View Full Version : About the Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen (Fukanzazengi)

09-06-2022, 04:21 AM
Master Dogen's Fukanzazengi (Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen - 普勸坐禪儀) is among his clearest expositions of the art of sitting Shikantaza Zazen. In fact, he wrote at least a couple of rather differently worded versions, and appears to have made other small changes in wording over the years. It is written in classical Chinese. While the exact date of its composition is unclear, it is traditionally thought to have been first composed in 1227, shortly after Dōgen's return to Japan from his years of study in China. This is based on a statement to that effect in his essay Bendōwa from 1231. However, a manuscript of Fukanzazengi discovered in modern times that was produced by Dōgen's own hand ends with a note stating that it was written in 1233. This version, known as the "Tenpuku" manuscript (Tenpuku was the era name when written), has a number of major differences from the more widely known version, the "Rufubon" (vulgate) version". The Rufubon version, which is included in the Eihei Kōroku, thus likely has a later date, no earlier that 1242 according to some scholars, and thus may be considered Master Dogen's more mature vision of Shikantaza.

Here is the scroll of Master Dogen's own handwritten version, with the title "Fukanzazengi" at far right ...


... with Master Dogen's own signing at the end, far left, with the name "Fukanzazengi at right, and the "Tenpuku" era date and place of composition written between:


The version which we study and chant at Treeleaf is the Rufubon version. We study Fukuzazengi quite often, and recommend it as a basic, traditional guide to Zazen for newcomers. We also read it formally in English during our Rohatsu Retreat, and it is chanted regularly at Soto Zen temples in Japan. I used to recite it in Japanese when regularly sitting Zazenkai at the Tokyo branch temple of Eiheiji, where it was chanted at the end of Zazen with the same lovely rhythm as in the following, and I found it a powerful and moving experience.


If you would like to read more about the meaning of Fukanzazengi, the following is a chapter from my book:

The Zen Master's Dance: A Guide to Understanding Dogen and Who You Are in the Universe
The Way of Zazen Recommended for Everyone (LINK) (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hYOg2sXOHGLIwqAW9PMYTVdaj44ZrZtE/view?usp=sharing)

Gassho, J



Tomás ESP
09-06-2022, 06:17 AM
One of my favorite texts from this tradition, thank you Jundo. I highly recommend people check out Kokuu's channel which has audio versions of this text and others by zen masters and mostly Dogen:


Gassho, Tomás