Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 2


In an evening talk, Dogen said,

With regard to actions and speech in society, today in this country many people are concerned with personal fame and reputation. They think good-bad, right-wrong, and consider that if they do one thing others will think well of them or if they do something else others will think poorly of them. They even worry about the future. This is entirely wrong. People in the secular world are not necessarily good.

Let people think whatever they may think. Let them even call you crazy. If you spend your whole life practicing in accordance with the Buddha-Way and refrain from what goes against the buddha-dharma, you needn’t worry about what people think about you. Tonsei1, (retreat from the world), means being free from the sentiments of worldly people. Just learn about the deeds of the buddhas and patriarchs and about the compassion of the bodhisattvas, repent of your actions which are secretly illuminated by various devas and protective deities, and go on practicing in accordance with the Buddha’s regulations. You needn’t care about anything else.

On the other hand, it is wrong to shamelessly indulge yourself and do evil things, trying to excuse yourself on the grounds that it does not matter if others think ill of you. Just practice wholeheartedly in accordance with the buddha-dharma, paying no attention to how others see you. In the buddha-dharma such indulgence and shamelessness is prohibited.

  1. See2-11, footnote 3.