Shobogenzo Zuimonki

Book 6


Dogen instructed,

During the reign of Taiso of the To dynasty, a foreign country presented the emperor with a horse that could travel thousands of miles a day. After receiving the horse, he thought to himself joylessly,

“Even if I travel thousands of miles on this excellent horse, it is useless if no retainers follow me.”

Therefore he summoned Gicho1 and asked him about it.

Gicho replied, “I agree with you.”

So, the emperor returned the horse with a load of gold and silk on its back.
Even an emperor in the secular world did not keep what was useless; he returned it. Much more so for Zen monks; besides robes and a bowl, there is nothing at all which is useful. Why store up useless things? Even among lay people, those who completely devote themselves to a certain way do not think it necessary to possess property such as rice paddies, gardens, or manors. They consider everyone in the whole country their own people or family.

In his will to his son, Chiso Hokyo2 said, “You must concentrate your efforts on the Way exclusively.”

Needless to say, as children of the Buddha, you should abandon all affairs and devote yourselves to one thing wholeheartedly. This is the primary thing to bear in mind.

  1. See 2-3, footnote 2.
  2. In the Rufu-bon, Suke no Hokyo. Hokyo (Dharma Bridge) is a rank in the Buddhist hierarchy. Nothing is known about him.