Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 4


Dogen also said,

The National Teacher Echu of Nanyo1 asked the imperial attendant priest2 Rin, “Where did you come from?”

The attendant priest replied, “I came from south of the city.”

The Master said, “What is the color of the grass there?”

The attendant priest replied, “It is yellow.”

The Master inquired of a young boy who was serving as the master’s personal attendant, “What is the color of the grass south of the city?”

The boy said, “It is yellow.”

The Master said, “Even this boy can receive the purple robe and talk about the profound truth to the emperor at the court.”

He meant here that the boy could be a teacher of the emperor since he gave the true color [of the grass]. The view of the attendant priest did not go beyond common sense.
Later someone said, “What is wrong with the attendant priest that he did not exceed common sense? The boy also spoke of the true color. This is the real teacher.”

In so saying he did not accept the opinion of the National teacher. From this we understand that we should not necessarily rely on the words of the ancients but we should grasp just true reality. Although having doubt is not good, it is also bad to attach ourselves to what we shouldn’t take for granted or to refrain from questioning what we should question.

  1. Nanyo Echu (?–775) a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch.
  2. In China there were some attendant priests who served at the butsuden (Buddha Hall) in the imperial palace.