Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 5


One day, a monk asked,

Ultimately, which is better, an intelligent person without bodhi-mind or an ignorant person with bodhi-mind?” Dogen replied, “Many ignorant people with bodhi-mind eventually regress. Intelligent people, though lacking bodhi-mind, eventually arouse the aspiration for the Way. There are many examples in this age to prove this. Therefore, first of all, diligently learn the Way without being concerned with whether you have bodhi-mind or not.

To learn the Way, just be poor. In both Buddhist and non-Buddhist texts, we find people who were so poor that they did not have a fixed place to live; one wandered floating on the water of the Soro River 1, some hid themselves in Mt. Shuyo  2,  some sat in the upright posture (zazen) on the ground under a tree, and others built huts in graveyards or deep in the mountains. There were also those who were so wealthy that they built palaces painted with vermilion lacquer, and adorned them with gold and jewels. Both kinds of people are found in the texts. However, those who were poor and without possessions were praised as models for later generations. When admonishing about evil deeds, the texts criticized those who were wealthy with abundant possessions as being people of extravagance and arrogance.”

  1. This refers to Kutsugen . See 2-23, footnote 1.
  2. This refers to Hakui  and Shukusei , the sons of a king of the In dynasty. When the In was conquered by the Shu dynasty, they hid themselves in Mt. Shuyo, finally starving to death.