Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 6


Dogen instructed,

Whether they seem good or bad, the deeds of a person of the Way, are results of deep consideration. They cannot be fathomed by ordinary people.

A long time ago, Eshin Sozu1 once had someone beat a deer that was eating grass in the garden and drive it away.

Someone asked him, “You seem to lack compassion. Why did you begrudge the grass to the deer and have it driven away?”

The Sozu replied, “If I did not beat it and drive it away, the deer would eventually become familiar with human beings. And if it ever went near an evil person, it would surely be killed. This is why I drove it away.”

Although he seemed lacking in compassion by beating the deer and driving it away, deep in his heart he had compassion.

  1. Genshin (942–1017) was a Tendai priest and a great exponent of Pure Land thought. He is popularly called Eshin Sozu because he lived in Eshin-in at Yokawa on Mt. Hiei. He lost his father when he was young and went up to Mt. Hiei to study Buddhism under Ryogen. His Ojoyoshû laid the foundation for the Japanese Pure Land teaching. Sozu is a rank in the Buddhist hierarchy in Japan.