One, seven, three, five --

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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXII)

Master Dogen continues his story of the Yuwang Monastery cook.

(I have added capitalized notes inspired by Uchiyama Roshi's comments) ...

I again asked the cook: "You are venerable in years; why don't you sit in meditation to pursue the way or contemplate the words of the ancients? It is troublesome being cook; all you do is labor. What good is that?" The cook laughed and said, "My good man from a foreign country, you do not yet understand pursuit of the way and do not yet know about written words [of the ancients]."

IF ONE THINKS THAT ZAZEN IS JUST SITTING AROUND, ONE TRULY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ZAZEN IN ITS WIDEST MEANING. THE TENZO MEANS THAT DOGEN DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE TRUE MEANING OF PRACTICE (THROUGH LABOR AND ALL OF LIFE) NOR THE TRUE MEANING OF THE BUDDHIST TEACHINGS.

When I heard him speak in this manner, I suddenly felt ashamed and taken aback. I asked him, "What are written words? What is the practice of the way?" The cook said, ["Keep asking and penetrate this question and then you will be someone who understands"]

IN OTHER WORDS, WHEN YOU FINALLY FIGURE OUT THIS QUESTION, YOU WILL TRULY UNDERSTAND PRACTICE AND THE TEACHINGS AND "YOU".

At the time, I did not understand. The cook said, "If you still don't understand, come to Yuwang Mountain at some other time, in the future. On that occasion we can discuss the principle of written words." Having spoken thus, the cook got up and said, "It is late in the day and I am in a hurry, so I am going back now."

In the seventh month of the same year, I registered at Tiantong [Monastery]. While I was there, that [Yuwang] cook came to meet me and said, "At the end of the summer retreat I retired as cook and am now returning to my home village. I happened to hear a disciple say that you were here; how could I not come to meet you?"

I jumped for joy and was very grateful. In the ensuing conversation that I had with him I brought up the [matter he had touched on aboard the ship concerning the practice and study of words]. The cook said, "The study of written words is to understand the purpose of written words. Exertion in pursuit of the way requires an affirmation of the purpose of pursuing the way." I asked him, "What are written words?" The cook answered, "One, two, three, four, five." I also asked, "What is pursuit of the way?" He said, "In the whole world, it can never be hidden."

UCHIYAMA ROSHI COMMENTS:, "THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD THAT IS HIDDEN" ... MEANING THAT THE TRUTH OF LIFE MANIFESTS ITSELF IN ALL PLACES AND IN ALL THINGS, JUST AS THEY ARE. WHEN THE TENZO COUNTS TO FIVE, HE IMPLIES THAT "EVERYTHING" IS THE ANSWER; HERE HE SAYS THAT EVERYTHING IN OUR LIVES IS PRACTICE.


Although there was a great variety of other things that we discussed, I will not record them at this point. The little I know about written words and understand about pursuing the way is due to the great kindness of that cook. I told my late teacher Myôzen about the things that I have just related here, and he was very happy to hear of them.

Later I saw a verse that {the poet and Zen Master] Xuedou wrote to instruct the monks:

[One, seven, three, five --

The truth you search for cannot be grasped.

As night advances, a bright moon

illuminates the whole ocean;

The dragon's jewels are found in every wave.

Looking for the moon, it is here,

in this wave, in the next.]

THE TRUTH IS EVERYWHERE IF WE CAN SEE, AND EVEN IF WE CANNOT.

What that cook said some years before and what Xuedou expresses in this verse clearly coincide. More and more I understand that the cook was a true man of the way. But in the past what I saw of written words was one, two, three, four, five. Today what I see of written words is also six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

UCHIYAMA ROSHI COMMENTS: "6,7,8,9 and 10. THAT IS, THOUGH THE PHENOMENA WE ENCOUNTER BEFORE AND AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT ARE THE SAME, THE FUNCTION COMPLETELY CHANGES"

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk [with portion from Uchiyama and Anzan Hoshin]




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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