Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 5


Dogen instructed,

An ancient master said, “The provisions and food in storage belonging to the monastery should be entrusted to the officers 1 who understand cause and effect. Let these officers administer the various tasks; dividing the monastery into departments and distributing the work.” This means the abbot of the monastery should not take charge of any major or minor matter whatever; rather he should concentrate only on practicing zazen, and encourage the members of the assembly.

It is also said, “It is better to master even a small skill than to own thousands of acres of productive rice paddies.”

“When you do a favor for others, do not expect a reward. After having given something away, harbor no regret.”

“Keep your mouth as silent as your nose, and no disasters will reach you.”

“If your practice is lofty, people naturally respect you; if your talent is great, others will follow you of themselves.” 2

“Despite plowing deep and planting shallow, you may still suffer natural disaster. All the more so will you receive the effect of your evil if you profit only yourself while harming others.”

Students of the Way, when you learn the sayings [of the ancient masters], you must look at them and examine them very closely with fullest attention.

  1. There were six major officers in ancient Zen monasteries. Each of them was in charge of his respective function in the monastery. The six are tsusu, kansu, fusu, ino, tenzo, and shissui.
  2. In the Choenjibon version, this sentence reads, “A person whose practice is firm will naturally be respected; though one who is highly talented will be put down by others.”