Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 6


Dogen also said,

The essential point to be careful about in practicing the Way is casting aside your tendency (from the past) to cling to certain things. If you first change your physical behavior, your mind will be reformed as well. Firstly, carry out what is prescribed to do and avoid what is prohibited in the precepts; then your mind will reform of itself.

In China, there is a custom among lay people of gathering at their ancestral shrine and pretending to cry, to demonstrate their filial piety toward their fathers and mothers. Eventually, they actually begin to cry. Students of the Way! Even if you don’t have bodhi-mind in the beginning, if you force yourself to practice the Buddha-Way, eventually you will arouse true bodhi-mind. Especially beginners in the Way should just practice [the Way] following the other members of the sangha. Do not be in a hurry to study and understand the essential points and ancient examples. It is good to understand such things without misinterpretation when you enter the mountains or seclude yourselves in a city. If you practice following the other practitioners, you will surely attain the Way. It is like making a voyage. Even though you don’t know how to steer the ship, if you leave everything to the skill of the sailors, whether you understand or not, you will reach the other shore. Only if you follow a good teacher and practice with fellow practitioners without harboring personal views, will you naturally become a person of the Way.

Students of the Way, even if you have attained enlightenment, do not stop practicing. Do not think that you have reached the pinnacle. The Way is endless. Even if you have attained enlightenment, continue to practice the Way. Remember the story of Ryosui who visited Zen Master Mayoku1.

  1. The lecturer Ryosui (?–?) visited Mayoku (?–?) a disciple of Baso. Upon seeing Ryosui coming, Mayoku took a hoe and went to hoeing up weeds. Although Ryosui went to where Mayoku was working, Mayoku paid no attention to him, went back to his room, and shut the gate. Ryosui visited Makoku again the next day. Makoku shut the gate again. Ryosui knocked on the door.
    Mayoku asked, “Who is it?”
    “It’s Ryosui!”
    When the lecturer called out his own name, he suddenly attained enlightenment, and said, “Master, do not deceive Ryosui. If I had not come to see you, I would have been deceived by the sutras and śastras my whole life.”
    When Ryosui went back, he gave a speech to his class, “All you know, Ryosui knows. What Ryosui knows, you don’t know.”
    Then he quit giving lectures and had the people leave.