Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 5


Dogen instructed,

There is a proverb, “Unless you are deaf and dumb, you cannot become the head of a family.”

In other words, if you do not listen to the slander of others and do not speak ill of others, you will succeed in your own work. Only a person like this is qualified to be the head of a family.

Although this is a worldly proverb, we must apply it to our way of life as monks. How do we practice the way without being disturbed by the slandering remarks of others, and without reacting to the resentment of others, or speaking of the right or wrong of others? Only those who thoroughly devote even their bones and marrow to the practice can do it.