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Thread: 4/23 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 5-12 to 5-17

  1. #1

    4/23 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 5-12 to 5-17

    Hi,

    I see that there are various points of view, but I do not think that I agree with Master Dogen's priorities in 5-12. Hmmm. I would take care of mom, and make that Practice! Probably, so would most Western Zen priests (and modern Japanese priests). Going off to the monastery was traditionally looked at much like a young man leaving his family during war time to join the army ... a higher duty than family needs. But the greater emphasis on lay practice and home life in Japan and the West means Dogen's views now seem very extreme.

    Also, looking at 5-13 ... he certainly has some mixed ideas about loyalty to a teacher.

    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/common_ ... 05-12.html

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 4/23 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 5-12 to 5-17

    "Disengaged Buddhism", perhaps? :?

    I wonder if Master Dogen would have given similar advice to laypeople. Teachings addressed to monastics often have a tough-minded, "don't look back" tone which might be more appropriate in that context.

    There's another passage (I found this in Kazuaki Tanahashi's anthology "Enlightenment Unfolds", pp 54-55) where a monk asks about caring for his infirm mother, saying he is her only child and sole means of support. Dogen weighs the various options and expresses hope that the monk may be able to come up with "some skillful means to secure your mother's livelihood and also enter the Buddha way". If that turns out not to be possible, Dogen considers it better to go ahead and pursue a monastic vocation since such a rare chance should not be missed. (Keeping in mind that human birth is said to be exceedingly infrequent, and birth in conditions where the dharma is available even more so).

    Your mother may live long and you may depart first...in that case your intention will not be actualized. You will be sorry about not entering the buddha way and your aged mother will be responsible for preventing you from doing so. Both of you will be at fault and will achieve no good result.

    On the other hand, even if your mother dies of starvation, letting her only son enter the way will be greatly beneficial to her own attaining of the way. You have been unable to discard family obligations and attachments through many lifetimes. Doing so now and meeting the buddha-dharma truly repays your parents' kindness...it is said when one child becomes a monk the parents of seven generations attain the way. Don't lose the opportunity of attaining bliss for countless eons through attachment to this present drifting life. You should carefully consider this.
    Again, though, would he have taught the same way when speaking with ordinary "householders"? I guess traditionally it has always been considered meritorious to put all aside and single-mindedly seek the dharma, no matter who may suffer as a result. Still there may be some element of truth in all of this, harsh as it seems (?).

  3. #3

    Re: 4/23 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 5-12 to 5-17

    5-12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I see that there are various points of view, but I do not think that I agree with Master Dogen's priorities in 5-12. Hmmm. I would take care of mom, and make that Practice! Probably, so would most Western Zen priests (and modern Japanese priests). Going off to the monastery was traditionally looked at much like a young man leaving his family during war time to join the army ... a higher duty than family needs. But the greater emphasis on lay practice and home life in Japan and the West means Dogen's views now seem very extreme.
    Agreed .... When I get enlightened it will be of great benefit to others, which is more or less the point to the below passage. Sounds a bit self serving to me, but perhaps that is the way he really felt.

    However, if I carry out my aspiration to go to China to seek the dharma, and gain a bit of enlightenment, although it goes against one person’s deluded feelings, it would become a cause for attaining the Way of many people.
    5-13
    I truly understood that we must gradually reform previous thoughts and views and not hold firmly to them. In one of the Classics it is said, “Good advice sounds harsh to the ear.”
    I really like this statement. Being confronted with our deluded thoughts can be quite a shock and denial is a very powerful drug.

    5-15
    For this reason, even though you have understood the sacred scriptures, you must read them again and again. You must listen to your teacher’s words repeatedly, even though you have heard them before. You will find more and more profound meanings.
    Jundo...I promise to keep listening! But seriously, sometimes I have caught myself reading a passage and think "Oh I've heard this before." But, one must be careful as I think understanding the teachings goes beyond what we typically think of "understanding" and involves more of a deeper level of learning and acceptance.

    5 - 17
    There is a proverb, “Unless you are deaf and dumb, you cannot become the head of a family.

    In other words, if you do not listen to the slander of others and do not speak ill of others, you will succeed in your own work. Only a person like this is qualified to be the head of a family.

    One must be careful with this one, as you do not want to ignore destructive behaviors carried out by family members, friends, or those who wish to do us harm. Correct in that gossiping about such issues should be avoided, but I believe that sometimes silence is not the answer.


    Gassho,

    Jisen/BrianW

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