Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 6


Dogen instructed,

I have heard that at the time of the founder of the monastery on Mt. Seppo1, the temple was so poor they sometimes had no food to cook or sometimes had to eat green beans2 steamed with rice. They lived such a poor life while learning the Way. In later years there were never less than fifteen hundred monks staying at the monastery.

Ancient people practiced in such a way. Today, we should also be like this. This degeneration of monks is often caused by wealth and fame. In the time of the Buddha, Dêvadatta3 aroused jealousy since he received daily offerings of five hundred cartloads of provisions. Wealth was harmful not only to himself, but made other people commit evil deeds. How can sincere people who learn the Way become wealthy? Even if it is an offering made from pure faith, if it accumulates in abundance, you must see it as a debt and want to return it.

People in this country make donations for the sake of gaining personal profit. It is only natural in the human world to give more to people who approach with a flattering smile. However, if you do so to curry favor with others, it will surely become an obstacle to your practice of the Way. Just endure the hunger and the cold and devote yourself completely to the practice of the Way.

  1. Seppo Gison (822–908) was a disciple of Tokusan Senkan.
  2. In the Tenzo Kyokun Dogen wrote, “First, take out any insects in the rice. And carefully winnow out any green beans, rice bran, or tiny stones.” Green beans (rokusu) were not usually eaten.
  3. Dêvadatta was a cousin of Shakyamuni and became his disciple. It is said that he attempted to take over the leadership of the Buddhist sangha after Prince Ajatasatru took refuge with him and offered five hundred cartloads of provisions daily.