Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 6


Dogen instructed,

Students of the Way, you should not be greedy for food and clothing. Everyone has an allotted share of food and life. Though you might seek after more than your share, you will never be able to obtain it. Moreover, for us students of the Buddha-Way, there are offerings from donors. The food obtained from begging will not be exhausted. There will also be provisions belonging to the monastery. These are not the products of personal work. Fruits and berries, food gained from begging, and offerings from faithful believers are the three kinds of pure food. Food obtained from the four kinds of occupations1, farming, commerce, soldiering, and craftmaking is all impure. This is not food permissible for monks.

Once there was a monk who died and went to the realm of the dead. King Yama2 said, “This person’s allotted life has not been exhausted yet. Let him go back.”

One of the officers of the realm of the dead said, “Although the life allotted him has not yet been exhausted, the food allotted him has already been consumed.”

The King said, “Then, let him eat lotus leaves.”

After the monk returned from the realm of the dead, he could not eat ordinary human food, so he maintained what remained of his life eating only lotus leaves.”

Therefore, the food allotted to monks who have left home, because of the power of learning the Buddha-Way, will not be exhausted. Not a single White Hair of the Buddha3, nor the twenty-year legacy of the Buddha’s life will be exhausted, even if they are used forever. Devote yourself only to the practice of the Way, and do not seek after food and clothing.

In books on medicine, it is said that only if the body, blood, and flesh are well maintained, will the mind also become healthy. Even more so, in practicing the Way should you keep the precepts, make your life pure, and restrain yourself, following the activities of the buddhas and patriarchs. In doing so, your mind will also become tranquil.

Students of the Way, when you want to say something, reflect on it three times; if it is beneficial to both yourself and others, then say it. If it is not, remain silent. However, these things are difficult to carry out. Keep them in mind and educate yourself gradually.

  1. These four occupations represent various ways of making a living, and of the various classes in the society.
  2. The lord of the dead. Yama is the judge of the merits and sins of the dead.
  3. See 4-15, footnote 2.