Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 4


One day Dogen instructed,

A lay person said, “Who does not want to have fine clothing? Who does not love rich flavors? However, people who aspire to learn the Way enter the mountains, sleep under the clouds, and endure cold and hunger. Do not think that the ancients did not suffer; they endured suffering in order to abide in the Way. People in later generations hear this and revere the Way, respecting the virtue of our predecessors.”

Even among lay people, the wise are like this.

[People practicing] the Buddha-Way must not fail to have this attitude. Not all the ancients had golden bones; not all the contemporaries of the Buddha were superior vessels [of the dharma]. According to the Precepts texts [Vinaya-pitaka]1, there were various monks. Some had incredibly evil minds. However, it is written that all eventually attained the Way and became Arhats2. Therefore, even though we are low-minded and inferior, we should immediately arouse bodhi-mind, understanding that if we arouse such a mind and practice, we will definitely attain the Way. All the ancients endured pain and cold, still they practiced amidst their distress. Students today, even if you are suffering from physical pain or mental anguish, you should force yourselves to practice the Way.

  1. The collection of precepts. One of the three categories of the Buddhist scriptures. The Precepts texts contain rules of conduct and the rationale or stories regarding why such rules were laid down. The Buddha made rules each time a student did something wrong.
  2. A saint who has completely destroyed evil desires within himself and attained emancipation from the cycle of samsara.