View Full Version : 7/17 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 1-11 to 1-15

07-18-2009, 04:17 AM
Hi Readers,

This week, our study involves several cautions on not reading and studying too much (such as in 1-11, 1-14 ).

All this concern, coming from Dogen ... a man who was one of the most widely read, scholarly and literate individuals in the Buddhism of his day. Another Koan!

Gassho, Jundo

07-18-2009, 07:50 AM


Ask yourself, is he saying "don't read" or does he say "don't be attached to the words"?

And i got stuck on this one...

samsara which means transmigration within the six realms of delusions
Thats a new explanation... ;)


07-19-2009, 02:36 PM
"Impermanence is also usually used in a negative sense, though Dogen quoted the Sixth Patriarch in Shobogenzo Bussho (Buddha-nature), “Therefore, grass, trees, and bushes are impermanent, and are nothing but Buddha-nature. Human beings and things, body and mind are impermanent, and are nothing but Buddha-nature. The earth, mountains, and rivers are impermanent, because they are Buddha-nature. Supreme awareness (Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi) is impermanent, since it is Buddha-nature. The great Nirvana is Buddha-nature since it is impermanent.”

I liked the footnote best because it made clearer this Buddha-nature. Is Buddha-nature permanent?

07-19-2009, 11:15 PM

Since literature and poetry are useless, you should give them up.

Except that Dogen never gave poetry up throughout his life ... that fellow could (in a positive way) talk out of both sides of a no-sided mouth! :)

Probably good to give them up during intensive practice periods in a monastery, for example.

Here are some classic Dogen poems ...

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... 0Dogen.htm (http://http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/C%20-%20Zen/Zen%20Poetry/Dogen/9%20Poems%20by%20Dogen.htm)

And a book, though rather technical, on the subject ...

http://www.dharma.net/monstore/product_ ... ts_id=1378 (http://http://www.dharma.net/monstore/product_info.php?products_id=1378)

07-20-2009, 06:18 PM
I'm going to take this a step further than is probably meant, but I think it makes a good lesson none the less.
Poetry and literature are not useless per se, but they should never be used for constant escapism. We've all either been or known that person that use books, movies, or other forms of passive entertainment to try and escape the here and now. Goes with the saying 'you only have one life so live it'. The same goes for studying Buddhism- yes it is important, but don't get so tied up in studying that we don't practice. Active living, not passive living. Sitting may seem passive at times, but it is an active pursuit.

A Buddhist Robin Hood story :D Straight forward, even with the tricky ethics of stealing from the government. We should all aspire to put the our necks out for others and for the Buddha-dharma at least once.

07-20-2009, 06:35 PM
1.11 "Knowledge puffs up, love builds up" as it says in the Bible. He is also reinforcing the point he made in 1.5 about the dangers of studying too widely instead of deeply.

!.12 An example of breaking a precept (against stealing) but being justified in doing so. Giving away your life to help others is the ultimate form of self-sacrifice. But there aren't too many of us ready to become Bodhisattvas.

1.13 There seem to be two points here. One is the danger of setting up the Buddha or others as deities, thus making a separation between them and us that excuses us from having to realise the Buddha nature in ourselves. The hundred foot pole koan signifies to me the difficulty of moving past our habitual self-protective practices.. of opening ourselves to the the problems and suffering of others...of removing the armour that protects our hearts from hurt from others.

1.14 So, when we narrow down our focus and give up distracting activities, the one practice we should devote ourselves to is zazen.

1.15 No flashy, showy achievements required - how we love to arouse admiration and praise from others! But just cool steady day by day persistent practice without seeking any gain is what is needed.


07-21-2009, 08:32 AM
1-11: My take on this is: It's good to know the theory, but you gotta put it into action. And while doing this, do only this. All the studies won't take you just one step further without actually taking the step.

1-12: Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly.

07-21-2009, 03:36 PM
On 1-11:
I don't agree with this. We have time in this life to learn and do a great deal, and both are inherently good.

On 1-12:
Moral of the story: people acting on profound motivations should expect to be occasionally beheaded. It still happens today.

On 1-13:
The idea of putting trust in the teacher's method here sheds light on 1-11... maybe Dogen was thinking of the same bunch of overeager busybodies when he wrote both chapters.

On 1-14:

On 1-15:
This chapter could be seen as an extension of 1-11 and 1-14... the capping reason for his admonishing against excessive learning. Maybe if I didn't jump on every new subject with both feet, I could walk a straight line.


07-22-2009, 12:02 AM
"When the Imperial envoy brought him out to cut off his head, he did not show regret or grief; rather he looked joyful. He said to himself, “I give this life to all living beings.”

Only by being totally unattached in the moment could he have been joyful and said that. Enju is my hero. The will to live must be life itself in this moment.

07-22-2009, 01:40 AM

When I read this I thought of Zen Mind Beginner's Mind's "Zen and Excitement". I remember when I first started to practice, I got really pumped about Zen. I was enthralled. But then I really started to practice... and became bored with it. I only saw the fluff of Zen, the stuff of large santori experience and farting lotus blossoms. But I also think that this section was about, like others said, not to be just focused on the books. They are important but so it taking the words and turning them into proper practice. If only there was a term for a balance between the two... oh wait 8)


07-22-2009, 02:59 AM
1-11: I think this comment might be aimed at lay people of the past. Back in olden-times, people had to work very hard all day (not just 8 hours in an air conditioned office)... so in what little free time one had, Dogen suggests that one "just practice the Buddha-Way and study the buddha-dharma". Why? Because it is the most important thing and we are alive for only a "short while". I don't think this is advice to Monks because they would already be doing it.

For modern times it's a different story, of course. We have much more time for education and a lot of it is necessary, even mandatory... I think the main thing is that we should be careful not to study "the words" too much because in these times it is so much easier to do so. The Internet can compound this problem of "over-education".

I don't have any idea how much buddha-dharma study is necessary. I do my 30 minute sits twice a day... and read as I feel like it. I think I've learned, recently, if I really really really want to know the answer that I can't find... that's too much studying and it's time to give up and sit.


07-22-2009, 08:03 AM


A quote comes to mind...

I may be bad... but I feel gooood. - sheila , Army of Darkness

But the question is, who decides what is good or bad?


07-22-2009, 08:13 AM
For modern times it's a different story, of course. We have much more time for education and a lot of it is necessary, even mandatory...

I think 1-11 has a lot to offer for the people of today too. Especially in the west we have a mentality that you can just buy yourself into everything. So if you have a hard job, do a lot of work in the office and at home and do not have time to "practice that zazen-stuff", just go and buy the ebook or download an audible version to your ipod so you can get enlightenment while commuting ... rather not.

I do not mean to say that education is not necessary, so I am with what you said.
But I think it's nice to be reminded that there is such a large emphasis on the actual practice of zazen on AND off the cushion.

07-22-2009, 09:56 AM
1-13: To me this is about one's expectations of how the Buddha, the teacher or zazen (or our whole life) has to be. It's another take on the basic insight of how suffering starts and how we can overcome it.

What strikes me is the last paragraph. The picture of the pole is making sense, but what is the one further step? Is the climbing a life of practice and the next step the expression that death is another step on the way too?

07-22-2009, 10:45 AM


This one is a important one.

First off, what is a "teacher"?
A teacher is something that teaches something to something.
http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/w ... acher.html (http://http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-is-teacher.html)

In the tradition of the patriarchs, the true way of understanding dharma-talks [on Zen practice] is to gradually reform what you have known and thought by following your teacher’s instruction.

How does "follow your teacher" correspond with "be a lamp unto yourself"?

Students today, however, cling to their own discriminating minds. Their thinking is based on their own personal views that buddha must be such and such; if it goes against their ideas, they say that buddha cannot be that way.

To quote another master: "Don't separate between hot and cold"


07-23-2009, 12:09 AM
"Just understand what you see right now is buddha. If you continually reform your discriminating mind and fundamental attachment in this way according to your teacher’s instruction, you will naturally become one with the Way

Thinking is just a representation, without thinking there is no discrimination.

07-24-2009, 05:39 AM

Quit projecting your own internalized image of how things should be. A teacher is a teacher and won't necessarily fit into your preconceived notion.


Jut sit. (On a side note, nice to see Dogen's mind wandered while practicing zazen, though it did wander on the topic of zazen!)


This seems to be about avoiding rashness, think actions through instead of acting upon emotions.

07-24-2009, 02:58 PM
"When it was extremely hot or cold, monks there stopped sitting for a while because they were afraid of getting sick. At the time, I thought to myself, “I may become sick and die. Still, I should just practice zazen. What is the use of clinging to this body? How can I refrain from practice when I am not sick? Dying from illness because of practice accords with my original wish. "

The body and mind are real but the clinging and grasping is a big mistake. So just practice zazen asap.

07-24-2009, 11:28 PM
Dear Jundo sensei:

1-11, i know that zazen are always relax, not hurry, and not do too much anytime, so i think here is what Dogen Roshi try to tell us how to we should keep in our mind.

1-12, it remain me that if we see someone suffering no food, too poor or sick, we should do as we can to help the suffer, not even we may start Dependent origination. we may drop to rinne.

1-13, i remember that buddha will change to different form or different character to help the suffering Sentient beings leave the suffering. so in this chapter we shouldn't to keep our discriminating minds to any Sentient beings, they all are buddha.

1-14, i guess here is why japanese soto head temple keep that in mind to train the young priest in there, they need to know in short time to got the suffering feeling: cold and hot, hungry and tired, to teach them even human life are so tough, zazen can keep them quiet, clam and find the path to buddha.

Gassho Tony yeung

07-25-2009, 07:35 AM


Even people in the secular world must concentrate on one thing and learn it thoroughly enough to be able to do it in front of others rather than learn many things at the same time, without truly accomplishing any of them.

One thing at a time...


07-25-2009, 07:47 AM


It is rather easy to lay down one’s own life, and cut off one’s flesh, hands, or feet in an emotional outburst. Considering worldly affairs, we see many people do such things even for the sake of attachment to fame and personal profit.

This is true not only in the "seculiar world" but also in the more "religious" one...

Yet it is most difficult to harmonize the mind, meeting various things and situations moment by moment.

As i said in a previous post, one thing at a time.

A student of the Way must cool his mind as if he were giving up his life, and consider if what he is about to say or do is in accordance with reality or not. If it is, he should say or do it.

To quote chet (disastermouse) viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1833#p25926 (http://http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1833#p25926)

The key here is to determine the appropriateness of the reaction.
How true.


07-25-2009, 01:55 PM
"Yet it is most difficult to harmonize the mind, meeting various things and situations moment by moment. A student of the Way must cool his mind as if he were giving up his life, and consider if what he is about to say or do is in accordance with reality or not. If it is, he should say or do it."

I need to watch and listen right now and not be lost in delusion. then my words and action may be based in reality.

07-25-2009, 07:47 PM
1-11 to 1-15
Just Sit
Let Go

Warm Regards,

07-27-2009, 02:49 AM
Hi all,

Once again posting late in the thread for the usual reasons. Here goes:

1-11: While I don't think that Dogen means that we should literally give up literature and poetry. If he was I think the title of this book would be "Put down this book and go sit zazen...and other things my master told me to do (or not do)". :) Like previous sections I do think he is providing a warning that even the dharma can be clung to in a way that is not consistent with its teachings. We can become obessed with what we think we know and telling everyone what we think we know while not actually understanding the dharma. It is not a contest to see who knows more...it is not a race to see who can best the other. Even in the things we hold most dear we can be led astray from the path.

1-12: Again, trying not to take Dogen literally...or is he saying we should laugh if about to be executed? Perhaps if we are dying for a just cause, but I took from this a lesson in doing what we feel is right even if there will be consequences to face later...as long as we are ready and willing to face them. Clearly, Enju was willing to face them and accepted the eventual outcome...without doing so our learning means nothing.

1-13: At first I thought this section was saying that one should always obey a teacher, but I think it's more about always being prepared to allow what your teacher says to be fully accepted into your experience. Some would hold tightly to something they had learned before and could not conceive of a different meaning. I think this is a common tendency since otherwise we would wonder aimlessly accepting everything we are told. So, be ready to unlearn just as much as you are ready to learn. In this and many other zen stories it seems like a matter of life or death and we must be willing for every moment to be our last. That will be very hard for me to do, but I'm willing to make an effort if asked by my teachers....the willingness and effort is the point.

1-14: Someone referred to this as a lesson for those who tend to be a "jack of all trades" and I consider myself to have been very much that kind of person. I'd always be afraid to choose one thing and even when I did I'd wonder if I had chosen poorly. This weight on my mind both before and after my selection led to learning a little about a lot of things rather than a lot about a few things. That perspective hasn't served me very well up to now, so I am ready to try something different. Also, as someone who is still a bit phobic about becoming sick I have thought there are times when lying down to sleep was better than zazen, but Dogen would seem to take a different view. Is zazen always the thing to do? Perhaps...but I'm not there just yet.

1-15: Just Do It!* ok, take a minute to collect yourself...then Just Do It!*

* "Just Do It!" is a registered tradmark of Nike, Inc. and may not be transmitted or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of Nike, Master Dogen, and the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. ;)


07-27-2009, 08:48 AM
Hm, I'm pretty late.

1-14: Just sit. Stay with just sitting. No matter what's the situation, just sit on the cushion.

1-15: It's easy to destroy, but hard (or maybe impossible) to repair the damage, that is done. So it's important to keep a calm mind and act according to the situation.

07-29-2009, 02:07 AM
Hello all,

I have been away from any internet access and will again be away for the few days, but I would like to try and play catch up.

In this section I was particularly struck by 1-13 and the hundred-foot pole example. Climbing to the top letting go, and advancing one step, conjured up a sense of the “to the marrow” acceptance and goalessness we aspire to in zazen.


07-29-2009, 03:32 AM
Climbing to the top letting go, and advancing one step, conjured up a sense of the “to the marrow” acceptance and goalessness we aspire to in zazen.


Do we accept the world as-it-is ... or does the world accept us as-we-are ...

Or with self and world forgotten ... is there just-the-acceptance