Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 3


One evening Dogen instructed,

After acceding to the throne, Taiso of the To dynasty lived in the old palace. Since it was in disrepair, moisture entered inside and the emperor became ill from the chilly winds and mist. When his ministers proposed building a new palace, the emperor replied,

“This is the busy farming season. The people would certainly be troubled. We should wait until autumn to build it. Being afflicted by moisture is due to not being accepted by Earth. Being affected by wind and rain is due to not living in accordance with Heaven. If I go against Heaven and Earth, I cannot maintain my health. I will be in accordance with Heaven and Earth when I no longer cause the people to suffer. If I act in harmony with Heaven and Earth my body will not be afflicted.”

So saying, he did not build the new palace and dwelt in the old one after all. Here even a lay person thought of the people more than his own health. So much more should (you as) children of the Buddha succeed to the way of the Tathagata and have compassion towards all living beings as if each of them were your only child1. Don’t scold or cause people trouble even if they are your attendants or servants. Moreover, show respect for your fellow students and practitioners, your seniors or other elder people, as if they were the Tathagata; this is all clearly written in the precepts.

Therefore, students today should also think of doing good for others without distinguishing between people of the upper or lower class, or the intimate or unrelated, even though their deeds are not seen and are not known to others. Whether it be a great or small matter, you should not be a nuisance to others and hurt others’ feelings.

During the time the Tathagata was alive, many non-Buddhists slandered and hated the Tathagata. One of the disciples of the Buddha asked,

“Tathagata, you have always held gentleness as being fundamental and have had compassion in your heart. All living beings should equally respect you. Why are there some who do not follow you?”

The Buddha replied, “When I led an assembly in the past, I often admonished my disciples by scolding them and finding fault with them. Because of that, things like this happen in the present.”

This passage can be found in the scriptures on the precepts. Therefore, even if you lead a group of practitioners as an abbot, when you admonish your disciples and remonstrate with them, you should not use abusive or critical words. Those who have aspiration will follow you, even if you admonish and encourage them with gentle words. Students, you should never scold family members, fellow practitioners, or others with harsh words. Be careful about this.

  1. In the Lotus Sutra we find the following verse.
    Now this triple world,
    All is my domain;
    The living beings in it
    All are my sons. (The Threefold Lotus Sutra, translated by Bunno Kato)