Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 4


Dogen instructed,

When Zen Master Hoe of Mt. Yogi1 first became the abbot, the temple was dilapidated and the monks were troubled. Therefore, an officer said it should be repaired. The master said, “Even though the building is broken down, it is certainly a better place for practicing zazen than on the ground or under a tree. If one section is broken and leaks, we should move where there are no leaks to practice zazen. If monks could attain enlightenment by building a hall, we should construct one of gold and jewels. Enlightenment does not depend on whether the building is good or bad; it depends only upon our diligence in zazen.”

The next day, in a formal speech he said, “I have now become the abbot of Yogi, and the roof and walls have many cracks and holes. The whole floor is covered with pearls of snow, the monks hunch their shoulders from the cold, and sigh in the darkness.” After a pause he continued, “It reminds me of the ancient sages sitting under the trees.”

Not only in the Buddha-Way, some have this same attitude in (the way of) politics. Emperor Taiso of the To dynasty did not build a new palace.

Ryuge2 said, “To study the Way, first of all, you learn poverty. After having learned poverty and become poor, you will be intimate with the Way.” From the time of Shakyamuni, up to the present day, I have never seen or heard of a true student of the Way who possessed great wealth.

  1. A disciple of Sekiso Soen. He was the founder of the Yogi branch of the Rinzai School. His successors established the koan practice.
  2. Ryuge Koton. A disciple of Tozan Ryokai, the founder of the Soto School in China.