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  1. #1


    Hi Readers,

    Welcome to our current Treeleaf Book Club reading selection ...

    Shobogenzo-Zuimonki (a collection of informal talks by Master Eihei Dogen)

    One very good thing is that the book is available ONLINE, thanks to the Soto School webpage in Japan ...

    THIS IS A BIT OF AN EXPERIMENT! Master Dogen's Shobogenzo-Zuimonki is rather different from many other Dogen writings in being relatively easy to read, plain and down to earth (the "Shobogenzo-Zuimonki" is very different from his similarly named "Shobogenzo")! The Zuimonki is filled with bits of wisdom, little fortune cookies, short talks on all kinds of subjects.

    The "experiment" I would like to try is to see if we can apply these short talks, meant mostly for Japanese monks in a monastery, samurai and others in the 13th century, to our lives in the 21st century, out in the world. As I said, nothing to lose (or, as Dogen might say, "no loss no gain!" )

    YOUR ASSIGNMENT will be to try to related these talks to modern life, and your life (which may not always be possible to do ... but we can have fun trying!)

    Each week on Friday, I will assign about 5 short sections. This Friday (July 3), we will start. Please look for the reading assignment each week in this Forum. I will suggest that you focus on maybe 1 of the 5 sections each day during the week, not necessarily all at once (kind of like your "Dose of Daily Dogen"). In the meantime, to get started, I have made available a PDF with the Book Introduction ... containing background on Master Dogen, the Zuimonki, the translation ... Please read through that, if you have the time (most of it is also available online, but there are some missing pages, so I made this PDF). ... uction.pdf

    A TECHNICAL ISSUE with the online translation is that the footnotes by the translator, explaining some things in each section, are not numbered and are not clearly marked (they are the SLIGHTLY INDENTED PARAGRAPHS at the bottomof each page, such as here): ... 01-01.html

    However, each indented paragraph corresponds, in order, to the numbers in the text ... so it is actually not so hard to figure out. You'll get the hang of it! :wink:

    If, however, you would like to order the book, the only source I have found for a reasonable price is ... ... cts_id=302

    There, you can see the cover of the translation we will be using ... not to be confused with other translations out there (such as one called 'A Primer of Soto Zen')

    Anyway, I hope that is all clear.

    I WISH YOU A GOOD "ZUIMONKI" (rhymes with "sway - monkey")

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS -

    I would like to append here something that was written after having finished the Zuimonki reading. I think it important ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    It's funny, I had the opposite reaction reading the Shobogenzo Zuimonki... Dogen struck me as uptight and particular almost to a level of OCD, and it bothered me. I couldn't agree with a lot of his opinions about politics or daily life, his idealizing of the monastic lifestyle and denigration of normal human traits and foibles. The standards Dogen advocates in that text seemed to me impossible to realize... whereas the 95 fascicle Shobogenzo is a beautiful depiction of how living in truth and reality requires no perfect standards.
    Hi Stephanie,

    I agree about Dogen. You can take Dogen out of ancient samurai Japan, but you cannot take the ancient Japanese samurai out of Dogen. He was a man of his time and culture, writing Zuimonki for "all boy" monks in a 13th century monastery in the boondocks. I find him sometimes obsessive, sometimes grumpy, sometimes naive and ill informed, downright wrong in his advice (as in the sections to a prospective monk leaving his old infirm mother to fend for herself) ... 03-14.html

    If you abandon your present life and enter the Buddha-Way, even if your mother dies of starvation, wouldn’t it be better for you to form a connection with the Way and for her to permit her only son to enter the Way? Although it is most difficult to cast aside filial love even over aeons and many lifetimes, if, having being born in a human body you give it up in this lifetime, when you encounter the Buddha’s teachings you will be truly fulfilling your debt of gratitude. Why wouldn’t this be in accordance with the Buddha’s will? It is said that if one child leaves home to become a monk, seven generations of parents will attain the Way.
    "Monk" was his job and life role ... and his way of living may not now serve as a perfect model and fit for someone whose life and role is 21st century suburban 'househusband' or wife or single mom with a mortgage to pay, work in cubicle and kids in the public schools.

    Thus, the lessons of our readings in Zuimonki were important, I feel, both for the times they fit our modern, lay lives ... and when they did not fit so well, but we needed to apply their spirit or find a completely new way! On need not live in a 13th century Japanese monastery to find the heart of these Teachings.

    I think that we have to get beyond our traditional assumption that, just because someone may be truly gifted and a genius in some aspects ... be it spiritual or otherwise ... that he/she must be perfect and flawless in every darn part of his life, having every answer to every life question (Rather, our Zenny Way is, I believe, to see human beings as perfectly just what they are ... not as "perfect" by our small human judgment.) Einstein discovered how much of the physical universe works ... Freud a little about the mind ... Mozart made beautiful music ... yet each was a pretty poor husband and father. Well, it is enough for me that Dogen, or any of the other Ancestors, seemed like generally decent and together people who also figured out a good deal about how the music of this mind-self-universe works ... even if his political views, or views on daily conduct or how to treat one's mother ... do not agree fully with mine. I may not agree with Gautama Buddha's choice to leave his wife and kid (I think he deprived his teachings of much richness by too easily doing so) ... nor his views on how earthquakes are created (see below) ... yet still have been on to something vital in the other 90% of his life and teachings. Hui-neng may have had uncouth manners ... and may even have not really existed as a historical person ... and still be a teacher among teachers.

    Heck, I am sure that each and all had bad breath sometimes too! :?

    The Buddhist Teachings are about living in an enlightened, Compassionate and Wise way in/as/through an imperfect world in/as/thought being imperfect human beings (all human beings are flawed in human terms ... all human beings are flawless in a Buddha's eyes). These teachings are not about living as perfect human beings in a perfect world. as judged by human standards of perfection In fact, these teachings are about seeing past flawed human judgments of "perfect vs. imperfect" ... and finding the Perfection in that.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - For all Dogen's obsessiveness on the "right" way to brush the teeth etc. ... he still taught that doing so is a perfect act beyond "right and wrong and clean and dirty" ...

    Dogen criticizes those who don’t care about hygiene or reject the possibility of using care of the body as a vehicle in practice. But he also criticizes those who seek after purity, who want to skirt past the messy nature of the human. An earlier ancestor, the famous Chinese woman known as Kongshi Daoren, wrote in a poem on a bathhouse wall: “If nothing truly exists, what are you bathing? Where could even the slightest bit of dust come from?. . . Even if you see no difference between the water and the dirt, it all must be washed completely away when you enter here.”

    Dogen reminds us that we are neither pure nor impure. Awakening is the state of seeing past the false opposites of emptiness and form, purity and profanity. So brushing teeth and having a bowel movement are not acts that can lead us to purity—they are themselves purity. They are complete in themselves. And even so, it isn’t enough just to wash—we have to discover what it is to be this naturally pure form. “Without washing the inside of emptiness, how can we realize cleanness within and without?” Such apparent paradox is part of the endless repeated pairing of Buddhism ... fer=dharma
    PPS -

    Buddha's teachings on the causes of earthquakes ...

    13. Then the Blessed One said: "There are eight reasons, Ananda, eight causes for a mighty earthquake to arise. What are those eight?

    14. "This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes.

    15. "Again, Ananda, when an ascetic or holy man of great power, one who has gained mastery of his mind, or a deity who is mighty and potent, develops intense concentration on the delimited aspect of the earth element, and to a boundless degree on the liquid element, he, too, causes the earth to tremble, quiver, and shake. This is the second reason, the second cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes.

    16-21. "Again, Ananda, when the Bodhisatta departs from the Tusita realm and descends into his mother's womb, mindfully and clearly comprehending; and when the Bodhisatta comes out from his mother's womb, mindfully and clearly comprehending; and when the Tathagata becomes fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment; when the Tathagata sets rolling the excellent Wheel of the Dhamma; when the Tathagata renounces his will to live on; and when the Tathagata comes to pass away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains — then, too, Ananda, this great earth trembles, quivers, and shakes.

    "These, Ananda, are the eight reasons, the eight causes for a great earthquake to arise. 27
    0first%20cause%20for%20the%20arising%20of%20mighty %20earthquakes.%20%2015.%20%22Again%2C%20Ananda%2C %20when%20an%20ascetic%20or%20holy%20man%20of%20gr eat%20power%2C%20one%20who%20has%20gained%20master y%20of%20his%20mind%2C%20or%20a%20deity%20who%20is %20mighty%20and%20potent%2C%20develops%20intense%2 0concentration%20on%20the%20delimited%20aspect%20o f%20the%20earth%20element%2C%20and%20to%20a%20boun dless%20degree%20on%20the%20liquid%20element%2C%20 he%2C%20too%2C%20causes%20the%20earth%20to%20tremb le%2C%20quiver%2C%20and%20shake.%20This%20is%20the %20second%20reason%2C%20the%20second%20cause%20for %20the%20arising%20of%20mighty%20earthquakes.%20%2 016-21.%20%22Again%2C%20Ananda%2C%20when%20the%20Bodhi satta%20departs%20from%20the%20Tusita%20realm%20an d%20descends%20into%20his%20mother's%20womb%2C%20m indfully%20and%20clearly%20comprehending%3B%20and% 20when%20the%20Bodhisatta%20comes%20out%20from%20h is%20mother's%20womb%2C%20mindfully%20and%20clearl y%20comprehending%3B%20and%20when%20the%20Tathagat a%20becomes%20fully%20enlightened%20in%20unsurpass ed%2C%20supreme%20Enlightenment%3B%20when%20the%20 Tathagata%20sets%20rolling%20the%20excellent%20Whe el%20of%20the%20Dhamma%3B%20when%20the%20Tathagata %20renounces%20his%20will%20to%20live%20on%3B%20an d%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20comes%20to%20pass%20a way%20into%20the%20state%20of%20Nibbana%20in%20whi ch%20no%20element%20of%20clinging%20remains%20%E2% 80%94%20then%2C%20too%2C%20Ananda%2C%20this%20grea t%20earth%20trembles%2C%20quivers%2C%20and%20shake s.%20%20%22These%2C%20Ananda%2C%20are%20the%20eigh t%20reasons%2C%20the%20eight%20causes%20for%20a%20 great%20earthquake%20to%20arise.%2027&pg=PA75#v=on epage&q=13.%20Then%20the%20Blessed%20One%20said:%2 0%22There%20are%20eight%20reasons,%20Ananda,%20eig ht%20causes%20for%20a%20mighty%20earthquake%20to%2 0arise.%20What%20are%20those%20eight?%20%2014.%20% 22This%20great%20earth,%20Ananda,%20is%20establish ed%20upon%20liquid,%20the%20liquid%20upon%20the%20 atmosphere,%20and%20the%20atmosphere%20upon%20spac e.%20And%20when,%20Ananda,%20mighty%20atmospheric% 20disturbances%20take%20place,%20the%20liquid%20is %20agitated.%20And%20with%20the%20agitation%20of%2 0the%20liquid,%20tremors%20of%20the%20earth%20aris e.%20This%20is%20the%20first%20reason,%20the%20fir st%20cause%20for%20the%20arising%20of%20mighty%20e arthquakes.%20%2015.%20%22Again,%20Ananda,%20when% 20an%20ascetic%20or%20holy%20man%20of%20great%20po wer,%20one%20who%20has%20gained%20mastery%20of%20h is%20mind,%20or%20a%20deity%20who%20is%20mighty%20 and%20potent,%20develops%20intense%20concentration %20on%20the%20delimited%20aspect%20of%20the%20eart h%20element,%20and%20to%20a%20boundless%20degree%2 0on%20the%20liquid%20element,%20he,%20too,%20cause s%20the%20earth%20to%20tremble,%20quiver,%20and%20 shake.%20This%20is%20the%20second%20reason,%20the% 20second%20cause%20for%20the%20arising%20of%20migh ty%20earthquakes.%20%2016-21.%20%22Again,%20Ananda,%20when%20the%20Bodhisatt a%20departs%20from%20the%20Tusita%20realm%20and%20 descends%20into%20his%20mother's%20womb,%20mindful ly%20and%20clearly%20comprehending;%20and%20when%2 0the%20Bodhisatta%20comes%20out%20from%20his%20mot her's%20womb,%20mindfully%20and%20clearly%20compre hending;%20and%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20becomes% 20fully%20enlightened%20in%20unsurpassed,%20suprem e%20Enlightenment;%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20sets %20rolling%20the%20excellent%20Wheel%20of%20the%20 Dhamma;%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20renounces%20his %20will%20to%20live%20on;%20and%20when%20the%20Tat hagata%20comes%20to%20pass%20away%20into%20the%20s tate%20of%20Nibbana%20in%20which%20no%20element%20 of%20clinging%20remains%20%E2%80%94%20then,%20too, %20Ananda,%20this%20great%20earth%20trembles,%20qu ivers,%20and%20shakes.%20%20%22These,%20Ananda,%20 are%20the%20eight%20reasons,%20the%20eight%20cause s%20for%20a%20great%20earthquake%20to%20arise.%202 7&f=false"> ... 27&f=false

  2. #2


    Looking very much forward to the reading and discussion with you all! your all great teachers.

    Gassho, Shohei

  3. #3



    very much looking forward to this one...


  4. #4


    Just about time to finish the last chapter of my Bill Bryson .


  5. #5


    I'm sure I have much to learn from all you folks.

  6. #6


    This looks great Jundo - thank you for organising it
    Kind regards

  7. #7


    Thank you for all the wonderful food for thought in the comments. Just wanted to say I am still reading (a bit behind) and i may or may not be posting comments depending -inundated with life at the moment -lots of comments on that
    Anywho - keep on keeping on!
    Gassho, Shohei

  8. #8


    I'm going to attempt to give this a try. Couldn't hurt...could it?

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by BillS
    I'm going to attempt to give this a try. Couldn't hurt...could it?
    Only if you want it to.

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