Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 5


On another occasion, Dogen said,

The human mind definitely changes depending on others’ words. In the Daichidoron (Mahaprajnaparamitasastra) 1, it is written,

“For example, it is like a foolish person who has a precious jewel in his hands. Someone sees him and says, ‘You are so vulgar; you hold things in your own hands.’ Hearing this he thinks, ‘This jewel is precious, yet my reputation is also important. I don’t want to be thought of as being vulgar.’ Worrying about this and being pulled around by [the idea of his] reputation, he finally follows another’s words. He decides to put the jewel down and has his servant take it. And, in the end, he loses the jewel.”

This is how the human mind works. There are some who do not follow advice, being trapped by ideas about their reputations, although they think it is undoubtedly good for them. Also, there are some who follow advice for the sake of establishing their own fame, even though they know it is obviously harmful to them.

When you follow something good or bad, your mind is pulled by goodness or badness. Therefore, no matter how evil your mind may be, when you follow a good teacher and become intimate with good people, your mind will naturally become good. If you associate with bad people, even though in the beginning you may think they are bad, eventually you will follow such people’s minds, you will get used to being with them. And finally become really bad without realizing it.

Or, though determined in your mind not to give something to someone, if they press you too strongly, you give it to them unwillingly, even though you hate them. And, though you decided to give it to them, you might not if you don’t have a good opportunity.

Therefore, even if you don’t have bodhi-mind, once having become familiar with good people and having met good circumstances, you should listen to and look at the same things again and again. Do not think that you don’t need to listen because you have heard it once before. Even if you have aroused bodhi-mind once, though it may be the same thing each time you hear it, your mind will become more refined and you will improve even more. Moreover, even if you still lack bodhi-mind, and don’t find it interesting the first or second time, if you listen to a good person’s words again and again, just like walking through the mist or dew, your clothing naturally gets wet without noticing it; you will naturally feel ashamed and true bodhi-mind will arise.

For this reason, even though you have understood the sacred scriptures, you must read them again and again. You must listen to your teacher’s words repeatedly, even though you have heard them before. You will find more and more profound meanings. Do not be involved in matters which obstruct your practice of the Way. Even if it is painful and difficult, you should become familiar with good friends and practice the Way with them.

  1. The Mahaprajnaparamita-sástra 100 vol. This is a commentary by Nagarjina (ca 150–ca 250 A.D.) on the Mahaprajnaparamita-sutra.