Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 2


In an evening talk, Dogen said,

The biography of the late Sojo Eisai of Kenninji was written by the vice-minister Akikane1, a lay monk. At first he refused to do it saying, “It should be written by a Confucian scholar, because such scholars forget their own bodies and devote themselves to studying from early childhood. Therefore, there are no mistakes in their writings. For ordinary people, working for the government and social intercourse are their primary concerns; they study on the side. Although there have been some eminent people, there have been mistakes in their writings.”

As I think of this, ancient people forgot their bodies in order to study even non-Buddhist texts.

Also Dogen said,

The late Sojo Koin2 said, “Bodhi-mind is studying the dharma-gate (teaching) of ‘the three-thousand worlds in a single moment of thought,’ and keeping them in one’s mind. This is called bodhi-mind. To meaninglessly wander around in confusion with a bamboo-hat3 hanging around one’s neck is called a deed influenced by a demon.”

  1. Minamoto Akikane (?–1215) Lay monk is a translation for nyudo (one who has entered the Way), which means a person who has received ordination and become a monk, yet lives at home with one’s family. Vice-minister is a translation for chunagon.
  2. Koin (?–1216) became the abbot of Onjoji (or Miidera) in Otsu. Later he became a student of Honen and practiced Nenbutsu (Pureland-Buddhism). When Dogen was a teenager, he visited Koin to ask the question he had while studying Buddhism on Mt. Hiei. According to Dogen’s biography, Koin suggested Dogen visit Eisai to resolve his question and to practice Zen.
  3. When monks traveled they wore bamboo hats. What Koin meant was that running around here and there without studying and practicing the fundamental teachings was a mistake.