True Dharma Eye Treasury: The Bodhisattvas Four Embracing
Director, Soto Zen Buddhism International Center
Connection between Shishobo and the Shobogenzo
Shishobo (The Bodhisattvas Four Embracing Actions)
is the 28th fascicle in Dogen Zenjis 60- fascicle version
of the Shobogenzo. The process through which the Shobogenzo
was compiled is clear. Six different editions of the Shobogenzo
were hand copied before the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). These
are the 75-fascicle version, the 12-fascicle version, the
60-fascicle and 28- fascicle version, the 84-fascicle version,
and the 83-fascicle version. The 75-fascicle version and the
12-fascicle version have no overlapping sections and the 60-fascicle
version and the 28-fascicle version also have none. Present
day Soto Zen scholars think that the first and second versions
are one set and the third and fourth versions are another.
are various opinions one of which is that Dogen Zenji himself
compiled the 75-fascicle version (Some scholars think that
either Ejo or Senne compiled this version and not Dogen Zenji
and that in his final years, Dogen Zenji had planned to write
more fascicles in order to make a 100-fascicle Shobogenzo).
At that time, he wrote twelve more fascicles. However, Dogen
Zenji passed away before completion of the project. According
to this opinion, the 75-fascicle version that was written
before 1246 and the 12-fascicle version that was written or
revised later were left as separate works. The 12-fascicle
version was stored at Yokoji in Ishikawa Prefecture and was
not discovered until 1930.
it is said that when Giun Zenji (1253- 1333) became the 5th
abbot of Eiheiji, following the death of the 4th abbot Gien
(? - 1314), no versions of the Shobogenzo existed at
Eiheiji because of damage caused by fire. Giun tried to collect
as many fascicles as possible and this was the origin of the
60-fascicle version. Twenty-eight fascicles were stored at
Eiheiji and later this version was called the Himitsu
(Secret) Shobogenzo. It is said that Giun sorted the
fascicles and left out the ones in which Dogen Zenji had made
harsh criticism of certain Zen masters or schools. People
who had the 75-fascicle version tried to collect the fascicles
that were not included in that 75- fascicle version, while
people who had the 60-fascicle version tried to collect those
fascicles that they did not have. In this way, the 84-fascicle-version
and 83-fascicleversion were made.
Tokugawa Period, Manzan Dohaku (1636-17 15) searched through
as many manuscripts as possible and compiled the 89-fascicle
version in 1684. Kozen (1627- 1693), the 35th abbot of Eiheiji,
made a more thorough search and compiled a 95-fascicle version
in 1690, putting the fascicles in the chronological order.
Kozen tried to publish this version of the Shobogenzo, but
he passed away before completing the project. In 1722, the
Sotoshu authority, supported by the Tokugawa shogunate government,
prohibited the publication of the Shobogenzo.
Sokuchu (1729-1807) began the project of publishing the entire
collection of the Shobogenzo when he became the 50th
abbot of Eiheiji in 1795. Daigu Shunryo (? -1803) and Sodo
Ontatsu (? - 1813) assisted him and spent much time on the
project. The 95-fascicle version of the Shobogenzo
was published with wood-block printing in 1816, almost 100
years after Kozen first tried to do so. The compilers attempted
to collect as many fascicles as possible in order to make
it closer to the set of 100 fascicles that Dogen Zenji had
originally planned. Because of this, the collection of 95
fascicles included writings of Dogen Zenjis that were
not originally included in the Shobogenzo such as Bendowa,
Ji-kuin-mon, Ju-undo-shiki, and so forth.
the 1970s, when I was a student at Komazawa University, the
95-fascicle version was considered to be the most reliable
collection of Shobogenzo because it was published with
Prof. Sokuo Etos editing from Iwanamibunko, one of the
most influential publishers for academics and intellectuals
in modern Japan. During the last decades however, Dogen scholars
are now considering the 75-fascicle version and the 12-fascicle
version as the basis of the Shobogenzo and have added
some fascicles from other collections such as 60-fascicle
version. Shobogenzo Bodaisatta Shishobo was not included
in the 75-fascicle version or the 12-fascicle version. It
was the 28th fascicle of the 60-fascicle version, and the
45th fascicle of the 95- fascicle version.
was written in 1243
fascicle was written on the 5th day of the 5th month in 1243
during the summer practice period at Koshoji monastery, founded
ten years earlier in 1233 in Fukakusa near Kyoto. (Presently,
Fukakusa is a part of Kyoto City.) A few days after that practice
period was completed on 15th day of the 7th month, Dogen Zenji
and the monks in his monastery left Koshoji and went to the
remote district of Echizen to establish another monastery.
Some scholars think that Tendai monks from Hieizan Enryakuji
attacked Dogen Zenjis sangha and burned down Koshoji.
Other scholars conjecture that Dogen Zenji moved to the deep
mountains following his own teacher Tendo Nyojo Zenjis
advice, accepting invitations from his patron Hatano Yoshishige,
who had a property to offer in Echizen, and one of Dogens
disciples Ekan, who had a temple named Hajakuji in Echizen.
Still other scholars think he left Kyoto to avoid competition
with the Rinzai master Enni Bennen who had returned
from China in 1242 and was supported by Kujo Michiie, a high-ranking
aristocrat who built Tofukuji monastery. This monastery was
located several miles away from Koshoji toward the city of
Kyoto and Kujo invited Enni to be the abbot there.
is not clear to us, but Dogen and his disciples left Koshoji
very suddenly. When they moved to Echizen, they did not have
a temple to practice in. They stayed at a small old temple
named Yoshimine-dera. Tettsu Gikai, who later became the third
abbot of Eiheiji, was the tenzo at the time. Since there was
no kitchen at the temple, Gikai prepared meals at a house
at the foot of the steep hill on which Yoshimine-dera was
located. He then had to carry the food up the long steep hill
in the deep snow during their first winter in Echizen. If
their move had been well planned, they would have stayed at
Koshoji until the new monastery was ready. It seems likely
to me they had an urgent reason to leave Koshoji, so quickly
that they had no time to make prior preparations in Echizen.
Dogen Zenji stayed at Yoshimine-dera and Yamashibu, another
small temple in the same area, through the fall of 1243 until
the fall of 1244, he wrote 33 fascicles of the Shobogenzo.
The construction of the new temple Daibutsuji (in 1246, Dogen
renamed it as Eiheiji) was started in the spring of 1244 and
completed in the fall of the same year.
it is important to remember that this fascicle Shishobo was
written two months before their move from Kyoto to Echizen.
I suppose that Dogen Zenji and his sangha were in some precarious
situation, probably one of conflict with the Tendai establishment.
the title: Shobogenzo Bodaisatta-Shishobo
(True Dharma Eye Treasury) is an abbreviation of the expression
Shobogenzo nehan myoshin, jisso, muso, mimyo no homon
as it is expressed in Japanese. This is one long word. In
the traditional Zen story of the transmission of the Dharma
from Shakyamuni Buddha to Mahakashapa, when Shakyamuni held
up a flower, Mahakashapa was the only person in the assembly
who smiled. The Buddha then said, I have Shobogenzo
nehan myoshin----------, I transmit (entrust?) it to Mahakashapa.
This Shobogenzo is the name of the Dharma
that was transmitted from Shakyamuni to Mahakashapa, from
Mahakashapa to Ananda, and from ancestor to ancestor through
many generations up until the present day.
translation of this expression is: True Dharma Eye Treasury
Wondrous Mind of Nirvana (),
True form of Formlessness(),
Subtle and Wondrous Dharma Gate ().
This is an expression of the reality of our life that is the
treasury of the true Dharma eye (wisdom), the wondrous mind
(life) of Nirvana, in which the true form of all beings is
without form, and this reality is very subtle and unconceivable.
Zenji titled the collection of his writings in Japanese with
this name. When we read Shobogenzo, we must understand
that the topic of each and every fascicle is about this reality
of our life. In this fascicle of Shishobo, the four actions
(offering, loving words, beneficial action and identity action)
are our actual practices in our daily lives. We need to see
these practices as Shobogenzo, that is
the Dharma transmitted through buddhas and ancestors. These
actions should be done with awakening to the true reality
of emptiness and interdependent origination. In Dogen Zenjis
teachings, zazen practice itself is awakening and wisdom.
And these four actions are how zazen functions in our daily
lives and in relation to other people and living beings.
Bodhisattva (Japanese. Bodaisatta, Pali.
Bodhisatta) originally referred to Shakyamuni Buddha
when he was practicing before he attained Buddhahood. Later
Buddhists thought that Shakyamuni Buddha had been practicing
in countless lives and in various forms in order to attain
Buddhahood. In the stories of the Buddhas practice in
his past lives, he was called a Bodhisattva, a
person who is seeking the attainment of awakening. And the
Buddha is the one who has attained awakening.
Buddhists thought that there are numberless buddhas in the
past, present, and future, and that there are myriad Buddha-lands
throughout the ten directions. This is what we chant in the
dedication following each sutra that is chanted during various
kinds of service in Soto Zen tradition. Jiho-sanshi-ishifu
(all buddhas throughout the ten directions and three times)
shison-busa-mokosa (all bodhisattvas mahasattvas).
There are countless Bodhisattvas who are practicing to attain
Buddhahood in the past, present, and future in every buddha-land.
In this usage, a bodhisattva is a buddha-to-be.
sutras there are some great bodhisattvas who could be a buddha
by virtue of their practice, but they intentionally vow not
to become buddhas in order to save living beings within samsara.
They are also the symbol of a certain virtue of the Buddha.
They include the following three:
(Monju-bosatsu, in Japanese) is considered to be the
symbol of Buddhas wisdom. He sits on a lion, holding
a sword to cut off all delusions. Manjshuri is enshrined at
the center of the monks hall in Zen monasteries.
(Kanzeon-bosatsu or Kan-jizai-bosatsu, in Japanese)
is the symbol of Buddhas compassion and can be transformed
into 33 different forms, appearing to living beings in the
most suitable form to save each of them. This transformation
depends upon the necessity of each and every sentient being
according to the teaching of identityaction in Shishobo.
(Jizo-bosatsu) took a vow to save all beings transmigrating
within the six realms of samsara between the time of Shakyamuni
Buddha and Maitreya Buddha, who will appear in this world
5.7 billion years later. In Japan, a set of six statues of
Jizo Bodhisattva are enshrined at the entrance of many cemeteries
in order to save people who are going to be reborn in each
of the six realms.
great bodhisattvas mentioned above are actually transformations
of the Buddha. They are not buddhas-tobe. However, ordinary
people like us who have aroused bodhi-citta (Way-seeking mind),
received the bodhisattva precepts, made the four bodhisattva
vows, and practice according to the Buddhas teachings
are also called bodhisattvas. In the title of Shishobo, bodhisattva
refers to all Mahayana practitioners including ordinary human
beings like us. In this fascicle, Dogen Zenji teaches us that
these four actions are the essence of the practice for all
bodhisattvas, including all of the above usages of the word.
(Four embracing actions, Skt., Catursangraha- vastu,
Pali, sangaha vatthu) appears in various sutras and commentaries
of the sutras not only in Mahayana sutras such as the Lotus
Sutra, and so forth, but also in the Pali scriptures.
translated this title as Four Embracing Dharmas
because the word bo (same word as ho, )
is often used as a translation of the Sanskrit word Dharma
(Pali, Dhamma). In English, we often use the Sanskrit
word Dharma instead of using an English equivalent because
there isnt any one English word that conveys the many
meanings and connotations of this word. But when I checked
the original expression in Sanskrit, the word is not dharma
but vastu and so I feel that embracing dharma
is not the right translation. Now I temporarily translate
it as actions, although Vastu
means affair, matter, or thing.
Sometimes this word was translated into Chinese as ji
second part of doji (),
and so I translated that word as identity-action.
Hozan Alan Senauke provided me with translations of this expression
used by other translators, such as, Foundations for
Social Unity, Ways of Showing Favor,
Four Methods of Guidance, and Four
Integrative Methods. Method is another
meaning of the Chinese word ho ().
to Menzans Shobogenzo Shotenroku (the Collection
of the Sources of Expressions Dogen Zenji used in Shobogenzo)
Shishobo is defined in the 17th volume of the SanzoHossu
(Dharma Numbers in the Three Baskets) as:
of these four items of Shishobo ()
have the adjective sho (embracing,
unifying, integrative). In this case, sho
has the meaning of shoju (),
which is to embrace and accept. When a bodhisattva
wishes to guide living beings and transform them, then without
fail he or she should embrace and accept living beings and
allow them to trust him or her. Then he or she guides them
to the true Mahayana Way. In the Vimarakilti Sutra, it is
said that first we attract living beings with what they
desire and then enable them to enter the Buddhas
first is Dana embracement (,
Skt. Dana-sangraha-vastu). A bodhisattva embraces
and accepts all living beings with the two kinds of offering:
material offerings and Dharma offerings.If
some living beings wish for something material, a bodhisattva
embraces those living beings by offering material things.
When living beings seek the Dharma, a bodhisattva embraces
those living beings by offering Dharma. When living beings
receive the benefits of those two kinds of offerings, they
arouse the mind of intimacy and love the bodhisattva. They
trust the bodhisattva and accept the Way and will be able
to abide in the truth. Therefore this is called offering-
second is Loving words embracement (,
Skt. Priyavadyta-sangraha-vastu). According to the
nature of living beings, a bodhisattva comforts them with
kind words. When living beings hear these affectionate words,
they arouse the mind of intimacy. Then they trust the bodhisattva,
accept the Way, and abide in the truth. Therefore it is
third is beneficial-action-embracement (,
Skt. arthacarya-sangraha-vastu). A Bodhisattva does
good activities with body, thought, and speech to benefit
all living beings. Because of this the living beings arouse
the intimate mind of love and trust, relying on bodhisattvas.
They accept the Way and abide in the truth. It is therefore
fourth is identity-action-embracement (,
Skt. samanarthata-sangraha-vastu). A bodhisattva
clearly sees the nature of each living being with the eye
of the Dharma and then the bodhisattva manifests itself
in the form depending upon what they wish. The bodhisattva
shares these identity actions for their sake and because
of these actions, they trust and rely on the bodhisattva,
love the Way, and abide in the truth. It is therefore called
to this definition, these four actions are the ways a bodhisattva
helps living beings to enter the Way of Buddha and abide in
the truth. In this sense, the translation used by Kaz Tanahashi
in Moon in a Dew Drop, Methods of Guidance,
is a good translation. However, when Dogen Zenji expounds
these four practices as Shobogenzo,
I think, he does not merely mean that these are methods guiding
people to enter the Buddhist path. Dogen teaches that these
four practices allow the bodhisattvas themselves to be free
from the three poisonous states of mind: greed, anger/hatred,
and ignorance. These practices benefit both the person practicing
and living beings at the same time. So, I dont think
the translation of guiding method is the best
one in the case of Dogen Zenjis Shishobo.
capping phrase and praising verse
(1253-1333), the fifth abbot of Eiheiji, wrote a capping phrase
and a praising verse for each fascicle of the 60-fascicle
version of Shobogenzo. I would like to introduce the
phrase and verse he wrote for Shishobo.
Adding flowers on the golden brocade.
appears in a poem by the famous politician and poet of the
Song dynasty China, O Anseki (Wang Anshi, 1021-1086). Weaving
is one of the oldest art and craft forms in human culture.
All peoples in any part of the world, whether primitive or
developed countries, hot or cold places, dry or wet climates,
have a weaving technique for making cloth. Production of clothing
allowed human beings to live in severe climates, areas where
it was not possible for humans to live without clothing.
the warp and the woof are woven using vertical and horizontal
threads has been used as a good metaphor for interdependent
origination. Depending upon how the warp and the woof are
woven, different patterns are created. This is like the network
of life on earth. Depending upon causes and conditions, time
and space, many different kinds of scenery appear. We create
numberless stories on the stage of time and space and also
beyond the limit of time and space that is eternity. In Japan,
the warp is often compared to time and the woof is compared
to space. Each and every thing that happens day to day is
like the woven pattern of a tapestry.
of interdependent origination is the golden brocade on which
many different patterns are designed and created moment by
moment. In China and other East Asian countries, golden brocade
is the most exquisite fabric using silk with gold or other
bright colors and often has beautiful patterns. Here in this
verse, golden brocade does not refer to something more valuable
than other things, but it is rather something priceless and
beyond any comparison or evaluation. It is something that
human beings can not create. Human activities are also part
of the patterns on the golden brocade.
capping phrase means to add beauty to the golden brocade that
is already beautiful. In Zen literature, this phrase has been
used in two opposite ways. One is a meaningless and unnecessary
action. If something is already beautiful, to add more beauty
is unnecessary. It is like to trying to search for your own
face even though you already one. The other meaning is to
keep making effort to continually refine the beauty. When
Giun used this expression as the capping phrase for this fascicle
of the Shobogenzo, he meant that to practice Shishobo
is to make the already perfect network of independent origination
into something even more perfect. This is another expression
of practice upon enlightenment (shojo no
shu), that bodhisattvas are born, live, and die within
the network of interdependent origination. The practice of
awakening to that reality of interdependence and expressing
that reality is the practice of Shishobo.
this phrase is used in the first sense, it is used in a way
that is a little paradoxical or cynical. It means that bodhisattva
practice is not something special, so we should not be proud
of it. We just express our reality of life in order to express
the reality of life.
(The Extensive Record of Eihei Dogen) Vol.2 135, Dogen Zenji
quotes Wanshi (Ch. Hongzhi) Zenjis Dharma hall discourse
on the day of the winter solstice. Wanshi said, In
a bowl, the bright pearl rolls on its own without prodding.
And For a luminous jewel without flaw, if you carve
a pattern on it, its virtue is lost . He meant that
if we add something artificial to the natural beauty of the
bright pearl, we damage it.
Zenji comments in the following way about Wanshis
saying, I, old man Daibutsu (Dogen), do not agree.
Great assembly, listen carefully and consider this well. For
a luminous jewel without flaw, if polished its glow increases.
(Translation by Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura).
Dogen Zenji disagreed with Wanshi and urged his students to
consider this point very carefully. In our practice of following
the Buddhas teachings, the already beautiful jewel
becomes more and more beautiful. Some Soto scholars put emphasis
on the difference between Wanshi and Dogen, or silent illumination
Zen in China and Dogen Zen on this point.
Zenjis statement implies that Buddha-nature is perfect
as it is; dont interfere with it by adding artificial
human activities. Dogen Zenjis comment implies that
even though Buddha-nature is perfect as it is, our practice
can clarify and extend its manifestation. In both cases, practice
and enlightenment are one, but for Wanshi the emphasis is
on enlightenment that is perfect from the beginningless beginning,
and practice is its natural function, like the pearl rolling
on its own. For Dogen, the emphasis is on practice, which
expresses and actually deepens enlightenment. This has the
same meaning as the capping phrase that Giun chose for Shishobo.
The great gate of offering is open and enriches the nine
Going beyond love and hatred expressed in speech is the
wheel of the Dharma.
Beneficial actions for beings and the wind of identity actions
reach far beyond a thousand miles.
On the rootless tree, the spring of four seasons has come.
three lines are Giuns summary of the Shishobo. The
bodhisattva practice of offering will enrich all living beings
including the bodhisattva himself. When a bodhisattva goes
beyond love and hatred, their speech can turn the Dharma Wheel.
This is Giuns definition of loving words.
In this case, love is not in dualistic opposition to hatred.
Usually, our love is directed toward a certain person or people
as objects and that love can then become hatred toward another
group of people. Such love easily transforms into hatred depending
on causes and conditions. To speak true loving words, we need
to go beyond love and hatred. This is Buddhas compassion.
One word of the Buddhas compassion is the Dharma wheel.
action benefits all beings and the wind of identity-action
reaches beyond the 1000 miles that is the human realm of duality.
spring on the rootless tree
final line of Giuns verse shows that this practice
of Shishobo is the practice of emptiness that brings about
eternal or timeless spring. The literal translation of Giuns
expression is the spring of four seasons.
This means that all four seasons become the timeless, unconditioned
spring of Nirvana. The rootless tree is a symbol of emptiness
used in Buddhist literature, the same as a bamboo or a banana
tree. These four practices of Bodhisattva bring Nirvana to
the human world, where we are always creating pain and suffering.
We, human beings often stain, pollute or even destroy the
beauty of the golden brocade by our actions based on the three
poisonous states of mind. In this sense, the four embracing
actions are practices enabling us to
awaken to the preciousness of the network of interdependent
origination and to heal ourselves and others from the damages
caused by our deluded actions.
end of Shobogenzo Genjo-koan, Dogen Zenji said, To
say we should not use a fan because the nature of wind is
ever present, and that we should feel the wind even when we
don't use a fan, is to know neither ever-presence nor the
wind's nature. Since wind's nature is ever present, the wind
of the Buddha's family enables us to realize the gold of the
great earth and to transform the [water of] the long river
of zazen and daily activities actualizes the everlasting nature
of wind and causes the actual wind that makes our life and
world into cream and gold. What Giun says here has the same
meaning. Our practice adds beauty to already beautiful golden
capping phrase and praising verse provide us a good preparatory
understanding for our study of Dogen Zenjis Shobogenzo