Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 5


One day in a speech Dogen said,

Daido Kokusen1 said, “Sitting in the wind and sleeping in the sun is better than wearing rich brocades like people today.” Although this is a saying of an ancient master, I have some doubts about it. Does “people today” refer to worldly people who covet profit? If so why did he mention it? It is most stupid to compete with such people. Or does it refer to people who are practicing the Way? If so, why did he say doing what he did was better than wearing brocades? As I examine his frame of mind, it sounds as if he still values brocades. The sages were not like this. They attached themselves neither to gold and jewels, nor to broken tiles and pebbles.

Therefore Shakyamuni-Tathagata accepted milk gruel offered by the cowmaid, as well as grain used to feed horses 2. He accepted both with equanimity.

In the buddha-dharma, there is nothing valueless nor valuable, yet among people there is shallow and profound. Nowadays, when people are given gold and jewels, they consider them valuable and refuse them. But if they are given wood or stone, they consider such things cheap, so they accept them and hold attachment to them. Gold and jewels have been taken from the earth, wood and stone also come from the earth. Why do people refuse one because it is expensive and covet the other because it is cheap? When I inquire into such a mind, it would seem that if they obtained something expensive they would worry about building attachment to it. However, even if they acquire something cheap and love it, they will be guilty of the same fault. Students should be careful about this.

  1. Daido Kokusen (Dadao Guquan, ?–?) was a disciple of Funyo Zensho (947–1024).
  2. Milk gruel is an example of fine food while grain used as feed for horses (see 1-16, footnote 9) represents coarse food. Buddha Shakyamuni received both equally without discrimination.