Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 1


In an evening talk Dogen said,

Once there was a general whose name was Rochuren  1. While residing in the country ruled by Heigenkun , he subdued the enemies of the court. Although Heigenkun praised him and wanted to reward him with much gold, silver, and other things, Rochuren refused, saying, “I put down enemies only because that is the role of a general. I did not do it to gain some reward or possessions.” So saying, he never received the reward. Rochuren was famous for his righteousness and integrity.

Even in secular society, those who are wise carry out their tasks solely for the sake of fulfilling their roles. They do not expect any reward. Students of the Way must have the same mental attitude. Once you have entered the Buddha-Way 2 , you should practice the various activities just for the sake of the buddha-dharma 3 . Do not think of gaining something in return. All teachings, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, exhort us to be free from the expectation of gaining a reward.

  1. A famous Chinese general in the age of the Warring States (403-221 B.C.). This story is taken from Shiki (Shiji), compiled by Shibasen. For Japanese, this sort of Chinese hero was like the Greek or Roman hero for European people.
  2. Way (Do in Japanese, Dao in Chinese) is a translation of the Sanskrit words marga or bodhi. Marga is the path along which we should walk (practice) to become a Buddha. Bodhi is awareness or enlightenment. So Buddha Way has two meanings combined, one is the way leading to enlightenment and the other is the buddha’s enlightenment itself. So, the Buddha Way is the way we should walk in our daily activities in the direction of the Buddha, while each one of the activities is nothing other than a manifestation of the Buddha’s enlightenment. This is the meaning of Dogen’s expression shusho-ichinyo (practice and enlightenment are one).
  3. Buddha-dharma means (1) the truth or reality to which the Buddha awakens, (2) the teachings which show us the reality, and (3) the law or morals which form the way of life in accordance with that reality or teaching. Another meaning of this word is existence or things (the myriad dharma).