint of Dogen and His Ideas on Time

Fukan Zazengi
Genjo Koan

Zazen Yojinki
Sankon Zazen Setsu


Tung-shan Liang-chieh (807-869). Hōkyōzanmai
Translated by Masunaga Reihō

Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien (700–790). Sandōkai
Translated by Masunaga Reihō

Translated by Masunaga Reihō


About the Zen teacher - Prof. Masunaga Reiho
(From Danny Waxman book: 'Zen Questions and Answers')

Q : Who was your Zen teacher?

A : My Zen teacher was Prof. Masunaga Reiho (1901-1980). He understood Dogen's Shobogenzo, and introduced Dogen's Zen to the modern world. Prof. Masunaga taught that everyone must and can find himself through Zazen (the calm sitting with crossed legs). Zen, he said, brings the means for releasing the vital moment in everyone, and makes creative altruism a natural behavior. As to the question - How can Zen flourish in the modern world? His answer is: raw Zen, simple, just a quiet sitting. The trainee can't hide or close himself off the world even when he is returning to himself. He must go out to the world while returning to himself. The Zen student has to solve and fulfill in his own daily life, the paradox of entering and leaving. The trainee starts his actions in the world while he or she is penetrating to the true self. The modern Zen student doesn't have the shelter and the training conditionings of the Zen monasteries. The trainee must find in himself, (through training and through the help of a true-teacher), the inner power that is needed for full functioning in the fast and stormy modern life, while still penetrating into himself.

For many years Prof. Masunaga was the vice president of Komazawa University in Tokyo. The university emphasized the studies of Buddhism and was especially focused on the Soto-Zen School. He was professor of Buddhist Philosophy and History of Zen Buddhism at Komazawa University. One of his important academic research-fields was Chinese Zen-texts. He was also one of the head priests of Eiheiji, although he was very modest about this fact. He also had a wife and three children.

His two main teachers were: the Zen teacher Ekiho Minamoto who was the head priest of Kongoin temple, and the Zen teacher Giho Okada who was the president of Komazawa University and the head of Unshoji temple.

Prof. Masunaga believed that Zen is important to the people of the West. He believed that it is possible to bridge the differences between the cultures of the West and the East through Zen training. He taught that it is necessarily to combine the good qualities of the two cultures for the progress of mankind and for creating a more humanistic world. Prof. Masunaga Reiho opened his heart to, and shared his knowledge with western trainees. Although he was a very busy man, he always had time for anyone who truly wanted to learn Zen. He was an acknowledged expert and leader of Buddhist studies in his time, and was especially strong in actual understanding of Dogen's Zen.

He studied Chinese and Indian Languages and was also very interested in western culture, thus, he studied English and German as well.

His academic and public activities included writing more than fifteen books on Zen and Buddhism and many articles (in Japanese), editing, lecturing and so on. Prof. Masunaga wanted to help the western people to know more about the Soto-Zen school, and the benefits of practicing Zazen. For this propose he wrote Zen books and articles in English. His books contain translations (from Japanese to English), of some of the most important chapters of Shobogenzo, and other Zen-texts (listed partly in the answer to the question about Shobogenzo).

Most significant are his introductions and commentaries to every text that he has translated, and many additional essays each contain information, explanations and ideas about Zen life, history and culture.

Q : How did you meet Prof. Masunaga?

A : When I came to Japan in 1958, I immediately started studying Judo and searched for a Zen teacher. I had been told that I could find a Zen teacher in a particular place in Tokyo. One of my Japanese acquaintances brought me to the door of Prof. Masunaga's house, and left. I knocked on the door, and a man of average height opened the door and asked me: What do you want?

I answered: To learn Zen. Prof. Masunaga told me: Not true. You want to find yourself. I entered inside, we sat Zazen together and he taught me some important things. From that moment and for the next 40 years until now, I study Zen and practice Zazen. When Prof. Masunaga told me: You want to find yourself. in that moment, I understood that he was a true Zen teacher. I loved him, and learned from him until the end of his life.


Books in English

Sōtō Approach to Zen, Tokyo: Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958, 215 p.

Zen beyond Zen, Tokyo: Komazawa University, 1960, 73 p.

Zen in Daily Living, Kanda, Tokyo: Shunjūsha, 1964, 72 p.

A Primer of Sōtō Zen; a translation of Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō zuimonki, Honolulu, University of Hawaii: East-West Center Press, 1971, 119 p.
[The present translation is based on the standard version by Menzan Zuihō as edited by Watsuji Tetsurō]





What is Zen
From Zen for Daily Living by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Shunjusha Pablishing Co., 1964.

1. The Meaning of Zen

Zen and its culture are unique to the East, and until recently the West knew little about them. Some Americans and Europeans who have learned of Zen have become deeply interested in it.

The interest stems possibly from Zens ability to communicate new life awareness. Western culture is oriented primarily toward Being; Eastern culture, toward non-Being. Being can be studied by objective logic. Non-Being must be existentially understood; it is the principle of absolute negation that enables one to loosen bonds and turn toward limitlessness.

This culture of non-Being developed in the Far East with the points of emphasis differing from country to country. In India it was pre dominantly intellectual and philosophical; in China, practical and down to earth; and in Japan, esthetic and emotional. Zen linked up with these various cultural characteristics as it spread. What then is Zen?

To define Zen is difficult. To define is to limit to make a neat conceptual package that abstracts from the whole and gives only part of the picture. This would not capture Zen, for it is rooted in our deepest life flow and deals with the facts of unfettered experience.

The non-conceptual nature of Zen is apparent in the catch phrases that became popular in Sung China. Zen trainees took their cues from such expressions as:

  1. No dependence on words and letters ;
  2. A special transmission outside the classified teachings ;
  3. Direct pointing to the mind of man ; and
  4. Seeing the mind is becoming the Buddha .

Zen is not bound by the words and letters of the sutras and satras. It passes from mind to mind outside the classified and systematized doctrines. Systematizing the Buddhist scriptures was a characteristic of Chinese Buddhism. But Zen basically eluded systematization. It does not lean on the classified teachings. It concentrates on penetrating to the inherent nature of man, and this is called becoming the Buddha.

Of course, Zen does not dispense with words and letters altogether. It is merely not be enslaved by them. In fact, very few religions have produced as many fresh literary works as Zen. Much of the material, naturally enough, deals with awakening from the word-bound state. This experience does not lend itself to long discourses , so Zen expressions are usually epigrammatic and poetic. One of Ummons most famous sayings was: Every day is a good day. Hoen said: When one scoops up water, the moon is reflected in the hands. When one handles flowers, the scent soaks into the robe.

From the outset Zen emphasized human dignity. This is the dignity deriving not from the ego but from the "natural face" we all have. We gain vital freedom by becoming aware of this "natural face" and living in terms of it. Technically, this makes Zen a religion of immanence, but to stop here leaves only a concept "a pictured mochi (rice-cake)."

The important thing is the actual experiencing of Zen. Such an experience would contribute significantly toward allaying the anxieties of modern man, beset as he is with the deadening impact of mass communications and the mechanical life.

Because modern man needs some sort of conceptual guideline to start out with, an effort to put Zen in sharper focus may serve a purpose. In olden times some Zen masters responded to questions with: Zen is Zen. While terse and to the point, this definition hardly offers any help to modern seekers of Zen understanding. Therefore, I venture to define Zen tentatively as follows: Zen is a practice that helps man to penetrate to his true self through cross-legged sitting (zazen) and to vitalize this self in daily life.

This definition, of course, does not cover all of Zen. But it does include the important elements. The three basic points in the definition are:

  1. The practice of zazen,
  2. Penetrating to the true self, and
  3. Vitalizing the true self in daily life.


2. Zazen

Zazen arose in ancient India. To escape the oppressive heat, Indian thinkers went into forests and hills. There they meditated under huge trees. If they stood, they tired; if they lay down, they fell asleep. So they adopted a method of cross-legged sitting with back straight.

The word Zen derives from dhyana, meaning, "to think." Human beings are a thinking animal. They are like a reed in their weakness, but they are the "thinking reed" of Pascal.

The word dhyana appears in the pre-Buddhist Upanishads . This was the form of zazen used by the Buddha, although his philosophic standpoint differed.

In China, dhyana was rendered as shii-shu (thinking practice) in the Old Translation (pre-Hsuan-tsang) and as Joryo (tranquil thinking) in the New Translation (Hsuan-tsang and after).

Joryo means calming the mind and thinking of ultimate truth. Sitting cross-legged, the Buddhist trainee considered the true meaning of the world and of human existence.

In zazen the important point is to harmonize body, breathing, and mind. The half or full paryanka posture is used. Exhaling and inhaling settle to a calm rhythm. Breathing plays a vital role; in India it is called prana, or life. To harmonize the mind is to dissolve the t perplexities and delusions that disturb our minds.

There is an orthodox and a simplified form of zazen. In the orthodox method the right foot rests on the left thigh, and the left foot on the right thigh. The left hand is placed in the right hand with palm upward. The thumbs touch and the right hand in turn rests on the left foot. The trainee sits upright on a thick cushion, leaning neither forward nor backward or from side to side. This method is described by Dogen in Fukanzazengi and by Keizan in Zazenyojinki . English translations of both are included in my Soto Approach to Zen .

In the simplified form the right foot only is put on the left thigh. The Test is the same as in the orthodox method. But even the simplified form may present some difficulties for the average Westerner. Young Japanese have trouble with it, too.

Upon completion of zazen the hands are placed over the chest with the right hand clasping the left fist A slow walk follows in half step with one breath for each step. This procedure-called Kinhin (canka in Pali) - helps to keep the mind calm and relieve the stiffness in the legs.

In zazen nothing is sought, not even enlightenment Bodhidharma called it the non-seeking practice. But the results are substantial. Repeatedly practiced zazen seems to invigorate the involuntary nervous system. It strengthens the solar plexus. Some Japanese psychologists have credited zazen with

  1. facilitating recovery from some illnesses,
  2. strengthening spiritual resources and lessening neuroticism,
  3. changing mental attitudes to eliminate bad habits,
  4. restraining destructive impulses,
  5. developing greater insight into situations, and
  6. fostering freedom from anxiety.

Results of recent scientific experiments indicate that zazen also reduces the modulation of brain waves. Zazen, in short, prepares the body and mind for the next stage of vital activity.


3. True-self

Basic problems return to the self. It is the key to penetrating the nature of truth. The Indian Upanishads , which established the philosophy of Atman , said: All cosmos is this Atman. In Western philosophy, too, the nature of the self has fascinated thinkers. Man is the weakest reed in nature, said Pascal, but he is a thinking reed.

Rikushozan, who taught the philosophy of One Mind, said: The cosmos is my mind. My mind is the cosmos. In the depth of minds we recognize the cosmic spirit that breaks out of narrow consciousness and works naturally. We cannot doubt that the self is a thinking reed.

The self, as we ordinarily know it, is where time and space cross. In the West the conditioned self is usually accepted as it appears from the standpoint of Being. The conditioned and instinctive come with it. In the East, with its emphasis on non-Being, the conditioned self tends to be downgraded. The East would awaken to the natural and purify the instinctive.

The conditioned self includes many discrepancies and impurities. This is the self that Buddhism found unacceptable, noting that all things have no selfhood. It means that there is no fixed substance anywhere and no reason to cling to it. To postulate such a substance is the ordinary view.

The unifying element in this stream of consciousness is provisionally called the self. There is no soul without this body. Truth emerges when we can empty ourselves while observing things. To observe without dogmatic bias lies at the base of the scientific spirit. Science can flourish only so far as it stays clear of narrow dogmas, and strive for systems free from contradictions.

The idea that all things have no selfhood was supported by the Buddhist teachings of mutual dependence and impermanence. It ripened into the ideas of Buddhahood in the Mahanirvana Sutra and of the Tathagata-garba in the Srimala Sutra.

In Hinayana Buddhism, Sarvastivadin considered the mind as stained from the standpoint of realism, while Mahasanghika considered it pure from the standpoint of idealism. Mahasanghika returned to Mahayana Buddhism.

Mahayana Buddhism is a progressive movement that tries to return to the basic spirit of the Buddha in accord with the age. Mahayana scriptures see the mind of man as essentially pure. This is especially true in the Mahanirvana Sutra, which teaches that all beings have Buddha-nature and points to the inherent Buddha mind in everyone.

Buddha-nature is the ground for becoming the Buddha: it is the Religiositat of humanity and the true humanity. Faith in Buddha- nature provides the basis for enlightenment and the ultimate ground of human dignity.

In the Srimala Sutra the term used is the Tathagata-garba. It means the womb enclosing the Tathagata. All beings are said to be wrapped in the deep mind-wisdom of the Tathagata. This is called shosozo (enveloping storehouse). The mind-wisdom of the Tathagata is covered by the delusions and desires of all being. This is called ompuzo (hidden storehouse). Many Buddhists generally consider the latter as Buddha-nature. Actually the former seems closer to the truth.

Buddha-nature is the true self that manifests itself when we lose ordinary selfhood. It is the inherent self (Eigenes Selbst) of existential philosophy. To penetrate to the true self is to gain enlightenment (Satori).

In Zen some schools emphasize Satori, and others give it less weight. The Rinzai School is an example of the former; the Soto School, an example of the latter. Rinzai Zen courts Satori by reflecting on the Koan during zazen. Soto Zen does not set Satori and practice apart; it considers them self-identical. The former is convenient for the beginner, but one misstep can turn it into a gradualist sort of Zen. Soto Zen is suited for more experienced Zen trainees. But here again, a misstep can lead easily to a form of naturalism.

Dogen, who transmitted Soto-Zen to Japan, deepened the Buddha- nature concept in his essay on the subject. He did not accept the usual interpretation of the passage in the Mahanirvana sutra: All beings inherently have Buddha-nature. He read it: All beings are Buddha- nature. Dogen thus made Buddha-nature the ground of all existences and the origin of all values. All existences, he said, are the self-expression of Buddha-nature.

From this basic standpoint, Dogen extensively discussed the ideas of u-bussho (Buddha-nature as Being), mu-bussho (Buddha-nature as non- Being), ku-bussho (Buddha-nature as emptiness), setsu-bussho (Buddha-nature as expression), mujo-bussho (Buddha-nature as impermanence), and gyo-bussho (Buddha-nature as practice).

U-bussho considers all existences as Buddha-nature. Mu-bussho is the ground of form. Ku-bussho is the Buddha-nature transcending both Being and non-Being. Setsu-bussho takes all things in themselves as self-expressions of Buddha-nature. Mujo-bussho is the ever-flowing development of Buddha-nature itself. Gyo-bussho is the bodily practice of Buddha-nature.


4. Zen in Daily life

Faith without practice lacks strength. As evidenced by such catch phrases as no dependence on words and letters and a special transmission outside the classified teachings, Zen stresses practice. The two basic forms of Zen practice are zazen and daily activity. Soto Zen especially puts strong emphasis on thorough practice in daily life, Zen practice centers on:

  1. Living every moment to the fullest.

    Engo said: In living we express full function in dying we express full function. The absolute present comes alive. When we function fully, we are vitally free. John Dewey also saw this and attributed immeasurable value to the complete experience in art and living.

    Dewey' views on the use of posture reflexes as a mechanism for change may be appropriate here. In his Introduction to Dr. F.M. Alexander's The Use of The Self , Dewey stated that a man's posture, especially the way he holds his head, enables him to take possession of his own potentialities and move from conditioned enslavement into a means of vital freedom. It is interesting that Aldous Huxley, one of the best-known Western admirers of Zen, once studied with Dr. Alexander.

  2. Transcending dualism and using it freely.

    Vimalakirti talked about the non-dualistic and this is where Zen resides. So long as we cling to dualism, we face conflict and anxiety. The perfect way, Sosan said, is not difficult. Just drop discrimination. Clear and bright is the world when we neither hate nor love.

    Dualistic tension between hate and love, right and wrong, good and evil makes the human being prey to rigid dogma. He cannot move freely.

  3. Respecting the physical

    Buddhism essentially denies any dualism between body and mind. Yet most Buddhist teachings tend to stress mind and consciousness. Dogen, however, held that such emphasis abstracted the human being. To gain the Way, he said, make use of your body. A faith rejecting the body becomes sterile and meaningless.

  4. Enlarging awareness.

    The nuclear and space age that we live in encourages the vigorous progress of science. But man has increasingly become obsessed with science and machines and lost touch with his essential humanity. Zen works to check this estrangement and restore intensity of awareness. If we know ourselves at all times, truth is where we stand, Rinzai said. Each morning Zuigan called: The Self! The Self! Yes, yes, he answered. He also said: Don't ever let others condition you.

  5. Releasing natural altruistic action.

    Dogen called such action benevolence and considered it a universal law benefiting oneself and others. Prof. Pitirim A. Sorokin uses the term creative altruism and sees it as a key to reconstructing man. This is reflected in the title of an important work edited by him: Forms and Techniques of Altruistic and Spiritual Growth . Non egoism and creativity go together. Creative altruism and the Bodhisattva vow are one. And this current flows through Zen as it does through the rest of Mahayana Buddhism.

  6. Increasing serenity and effectiveness in daily life - Zazen in a quiet room carries over into daily life. Rinzai said: If hungry, eat; if tired, sleep. Daily life offers no perplexities. It is relieving your self when needed, putting on clothes, and eating food. And when tired, it is stretching out to sleep. In an increasingly mechanized world the brain often works overtime in unproductive grooves. Day-to-day pressures bring neurosis, anxiety, and various complexes. The joy of living the moment fades, and despair closes in. To many sensitive individuals today, life has gone stale. They may find in Zen a clue to a fresher approach to life. To follow up the clue will require the courage to overthrow the tyranny of learned responses. Zen serenity and real living stem from recognizing things for what they are.

The standpoint of a fully functioning Zen man was expressed by Fuke:

The Zen master thus lives serenely and sensitively in vital freedom no matter what comes.

In the Hekiganroku , there is a passage that shows vitaworking: We meet strength with weakness, softness, with severity. Dogen clearly saw the need for harnessing this vitality to social action. In GenjoKoan he said: To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To he enlightened by all things is to be free from attachment to the body and mind of one's self and others. It means wiping out even attachment to Satori. Wiping out attachment to Satori, we must enter into actual society.

Here is the essence not only of Zen but also of all religions that aim at clarifying the self. It is the process of living by dying-of shedding egoistic delusion and finding our "natural face." This is Satori-the awakening-but we should not stop there. Others must be helped toward Satori: toward an enlightenment that stems not from self-power but from openness to all things. Unbound even by enlightenment, we must participate actively in the ongoing world and work in vital freedom.


5. Zen and Art

In the Kamakura period, Eisai and several other Zen masters brought Rinzai Zen to Japan. This Zen offered spiritual support to the warrior class and helped establish bushido, a warrior code unique to Japan. The warrior's approach to life had much in common with Zen. Both stressed the transcending of life and death; both esteemed courage, resoluteness, simplicity, and austerity. Disciplined action was characteristic of both warriors and Zen priests. Such leaders as Tokimune and Tokiyori were influenced by Zen masters from China.

During the war years at the end of the Kamakura period, the Zen monks were responsible for preserving Japanese education and culture. Among other things the monks taught the common people the Zen influenced Confucianism of Shushi. The bulk of the material published at that time dealt with Zen-often Zen sayings and verses. Zen monks became associated with the ability to read foreign documents.

The Zen monks also developed the Ashikaga School and the terakoya (monastery classes). They set up libraries containing Zen and Confucian works. An example of such a library is the Kanazawa Bunko. Some of these ventures were of considerable size. The Ashikaga School, for example, with Zen priests as principals, once had 3,000 students.

The social welfare efforts of Zen were financed partly by commerce. The Zen monks played a role in trade between Japan and China; the Tenryuji and Shokokuji ships are an example of their enterprise. The profits from this trade went toward rebuilding temples and training priests as well as toward general social welfare.

In the arts Zen infused with architecture, sculpture, painting; calligraphy, gardening, tea ceremony, flower-arrangement, Noh, Yokyoku, Renga, and Haiku. The characteristics of this Zen art have often been discussed. One scholar, for example, finds seven basic characteristics. I believe, though, that four are probably enough-simplicity, profundity, creativity, and vitality. These happen to be characteristics of Zen itself as well as Zen art.

The Zen monks spurned luxury and simplified what they wore and ate. This is evident even today in the Zen monastery life. But this simplicity is far from superficial; it is firmly anchored in depth.

While emphasizing practice, Zen does not ignore philosophy. The philosophic ties are primarily with some of the most profound ideas in Buddhism-with Sunyata of the Prajnaparamita sutra, with mutual interdependence of the Avatamsaka sutra, and with Buddha-nature of the Mahaparinirvana sutra.

Zen was transmitted from mind to mind and from personality to personality. But if master and disciple are merely equal, the spirit of Zen dwindles. If the disciple is the same as the master, the Hekiganroku says, the value of the master decreases by half. The disciple shows his gratitude to the master by transcending him. Herrigel calls this climbing on the shoulders of the teacher.

The essential transmission then may be creativity. The following lines from Keizan are pertinent here:

Zen vitality is full functioning in life based on zazen. Activity rather than passivity characterize Zen. Creativity and vitality are closely related; their rareness in combination constitutes a major modern problem.

How do these four characteristics-simplicity, profundity, creativity, and vitality-show up in Zen art? The best way to find out, of course, is to go to the works themselves. But some indicators may be helpful.

The sumie of Sesshu and the tea ceremony room give the feel of simplicity. Another example is Mokkes painting of persimmons. Profundity animates the Noh plays of Zeami and the Haiku of Basho. The frog-leap-pond Haiku - one of the masterpieces of Basho - may provide an especially good insight into what is meant here. Creativity emerges strongly in the gardens of Muso and the calligraphy of Ryokan. They clearly transcended their masters style. Sesshu also serves as an example here; he learned his technique from Josetsu and Shubun in Japan and Kakei in China, but his final landscapes were incomparably his own. Vitality shimmers through the calligraphy of Hakuin and Ikkyu. Their calligraphy overflows form without violating it. Vitality is also evident in the vigor and free flow of all Zen art.

In Japan such sports as Judo, Kendo, and Karate contain overtones of Zen. They are forms of martial art, emphasizing disciplined behavior, expert-beginner relationship, and intensive training. The training results in tourney actions embodying full functioning and vital freedom.

A Japanese development of Karate is called Shorinji kempo. The followers of this form consider Bodhidharma as the founder. The story has it that one day some bandits attacked the Shorinji to plunder clothing and food. The Zen monks there, having no swords or other weapons, defended themselves with their bare hands. The techniques they used are said to be the basis of present-day Shorinji kempo.

Relaxed activity is effective not only in Judo, Kendo, and Karate, but also in other sports. Athletes in less traditional sports have found merits in Zen discipline. Recently in Japan, a number of baseball players have taken up zazen.

Zen's potential for enhancing effectiveness has also, at another level, drawn the keen interest of scientists. The psychotherapists especially have investigated Zen practices. C. G. Jung's Foreword to D. T. Suzuki's Introduction to Zen Buddhism is one evidence of this interest, and it underlines the similarity between his individuation process and Zen awakening. Karen Homey and Erich Fromm are other well-known figures in psychotherapy whose interest in Zen surpasses the merely curious. Recent studies of Zen training have included electroencephalograms of monks in zazen. The brain waves indicated extreme calm a few minutes after the start of zazen.

In this way, Zen is stirring up wider interest. It is not limited to Japanese art and culture. Scientists both in East and West, if their goal is human wholeness, are looking to Zen for some old but still valid answers.



The Role of Zen in Modern Age
By zen master Prof. Masunaga Reiho
From Zen Beyond Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 5, Page 19, 1960.

Modern times can be called the emerging age of humanism. It grew from awareness of humanity and established the autonomy of human beings in contrast to the tyranny of the Middle Ages. Human awareness spurred the development of knowledge from myth to science.

Humanism emphasized individualism and science. For several centuries since the Renaissance these were important factors in creating the modern age.

They helped establish the politics, ethics and social conduct that we know today. They also laid the groundwork for democracy and socialism. Science advanced quickly. It built up knowledge that could not even be imagined in ancient times. In this way modern civilization came into being.

But from here two problems arose. One is the danger of annihilation inherent in modern warfare. The other is the increasing strength of social organization due to the development science. These problems deepened the anxiety of the modern human being. Social and scientific advances seem to have outrun the ability of people who would use them. Some of the users suffer from warped wills; the lack of moral strength. As science progresses human qualities seem to deteriorate. To correct this imbalance we must increase human compassion. Of course, individual good will is important, but in this age it is necessary to stress ethics. From the standpoint of humanity as a whole. We tend to look with amazement at the greatness of science but to remain blind to moral considerations. This is one of the major sources of the anxiety so prevalent today. Essentially this ethical problem is a religious one. From the standpoint of humanity as a whole, we can advance only by breaking through this dead end. The modern crisis stems from the increasing complexity of mechanical and social system.

One way out of this impose, may be Zen. Zen is a practice that penetrates to one's true self through cross-legged sitting and lead to vitalize this self in daily life. Zen frees the human being from the enslavement to machines and enables him to return to his basic humanity. It also eases the mental tension that comes from cultural fatigue and brings peace of mind. Zen maximizes the present moment through full awareness in daily life.

With its emphasis on the idea of Buddha-mind Zen helps the human being to fulfill his potentialities, It can guide Science into less destructive channels. Since it's basic standpoint transcends dualism; Zen offers some hope of softening the ideological conflict that now threatens human existence. The mode of unity has characterized Eastern culture. As Seng-Chao (384-1414) said: Heaven end earth are of the same root. All things are identical with me. The West, on the other hand, has emphasized dualism. From this grew science and philosophy.

Eastern unity, while important to religion, has tended to limit scientific progress, Western dualism, while necessary to science does not leave much room for religions development. The culture of the future must embrace the strong points of both Western scientific thought and Eastern religious intuition. Zen offers some respect of cutting through this apparent conflict and setting the stage for creative use of both science and religion. For Zen has the potentialities for guiding science without departing from the true religious spirit.

This seems to me the role of Zen in the modern world.



Western Interest in Zen
By zen master Prof. Masunaga Reiho
From Zen for Daily Living by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Page 20, Shunjusha Pablishing Co., 1964.

1. Reasons for Western Interest in Zen

For man the most important thing is life. Life is always in flux, and it is the creative matrix of the new. Anything without life is dead. Life has creativity and vitality as its essential elements. Originally all living things embody creativity and vitality. But eventually, over many years, they become rigid, form-ridden, and dogmatic. In Decline of the West , Oswald Spengler wrote that the West has civilization but no culture. This weakness has now become apparent in politics, economics and science. Many taboos have emerged in social conventions and traditions. Techniques and machines brought about the industrial revolution; man has been taken up into the cogs of the machinery and has lost his basic humanity. Man, surrounded by machines, mass-communication, and organized systems, has become alienated from freedom and spontaneity. Zen seems unusually well suited to break the deadlock facing modern man. Science has now emerged into the atomic and outer space age. Originally based on humanism, science gradually became to be considered all-powerful and autonomous.

In this way it moved in the wrong direction, luring mankind toward destruction. Zen seems to have a vital role in correcting this false tendency of science. Although the world is said to be moving toward a thaw, the two ideological camps are still in sharp conflict. The weak nations are caught in the middle, wavering from left to right. Zen offers the possibility of basically undercutting this dualism. It can help man overcome the conflict of ideologies for the first time. The West tends to emphasize the individual over the group. But even in individual man there are two facets. They are the false self and the true self.

No matter how much the individual is emphasized, it does no good if the emphasis is on the false self. Through the true-self the dignity of man emerges. In Christianity, God is worshiped as an absolute other he is separated from human beings. Zen, on the other hand, returns the human being to this original wholeness and shows him his true self.

In Buddhism the true self is called Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature includes man's religious nature and true humanity. It is deeply involved in human dignity. Thinkers in Europe and America have sensed this. Zen, with its emphasis on man's true self, has given them new insights into human potentialities. Christianity talks about a future kingdom of heaven and makes it the dwelling place of the soul. But Zen considers this too far removed from the actual world.

Zen tries to help man live fully in this world. This is called the expression of full function. Zen stresses present rather than future, this place rather than heaven. It aims at making actuality the Pure Land. In religion the most important thing is not miracle. Religion, of course, transcends the world of science, but it should not conflict with science. Buddhism is a world religion that envelops science. Any religion that hopes to appeal to modern man must embrace science and as well as transcend it. Zen does this.

In conclusion, Zen

  1. Frees man from enslavement to machines and reestablishes his humanity;
  2. Eases mental tension and bring peace of mind; and
  3. Enables man to use his full potentialities in daily life.

From this grow the Zen characteristics* of simplicity, profundity, creativity, and vitality that have attracted so many Westerners. But unless combined with zazen, Western Zen runs the risk of becoming a form of cultural snobbism.

* S. Hisamatsu in Zen and Art p.24, states that the 7 characteristics of Zen art are asymmetry, simplicity, witherness for (or austerity), naturalness, profundity, detachment, and tranquility. While good, this classification seems to he somewhat ambiguous. It contains some overlapping.


2. Zen in the West

Zen penetrates to man's true self and helps him live it in daily life. In the past few years, Zen has enjoyed something of a boom among intellectuals in Europe and America. This stems partly from Zen's capacity to break the intellectual deadlock induced by mechanical civilization, to correct one-sided dependence on science, and to soften the conflict of ideologies.

In addition, Zen responds to the modern need for simplicity, profundity, creativity, and vitality.

I would like to discuss Western Zen under six classifications - "beat" Zen, conceptual Zen, square Zen, Suzuki Zen, native Zen, and Zen.

Beat Zen

This is the Zen popular among the "beat" in America and the "angry young men" in England. Its proponents rebel against convention and tradition. Seeking freedom, they try to model their actions on those of the monks in Sung China. But most of them lack creativity and moderation. They represent, however, a phase of the process toward deeper understanding.

Conceptual Zen

This is the Zen derived from reading many books. It tries to grasp Zen conceptually and fails because Zen is a practice and not a concept. But the conception can serve as a starting point.

Square Zen

This is the Zen bound by rigid forms and rituals. Its advocates put weight on solving Koans and receiving the certification of the Zen masters. But since Zen stresses vital freedom, there is no need to be so strictly enslaved by form.

Suzuki Zen

This is the Zen that has grown through the works of Prof. Daisetz Suzuki. His contributions to Western understanding of Zen have been tremendous. But his Zen ends to emphasize enlightenment through the Koan. If this emphasis is too strong, Zen loses its original "abrupt" flavor and becomes step-like.

Native Zen

This is the Zen based on native philosophic tradition. It is represented, for example, by the writing of Prof. Van Meter Ames of Cincinnati University. It resembles the kakugi - (matching meanings) method of early China, which adapted Buddhist thought to the native heritage. This method contributed much to the development of Mahayana Buddhism in China. This type of Western Zen has potentiality for contributing significantly to understanding of Zen in Europe and America.


This is the Zen that grows from right training. Here, the works of Dogen, the founder of the Soto sect in Japan, offer many pointers, especially in his intuition of the self-identity of original enlightenment and thorough practice. This Zen requires a deep philosophic ground, understanding of Zen's historical development, and the guidance of a true Zen master. From these will come an authentic transmission. But of course this transmission should be creative; the disciple should not cling to the teachings of his master but should transcend them. This is the Zen beyond Zen.*

*Dogen criticized the Zen that had become exclusive and intolerant and was tending toward rigid dogma. He pointed to shortcomings in the characteristics associated with Zen in the past, and advocated a Zen beyond Zen.


3. Zen and Mysticism

Much of Zen's appeal today, I believe, stems from this uncompromising view of the whole man. Many Western thinkers are drawn to Zen because it promises fulfillment without the supernatural. Its basic approach could supplement and strengthen such Western ideas as existentialism in Europe and pragmatism in the United States. In an increasingly complex and mechanized world, perhaps there is need for a teaching that helps man toward being himself. Zen seems well suited to restore the sense of life to many who have lost it-to stimulate the creative in man that alone can guarantee his survival.

Among some scholars Zen is regarded as mysticism, and they find this attractive. But can Zen be judged is this way? If Zen is mysticism divorced from reality, how can we live in vital freedom with actual society? In this space age Zen would then also conflict with science. Science forms the basic mood of the present. The wisdom taught by Buddhism does not exclude scientific knowledge but envelops it. A religion conflicting with science is not a religion for the present.

Zen transcends dualism and truly vitalizes the value of science.

No dependence on words and letters does not mean a retreat from knowledge. Rather it indicates no enslavement to words and letters and the bringing out of the true meaning of life. Science, of course, is not omnipotent . It has its own limits. In the spiritual background of Zen there is the wisdom of Sunyata . Sunyata wisdom does not depend on anything, does not become enslaved to anything, and does not cling to delusion. It denies a rigid view of substance. To consider Zen as mysticism and to be fascinated by this is to rob Zen of life.



Zen and Judo
By zen master Prof. Masunaga Reiho
From Zen for Daily Living by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Page 25, Shunjusha Pablishing Co., 1964.

1. Body-Mind Training

Growing interest in Zen and Judo has gone along with the so-called Japan boom in the West. While superficially quite different, Zen and Judo are essentially similar. Judo is the art of using one's strength, both physical and mental, with maximum effectiveness. Through practice in offensive and defensive tactics, it helps the trainee realize the full potentialities of his body and mind. The successful trainee gains an insight into his true self and emerges with a desire to work for social good. To reach this stage is the ultimate goal of Judo.

This goal jibes with the two ideals of Kodokan Judo to make the most effective use of one's energy and to contribute to the mutual growth of oneself and others. These ideals focus the trainee's effort toward helping others to achieve the same joy-bringing growth. Kodokan Judo differs from the Jujutsu of ancient Japan. Traditional Jujutsu featured many tricks whose purpose was to maim opponent. It was also something of a show put on for paying customers. Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan Judo, changed all this. After studying various ancient Jujutsu schools, he picked out the best techniques and systematized them. Kano did not limit his aim merely to a contest to determine victory or defeat. He made body-mind training an integral part of his system.

2. Kodokan Judo

Though derived from the Jikishin School, the word "Judo" takes in more than the technical. Kodokan Judo, of course, teaches technique, but its main emphasis falls on "do" - the way to self-realization.

It aims primarily at experiencing the "way." In the process the Judoka enjoys a sport and sharpens his ability for self-defense.

In 1890, Kano was sailing back to Japan from Europe. While crossing the Indian Ocean, he was, through a misunderstanding, challenged to a fight by a huge Russian on board. As the fight began, the Russian tried to grab Kano in a bear hug. Kano, seeing an opening, twisted around and threw his opponent with Ogoshi (one of the Judo hip throws).

The Russian arched overhead, seemingly toward a headfirst landing on the deck. But Kana kept a firm grip on his opponent's wrist and brought him down on his feet. The spectators were impressed not only by the well-timed throw but also by the cushioning of the fall. The Russian shook Kano's hand. They parted good friend. This episode underscores the Judo ideals of strength fully used and of mutual growth.

3. Art of Falling

Learning in Judo begins with ukemi - the art of falling. By practicing ukemi the trainee learns to fall safely no matter how he may be thrown. At the same time, he builds up his own confidence and deepens his interest in Judo.

Next, the trainee learns the art of throwing. He develops an under- standing of how to use his strength most effectively. By constant practice he begins to master the various ways to break his opponent's balance and make a throw. A throw, it is said, must be practiced 3,000 times before it can become effective.

Judo mat-work, although not too popular these days, must also be practiced. It is just as important to the mastery of Judo as the art of throwing. The two go together like the two wheels of a cart.

In working out with an opponent, the Judo trainee should move relaxed and tryout his newly learned techniques without hesitation. He must act positively: when thrown, he should break his fall, arise immediately, and resume the attack. To test his strength, the trainee should occasionally take part in Judo tournaments.

Quite often, a new set of attitudes develops as a result of this training.

The trainee may find himself:

  1. More relaxed in any situation.
  2. Convinced of the need for learning from a good teacher.
  3. More eager to practice techniques as taught.
  4. Less tempted to try "dirty" tricks.
  5. More sensitive to opening in the opponent's defenses while less concerned about one's own.
  6. Always poised to make effective use of the opponent's strength.
  7. Accustomed to silence and calmness, and
  8. Naturally disposed toward simplicity and cleanliness.

Judo training, in short, stimulates courage and freedom of action, teaches constant awareness and resourcefulness, and helps develop respect for human dignity and tempers body and mind for vital social action. With flexibility and grace, or in the words of an ancient text, like a shadow following an object, the Judoka quietly does his part of the world's work.

4. Relation with Zen

In Tokugawa Japan, master swordsmen like Yagyi Tajima-no-Kami and Miyamoto Musashi studied Zen to learn the innermost secret of swordsmanship. They often took up Zen training under famous masters. Some, after the usual round of sharp criticism and psycho-physical discipline, managed to gain enlightenment. A similar relationship holds for Judo and Zen.

Gaining of full Zen enlightenment does not differ from experiencing the ultimate meaning in Judo. In this way, both Zen and Judo trainee come upon the truth of life. Through intensive training they experience what it is to know coolness and warmth for oneself. As Dogen has said, Training enfolds enlightenment. Enlightenment dwells within training, and training takes place within enlightenment.

5. Hardship Necessary

One cannot know anything deeply or experience it completely with out undergoing some hardship. While Zen has been called the comfortable entrance , it is actually not so easy. The trainee usually gets up early in the morning to practice zazen (cross-legged sitting). During sesshin (the special training period), he does zazen for seven days. Cold and sleepiness disturb him, and his feet and legs begin to hurt. Usual monastery routine demands that the trainees sweep the garden in the morning and do zazen again in the evening.

Similarly, Judo has its special training period-kangeiko (winter practice) and doyogeiko (summer practice). Having gone through both kangeiko and Zen training, I can vouch for the fact that neither is easy. But only through disciplined practice without regard for heat and cold the trainee can gain an inkling of what a total experience means in Zen or Judo. You don't learn swimming by practicing on the tatami .

6. Relaxed Mind

Both Zen and Judo grow out of the self-identity of body and mind. To train the body and mind in Zen the emphasis falls on letting go in the truly existential sense . Dogen, it is said, transmitted the relaxed mind from China "Relaxed" of course does not mean "soft". It means breaking free from the tyranny of the ego and penetrating to the not self or the Self. Freed even from the desire for enlightenment, one understands finally what makes the world tick.

In Judo, too, the body and mind are relaxed. There is no burning desire to win. The Zen insight into the non-duality of body and mind dwells at the center of Judo. A Zen-calmed mind expresses itself in integrated action. Full function of body-mind leaves no opening.

A lion, it is said, uses his full effort to catch a rabbit. The same is applied to Judo. One throws, holds, and wrestles going all out, but without strain. The body shifts immediately to adjust to changes in time and place. Those with Judo sense escape injury in usually dangerous falls. They can take care of themselves with ease against violence.

So Judo goes beyond mere self-defense. It builds up character and leads to responsible freedom. Harmonizing with nature, Judo stresses effortless action. Similarly, Zen respects the natural order of things. One's every day mind is itself the way is a well-known Zen expression.

7. No Aftermath

Just as the bird in the sky and the fish in the water leave no traces of their passing, Judo leaves no aftermath. The breaks are clean. In Judo as in Zen, when awareness is full, every action embodies vital freedom. The great masters of Zen and Judo move along the same path of no-hindrance.

The Zen trainee understands "no-hindrance" primarily through zazen in upright sitting and rhythmic breathing. This training method strikes most Westerners as rather strange. But it corresponds to the throws practiced 3,000 times in Judo. Both Zen and Judo, therefore, put their basic emphasis on ultimate freedom and creativity. The Zen trainee not only must absorb all that the master has to teach but also must excel him. The trainee has to transcend his teacher. This, as Prof. Eugene Herrigel has said in his Zen and the Art of Archery , means, to climb on the shoulders of one's teacher. Judo also has many creative aspects, least subtly perhaps in the development of new techniques. It too uses form to wean man away from enslavement to form.

When fully experienced, Zen and Judo help replace illusion with insight. They give us a fresh approach to the terms of the world. Previously routine activities then take life, and we find the buried wisdom in what seems at first glance to be the least rewarding of Zen sayings, Every day is a good day: every hour is good hour.

8. Zen and Sports

The spirit of Zen is not only important for Judo but for all sports. Zen puts stress on living fully in the moment, and this mood is necessary to all sports. Both Zen and sports also emphasize training (the so-called sport samadhi ), observance of rules, learning from masters, and objective excellence. Other similarities include their common stress on attention to details, grace of movement, and growing by participation. While perhaps less evident in some sports than in Zen, is not the ultimate aim of both freedom from obsession to defeat and victory? The Zen of sport and the sport of Zen can both lead to more meaningful living.



The Standpoint of Dogen and His Ideas on Time
By zen master Prof. Masunaga Reiho
From Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 4, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 59-80.

1. The Standpoint of Dogen

Religion tries to penetrate to the true ground of the contradictory self by transcending the ego-bound self and experiencing the real self. By focusing on death and sin, it strengthens our sense of the absolute, expands our sense of life, and purifies the sense of the sacred in our body and mind. Among religions Zen is an immanent transcendent type that makes zazen (cross-legged sitting) the basic form of practice that approaches the origin of the mind, and that directly experiences the absolute.

Dogen, in the GenjoKoan fascicle of his masterwork Shobogenzo (The Eye and Treasury of the True Law), makes this statement: To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to be free from attachment to the body and mind of one's self and of others. This implies wiping out even one's attachment to satori . Detaching ourselves from Satori, we must enter the day-to-day world. This sums up the essential character of religion. If we question the experience of the self, we become confused about where the self should be. If we become anxious about the experience of the self, we start knocking at the door of religion. Penetrating to the deepest true of the self, religion tries to transcend the ego and release the true self. But we have to seek the self by denying the self. Conduct based on self-desire and self-attachment is evil. In every religion the emphasis falls on denying the self. When we deepen our faith, we touch non-ego-a state free from the ego's dualistic thinking. Buddhism, setting up the principle that all things have no ego-substance, especially stresses the realization of no- ego. But the more deeply man reflects on the status of the self, the more he has to seek the absolute ground beyond the self. Belief springs not only from man's subjective demand, but also from his response to the beckoning of the absolute. It comes from the absolute and depends on the call of God. But this God is not only the object but also the ground of the object; He is not only the subject but also the ground of the subject. In Shoji, Dogen says:

When you let go of your mind and body and for get them completely, when you throw yourself into Buddha's abode, when everything is done by the Buddha, when you follow the Buddha Mind without effort or anxiety-you break free from life's suffering and become the Buddha.

When we transcend the subject and touch its ground, we come in contact with the absolute. The mind of God appears in the flowers in the field and the birds in the air. In them we see the form of the absolute. The truth speaks through objects. Arising from the Buddha, it takes shape in the world.

Thus one's body-mind and the body-mind of others are essentially free from conflict. The gap between one's self and others naturally falls away and invites unity. So attaining enlightenment does not call for pride. The enlightened returns to the day-to-day world, takes part in historical reality, and vitalizes Buddhism. Asanga called this Apratisthita-nirvana (enlightenment of no abode). In Zen Buddhism we call it training after enlightenment.

The severe and thorough style of Dogen's Zen was no doubt influenced by his master, Ch'ang-weng Ju-tsing (1163-1228). We can find two facets in Dogen - the carrying on of tradition and the realizing of individual potentiality; if we examine his career and his many books, especially the Shobogenzo.

Dogen wanted to return to the fundamental spirit of the Buddha from a critical standpoint. He spanned court life and tried to train a small group of elite followers. He rejected the idea that the three training - Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism could be reconciled. He criticized the rivalry among the five schools of Zen and tried to live in the oneness of Buddhism. He even refused to use the name Zen "sect." In short, he dwelt, like his teacher Ju-tsing, in supreme meditation - free from attachment to body and mind. Dogen's personal approach can be summarized as follows:

  1. Since the object of Zen consists in actually experiencing the Buddha Mind, Dogen made no special effort to provide a tool for analyzing theoretical reality. While Dogen denied man and the world on one hand, he usually affirmed them on the other. Through mutually denying of the opposites, Dogen turned absolute denial into absolute affirmation. To Dogen, to be able to say and not to be able to say are self-identical, as are to be able to explain and not to be able to explain. Knowledge and faith, therefore, do not differ essentially from philosophy and religion. Dogen rejected such simple catchphrases as no dependence on the letters of the sutra and transmission outside of the classified teachings.
  2. For Dogen the main value of Buddhism did not lie in the superiority of the teaching or the profundity of the truth. He set greatest store in the truth or fallacy of the training. The prime object, he felt, was not to know Buddhism but to become Buddhism. In his personal life, Dogen, unable to resolve his great doubt about original Dharmata by discriminating intellect, managed to find a solution through unified training and experience. He learned that contradictions can only be truly resolved through Zen action. The mind itself is the Buddha was not a mere theory for Dogen, he knew it became a living experience through religious need, practice, wisdom, and enlightenment. In this way Dogen broke the religious impasse reached by the Tendai and Shingon doctrines of the body itself becomes the Buddha.
  3. Founders of Buddhist schools generally considered the time and space in selecting a suitable sutra ; they naturally favored a Buddhism befitting the ability of the people. But Dogen dismissed such an approach, which he considered characteristic of religious decline. He asserted that training must be carried out without relaxation especially in a "twilight" age. Dogen found deep meaning in the unremitting effort to realize eternal truth with his whole personality.
  4. The zazen that Dogen recommended to everyone denies the difference between training and enlightenment. It emphasizes their non- duality. Zen Buddhism, of course, takes the basic form of cross-legged sitting. But this cross-legged sitting is not simple zazen but "training based on original enlightenment." Dogen' zazen is "taintless" training - one permitting no hiatus between training and enlightenment. It is simultaneously superior training and original enlightenment. Training enfolds enlightenment, so enlightenment-based training takes place unimpeded. Dogen's zazen, therefore, is not a means to an end but the end itself. It is cross-legged sitting for no gain and with no expectation-a way of living in one's true self. Since truly transmitted zazen is superior training enfolding original enlightenment, it frees itself from the wait for enlightenment and the wish to become a Buddha. It definitely does not strive for enlightenment by means of the Koan. Because superior training enfolds original enlightenment, it has no end. We practice the Way even after enlightenment and keep up the effort even after becoming a Buddha.
  5. Zen, while a religion of cross-legged sitting, does not end with zazen. It tries to purify and infuse daily activities with the basic spirit of Zen. This tendency emerged in the early history of Zen, but Dogen deepened its meaning and stressed that daily work itself is true Buddhism. Seeing no gap between the mundane and transcendental, he taught a Buddhism that lives and works in day-to-day activity. For those who make unimpeded use of each hour, every day is a good day.
  6. Those who live in the eternal identity of the Buddhist spirit even though time and history flow are recognized as transmitters of the true law. Transmission of the true law means that two personalities are unified in one by direct contact, and one life handed down to another without end. In transmission the mind of the master and disciple are interfused like the trunk and branch of a tree. And to keep Buddhism fresh the disciple must eventually transcend the master and express the basic teaching in terms of his own personality. When the master is strong and the disciple weak, Ananda is overshadowed by Mahakasyapa; when the disciple is strong and the master weak. Mahakasyapa is overshadowed by Ananda. In Menju (an essay in Shobogenzo) Dogen tries to explain this contact: Though not in horizontal relation, though not in vertical relation - it is transmission. This suggests that the life of the Buddha move through history and advances in time and space.
  7. "Unthinking" zazen makes it possible to experience freedom from the duality of body and mind. It eliminates the common delusion that we and the Buddha are separated and establishes the unitize truth. Zen is the synthesis of wisdom (which manifests the original Buddha Mind in enlightenment) and of contemplation (which expresses it in training). The enlightenment and training identified with the original Buddha Mind constitutes the essence of Zen. But this Buddha Mind is not a stationary mind as maintained in the Srenika heresy. Dogen, therefore, used the terms no Buddha Mind and impermanent Buddhahood . For "nothing" is not relative emptiness but absolute nothing. It is absolute void - or absolute being. Dogen also asserted that all existence is the Buddha Mind and made this the ground of all being and all value. He thus deepened the meaning of embracing all beings in the matrix of the Tathagata. All beings move in the sea of the Buddha Mind. Buddhahood, expressing itself in a new form each movement, permeated the world.


2. Dogens ideas on Time

The idea of impermanent Buddhahood necessarily introduces us to the problem of time. In the history of Buddhist thought there have been many essays on time - like the Madhyamika and Fa-tsang's (643-712) Hua-yen-t'an-hsuan-chi.

But Dogen seems to have gone further than most in organizing time-experience as a system of thought. In Shobogenzo the problem comes up in such essays as Uji, Kenbutsu, Sansuikyo, Daigo, GenjoKoan, Kuge, Kaiinzammai, Menju, Bussho, and Zenki.

An especially detailed study of time is contained in Uji. The date at the end of this essay indicates that it was written in the early winter of 1240 at the Kosho Horin temple in the suburbs of Kyoto. At that time Dogen was 41 years old. Making Uji the focus and referring to other writings of Dogen, let us treat his thoughts on time in terms:

  1. the self-identity of existence and time,
  2. specific time,
  3. basic time,
  4. the principle of continuity in time,
  5. the absolute present, and
  6. applied time or time in practice.

As St. Augustine said: If no one asks me about time, I know all about it; but if someone asks, I know nothing about it. It is difficult to explain time when it is so closely linked up with our lives and flowing in the same current. Generally time tends toward abstraction. But in Dogen, time is practical-a means of grasping reality. Time - like space - has been considered a form of cognition. The idea has been that objects must exist in a fixed place and time before they can result in sensation and intuitional knowledge. Time and space, therefore, are prerequisites to direct knowledge in traditional Western thought. They

  1. are not obtained from experience-both being there before experience-and
  2. Have been thought of as a form of intuition rather than of conception.


  1. Dogen asserts that time is not simply contentless form; he identifies it with existence. In Kuge, he says: Time has such colors as blue, yellow, red, and white. Spring draws in flowers and flowers draw in spring. There is absolutely no difference between time and such colors as blue, yellow, red, and white. The time we call spring blossoms directly as an existence called flowers. The flowers in turn express the time called spring. This is not existence within time; existence itself is time. Dogen underlines this in Uji with such statements as, Time is existence, and existence is time and You must see all things in this world as time. Everything in the world-each existence-must be itself a time unit. This vitalizes the basic principle of Buddhism: Time does not have a separate substance: it is established by existence. And it is clear that time takes form in space. Dogen's standpoint here has some of the flavor of modern existentialist philosophy, particularly the ideas in Heidegger's Sein und Zeit.
  2. The word "Uji" refers to a specific time taken from infinite continuity. It points to the existence of a discontinuous time expressed as "this time" and "that time." At the beginning of the Uji essay, Yueh-shan is quoted as saying: Standing on the peak of a high mountain is Uji. Diving to the bottom of the deep ocean is Uji. You and your neighbor are Uji. The great earth and vast sky are Uji. All these instances are limited to an independent and isolation special time.

    But Dogen himself refers to time cut off from past and future as ordinary time and contrasts it with basic time. This special time can be compared to Heidegger's "vulgare Zeit" of ordinary life (Alltagichkeit). Time flows but it is not simple flowing. Uji contains elements that are difficult to express simply in terms of individualized special time. To take Uji only as a single time unit and see it as part of the time flow does not go beyond the common understanding of specific time. About this, Dogen says: If you think of uji in the common way, even wisdom and enlightenment become only appearances in time coming and going. Time is flowing without flowing, and it takes shape in the flow without flow.

  3. Uji can also be considered the source of all time units just as Buddhahood is the ground of all existence. It is the basic time (ursprungliche Zeit) behind such manifestations of time itself as high mountains, deep seas, the great earth, and the empty sky. It is time-beyond, and time arises from it and returns to it. Regarding this, Dogen says: Uji arises, free from desire. It materializes now here, now there. Even the king of heaven and his retainers are not separated from uji manifested. Other beings on land and in water also arise from uji. All things in darkness and light arise from uji. These manifestations become the time process. Without time, nothing can arise. Not a single thing arises apart from uji. This basic time is time and also time beyond time. This thesis - that specific time is actually basic time-resembles the thought of Heidegger.
  4. If we think of independent and discontinuous specific time as unified in the self, it becomes the concept of continuity in time. For continuity in time is the time process. It has future and past, which are mutually linked, and mark time's passage. Dogen takes this view: Ultimately all existences are linked and become time. Because it is uji, it is my personal time. Uji has the trait of continuity; it goes from today to tomorrow. Time changes each moment without losing its continuity. Time is time because it is continuous. Such continuity can be compared to Bergson' Duree pure and Heideggers' die Dauer, das Wahren der Zeit. This refers to the manifestation of time (Uebergangscharacter) between now and then (vom Jetzt bis Dann).
  5. From one point of view, time is isolated in each moment and disconnected from past and future. From another point of view, it manifests new time each moment and connects up the past and future. Dogen says in GenjoKoan . You must understand that a burning log-as a burning log-has before and after. But although it has past and future, it is cut off from past and future. The statement that the log has before and after refers to the continuity of time. Cut off from past and future refers to the discontinuity of time.

    But no matter how long time continues, there is only the moment. Dogen expresses this thought in these words: It continues from today to day. Time goes from the present to the present. And discrete continuity and unmoving motive are only possible in this moment. This is the now of specific time-the eternal present. Commenting on this problem, Tenkei Denson (1648-1735) says: Mount is time; eternity is time. Time is no time-is eternity. The idea of time as no time refers to absolute timelessness. This is the absolute present. Shuho Myocho (1282-1336) says: We have been separated for so long and have never been apart. We meet each other throughout the day, and do not meet a moment. The present embraces the past and future: it is absolute. The conflict between continuity and discontinuity is resolved here. This is called the unity of specific time and continuity.

    In Daigo, Dogen writes: The so-called present is every man's now. When now we think a past and future, myriad times are the present. They are the now. The original nature of man is the present. This recalls St. Augustine, who argued that instead of setting up the three times categories of past, present, and future, we should say present of the past, present of the present, and present of the future. Dogen says: Time seems to be beyond but it is now. Time seems to be over there, but it is now. The now of specific time continues, embracing the past and future. The moment is eternity.

  6. We first realize the meaning of "now" by training. In Gyoji , Dogen says: Before practice there is a way called 'now.' Realizing practice is called now. There is no real present apart from human action. Where we truly live, we find the present-and nowhere else. Outside the now of practice there is no essential self.

    In the Gyoji essays, Dogen also writes: The great way of the Buddha and the patriarchs always has supreme practice; it circulates and is never cut off. Through this practice, which always circulates and is never cut off, the essential self emerges. Man must live the life of now - and die the death of now. Purifying his activities, he must live fully in life; in death, he must eliminate complications and die with thoroughness.

    For those who are not pushed around by the hours of the day - for those who make active use of them - every day is a good day, and every hour is a good hour. Those people can then be a vital factor everywhere and make truth live wherever they stand.

    In the first part of Zuimonki , Dogen says: Without looking forward to tomorrow every moment, you must think only of this day and this hour. Because tomorrow is unfixed and difficult to know, you must think of following the Buddhist way while you live today. He makes a similar statement in the second part of the essay: You must concentrate on Zen practice without wasting time, thinking that there is only this day and this hour. After that it becomes truly easy. You must forget about the good or bad of your nature, the strength or weakness of your power. The essence of religion in Dogen's mind, lies in living truly in the now of specific time. Realizing the value of life depends on expressing the day and months of a hundred years in each day's living. By unimpeded practice that cuts off past and future, we fulfil the meaning of life for the first time. Thus this day should be vital, Dogen says in Gyoji . To live one hundred years wastefully is to regret each day and month. Your body becomes filled with sorrow. Although you wander as the servant of the senses during the days and months of a hundred years - if you truly live one day, you not only live a life of a hundred years, but save the hundred years of your future life. The life of this one-day is the vital life. Your body becomes significant. True religious life thus comes into being through the now realized in practice.


3. Dogens view on Life-Death

Let us now consider Dogen's view of life-death in relation to the problem of time. To be concerned with life-death is the very essence of religion. Originally man could touch the abode of his self at the moment of death. Death is inherent in the self; it does not belong to others but is connected with one's self. It is difficult to overlook. It is the most obvious of facts. We worry, wondering when it will come to us. This self is the only one, and this life comes but once. The deads do not return. All living things die - man is truly mortal. Those who, like animals, live unaware of life's impending dissolution find it difficult to grasp the true self.

The fear of death means attachment to life. But arising, decaying, and changing are the true aspects of life and the essential characteristics of human existence. If birth and death are put in opposition, birth precedes death, and death follows birth. This viewpoint aggravates the difficulty of penetrating the problem of life-death. In Shinjingakudo , Dogen says: Although we have not yet left birth, we already see death. Although we have not yet left death, we already see birth. This runs counter to the common view of birth-death. Birth and death are the two sides of human existence. Every moment is birth from one standpoint and death from another. Each moment we live and die. Life is a moment of growth and a moment of decay. Death pervades life, and life pervades death. And it is birth and death that give significance to human existence. From the usual viewpoint birth and death are nothing but transmigration. Those enslaved by the idea of an ego cannot break free from the stream of birth and death; they have lost their freedom of escape. If ego-attachment is severed, we realize that the continuity of birth and death is itself the expression of Buddhahood and thus gain control over birth and death. Be cause the Great sage gained insight into life and decay, he did not fear birth and death; instead be made life-and-death existence a place for training. Therefore, Dogen says: Although birth and death are the transmigration of the unenlightened, the Buddha is free from all this. For those who have control over them, birth and death are not things to be feared and avoided. They are transmitted instead to the coming and going of light. In Bendowa , Dogen says: To think that birth and death are things to be avoided is a sin against Buddhism. They are truly the tools of Buddhism.

It is said that time is cut off from past and future although it has past and future. In this way, birth and death, while continuing without pause, are absolute existences disconnected from one moment to the next. Birth is one position of time, and death, too, is one position of time. But the now of specific time that connects birth and death is an absolute, unchallengeable reality Apart from this moment there is no birth and death anywhere. Outside the present, we seek life; outside the present, we are terrified by death-this is the common delusion. We must live the life of now to the fullest; we must die the death of now without hesitation, Here abides the full realization of all functions. About this, Yuan-wu K'o-ch'in (? -1135) says: Life is the realization of all functions; death is the realization of all functions. Buddhahood is expressed in full, whether in life or death.

We must regulate life and death, while living and dying our life and death. Because life and death and coming and going are true human actions, to throw them away in denial is forsaking the life of the Buddha. Therefore, says Dogen in Shoji : If life comes, there is life. If death comes, this is death. There is no reason for your being under their control. Don't put any hope in them. This life and death are the life of the Buddha. If you try to throw them away in denial, you lose the life of the Buddha. Chia-shan says: If the Buddha is within life and death, we are not confused by life and death. Ting-shan says: If there is no Buddha within life and death, it is not life and death. Both are trying to explain the problem of life and death, but Chia-shan view life-death and the Buddha dualistically. Ta-mei Fa-ch'ang (752-839) had to criticize him: He is far from the Way. Dogen says: If a man seeks the Buddha without life and death, it is like turning the cart to the north and heading for Esshu (Yueh-chou), or looking south to see the North Star. We will gather the cause of life and death more and more-and lose the way to liberation. We can transcend life-death if we study and do what we must in the present moment without pursuing the past or waiting for the future. A relevant passage appears in the sutra (M.N.): Don't pursue the past: don't wait for the future. .... Just do today with all your heart what must be done today. Who can know the death of tomorrow?

Dogen's view of life and death is closely connected with applied time. In Kenbutsu , Dogen says: Though we say the Buddha of the past, present, and future, this differs from the common time standard. The so-called past is the top of the heart; the present is the top of the fist; and the future is the back of the brain. Regarding this, the "Benchu," a commentary by Tenkei on the Shobogenzo, says The three worlds of past, present, and future are your heart fist and brain. They are not the three times of common sense. They are the abode of your own body in the 10 worlds of past and present. Although called the three worlds of past, present, and future, there is nothing but this moment as the self-fixation of the eternal now.

Thus Dogen, while inheriting the tradition, realized his own individuality. In the world of philosophy and religion he opened up his own vista. In Japan he greatly influenced the generation that followed. His ideas or time compare favorably with modern Western philosophy. In fact, they may open up new avenues to an East West cultural synthesis.





Fukanzazengi (Rules for Zazen)
Written by zen master Dogen Zenji translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 7, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 100-105.


Dogen wrote this essay in the latter half of 1227 (between October 5 and December 10). He was then 28 years old and had just returned from China. His object was to popularize the Buddhism of zazen, to teach the right method of zazen, to transmit the Zen style of Bodhidharma, and to make known the true spirit of Pai-ch'ang.

Dogen has described the motive for this work in zazengi Senjitsuyuraisho (Reason for writing the Rules of Zazen). Dogen modified the rules of zazen in the eighth volumes of Zennenshingi (Ch'an-yuan-ch'ing-kuei) written by Tsung-che (Shusaku) in 1102. Dogen' work, therefore, contains the characteristic method of truly transmitted zazen, and it is supplemented with complete notes. This work remains in two forms: a "popular" edition and one written in Dogen own hand. The "popular" edition appears in the Eiheigenzenjigoroku (published in 1358) and the eighth volumes of Eiheikoroku (published in 1472). But they differ considerably from the edition in Dogen own handwriting. Kept in the Eiheiji repository. This edition reproduces in that the Zazengi written in 1227. Dogen, however, polished the "popular" edition, in the final 20 some years of his life, and he arranged it in the Chinese style that we now see. This translation is based on the "popular" edition.

Text (Fukanzazengi)

The true way is universal so why is training and enlightenment differentiated? The supreme teaching is free so why study the means to it? Even truth as a whole is clearly apart from to dust. Why adhere to the means of "wiping away"? The truth is not apart from here, so the means of training are useless. But if there is even the slightest gap between, the separation is as heaven and earth. If the opposites arise, you lose the Buddha Mind. Even though you are proud of your understanding and have enough enlightenment, even though you gain some wisdom and supernatural power and find the way all illuminate your mind, even though you have power to touch the heavens, and even though you enter into the area of enlightenment - you have almost lost the living way to salvation. Look at the Buddha: though born with great wisdom, he had to sit for six years. Look at Bodhidharma, who transmitted the Buddha Mind: we can still hear the echoes of his nine-year wall gazing. The old sages were very diligent. There is no reason why modern man cannot understand. Just quit following words and letters. Just withdraw and reflect on yourself. If you can cast off body and mind naturally, the Buddha Mind emerges. If you wish to gain quickly, you must start quickly.

In meditating you should have a quiet room. Eat and drink in moderation. Forsake myriad relations-abstain from everything. Do not think of good and evil. Do not think of right and wrong. Stop the function of mind, of will, of conscious ness. Keep from meaning memory, perception, and insight. Do not strive to become the Buddha. Do not cling to sitting or lying down.

In the sitting place, spread a thick square cushion and on top of it put a round cushion. Some meditate in Paryanka (full cross-legged sitting) and others in half Paryanka. Prepare by wearing your robe and belt loosely. Then rest your right hand on your left foot, your left hand in your right palm. Press your thumbs together.

Sit upright. Do not lean to the left or right, forward or backward. Place your ears in the same plane as your shoulders, your nose in line with your navel. Keep your tongue against the palate and close your lips and teeth firmly. Keep your eyes open. Inhale quietly. Settle your body comfortably. Exhale sharply. Move your body to the left and right. Then sit cross-legged steadily.

Think the unthinkable. How do you think the unthinkable? Think beyond thinking and unthinking. This is the important aspect of sitting.

This cross-legged sitting is not step by step meditation. It is merely comfortable teaching. It is the training and enlightenment of thorough wisdom. The Koan will appear in daily life. You are completely free - like the dragon that has water or the tiger that depends on the mountain. You must realize that the Right Law naturally appears, and your mind will be free from sinking and distraction. When you stand from zazen, shake your body and arise calmly. Do not move violently. That which transcends the commoner and the sage - dying while sitting and standing is obtained through the help of this power: this I have seen. Also the supreme function (lifting the finger, using the needle, hitting the wooden gong) and enlightenment signs (raising the hossu, striking with the fist; hitting with the staff; shouting): are not understood- by discrimination. You cannot understand training and enlightenment well by supernatural power. It is a condition (sitting, standing, sleeping) beyond voice and visible things. It is the true beyond discriminatory views. So don't argue about the wise and foolish. If you can only train hard, this is true enlightenment. Training and enlightenment are by nature undefiled. Living by Zen is not separated from daily life.

Buddhas in this world and in that, and the patriarchs in India and China equally preserved the Buddha seal and spread the true style of Zen. All actions and things are penetrated with pure zazen. The means of training are various, but do pure zazen. Don't travel futilely to other dusty lands, forsaking your own sitting place. If you mistake the first step, you will stumble immediately. You have already obtained the vital functions of man's body. Don't waste time in vain. You can hold the essence of Buddhism. Is it good to enjoy the fleeting world? The body is transient like dew on the grass-life is swift like a flash of lightning. The body passes quickly, and life is gone in a moment.

Earnest trainees, do not be amazed by the true dragon. And do not spend so much time rubbing only a part of the elephant. Press on in the way that points directly to the Mind. Respect those who have reached the ultimate point. Join your-self to the wisdom of the Buddhas and transmit the meditation of the patriarchs. If you do this for some time, you will be thus. Then the, treasure house will open naturally, and you will enjoy it to the full.



Genjo Koan
Written by zen master Dogen Zenji translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 9, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 125-132.


The Shobogenzo flow consists of ninety-five chapters. But when first put together it had only seventy-five chapters. Dogen revised these seventy-five chapters between 1248 and 1252. He finished this revision one-year before his death.

The first chapter in this collection is the GenjoKoan It was written when Dogen was 34 years old (mid-autumn 1233) and given to Mitsuhide Yo, a layman in Kyushu.

In the Zen sect Koan means problem to be solved. The Zen master gives it to the trainee, and the trainee thinks about it during zazen. The Rinzai sect especially emphasizes the Koan, but the Soto sect does not put too much stress on it. The Soto sect lays stress on daily life; it believes that the Koan should be expressed in our daily activities.

GenjoKoan deals with the Koan expressed in daily life. First, Dogen here indicates the essence of religion from his standpoint. Secondly, he expresses his basic view that original enlightenment and superior training are self-identical. Thirdly, he makes it clear that the Koan is not a formal problem but a way of life. Here he expresses the Soto view that thorough training should be integrated with zazen and daily life. GenjoKoan especially underlines these points. Though given to a layman, this essay is very difficult to understand. Anyone who understand it will be able to grasp the overall spirit of the Shobogenzo and the essence of Dogen' Zen.

Text (GenjoKoan)

When all things are Buddhism, delusion and enlightenment exist, training exists, life and death exist, Buddhas exist, all-beings exist. When all things belong to the not-self, there are delusion, no enlightenment, no all beings, no birth and decay. Because the Buddha's way transcends the relative and absolute, birth and decay exist, no delusion and enlightenment exist, all-beings and Buddhas exist. And despite this, flowers fall while we treasure their bloom; weeds flourish while we wish them dead. To train and enlighten all things from the self: is delusion; to train and enlighten- the self from all things is enlightenment. Those who enlighten their delusion are Buddhas; those deluded in enlightenment are all-beings. Again there are those who are enlightened: on enlightenment-and those deluded within delusion. When Buddhas are really Buddhas, we need not know our identity with the Buddhas. But we are enlightened Buddhas-and express the Buddha in daily life. When we see objects and hear voices with all our body and mind-and grasp them intimately-it is not a phenomenon like a mirror reflecting form or like a moon reflected on water. When we understand one side, the other side remains in darkness. To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to be free from attachment to the body and mind of one's self and of others. It means wiping out even attachment to satori . Wiping out attachment to Satori, we must enter actual society. When man first recognizes the true law, he unequivocally frees himself from the border of truth. He who awakens the true law in him self immediately becomes the original man. If in riding a boat you look toward the shore, you erroneously think that the shore is moving. But upon looking carefully at the ship, you see that it is the ship that is actually moving. Similarly, seeing all things through a misconception of your body and mind gives rise to the mistake that this mind and substance are eternal. If you live truly and return to the source, it is clear that all things have no substance. Burning logs become ashes - and cannot return again to logs. There for you should not view ashes as after and logs as before. You must understand that a burning log - as a burning log - has before and after. But although it has past and future, it is cut off from past and future. Ashes as ashes have after and before. Just as ashes do not become logs again after becoming ashes, man does not live again after death. So not to say that life becomes death is a natural standpoint of Buddhism. So this is called no-life.

To say that death does not become life is the fixed sermon of the Buddha. So this is called no-death. Life is a position of time, and death is a position of time . . . just like winter and spring. You must not believe that winter becomes spring - nor can you say that spring becomes summer. When a man gains enlightenment, it is like the moon reflecting on water: the moon does not be-come wet, nor is the water ruffled. Even though the moon gives immense and far-reaching light, it is reflected in a puddle of water. The full moon and the entire sky are reflected in a dewdrop on the grass. Just as enlightenment does not hinder man, the moon does not hinder the water.

Just as man does not obstruct enlightenment, the dewdrop does not - obstruct the moon in the sky. The deeper the moonlight reflected in the water, the higher the moon itself. You must realize that how short or long a time the moon is reflected in the water testifies to how small or large the water is, and how narrow or full the moon.

When the true law is not fully absorbed by our body and mind, we think that it is sufficient. But if the right law is fully enfolded by our body and mind, we feel that something is missing. For example, when you take a boat to sea, where mountains are out of sight, and look around, you see only roundness; you cannot see anything else. But this great ocean is neither round nor square. Its other characteristics are countless. Some see it as a palace, other as an ornament. We only see it as round for the time being - within the field of our vision: this is the way we see all things. Though various things are contained in this world of enlightenment, we can see and understand only as far as the vision of a Zen trainee. To know the essence of all things, you should realize that in addition to appearance as a square or circle, there are many other characteristics of ocean and mountain and that there are many worlds. It is not a matter of environment: you - must understand that a drop contains the ocean and that the right law is directly beneath your feet.

When fish go through water, there is no end to the water no matter how far they go. When birds fly in the sky, there is no end to the sky no matter how far they fly. But neither fish nor birds have been separated from the water or sky - from the very beginning. It is only this: when a great need arises, a great use arises; when there is little need, there is little use. Therefore, they realize full function in each thing and free ability according to each place.

But if birds separate themselves from the sky they die; if fish separate themselves from water; they die. You must realize that fish live by water and birds by sky. And it can be said that the sky lives by birds and the water by fish, and those birds are life and fish are life. You probably will be able to find other variations of this idea among men, although there are training and enlightenment and long and short lives, all are modes of truth itself. But if after going through water, fish try to go farther, or if after going through the sky, birds try to go farther-they cannot find a way or a resting place in water or sky.

If you find this place, your conduct will be vitalized, and the way will be expressed naturally. If you find this way, your conduct is realized truth in daily life. This way and place cannot be grasped by relative conceptions like large and small, self and others - neither are they there from the beginning nor emerging now. They are there just as they ought to be. Because the way and place are like this if, in practicing Buddhism, you pick up one thing, you penetrate one thing; if you complete one practice, you penetrate one practice. When deeply expressing this place and way, we do not realize it clearly because this activity is simultaneous with and interfused with the study of Buddhism.

You must not think that upon gaining enlightenment you can always become aware of it as personal knowledge. Although we are already enlightened, what we intimate have is not necessarily expressed, and we cannot point it out definitely. Zen master Pao-ch'ih was fanning himself one summer day when a passing priest asked: The nature of wind is stationary, and it is universally present. Why do you then use your fan, sir? The Zen master replied: Though you know the nature of wind is stationary, you do not know why it is universally present. The priest asked, Why then is the wind universally present? The master only fanned himself, and the priest saluted him. Enlightenment through true experience and the vital way of right transmission are like this. Those who deny the need for fanning because the nature of wind is stationary and be cause the wind is sensed without the use of a fan understand neither the eternal presence of the wind nor its nature. Because the nature of wind is eternally present, the wind of Buddhism turns the earth to gold and ripens the rivers to ghee.



Written by zen master Dogen Zenji translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 10, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 133-161.


Dogen wrote Bendowa shortly after his return from China. At that time he was 32 years old and living quietly in Fukakusa, a suburb of Kyoto. Shortly before that he wrote Fukanzazengi , while staying at Kennin temple in Kyoto. In this work, he clarified the meaning of truly transmitted zazen. Bendowa attempted to express and propagate the great aspirations and profound beliefs of Buddhism on the basis of zazen in the religious world of those days. The Zen style and basic spirit of Dogen permeated this work. Bendowa can be considered a general introduction and summary to the 95 fascicles of the Shobogenzo . Other fascicles could well be called elaboration of Bendowa. Those who wish to study the Shobogenzo must delve deeply into this work in a narrow sense Bendo means zazen; in a broader sense it means training.

Basically Bendowa discusses zazen; more specifically it tells how to perfect the Buddhist way through zazen. Put away in draft form, it did not appear either in the 75 fascicles of Ejo or the 60 fascicles of Giun.

Bendowa began to circulate during the life of Manzan Dohaku (1636-1715). Manzan went to Imadegawa in Kyoto on business and stayed at Kikuteiden. Kagesue, the master of Kikuteiden, seemed to have been a descendant of Dogen. During dinner, he brought out a carefully preserved manuscript of Bendowa in Dogen' own handwriting. Manzan considered this a tremendous discovery and after reading it carefully, he satisfied himself that it was genuine. He ordered Menzan Zuiho (1683-1769), who accompanied him, to copy this work. In this way Bendowa became available to the general public.

The first part of Bendowa is called Jijiyuzammai (self-joyous meditation). Here the truly- transmitted Buddhism of Dogen finds clear expression. After this there are 18 questions and answers. They are important because they explain the reasons for urging Dogen' zazen of original enlightenment. In the copy discovered at Shobo temple in Iwate Prefecture there are 19 questions and answers.

It is interesting that one of the 19 questions and answers suggests the object of worship in the Soto sect. In Bendowa Dogen tried to define his zazen of original enlightenment and wondrous training. He emphasized that since the Buddhas and patriarchs have shown that all men inherently have the Buddha-Mind, we must have deep faith in our Buddhahood and manifest it in zazen and in own daily life. This is what Dogen means by original enlightenment and wondrous training. This zazen does not strive for enlightenment but is itself the living form of the Buddhas and the patriarchs. It is a zazen of no attainment and no seeking. Enlightenment dwells naturally in training, and training freely embody enlightenment.

Shobogenzo, in contrast to works by founders of other sects does not draw heavily on the canons. Instead it abounds in Dogen's original views. It lives today because it integrates the deepest in sights of science and philosophy. This book will probably open only to those who really want to experience life's potentials.

Text (Bendowa)

The various Buddhas and Tathagatas have a most enlightened way of realizing superior wisdom and transmitting the supreme law. When transmitted from Buddha to Buddha, its mark is self-joyous meditation. To enter this meditation naturally, right sitting is the true gate. Though each man has Buddha-nature in abundance, he cannot make it appear without practice or live it without enlightenment. If you let it go, it fills your hand; it transcends the one and many. If you talk about it, it fills your mouth; it is beyond measurement by height and width. All Buddhas eternally have their abode here without becoming attached to one-sided recognition. All beings are working here without attachment to sides in each recognition. The devices and training that I teach now manifest all things in original enlightenment and express unity in action. And when you thoroughly understand, why cling to such trifles as these?

On awakening of the desire to seek the way, I visited Buddhist masters in all parts of the country. Finally I met Zenko (Myozen, disciple of Eisai) at Kennin temple. The nine years that If served as his follower passed quickly. From him I heard about the Rinzai style. Zenko, as the leading disciple of Eisai, truly transmitted the highest Buddhism. Other disciples could not compare with him. I also went to China, visited Zen masters of both Cheh-chiang (Chekiang, formerly divided into east and west), and heard about the styles of the five schools. Finally I studied with Zen master Ju-sting (Nyojo) on Ta-p'ein (Taihaku) peak. In this was I completed the valuable training for my life.

After that at the beginning of the Shotei period (1227), I returned to Japan. Because I had the idea of spreading the Law and saving all beings, I was like a man carrying a heavy burden. Then I thought of abandoning this idea of spreading the Law and wait for a more propitious time. I wandered here and there for some time sincerely trying to teach the style of the former Zen master. There are true trainees who deliberately shun fame and profit and concentrate on the search for the way. But unfortunately they are misled by false masters, so real understanding is veiled and the trainees uselessly become drunk with self- madness and drown for long years in the world of delusion. How can the right seed of wisdom sprout and the chance for enlightenment be grasped?

I am now wandering here and there like a cloud or water grass - what mountain or river shall I visit?

Because I sympathize with such seekers, I went to China, saw the form and style of the monasteries, and received the essence of the Zen teaching. Gathering and recording all this, I am leaving it for the trainees so that they may be helped toward knowing the essence of Buddhism. Isn't this the core of Zen? Buddha Sakyamuni transmitted the right law to Mahakasyapa on Grdhrakuta Mountain, and a long line of patriarchs handed it down to Bodhidharma. And Bodhidharma went to China and transmitted the right law to Hui-k'o (Eka).

This started the transmission of Zen Buddhism to the East. Transmitted thus in its essential purity, it came down by a natural route to the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng. At this time true Buddhism was transmitted to China, and it expressed a meaning free from trivialities. The Sixth Patriarch had two outstanding disciples- Nan-yueh Huai-jang and Ch'ing-yuan Hsing-ssu. Together they transmitted the Buddha seal; they were leaders of man and heaven. These two schools spread, and five styles of Zen appeared. They were the schools of Fa-yen, Wei-yang, Ts'ao-tung, Yun-men, and Lin-chi. In present-day China only the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school is flourishing. Although the five schools differ, they are all based on the single seal of the Buddha Mind. From the later Han period to the present in China, the scriptures of the other teachings were propagated, but it was impossible to determine which was best. With the coming of Bodhidharma from India the root of the conflict was abruptly cut, and pure Buddhism spread. We must also try to do the same in our country. All the Buddhas and patriarchs who transmitted Buddhism considered sitting and practicing self-joyous meditation the true way of enlightenment. The enlightened ones in both the East and West followed this style. This is because the masters and their disciples correctly transmitted this superior method from person to person and received the uncorrupted truth.

  1. Q : I have heard of the superior merits of zazen. But an ordinary person will have doubts and say there are many gates in Buddhism. Why do you urge only zazen?

    A : Because it is the right gate to Buddhism - this is my answer to him.

  2. Q: Why is it the only right gate?

    A: The great teacher Sakyamuni handed down this unexcelled method of enlightenment. And the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future were similarly enlightened by zazen. They, too, transmitted it as the right gate. The patriarchs in India and China were also enlightened by zazen. For this reason, I now indicate the right gate for human beings and heaven.

  3. Q: Such reasons as correct transmissioby the unexcelled method of the Tathagatas and following in the footsteps of the patriarchs are beyond common sense. To ordinary people, reading the sutra and saying the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment. You just sit cross-legged and do nothing. How is this a means to enlightenment?

    A: You look on the meditation of the Buddhas and the supreme law as just sitting and doing nothing. You disparage Mahayana Buddhism. Your delusion is deep; you are like someone in the middle of the ocean crying out for water. Fortunately we are already sitting at ease in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. Isn't this a great boon? What a pity that your true-eye remains shut-that your mind remains drunk. The world of the Buddhas eludes ordinary thinking and consciousness. It cannot be known by disbelief and inferior knowledge. To enter one must have right belief. The disbeliever, even if taught, has trouble grasping it. For example, when the Buddha was preaching at Grdhrakuta, the disbelieves were allowed to go away. To bring out the right belief in your mind you must train and study. If you cannot do this, you should quit for awhile, regretting that you lack the influence of the law from a former beneficial relation. What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu . How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day. Those deluded by fame and fortune, find it especially difficult to abandon the nembutsu. Bound by deep roots to a profit-seeking mind, they existed in ages past, and they exist today. They are to be pitied. Understand only this: if enlightened Zen masters and their earnest disciples correctly transmit the supreme law of the seven Buddhas, its essence emerges, and it can be experienced. Those who merely study the letters of the sutras cannot know this. So put a stop to this doubt and delusion. Follow the teachings of a real master and, by zazen; attain to the self-joyous samadhi of the Buddhas.

  4. Q: The Tendai school and Kegon teachings have both came across to this country; they represent the cream of Buddhism. In the Shingon school-transmitted directly from Vairocana Tathagata to Vajrasattva - there is no stain between master and disciple. This school maintains that "this mind is the Buddha", and that "this mind becomes the Buddha"; it does not advocate long step-by-step training. It teaches the simultaneous enlightenment of the five Buddhas. It is unexcelled in Buddhism. In view of all this what superiority does zazen have that you recommend it alone and exclude the other teachings?

    A: You must understand that in Buddhism the stress falls on the truth or falsity of the training-not on the excellence or mediocrity of the teaching or the depth or shallowness of the principle. In times past, men were drawn to Buddhism by grass, flowers, mountains, and water. Some received the Buddha seal by grasping dirt, stones, sand, and pebbles. The dimensionless letters overflow all forms, and we can hear the sermon now in a speck of dust. "This mind is the Buddha" - these words are like a moon reflected in water; and the meaning of the words: "sitting cross-legged is itself Buddhism"? Like a figure in the mirror. Do not be victimized by clever manipulation of words. When I recommend the training of immediate enlightenment, I want to make you a true human being by indicating the superior path transmitted by the Buddhas and patriarchs. To transmit the Buddha law you should always make the enlightened person your Zen master. Don't follow a scholar who counts the letters of the scripture. This would be like the blind leading the blind. In the teachings directly transmitted from the Buddhas and patriarchs, the Buddha law is sustained by respect for the enlightened person. When the Gods of darkness and light reject the Zen masters and when the enlightened Arhats ask the path, they provide the means of opening the Buddha Mind. In the other teachings we could not endure it. The followers of Buddhism only have to study the Buddha law. You must understand that we do not lack the highest wisdom. Though we enjoy it eternally, we do not always harmonize with it. This is because we meet setbacks on the Great Way through clinging to individual opinion and chasing after material things. Through individual opinions various phantoms arise. For example, there are countless views on the 12 chains of transmigration, the 25 worlds, the three vehicles, the five vehicles, the Buddha, and the non-Buddha. Training in the true path does not require learning these opinions. So when we sit cross-legged, depending on the Buddha sign and abandoning all things, we can enjoy great wisdom. We enter at once the superior field beyond delusion and enlightenment - a field without distinction between sage and commoner. How can one who clings to verbal tools rise up to this?

  5. Q: Samadhi dwells in the three training, and dhyanaparamita (means of meditation) in the six means of enlightenment. All Bodhisattvas study them from the beginning. They train without discriminating cleverness and stupidity. Even this zazen may be a part of them. Why do you say that the true law is gathered in zazen?

    A: This question comes from giving the name "Zen sect" to the treasury of the essence of the true law, and to the unexcelled doctrine-the most important teachings of the Buddha. You must understand that the name "Zen sect" emerged from China and the East; it was not heard in India. When Bodhidharma stayed at Shao-Lin ssu in Sung-shan, gazing at the wall for nine years, the priests and laymen did not understand the true law of the Buddha; they called him a Brahmana who emphasized sitting cross-legged. Afterward every patriarch devoted himself to sit ting cross-legged. Unenlightened laymen who saw them carelessly referred to them as the zazen sect without understanding the truth. Today the "Za" has been dropped, and the followers of this practice are known as members of the Zen sect. This is clear in the manuscripts of the patriarchs. You must not equate zazen with the meditation in the six means and the three training. The spirit of transmission in Buddhism is clear in the career of the Buddha. To Mahakasyapa alone on Grdhrakuta Mountain the Buddha transmitted the eye and treasury of the true law, the superior mind of enlightenment and supreme doctrine, and some gods in heaven saw it. Don't doubt this. The gods of heaven protect Buddhism eternally. This is still a living fact. You must understand that zazen is the full way of Buddhism. It is incomparable.

  6. Q: Why does Buddhism advocate meditation and enlightenment through cross-legged sitting alone (of the four actions)?

    A: I do not analyze the way of training and enlightenment followed by the various Buddhas. If you ask why, I say simply that it is the way used in Buddhism. You should not seek no further. But the patriarchs praised cross-legged sitting, calling it the comfortable way. I know this sitting is the most comfortable of the four actions. It is not only the training of one Buddha or two Buddhas but of all Buddhas and patriarchs.

  7. Q: Those who do not know Buddhism have to attain enlightenment by zazen and training. What use is zazen to those who have clearly obtained enlightenment?

    A: Though I do not talk about last night's dream and cannot give a paddle to a woodcutter, I have something to teach you. The view that training and enlightenment are not one is heretical. In Buddhism these two are the same. Because this is training enfolding enlightenment, the training even at the outset is all of original enlightenment. So the Zen master, when giving advice to his disciples, tells them not to seek enlightenment without training because training itself points directly to original enlightenment. Because it is already enlightenment of training, there is no end to enlightenment. Because it is training of enlightenment, there is no beginning to training. Sakyamuni Tathagata and Mahakasyapa, therefore, were both used by training based on enlightenment. Training, based on enlightenment similarly moved both Bodhidharma and Hui-neng. This is typical of all traces of transmission in Buddhism. Already there is training that is inseparable from enlightenment. Because training even at the outset transmits a part of superior training, we fortunately gain a part of original enlightenment in this natural way. You must understand that the Buddhas and patriarchs emphasized the need for intensive training so as not to stain the enlightenment that is self-identical with training. If you throw away superior training, original enlightenment fills your hand. If you abandon original enlightenment, superior training permeates your body. In China I saw Zen monasteries in many districts, each with a meditation hall where 500 to 1,200 monks lived and practiced zazen day and night. When I asked the Zen masters who have been entrusted with the Buddha seal, What is the essence of Buddhism? they answered: Training and enlightenment are not two but one. So they urged disciples to follow the footsteps of the Zen masters in accordance with the teachings of the Buddhas and patriarchs. They recommended zazen not only to their disciples, but to all those who seek the true way, to those who yearn for true Buddhism, regardless of whether one is a beginner or an advanced student, a commoner or a sage. As a patriarch (Nangaku) has said: It is not true that there is no training and enlightenment, but do not stain them by clinging to them." Another patriarch has said: "He who sees the way trains the way. You must, therefore, train within enlightenment.

  8. Q: Why did Japanese patriarchs of the past, who went to China and returned to propagate Buddhism, transmit other teachings besides this Zen?

    A: The patriarchs of the past did not transmit this Zen because the time was not ripe.

  9. Q: Did the patriarchs of the past understand this Zen?

    A: If they had understood, they would have propagated it.

  10. Q: Someone has said, Don't throw away delusion (birth and death). There is an easy shortcut to freedom from birth and death. This is because the spirit is eternal. The meaning here is that even if this body is born, it will eventually come to nothing, but this spirit does not perish. If this Spirit that is not subject to rising and ceasing resides in my body, this is the original spirit. Because of this, the body takes temporal form and remains unfixed, for it dies here and arises there. This spirit is eternal and does not change in past, present, and future. To know this is to free oneself from birth and death. For those who know this, the birth and death they have known up to now disappear, and they enter into an ocean of the spirit. When you embrace this ocean, superior virtue will be complete like the Buddhas. Even if you know this, because this body is the result of former delusive actions, you differ from the sages. Those who do not know this transmigrate eternally. So know only the eternity of the spirit. If you sit in vain and waste your whole life, what can you possibly hope for? Does this view conform to the way of the Buddhas and patriarchs?

    A: Your view is not Buddhism. It is the Srenika heresy. This heretical view says: In our body there is a spiritual knowledge. Through the knowledge we recognize like and dislike, right and wrong, pain and titillation, and suffering and pleasure. This spiritual knowledge, when the body deteriorates, is released here and is born anew elsewhere. Therefore, though it seems to die here, it is born there. It never dies; it continues eternally. This is the heretical view. If you absorb this and think it is Buddhism, it is more foolish than holding roof tiles and pebbles and thinking they are the golden treasures. This foolish delusion is shameful. It is beyond serious consideration. National master Hui-Chung of the Tang dynasty issued a sharp warning against this view. Those who hold this delusive view think that the mind is eternal and that appearance is transitory and equate this with the superior training of the Buddhas; they create the cause of transmigration and think that they have broken free from transmigration. Isn't this false? In deed, it is pathetic. This is nothing but delusive heresy. Don't listen to it. Although I hesitate to say it, I will correct your delusion with sympathy. In Buddhism you have to know this: the body and mind are one; essence and form are one. Make no mistake- this is known also in India and China. In a teaching that talks about eternity, all things become eternal. Don't separate body and mind. In a teaching that talks about cessation, all things are ceasing. Don't separate essence and form. Why do you say that the body ceases while the mind is eternal? Isn't this against the right law? You must realize that life-death itself is nirvana . We cannot talk about nirvana without life-death. You think erroneously that this is the Buddha wisdom free from life and death. Your mind, which understands and perceives, arises and perishes; it is not eternal. Understands this thoroughly: the unity of body and mind is always upheld in Buddhism. In the light of this, why is the mind only released from the body to become free from arising and perishing while the body arises and perishes? If you assert that body and mind are one now and that they are not one at another time, you becloud the Buddha's teachings. To think that birth and death are things to be avoided is a sin against Buddhism. They are truly the tools of Buddhism. In Buddhism, especially in the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, the great teaching of the Tathagata-garba embraces the Dharma-dhatu. It does not divide suchness and appearance, nor discuss arising and perishing. Even enlightenment and nirvana are nothing but the Tathagata-garba. It is self-identical with all things and appearances and contains them. These various teachings are all based on One Mind. There is no mistake about this. This is understanding of the Mind of Buddhism. How can you divide this into body and mind and delusion and nirvana. You are already the son of Buddha. Do not listen to madmen who preach heretical views.

  11. Q: Does one who seriously practices zazen have to observe the precepts strictly and purify his body and mind?

    A: Observing the precepts and living purely are rules of Zen Buddhism and practices handed down by the Buddhas and patriarchs. Those who have not received the precepts should receive them; those who violate the precepts should repent. They shall then absorb the Buddha's wisdom.

  12. Q: Is there any objection to a serious student of zazen practicing the mantra of the Shingon sect and the Samathavipa'syana (calm and insight) of the Tendai sect together?

    A: When I was in China and heard the gist of Buddhism from the Zen masters, they said they had never heard of any patriarchs who truly transmitted the Buddha seal, now and in the past, undertaking such simultaneous training. Unless we earnestly concentrate on one thing, we cannot gain one wisdom.

  13. Q: Can a layman practice this zazen or is it limited to priests?

    A: The patriarchs have said that to understand Buddhism there should be no distinction between man and woman and between rich and poor.

  14. Q: The priests are free from myriad relations; for them there is no obstruction to zazen training. How can the busy layman attain enlightenment by earnest training?

    A: Through their boundless love the Buddhas and patriarchs have flung the vast gates of compassion for all beings- whether Human beings or Deva. We many examples in past and present: Tan-tsung and Sung-tsung, though very busy with state affairs practiced zazen and understood the great way of the Buddhas and patriarchs. Prime ministers Li and Fang were close advisers to the emperors, and they too practiced zazen and were enlightened in the great way of the Buddhas and patriarchs. It simply depends on the will. It has nothing to do with being either a priest or a lay man. Those who can discern excellence and inferiority will believe Buddhism naturally. Those who think that worldly tasks hinder Buddhism know only that there is no Buddhism in the world; they do not know that there is nothing that can be set apart as worldly tasks in Buddhism. In the great Sung dynasty a Prime Minister named P'ing mastered the way of the patriarchs and wrote a poem about himself: Away from state affairs I practiced zazen, hardly ever laying on my side in bed and sleeping; although I am the prime minister, my fame as a Zen master spread throughout the world. Official business kept P'ing busy, but because he had the will to train earnestly, he gained enlightenment. Consider yourself through these cases (persons); look at the present through the past. At this moment, in the great Sung dynasty, emperors, ministers, soldiers and commoners, and men and women take interest in the way of the patriarchs. Warriors and intellectuals have the will to train, and many of them will eventually experience enlightenment. All this tells us that worldly tasks do not hinder Buddhism. If true Buddhism spreads in the state, the Buddhas and heavenly beings always protect that state, and the world becomes peaceful. If the world becomes peaceful, Buddhism acquires strength. In the age of the Buddha, even misguided criminals were enlightened through his teachings. Under the patriarchs, even hunters and woodcutters were enlightened. And others will gain enlightenment. All you have to do is to receive instructions from a real teacher.

  15. Q: Can one gain enlightenment by this zazen, even if one trains in this degenerate age and evil world?

    A: Other teachings argue about the name and form of the doctrines. The true teaching does not differentiate the three periods of Sho, Zo and Matsu. Anybody who trains will inevitably gain enlightenment. In the correctly transmitted right law, you can always enjoy the rare treasure of your own house. Those who train know whether enlightenment has been obtained, just as one who drinks water knows personally whether it is cold or warm.

  16. Q: Some people say that to know Buddhism you only have to understand the meaning of "this mind itself is the Buddha"; you do not have to chant the sutras or train the body in Buddhism. Understand only that Buddhism is inherent in your self - this is full enlightenment. There is no need for seeking anything from others. So is there any use going to the trouble of practicing zazen?

    A: That is a most grievous error. If what you say is true - even though the sages teach this ("this mind itself is the Buddha") - you cannot understand it. To study Buddhism you have to transcend the viewpoint of self and others. If you become enlightened by knowing that the self itself is the Buddha, Sakyamuni long ago would not have tried so hard to teach the way. This is evident in the high standards of the ancient Zen masters. Long ago there was a monk named Tse-kung Chien-yuan under Zen master Fa-yen. Fa-yen asked him: Tse-kung, how long have you been in this monastery? Tse-kung answered: I have been here three years. Fa-yen: You are younger than me. Why don't you ever ask me about Buddhism? Tse-kung: I will not lie. While studying under Zen master Ch'ing-feng, I understood the serenity of Buddhism. Fa-yen: By what words did you gain this understanding? Tse-kung: I asked Ch'ing-feng, What is the real self of the trainee? He answered, The God of Fire calls for fire. Fa-yen: That's a fine expression. But you probably did not understand it. Tse-kung: The God of Fire belongs to fire. Fire needs fire. It is like saying that the self needs the self. This is how I understood it. Fa-yen: I see clearly that you did not understand. If Buddhism is like that, it would not have continued until now. This disturbed Tse-kung deeply, and he left there. On the way home he thought: Fa-yen is an excellent Zen master and the leader of 500 disciples. He has pointed out my fault. There must be a valuable point in his words. Tse-kung then returned to Fa-yen's monastery. Repenting and giving his salutation, he asked: What is the real self of the trainee? Fa-yen answered: The God of Fire calls for fire. On hearing this, Tse-kung was fully enlightened about Buddhism. Obviously one does not know Buddhism by merely understanding that this self is the Buddha. If this is Buddhism, Fa-yen could not have guided Tse-kung in the manner described above, nor would he have given the advice he did. On first visiting a Zen master, you should ask for the rules of training. Only practice zazen earnestly and avoid cluttering your mind with superficial knowledge. The unexcelled method of Buddhism will then bear fruit.

  17. Q: In India and China-from ancient times to now-some Zen masters were enlightened by the sound of a stone striking bamboo, and others had their minds cleared by seeing the color of plum blossoms. Even the great teacher Sakyamuni was enlightened by seeing the morning star. The venerable Ananda saw the truth in a stick falling. In addition after the sixth patriarch many Zen masters of the five schools were enlightened by a single word. Did all of these persons practice zazen?

    A: From ancient times until now all those who have been enlightened by seeing color or hearing sound practiced zazen without zazen and immediately became unexcelled.

  18. Q: In India and China men had inner integrity, and because culture was widespread, trainees were able to understand Buddhism when it was taught to them. In our country, from ancient times, many people have lacked superior intellect; it has been difficult to store the right seeds of wisdom. This comes from the barbaric current. It is very regrettable. Again the priests in this country are inferior to laymen in other countries. Everybody in Japan is foolish and narrow-minded. People cling tightly to worldly merit and hunger for the superficial good. Can such people quickly attain enlightenment about Buddhism even if they practice zazen?

    A: It is as you say. The people in this country have neither knowledge nor integrity. Even if they are shown the true law, they change its sweet taste to poison. They tend to seek fame and profit and find it difficult to free themselves from attachments. But to become enlightened about Buddhism, we cannot rely on the worldly knowledge of human beings and heaven. Even during the time of the Buddha, those who enlightened the four results (includes the Arhats) by handball and those who enlightened the great path by the kesa were foolish and crazy. But they found the way to free themselves from delusion by the help of right faith. Again a woman trainee who waited with a prepared meal was enlightened by seeing the silent sitting of a foolish old priest. None of these cases depend on knowledge. They do not rely on scholarship, words, or speech. They all underline help through right faith. In the some 2,000 years since the birth of Buddhism, it spread to various countries. Its appeal was not limited to highly cultured nations or to people who were clever and wealthy. The true law of the Buddha, with its indeterminate power for good, will spread throughout the world when the right chance comes. All who train with right faith will be enlightened equally with no gap between the wise and foolish. Don't imagine that because Japan is not a highly cultured country and because its people lack knowledge, it is not ready for Buddhism. You must realize that all human beings have the seed of wisdom in abundance. Only there is little recognition of this fact. People do not train with right faith because they do not adequately recognize the essence of Buddhism and lack experience in practical application.

These questions and answers seem unwarranted. But I have tried to help those with poor eyesight to see a flower where nothing appeared before. For in this country the gist of zazen training has not been transmitted, and those who want to know about it are made sorrowful. Therefore, gathering what I saw and heard in China and recording the essence of the Zen masters, I would like to guide those who seek training. I would also like to teach the rules of the Zen monasteries and the rituals of the temples, but I have no time. These things cannot be described simply. Though our country is east of the sea and far from India, the Buddhism of the west was transmitted here about the time of the emperors Kinmei and Yomei. This was our good fortune. But because names, forms, things, and relations become tangled, we lose direction in training.

Now I will take my simple robe and bowl and make my abode among the reed-wrapped rocks of blue and white. Here, while I sit and train true Zen Buddhism - Buddhism transcending the Buddha manifests itself, and with this the object of training it fulfilled. This is the teaching of the Buddha and the style left behind by Mahakasyapa. The rules for this zazen depends on Fukanzazengi, which was transcribed during the Karoku period. To spread Buddhism within a country one must get the permission of the king. But in the light of the Buddha's transmission at Grdhrakuta there emerged kings and nobles and ministers and generals, who appeared in various countries, who gratefully received the guidance of the Buddha, and who did not forget the original spirit that preserved the Buddhism of former ages. All places where the teaching has spread are the Buddha's land. So to spread the way of the Buddhas and patriarchs there is no point in selecting the place or awaiting good conditions. Do not think that today is the beginning. I have, therefore, gathered this record and left it for the superior seeker of Buddhism and for serious trainees who wander here and there in search for the way.

Time-Mid-autumn, 1231
Dogen, Transmitter of the Law
From China



Uji (about Time)
Written by zen master Dogen Zenji translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 5, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 81-90.


In this essay Dogen presents his unique idea on Time. Although Dogen has touched on this subject elsewhere, he gives it the most detailed treatment in Uji. Dogen wrote Uji in the early winter of 1240 when he was 41 years old. At that time he was staying at Koshoji in the suburbs of Kyoto.

Text (Uji)

The Zen master (Yueh-shan) says: Standing on the peak of a high mountain is uji. Diving to the bottom of the deep ocean is uji. The one with three heads and eight arms is uji. He who stands one jo and six or eight shaku is uji. The staff and hossu are uji. The pillar and lamp are uji. You and your neighbor are uji. The great earth and vast sky are uji. This uji means that time is existence and that all existence is time.

The golden body of one jo six shaku is time. Because it is time, there are the ornaments and lights of time. So we must study the 12 hours confronting us. It is time that draws out the body with three heads and eight arms. Because it is time, it interpenetrates with the present 12 hours. Though we have not yet measured the span of 12 hours, we call it 12 hours. Because time's transit leaves traces, man does not doubt it. Though he does not doubt, he does not understand. Because the ordinary man does not think from the deep ground, he of course doubts all things that he does not fully understand. For this reason, his future doubts never harmonize with his present doubts. And even doubt is nothing but a part of time.

There is no world without this doubting self, for this self is the world itself. We must look on everything in this world as time. Each thing stands in unimpeded relation just as each moment stands unimpeded. Therefore, (from the standpoint of time) the desire for enlightenment arises spontaneously; (from the standpoint of mind) time arises with the same mind. This applies also to training and enlightenment. Thus we see by entering within: the self is time itself.

Such being the truth, we must learn that there are many appearances and grasses throughout the earth and that each grass and each appearance are not apart from the entire earth. Holding this view is the point of departure for training. When we reach this sphere of our journey's end, there is one grass and one appearance. We sometimes meet the appearance and sometimes not; some times we meet the glass and sometimes not. (In this way training and enlightenment vary.) Because it is only time of this sort, uji is all time, and each grass and each appearance are time. In each moment there are all existences and all worlds. Try to think - Are any existences or worlds separated from time?

For ordinary people who do not know Buddhism, the following thought occurs when they hear the word "uji". At one time the Buddha was active with three heads and eight arms and at another time he was one jo and six or eight shaku. As he crossed rivers and mountains; the mountain and river - we have passed there and dwelt in this stately palace; they are individuated mountain-river and I and heaven and earth.

But time is not merely this. When climbing such mountains and crossing such rivers, I am present, and if I am, time is. Since I am here now, time cannot be separated from me. If time does not have the form of coming and going, the moment of climbing the mountain is the eternal now. If time takes the form of coming and going, I have the eternal now - this also is uji. Doesn't the time of climbing the mountain and crossing the river swallow the time of dwelling in the stately palace? Doesn't the time of dwelling in the stately palace throw up the time climbing the mountain and crossing the river? Three heads and eight arms are yesterday's one jo and six or eight shaku is today's time. But what we call yesterday and today are actually one time, just as when we go suddenly into the mountains and see myriad peaks at one glance. Time itself does now flow. Even (yesterday's) three heads and eight arms pass by as our uji: it looks like it is over there, but it is now. Even (today's) one jo and six or eight shaku passes by as our uji; it looks like it is over there, but it is now. So the pine tree is time; the bamboo is time. Do not think that time merely flies by. Do not learn that flying by is the only function of time. For if you recognize time as flying by, there is an interval (between going and coming). The truth of uji is not truly grasped because time is understood as only passing.

Ultimately all existences are linked and become time. Because, it is uji, it is my personal time. Uji has the trait of continuity. It goes from today to tomorrow, from today to yesterday, from yesterday to today, from today to today, and from tomorrow to tomorrow. Because continuity is a characteristic of time, time past and time present do not pile up. Because there is no lining up and congestion, Seigen (Ch'ing-yuan) is time; Obaku (Huang-po) is time; Kosei (Ma-tsu) is time; Sekito (Shih-t'ou) is time. Because the self and others are already time, training and enlightenment are time. Similarly entering mud and water (entering society) is time. He is said that the present views of ordinary people and the causal relation of their views are what ordinary people see. But this is really not the law of ordinary people. The Law merely puts ordinary people into temporary causal relations. Because we learn that this time and this existence are not the law, we think that the one-jo-six-shaku golden body is not ourselves. We try to escape the fact that we are the one-jo-six-shaku golden body. Even in this case we are a part of uji: those who are not yet enlightened are a part of uji.

The horse (12 o'clock) and sheep (one o'clock), lined up in order in the present world, are indicated by the fixation of time rising and falling. The mouse (6 o'clock) is time; the tiger (8 o'clock) is time. All beings are time; Buddhas are time. Then gods in the heavens enlighten the world with their three heads and eight arms; Buddhas enlighten the world with their one-jo and six-shaku golden body. To transcend the active and passive is called penetrating the world. Becoming the true Buddha is manifested in search, in training, in enlightenment, in Nirvana . This is existence-and time. There is only the thorough studying of all time as all existence; there is nothing else. Because delusions are delusions, half-studied uji is the study of half-uji. Even a mistakenly seen body is existence (and time). And if you leave it at mistake, embracing the before and after of expressions of mistake, you dwell in uji. Working freely in your own situation - this is uji. Do not hesitate, thinking it is nothing - nor go out of your way to consider it all. Most people think that time is only transitory. They do not understand that it dwells in its own situation. Their idea can be called time, but it is mistaken. Seeing time as transitory, they cannot penetrate to the fact the uji dwells its own situation. How can such people find liberation! Even though recognizing that time dwells in its own situation, who can express such freedom? Even if you can express this attainment over a long period, you still are groping for your natural face. If you think of uji in the common way, even wisdom and enlightenment become only appearances in time coming and going.

Uji arises, free from desire. It materializes now here, now there. Even the king of heaven and his retainers are not separated from uji manifested. Other beings on land and in water also arise from uji. All things in darkness and light arise from uji. These manifestations become the time process. Not a single thing arises apart from uji. You must not think that continuity passes from east to west like a storm. All worlds are not immovable; nor are they stationary - this is continuity. It is like spring; in spring there are events, and these are called continuity. You must realize that there is nothing outside of continuity; for example, the continuity of spring always continues spring. You must understand in detail that although continuity is not spring, it is fulfilled at the time of this spring because it is the continuity of spring. Ordinary people think that continuity is beyond and that it passes east through many worlds and ones. This view shows lack of training.

Zen master Yakusan Kodo (Yueh-shan Hung-tae), on the advice of Zen master Wu-chi (Sekito-Shih-t'ou), visited Zen master Chiang-hsi Ta-chi (Ma-tsu Tao-i). He said: I have studied nearly all the 12 teachings of the three vehicles. What is the meaning of the patriarch's coming from the West? Chiang-hsi Ta-chi answered: Some times I make the Buddha raise his eyebrows and blink his eyes. Sometimes I do not make him raise his eyebrows and blink his eyes. Sometimes it is good to make him do these things. Sometimes it is not good to make him do these things. What do you think of this? When he heard this, Yueh-shan was enlightened, and he said to Ta chi: When I was at the Zen monastery of Shih t'ou, it was like a mosquito trying to bite an iron bull. What Ta-chi is trying to say is not the same as what the others are trying to say. Raising the eyebrows is the mountain and ocean. Because the mountain and ocean are raising the eyebrows - to do this act - you should truly see the form of the mountain. If you would grasp the meaning of the blinking, you should truly see the ocean. This and that are accustomed to each other; the active is introduced to the passive- and is one. Not-good is not always no-good. These are all uji. The mountain is time; the ocean is time. If they were not, there would be no mountain and no ocean. You cannot say that there is no time in the absolute present of the mountain and ocean. If time decays, the mountain and ocean will decay. If time does not decay, the mountain and ocean do not decay. Through this principle (the self-identity of time and things) eyes appear the plucked flower appears - this is time. If it is not, all this is not.

Zen master Kuei-hsing was a follower of the Rinzai school and a disciple of Shou-shan Hsing nien. To the assembled trainees he said: Sometimes the will reaches there but words do not. Sometimes words reach there but the will does not. Sometimes both the will and words reach there. Sometimes neither the will nor words reach there. Both the will and words are uji; reaching and not reaching are both uji. Although when reaching there, it is incomplete, when not reaching there, it is already here. (Reaching there and time are different.) The will is the donkey, words the horse. The horse means words, the donkey will. Reaching is not coming; not reaching is not, not coming. Uji is like that. Reaching is hindered by reaching and not hindered by not reaching. Not reaching is hindered by not reaching and not hindered by reaching. As for will, through will, we penetrate will; as for words, through words, we penetrate words. As for hindrance, through hindrance, we penetrate hindrance; hindrance hinders hindrance - this is time. Hindrance is used by other things, but there is no hindrance that hinders other things. I meet people; people meet people; I meet myself; and departure meets departure. This would not be if they did not share time. Will is the time of the Koan in daily life; words are the time of the supreme key (to truth); reaching is the time of wholeness (total appearance); not reaching is the time of contact with this and of separation from this. You must understand this and experience it.

Although Zen masters up to now have said all this, I must repeat it. I must say: Will and words that half reach are uji; will and words that half do not reach are uji. This is the way we should study. Making him raise his eyebrows and blink his eyes is half uji; making him raise his eye brows and blink his eyes is full uji; not making him raise his eyebrows and blink his eyes is half uji; not making him raise his eyebrows and blink his eyes is full uji. To study this and experience it and not to study this and experience it are both the time of uji.



Shoji (Life-Death)
Written by zen master Dogen Zenji translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 7, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 91-99.


Dogen was one of the greatest religious and philosophical leaders in Japan. His greatness consists of three points - profound thought, thorough training and brilliant personality.

Let us now take up his view of life-death, a problem that is also being argued quite extensively in European existentialist philosophy.

Death is one of the limiting conditions that man tries hardest to transcend. This awareness of mortality opens the way toward finding the Self. For man death is something that cannot be avoided, and he knows not when it will come. This is the root of unlimited anxiety. We can not pass up death. It is the ultimate reality, and it belongs to everyone personally. When we face death, we can for the first time meet our original Self. Dogen' view of life-death is found in such chapters of the Shobogenzo as Shoji , GenjoKoan , Shinjingakudo, Zenki , and Komyo. I have organized this material as follows:

  1. Self-identity of nirvana and life-death.
  2. Self-identity of life and death.
  3. Self-identity of death with death and life with life.
  4. Full functions and life-death.
  5. Life-death and the life of the Buddha.
  1. Generally life and death are considered identical with delusion, and nirvana is identified with enlightenment. Accordingly life-death and nirvana are contradictory concepts. But to cling to this dualistic view strengthens the feeling of hatred and love; as a result this only increases arguments. Zen, therefore, dislikes choosing only one of the opposites; it emphasizes the unity of all things. To reject life-death and seek nirvana seems very religious, but Dogens higher standpoint does not permit him to take this attitude. In Bendowa , Dogen says: You must realize that life-death is itself nirvana. We cannot talk about nirvana without life-death. Accordingly, the world of constant arising and decaying is itself the area of nirvana. Instead of trying to escape life-death, we must remain in this world and, using life-death freely, turn delusion into nirvana and the world of the Buddha. As Dogen says in Shoji : If we understand that life and death are themselves nirvana, there is no need for avoiding life and death or seeking nirvana. Then, for the first time, there arises the possibility of freeing ourselves from life and death . . . when you no longer have the desire to reject life-death or seek nirvana, you can truly gain nirvana and free yourself from life-death.
  2. In the constant flow of life-death, that which does not stop even for a moment is form and appearance of life. If you oppose life death and believe that life precedes death or that death follows life, you have not yet penetrated the problem of life-death. In Shinjingakudo , Dogen says: Although we have not yet left birth, we already see death. Although we have not yet left death, we already see life. In Yuibutsuyobutsu , Dogen restates the same theme: Within death there is life; within life there is death. Life and death are the two sides of human existence. Viewed from one side, it is life; viewfrom the other side, it is death. We are living in each moment and dying in each moment. Life and death are a moment of arising and a moment of decaying, and there is death within life, and life within death. Both life and death are facts of the moment. Therefore, life is itself death and death is itself life. The essence of life is nothing more than the interrelation of life and death.
  3. Though life and death are mutually connected and following constantly, that arising is not the arising opposed to decay, and that decay is not the decay opposed to arising. Life and death remain in their respective positions and are cut off from before and after. They are discontinuous from moment to moment and are unextended absolute facts. In GenjoKoan , Dogen say: Life is a position of time, and death is a position of time . . . just like winter and spring. You must not believe that winter becomes spring - nor can you say that spring becomes summer. Winter is always winter; it is not spring. Spring is always a spring; it is not summer. In this way life is the life of absolute arising, and death is the death of absolute decaying. When you say life it is life alone. You see no trace of death. When you say death, it is death alone, you see no trace of life. In Shinjingakudo , Dogen says: Death is not opposed to life, and life is not op posed to death. They are life and death cut off from before and after, standing independently. This life is absolute life; this death is absolute death. Therefore this arising is not arising (out side of arising there is nothing); this decay is not decay (outside decay this is nothing).
  4. Life-death, while continuing constantly, is a discontinuous absolute fact in each moment. To pursue life outside the present and to tremble at death outside the present are delusion. Therefore, when facing death, you should die with thoroughness. Death is the complete manifestation of all functions Yuan-wa Ko-chin (died 1135) called it "the realization of all functions." This function is the ground that makes everything live and causes all existences while remaining formless it self. This can be considered Buddhahood.

    This is because Buddhahood is the root of all existence and the ground of all values. This Buddhahood manifests itself completely in both life and death. It is the absolute free vitality of death. In Zenki , Dogen says: The expressing of all functions in life and the expressing of all functions in death - you should study and experience this saying. It is well to work with all your effort while you are alive. When you have to die it is well to withdraw quickly. We must be true to ourselves here and now.

  5. For most people life and death are nothing but transmigration. A human being, as long as he is enslaved by his ego, is caught in the flow of life and death and loses the freedom of detachment. If man abandons his passionate search for constancy, he realizes that transitory life and death are themselves the full expression of Buddhahood, sand he can make greater use of life and death. Because a great sage penetrates to the true meaning of continual rising and decaying, he does not fear life and death; instead he turns human life and death into an occasion for training. For this reason Dogen says in Shinjingakudo : Although birth and death are the transmigration of the unenlightened, the Buddha is free from all this. Life and death for those who make good use of them become like the flickering of light. So in Bendowa Dogen says: To think that birth and death are things to be avoided is a sin against Buddhism. Though for most people life and death mean transmigration from life to life, for the great sage, they are the area of absolute freedom for self-joyous samadhi . In Gyobutsuiigi Dogen says: You should realize that life and death are the training ground of Buddhism and the tools of Buddhists. In Komyo he says: The coming and going of life and death is like the flickering of light.
  6. In Shinjingakudo , Dogen says: The coming and going of life and death is like the body of the true man. In Shoji , Dogen says: This life and death are the life of the Buddha. If you try to throw them away in denial, you lose the life of Buddha. No one but Dogen has even made such a statement. In Gyobutsuiigi , Dogen says: From long ago, when man penetrates to the great way that transcends life and death, the following has been said: The great sage leaves life and death to the mind; he leaves them to the body; he leaves them to the way of the Buddha. He leaves life and death to life and death. This meaning - unlimited by time past and present - appears spontaneously as the conduct of the Buddha.

Text (Shoji)

If the Buddha is within life and death, there is no life and death. Then again If there is no Buddha within life and death, we are not deluded by life and death. These are the expressions of Chia-shan and Ting-shan, two Zen masters. Since these are the words of enlightened men, they are not frivolous. Their meaning must be clearly understood by all those who would free themselves from life and death. If a man seeks the Buddha without life and death, it is like turning the cart to the north and heading for Esshu (Yueh-chou), or looking south to see the North Star. We will gather the cause of life and death more and more-and lose the way to liberation. If we understand that life and death are themselves nirvana, There is no need for avoiding life and death or seeking nirvana. Then, for the first time, this arises the possibility of freeing our selves from life and death. Do not fall into the error of thinking that there is a change from life and death. Life is one position of time, and it already has a before and after.

So in Buddhism it is said that life itself is no-life. Death is also a position in time, and too has a before and after. So it is said that death itself is no-death. When it is called life, there is nothing but life. When it is called death, there is nothing but death. If life come, this is life. If death comes, this is death. There is no reason for your being under their control. Don't put any hope in them. This life and death are the life of the Buddha. If you try to throw them away in denial, you lost the life of the Buddha. You only cling to the appearance of the Buddha. If you neither deny Nor seek, you enter the mind of the Buddha for the first time.

But don't try to measure this by your mind. Don't try to explain it by your words. When you let go of your body and mind and forget them completely, when you throw yourself into the Buddha's abode. When everything is done by the Buddha, when you follow the Buddha Mind without effort or anxiety - you break free from life's suffering and become the Buddha.

How can you then have any hindrance in your mind? There is a very easy way to the Buddha. Those who do not create various evils; those who do not try to cling to life and death but, with deep compassion, work for all beings, respecting their elders and sympathizing with those younger; those who do not deny things or seek them or think and worry about them - they are called the Buddha. Don't look for anything else.



Zenki - Philosophy of Full Function
Written by zen master Dogen Zenji translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Zen Beyond Zen, Chapter 7, Page 33, 1960.

Introduction by Prof. Masunaga Reiho

This present moment is the point where we must commit our entire body and mind. At this point there is no complete freedom of choice: it has the essential character of offering one choice out of two. It comes but once - never repeating itself.

It seeks an answer to life and death. It dwells not in a dualistic outside world but in an absolute world of innerness. This subjective actuality cannot be a thing; while remaining within it enfolds the outside.

It is not an abstract generalization but a concrete world of time cut off as now and place as here. It is a part of the whole and carries the whole as an individual unit, It is not a monad . The individual unit lives in the part concretely and links up with others in space. Though links with a higher world, it eludes out reach through mere ideation. A turning back of the self is imperative. What is needed is a renewal of life. Through this profound experience transcending individuality, man unifies himself with the life of the cosmos.

So far as it is the source on which our experience is based, it is of a higher dimension then the base. At the same time it joins us at a lower dimension. There we see both the transcendence and immanence of basic life, its continuity and non-continuity. A man who sloughs of his selfish desires and does what he has to do meshes vertically with life as whole and horizontally with each individual. This very moment, therefore, not only individual but transcend time categories and becomes the eternal present. The present is truly the daughter of the past and mother of the future. Similarly this place called here continues endlessly. In the higher dimension it jibes with the universal world. In this way the here and now become the focal point of the world and the universe. The moment and this place arc the center of the mandala (circle), One moment is 10,000 years; the 10 directions are before our eyes. The individual aspect is enfolded in the unitive aspect, and while preserving the self; we embrace others. Chatic unity divides and develops vigorously in history. But this division is embraced again in the integral unity of a higher dimension. Our world and life go constantly from division to oneness. When we touch the depth of the self and become the thing itself we directly apprehend that heaven and earth are of the same root and that all things are one. It is a world where mutually conflicting entities come together by self-identity. Self-identity does not mean a unity of two or more things of different dimension in a parallel line. It is instead a solidly intertwined relation.

But this still remains in the world of principle and actuality unified. We must consider that this world “now” and “here”, limited by time and space, in itself a world unlimited in space and eternal in time. This is absolute actuality — the world unlimited in space and eternal in time. This is absolute actuality – the world of all things unimpeded. In this world each differentiating this is mutually identified and interpenetrated, and each thing is absolute, the one and many are self-identical. The realm where the one and the many are self-identical falls within time and also within the eternal now transcending time. It falls within space but also within the unlimited world transcending space. But an individual, while living as an individuality, is not limited by this.

The heavy burdens of the relative world do not press him down. He can instead absolutize everything. When we penetrate into each absolute actuality by various practices, the state that we realize here is itself the natural world. Specifically, it is a world of many places; it penetrates our individuality and becomes at the same time an absolute world of full living. The objective actuality that presses on life and death eliminates the self, and in accordance with the truth, enables us for the first time to turn necessity into possibility and change passive into active. This point is also stressed in the philosophic discipline that tries to establish a basis for vital practice. It also resides in the idea of the self-identity of absolute contradictions. The self, while constantly developed from the world, also produces itself as a subjective existence. We cannot control historical actuality resulting from past necessity. But it can become the means for the self's making possible future decisions. While enduring the heavy pressure of actuality and find the place where we can maintain control.

Religion values the basic unity of human life. It develops according to man's physical and psychological experience of life. Religious practice tries to return to original wholeness things that have been divided into subject and object. Religious rebirth is a turning of life, realized throug nothingness. It is a moving experience growing out of commitment. It is the spark of life arising from contact of mind and mind. True experience smolders for the first time in contact with basic life. While we wonder in the delusive world, this experience lacks fullness. And mere objective knowledge does not bring it close enough. This sublime experience grows out of the unifying activity of reason, feeling, and will. It raises intensity of awareness to a peak. Through this experience, subject and object fuse. There is self-identity and interpenetration. We thus plumb the truth of life. This experience, meshed with basic life, has unlimited power; It expresses itself as practic of life. This is called the expression of full function. It means expressing our whole self. From here springs all actions in life and universe. Yuan-wu K'o-ch'in (1063-1135) said Life expresses full function; death expresses full function. He made it clear that Buddha-nature expresses itself fully both in life and in death. True life moves on, never stopping for a moment, whether rising or decaying. It is man's original face. We live moment by moment, and we die moment by moment. Life and death are momentarily life and momentarily death. There is death in life, and life in death. But the idea of the self-identity of life and death still does not penetrate to basic life. When we face life and death we must experience it clearly and plumb it thoroughly. We can thus free ourselves from life and death. We live completely in the present, where the remote past and the distant future are linked. Here thrives the philosophy and religion of full function. In the Bhaddekaratta sutra of Majjhimanikaya, there is this passage: Do not pursue the past; do not seek the future. Do with all your best what you must do today. Who can know the death that may come tomorrow? While we live, we should work with all out effort. When we have to die, we should get it over with quickly. Here and now, we must be loyal to ourselves. As schiller says: Don't worry about the distant future. Grasp this moment. Then it is yours. To live fully in the real moment is to vitalize the past and fulfill the future.

Text-Zenki (Full Function)

Ultimately the Great Way of the Buddhas comes down to emancipation and expression in daily life. In this emancipation, life frees itself from life; Death free itself from death. So there is leaving life-death, and there is entering life-death. Together they form the final stage of the Great Way. Throwing away life-death and crossing life-death-together they form the final stage of the Great Way. Expressing it here - that is life; life - that means expressing it here. When expressed here, it is life fully expressed and death fully expressed. This function makes life well and makes death well. At the moment expressed, it is not necessarily large, not necessarily small. Neither is it always universal nor limited. It is not always long; it is not always short. This moment of life is in this function. This function is in this moment of life.

Life neither comes nor goes. It is not expressing; it is not becoming. But this life is the expression of full function. And death is the expression of full function. Understand that among the immeasurable things within the self, there is life and death. Quietly consider this. At this moment of life, can it be said that all things living concurrently accompany this life, or that they do not? Not a single moment or thing stands apart from life. Nor is there a single event or mind that does not accompany life. Life is like getting on a boat. On this boat, we ourselves use the sail and control the rudder. Although we push with the pole, it is the boat that carries us. Without the boat we are not. By getting on a boat we make it a boat. This is the moment that you must study and understand. At just this moment there is nothing but the world of the boat. Heaven, water, and shore – all these fuse into the instant of the boat. This differs from a boat less instant. And so we make this life arise, and it vitalizes our own life. In ridding the boat, body, mind, and world all become instruments of the boat. The entire earth and sky become instruments of the boat. We as life and life as us are like this. Zen master Yuan-wu Ko'-ch'in (l063-1135) said, When life comes, express it fully. When death comes, express it fully. Let's clarify this saying and study It. To study means this: The truth of “When life comes, express it fully” does not hinge on beginning or end, Even though it is the entire vastness of earth and sky, it does not hinder full expression of life, nor does it hinder full expression of death. The truth of “When death comes, express it fully” - though it is all of great earth and sky - does not hinder full expression of death, nor does it hinder full expression of life. Life, therefore, does not hinder death, and death does not hinder life. The vast earth and sky dwell both in life and death. But it is not just one aspect of the great earth or one aspect of the entire sky that is fully expressed in life and fully expressed in death. Although not one, it is not the many. So the full expression of all things is in life and also in death.

Even without life or death there is expression of full function. In expression of full function there is life and death. The full function of life-death, therefore, dwells in a wrestler bending and stretching his arms. It dwells in someone groping for his pillow in the night. In this is expressed the wondrous light. Some believe that just when it is expressed, because it is fully expressed - there is expression before expression. But before expression there is expression of full function. Even though there is expression of full function before, it doss not hinder the expression of full function now. And so from this standpoint, full function is vitally expressed.

Note on Zenki by Prof. Masunaga Reiho

Dogen wrote this essay on December 17.1242. Near Rokuharamitsu temple. He used it to teach the followers of Yoshishige Hatano. The essay is based on Yuan-wu K'o—chin's saying: When life comes, express it fully, When death comes express it fully , To this, Dogen added his own ideas. He emphasized the need for

  1. grasping life fully,
  2. manifesting it in experience,
  3. penetrating life and death as they arise,
  4. and expressing full function through the self-identity of life and death.

These ideas helped Dr. Kunihiko Hashida, the eminent biologist, found the secret of life after a long, hard search. Not only Dr. Hashida but many Zen masters have been able to deepen their understanding through this essay. An intensive study of this essay may bring out some parallels with the esthetic philosophy of American thinker John Dewey (Art as Experience). Drawing such parallels would help establish a firm and natural case for the development of Zen in the West.





Zazenyojinki (Points to Watch in Zazen)
Written by zen master Keizan translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Soto Approach to Zen by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Chapter 8, Layman Buddhist Society Press, 1958. pp. 106-124.


Keizan, the founder of Sojiji wrote this manuscript, while he was staying at Yokoji , a temple in Ishikawa prefecture. Dogen, in Fukanzazengi gave the basic rules for zazen, but Keizan made these rules more explicit. In Zazenyojinki he goes into such details as choosing a sitting place, precautions against weather, harmony of breathing, and ways to calm the mind. Zazenyojinki even covers sitting posture, eating habits, proper clothing, inhaling and exhaling, psychological condition, and sitting rules. It thus gives the trainee a detailed set of precautions for nearly all-foreseeable problems.

Together with Fukanzazengi this work provides a base for Soto Zen practice. The trainee will find here all he needs to avoid the major pitfalls of zazen.

Manzan (Dohaku (1636-1715) published Zazenyojinki in 1680 and wrote an introduction for it. Since then the work has prompted a number of commentaries - the most famous being one by Shigetsu Ein (died 1764) called Zazenyojinki Funogo.

Text (Zazenyojinki)

Zazen clears up the human-being mind immediately and lets him dwell in his true essence. This is called showing one's natural face and expressing one's real self. It is freedom of body and mind and release from sitting and lying down.

So think neither of good nor on evil. Zazen transcends both the unenlightened and the sage, rises above the dualism of delusion and enlightenment, and crosses over the division of beings and Buddha. Through zazen we break free from all things, forsake myriad relations, do nothing, and stop the working of the six sense organs.

Who does this? We still do not know his name. We should call it neither body nor mind. If we try to imagine it, it defies imagination. If we try to describe it, it defies description. It is like the fool - and also the sage. It is high as the mountain and deep as the sea - impossible to see the top or bottom. It shines without an object, and the eyes of wisdom penetrate beyond the Body; the Body expressed itself and forms emerge. The ripple of one wave touches off 10,000 waves. The slight twitch of consciousness brings the 10,000 things bubbling up. The so-called four elements and five aggregates combine, and the four limbs and five organs immediately take form. In addition the 36 bodily possessions and the 12 mutual causes arise and circulate in successive currents. They interpenetrate with myriad things.

Our mind is like the ocean water, our body, like the waves. Just as there is not a single wave outside the ocean waters, not a drop of water exists outside waves. The water and waves are not different; action and inaction do not differ. So it is said: Even though living and dying, going and coming, they are true men. Even though possessing the four elements and five aggregates, they have the eternal body. This zazen directly enters the ocean of the Buddha Mind and immediately manifests the Buddha Body. Then the Mind -inherently unexcelled, clear, and bright-suddenly emerges, and the supreme light shines fully at last. The ocean waters know no increase or decrease, and neither do the waves undergo change. All Buddhas appear in this world to solve its cloud. It reaches without thinking and radiates the essential teaching in silence. Sitting in both heaven and earth, we express our whole body in freedom. The great man who has sloughed off thinking is like one who has died the Great Death. No illusions distort his sight; his feet pick up no dust. No dust anywhere and nothing obstructs him.

Pure water has neither front nor back. In a clear sky there is essentially no inside and out side. Like them - transparent and clear - zazen shines brightly by itself. Form and void are undivided nor are objects and wisdom apart. They have been together from time eternal and have no name. The Third Patriarch, a great teacher, tentatively called it "Mind"; the respected Nagarjuna called it "Body." It expresses the form of the Buddha and the body of the Buddhas. This full-moon form has neither lack nor excess. Anyone self-identified with this mind is a Buddha. The light of this self, shining both now and in the past, gains shape and fulfills the samadhi of the Buddhas.

The Mind essentially is not two; the Body takes various shapes through causality. Mind-only and Body-only cannot be explained either as different or the same. The Mind changes and becomes the most crucial problems by giving all beings direct access to the Buddha's wisdom. They teach a wonderful way of calmness and detachment zazen. It is, in fact, the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. It is the king of meditations. Dwelling in this meditation even for a moment will clear away your delusions. This, we know, is the right gate to Buddhism.

Those who would clear up their mind must abandon complex intellection, forsake the world and Buddhism, and make the Buddha Mind appear. Then the cloud of delusion lifts and the moon of the mind shines anew.

The Buddha is supposed to have said that hearing and thinking about Buddhism is like standing outside the gate but that zazen is truly returning home and sitting down in comfort. This is true. In hearing and thinking of Buddhism, opinions prevail. The mind remains confused; it is truly like standing outside the gate. But in this zazen all things disappear; it is not conditioned by place. It is like returning home and sitting down in comfort.

The delusion of the five hindrances arises from ignorance. Ignorance stems from not knowing the self - the self, that zazen enables us to know. Even if we cut off the five hindrances, we still remain outside the sphere of the Buddhas and patriarchs unless we also free ourselves from ignorance. And the most effective way to do this is zazen. An ancient sage has said: When delusions disappear, calmness emerges, When calmness emerges, wisdom arises. When wisdom, arises, there is true understanding.

To get rid of delusive thoughts we have to stop thinking about good and evil. We have to sever all relations, throw everything away, think of nothing, and do nothing with our body. This is the primary precaution. When delusive relations disappear, delusive thoughts disappear. When delusive thoughts disappear, there emerges the reality that gives us clear insight into all things. It is not passivity, nor is it activity.

Free yourself from all such trifles as art, technique, medicine, and fortune telling. Stay away from singing, dancing, music, noisy chatter, gossip, publicity, and Profit-seeking. Although composing verse and poetry may help quiet your mind; don't become too intrigued by them. Also abandon writing and calligraphy.

This advice represents a supreme legacy from the seekers of the way in the past. It outlines the prerequisites for bringing your mind into harmony.

Also avoid both beautiful robes, and stained clothing. A beautiful robe gives rise to desire, and there is also the danger of theft. It, there fore, hinders the truth-seeker. If someone hap pens to offer you a rich robe, turn it down. This has been the worthy tradition from long ago. If you have such a robe from before, discount its importance. And if someone steals it, don't brood over your loss.

Wear old clothes but mend any holes and wash off any stain or oil. If you don't clean off the dirt, your chances of getting sick increase, and this would obstruct training.

Lack of clothing, lack of food, and lack of sleep - these are the three lacks. They become a source of idleness. In eating, avoid anything unripe, indigestible, rotten, or unsanitary. Such food will make your stomach rumble and impair your body and mind. You will merely increase your discomfort in zazen. And don't fill up with delicacies. Such gorging not only will decrease your alertness, but also will show everyone that you still have not freed yourself from avarice . Food exists only to support life; don't cling to its taste. If you do zazen with a full stomach you create the cause of sickness. Avoid zazen immediately after breakfast or lunch; it is better to wait awhile.

Generally, monks watch the amount of food they eat. Watching their food intake means limiting the amount: eat two thirds and leave one third. In preparing for zazen, take cold Preventing medicine, sesame seed and mountain potatoes, In actually doing zazen, don't lean against walls, backs of chairs, or screens. Stay away from high places with strong winds even if the view is good. This is a fine way to get sick.

If your body is feverish or cold, dull or active hard or soft, or heavy or light, you probably aren't breathing correctly. Check your breathing, too, if your body feels overly irritable. You must make sure that you are breathing harmoniously at all times during zazen.

To harmonize breathing, use this method: open your mouth for awhile and if a long breath comes, breathe long; if a short breath comes, breathe short. Gradually harmonize your breathing and follow it naturally. When the timing becomes easy and natural, quietly shift your breathing to your nose. When breathing and mind are not coordinated, certain symptoms arise. Your mind sinks or rises, becomes vague or sharp, wanders outside the room or within the body; sees the image of the Buddha or Bodhisattvas, gives birth to corrupting thoughts, or seeks to understand the doctrines of the sutras. When you have these symptoms, it means your mind and breathing are not in harmony. If you have this trouble, shift your mind to the soles of both feet. If the mind sinks, put it on the hairline and between the eyebrows. If your mind is disturbed, rest it on the tip of the nose or on the solar plexus. In ordinary zazen, put your mind in your left palm. In prolonged sitting, even without this the mind naturally remains undisturbed. The old teaching emphasized illumination of mind, but doesn't pay too much attention to this.

Any excesses lead to a disturbed mind. Anything that puts a strain on body and mind becomes a source of illness. So don't practice zazen where there is danger of fire, flood strong winds, and robbery. Keep away from areas near the seashore, bars, and red light districts, homes of widows and young virgins, and theaters. Avoid living near kings, ministers, and high authority or near gossips and seekers after fame and profit.

Temple rituals and buildings have their worth. But if you are concentrating on zazen, avoid them. Don't get attached to sermons and instructions because they will tend to scatter and disturb your mind. Don't take pleasure in attracting crowds or gathering disciples. Shun a variety of practices and studies. Don't do zazen where it is too light or too dark, too cold or too hot, or too near pleasure-seekers and entertainers. You should practice inside the meditation hall, go to Zen masters, or take yourself to high mountains and deep valleys. Green waters and Blue Mountains - these are good places to wander. Near streams and under trees - these places calm the mind. Remember that all things are unstable. In this you may find some encouragement in your search for the way.

The mat should be spread thickly: zazen is the comfortable way. The meditation hall should be clean. If incense is always burned and flowers offered the gods protecting Buddhism and the Bodhisattvas cast their shadows and stand guard. If you put the images of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and Arhats there, all the devils and witches are powerless.

Dwelling always in great compassion, you should offer the limitless merits of zazen to all beings. Don't let pride, egotism, and arrogance arise; they are possessions of the heretical and unenlightened. Vow to cut off desire; vow to obtain enlightenment. Just do zazen and nothing else. This is the basic requirement for zazen.

Before doing zazen, always wash your eyes and feet, and tranquilize your body and mind. Move around easily. Throw away worldly feelings, including the desire for Buddhism. Although you should not begrudge the teaching, don't preach it unless you are asked. After three requests, give the four effects (indicate, instruct, benefit, rejoice). When you feel like talking, keep quiet nine out of 10 times-like mold growing around the mouth and a fan used in December or like a bell hanging in the sky that rings naturally without reliance on the four directions of the wind.

For the trainee this is the main point to watch: possessing the teaching but not selling it cheap. Attaining enlightenment but not taking pride in it. This zazen does not attach itself one-sidedly to doctrine, training, or enlightenment. It combines all these virtues. Enlightenment ordinarily means satori , but this is not the spirit of zazen. Training ordinarily means actual practice, but this is not the spirit of zazen. Doctrine ordinarily means stopping evil and doing good, but this is not the spirit of zazen.

Although Zen has doctrines, they differ from those of Buddhism in general. The method of direct pointing and true transmission is expressed by the whole body in zazen. In this expression, there are no clauses and sentences. Here, where mind and logic cannot reach, zazen expresses the 10 directions. And this is done without using a single word. Isn't this the true doctrine of the Buddhas and patriarchs?

Although Zen talks about training, it is the training of no-action. The body does nothing except zazen. The mouth does not utter the Dharani, the mind does not work at conceptual thinking; the six sense organs are naturally pure and have no defilement. This is not the 16 views (toward the Four Noble Truths) of the Sravaka, or the 12 causal relations of the Pratyekabuddha, or the six paramitas and other training of the Bodhisattvas. Nothing is done except zazen, and this zazen is called the Buddha's conduct. The trainee just dwells comfortably in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas and freely performs the four comfortable actions of the Bodhisattvas. This then is the deep and marvelous training of the Buddhas and patriarchs.

And although we talk about enlightenment, we become enlightened without enlightenment. This is the king of samadhi. This is the samadhi that gives rise to the eternal wisdom of the Buddha. It is the samadhi from which all wisdom arises. It is the samadhi that gives rise to natural wisdom. It is the clear gate that opens into the compassion of the Tathagata. It is the place that gives rise to the teaching of the great comfortable conduct (zazen) - It transcends the distinction between sage and commoner; it is beyond dualistic judgment that separates delusion and enlightenment. Isn't this the enlightenment that expresses one's original face?

Though zazen does not cling to virtue, meditation, and wisdom, it includes them. So-called virtue protects one from wrong and stops evil. But in zazen we see the total body without two-ness. We abandon all things and stop varied relations; we do not cling to Buddhism and worldly affairs; we prized religious sentiment and worldly thoughts. There is neither right and wrong nor good and evil. What is there to suppress and to stop? This is the formless virtue of Buddha nature. Usually zazen means concentrating the mind and eliminating extraneous thoughts. But in this zazen, we free ourselves from dualism of body and mind and of delusion and enlightenment. Neither the body nor mind changes, moves, acts, or worries.

Like a rock, like a stake, like a mountain, like an ocean, the two forms of movement and rest do not arise. This is meditation without the form of meditation. Because there is no form of meditation, it is called just meditation. But in this zazen we naturally destroy the obstacle of knowledge (ignorance), forget the delusive activity of the mind; our entire body becomes the eye of wisdom; there is no discrimination and recognition. We clearly see the Buddha nature and are inherently not deluded. We cut the delusive root of the mind and the light of the Buddha mind shines through suddenly.

This is wisdom without the form of wisdom. Because it is wisdom without form, it is called Great Wisdom. The teachings of the Buddha and the sermons of Sakyamuni (in his life) are all included in virtue, meditation, and wisdom. In this zazen we hold all virtue, train all meditation, and penetrate into wisdom. Suppression of demons, enlightenment, sermon and death all depend on this power. Superior work and illuminating sermon are all in the zazen. Interviewing the Zen master is also zazen.

If you want to do zazen, you must first find a quiet place. You should sit on a thick cushion. You should allow no smoke or wind to enter. You should keel away from rain and dew. Take care of the sitting place and keep it clean. The Buddha sat on a diamond seat, and the patriarchs sat on huge rocks, but in each case they used cushions. The sitting place should neither be too light during the day nor too dark during the night. It should be warm in winter and cool in summer. These are precautions regarding the place abandon the functioning of the mind; stop dualistic thinking, and do not plan to become a Buddha. Don't think about right and wrong. Do not waste time make efforts as though saving your burning head.

The Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree and Bodhidharma wall gazing concentrated only on zazen and did nothing else. Sekiso (Shih-shuang Ch'ing-chu) (807-888) sat like a withered tree. Nyojo (Ju-tsing) (1163-1228) warned against taking a nap while doing zazen. Nyojo always said that you can obtain your goal for the first time by merely sitting - without burning incense, giving salutation, saying the Nembutsu , practicing austerity, chanting the sutra, or performing various duties. Generally when doing zazen you should wear a kesa ; you must not leave this out. You should not sit completely on the cushion; it should be put halfway back under the spine. This is the sitting method of the Buddhas and the patriarchs. Some meditate in paryanka and others in half-paryanka. In paryanka you must put your right thigh. Wearing your robe loosely adjust your posture.

Next rest your right hand on your left foot and your left hand on your right palm. Touching your thumbs together, bring your hands close to your body. Put them close to your navel. Sit upright and do not lean either to the left or right. Neither should you lean forward nor backward. Place your navel. Keep your tongue against the palate, and breathe through your nose. Keep your lips and teeth firmly closed. You should keep your eyes open. Neither open them too wide nor narrow them too much. After you have seated your self comfortably, inhale sharply. To do this you open your mouth and breathe out once or twice.

After sitting you should move your body seven or eight times from the left to right, going from large motions to small. Then you should sit like an immovable mountain. In this position try to think the unthinkable How do you think the unthinkable? By going beyond both thinking and unthinking. This is the key to zazen. You should cut off your delusions immediately and enlighten the way suddenly.

When you want to get up from zazen, put your hands on your thighs with palms up and move your body seven or eight times from left to right with the motions getting progressively larger. Then open your mouth and inhale; put your hands on the floor; gently arise - from the cushion; and quietly walk around. Turn your body to the right and walk to the right. If you feel sleepy during zazen, you should move -your body and open your eyes widely. Concentrate your mind on the top of your head, edge of your hair, or between your eyebrows. If this doesn't make you - wide awake, stretch out your hand and rub your eyes, or massage your body. If even this does not awaken you, get up from your seat and walk around lightly. You should walk around to the right. If you walk in the way for about 100 steps, your sleepiness should go away. The method of walking is to take a breath every short step (about half of the average step); like moving without moving, it should be done quietly. If even all this does not awaken you, wash your eyes and cool your head. Or read the introduction of the precepts of the Bodhisattva. By these various means you should avoid sleep.

The most important thing is to transcend the problem of birth and death. Though this life moves swiftly, the eye for seeing the way is not open. We must realize that this is no time to sleep. If you are about to be lulled to sleep, you should make this vow: My habitual passion from former actions is already deep-rooted; therefore I have already received the hindrance of sleep. When will I awake from the darkness? Buddhas and the patriarchs I seek escape from the suffering of my darkness through your great compassion.

If your mind is disturbed, rest it on the tip of the nose or below the navel and count your inhaled and exhaled breath. If your mind still is not calm, take a Koan and concentrate on it. For example consider these non-taste the stories: Who is this that comes before me? (Hui-neng); Does a dog have Buddha nature? (Chao-chou); Yun men's Mt Sumeru and Chao-chou's oak tree in the garden. These are available applications. If your mind is still disturbed, sit and concentrate on the moment your breath has stopped and both eyes have closed forever, or on the unborn state in your mother's womb or before one thought arises. If you do this, the two Sunyatas (non-ego) will emerge, and the disturbed mind will be put at rests.

When you arise from meditation and unconsciously take action, that action is itself a Koan. Without entering into relation, when you accomplish practice and enlightenment, the Koan manifests itself. State before the creation of heaven and earth, condition of empty kalpa, and wondrous functions and most important thing of Buddhas and patriarchs - all these are one thing, zazen.

We must quit thinking dualistically and put a stop to our delusive mind, cool our passions, transcend moment and eternity, make our mind like cold ashes and withered trees, unify meditation and wisdom like a censer in an old shrine, and purify body and mind like a single white strand. I sincerely hope that you will do all this.



Sankon-Zazen-Setsu (Theory of Zazen for Three Personality Types)
Written by zen master Keizan translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho
Translated in Zen for Daily Living by Prof. Masunaga Reiho, Page 40, Shunjusha Pablishing Co., 1964.


Keizan wrote this treatise while at Yokoji in Ishikawa prefecture. It is related closely to Dogens Fukanzazengi . In Zazenyojinki Keizan elaborated on Dogens basic work In Sankon-zazen-Setsu Keizan provided instructions for three types of persons.

For the most superior person, zazen is natural behavior embodying enlightenment. It is sleeping when tired and eating when hungry. The zazen of a less superior person, according to Keizan, suspends relations with myriad things and occasionally concentrates on a Koan. The zazen of an ordinary person withdraws from the karma of good and evil, and expresses the basic nature of the Buddha with the mind itself.

Manuscripts of this work stored for many years in Daijoji, Yokoji, and Sojiji. But no one knew of their existence until Manzan rediscovered the work in 1680 while at Daijoji. Adding a prologue and epilogue, Manzan published the work the following spring together with Keizan shingi (Keizans Monastery Rules).

Text (Sankon-Zazen-Setsu)

The zazen of the most superior person does not concern itself with questions about why the Buddhas appeared in this world. He does not think about the excellence that even the Buddhas and patriarchs cannot transmit. When hungry, he eats; when tired, he sleeps. He does not insist that all appearances are the self. He stands above both enlightenment and delusion. Naturally and effectively, he just does right zazen. And despite of this, the myriad things are not dualistically considered. Even if differentiations would arise, the most superior person does not let them enslave him.

The zazen of the less superior person forsakes all things and cuts off all relations. In the 12 hours there is no idle moment. As he inhales and exhales, he meditates each moment on truth. Or picking up a single Koan, he focuses his eyes on the tip of his nose. His natural face is not conditioned by life and death or by going and coming. The superior truth of the eternal reality and Buddha-nature cannot be grasped by the discriminating mind. While not thinking dualistically, he is not unenlightened. The wisdom clearly and brightly radiates from ancient times to now. The head sharply illuminates the 10 directions of the world; the whole body is manifested individually in all phenomena.

The zazen of the ordinary person weighs myriad relations and breaks free from the karma of good and evil. Our mind itself expresses the basic nature of the various Buddhas. Our feet are linked to the Buddha's position, and we stay away from evil places. Our hands are held in the meditative sign. There is no sutra in our hands. Our mouth is sewn shut, and our lips are sealed. Not even one doctrine is preached. Our eyes are open, but neither wide nor narrow. We do not differentiate the myriad things; we do not listen to the voice of good or evil. Our nose does not discriminate between good and bad smells. Our body does not rely on things. We abruptly stop all delusive activities. With no delusions stirring up our mind, sorrow and joy both drops away. Like a wooden Buddha, body and form naturally harmonize with truth. Even though various deluded and inverted thoughts arise, they do not take possession. It is like a clear mirror that holds no waving shadows. The five precepts, the eight precepts, the Great Precepts of the Bodhisattvas, all the precepts of monks, 3,000 behaviors, the 80,000 thorough practices, the superior true law of the various Buddhas and patriarchs - all these arise from zazen limitlessly. Within the sphere of training, zazen alone is the most superior practice.

If we practice zazen and accumulate even a single merit, it is better than to build 100, 1,000, or innumerable halls and towers. In short, do zazen continually and don't give it up. We free ourselves from birth and death forever and penetrate to the Buddha in our own mind. The four activities of going, staying, sitting, and lying are nothing but natural and unexcelled functions. Seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing, are all the light of original nature. There is no choice between the beginning mind and the ripened mind. Knowledge and ignorance are not open to argument.

Just do zazen wholeheartedly. Do not forget it or lose it.