Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 4


Dogen instructed,

I heard the following story from someone, though I’m not sure if it is true or not. The late councilor Jimyoin1, who was a lay monk, once had a treasured sword stolen. The perpetrator was among his retainers. The other warriors arrested the man and brought him to the councilor. Jimyoin said, “There’s been a mistake. This is not my sword.” He then gave the sword back to the warrior.

Although it was undoubtedly his sword, he returned it because he was considering the shame of the warrior. Although everyone knew it, the situation ended without trouble. Therefore, the councilor’s descendants flourished. Even among lay people there are those who have a big heart like this.

How much more should a monk have the same attitude. Since it is a matter of course that a monk have no wealth, he should consider his wisdom and virtue as his treasure. Even when someone has done wrong that goes against bodhi-mind, he should not express his criticism directly and judge the person to be evil. One should search for skillful means and speak in such a way as not to anger people.

It is said that the dharma does not last long if it is expressed violently. Even if you scold a person according to the dharma, if you use rough language, the dharma will not remain long.

A petty person of inferior faculties soon becomes angry and thinks of his disgrace when he is criticized with harsh words. He is unlike a superior and magnanimous person. A magnanimous person, even when he is hit, never thinks of revenge. Now in our country, there are many petty people. We should be very careful.

  1. Ichijo Motoie (1132-1214). Councilor is a translation of Chunagon, a court ranking which is below Dainagon (Vice Minister).