Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 1


Dogen also related the following story:

When the late General of the Right Imperial Guard (Minamoto Yoritomo) 1 was first the assistant secretary of the Hyoe-fu 2, he once attended a special party. He took a seat near the privy councilor 3. There was a man who was making a disturbance.

The Vice-minister 4 told Yoritomo to restrain him.

Yoritomo replied, “Give your order to Rokuhara 5. He is the general of the Taira Clan.”

The Vice-minister said, “But, you are right here.”

Yoritomo said, “It is not my position to restrain him.”

These were admirable words. He was able to govern the country because of such an attitude. Students of the Way today should have the same attitude. You should not scold others if you are not in the position to do so.

  1. Minamoto Yoritomo (1147–1199) was the first shogun (general) of the Kamakura Shogunate. He was the third child of Minamoto Yoshitomo. Yoritomo was appointed General of the Right Imperial Guard in 1190, and became the Seii-dai-shogun in 1192. He was the first samurai who actually took political power.
  2. This was an office of the samurai class which guarded the Imperial Court and the emperor when he went out.
  3. Privy councilor is a translation of Daifu. Yoritomo was appointed assistant secretary of the Hyoe-fu in 1159, when he was thirteen years old. During the following year the Minamoto-clan was defeated by the Taira-clan, Yoritomo’s father was killed, and he was expelled to Izu. Dogen’s grandfather Matsudono Motofusa became the privy councilor in 1160. It is supposed that Dogen heard this story from his grandfather. (Shobogenzo Zuimonki, Mizuno Yaoko P.63)
  4. The Vice-minister is a translation of Dainagon.
  5. Rokuhara is the name of a place in Kyoto where the Taira-clan had their estate. The Taira-clan was the rival of the Minamoto-clan and had more power at that time. The clans continued to fight until Yoritomo established his own shogunate government in Kamakura. In Japan from ancient times, people have been called by the name of the geographical place they lived in.