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Thread: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

  1. #1

    Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Hello everybody,

    most of us here see Dogen Zenji as one of the most important voices that led to our lineage becoming what it is. I would like to dedicate this thread to those quotes that you (we) cherisch the most. May I encourage you to add the source of your quotes, so that people reading this thread have no trouble looking for the context in which this quote occured, if they so wish. Should you feel the need to discuss the quote in greater detail, might I humbly suggest you open another thread, so that this one can become a nice collection of quote following quote:

    I'll be first with one of his most famous sayings, taken from the free Numata online edition of the Nishijima-Cross translation of the Shobogenzo. The chapter is Genjo-Koan, the page number of the online PDF is 42:

    "To learn the Buddha’s truth is to learn ourselves. To learn ourselves is to forget ourselves. To forget ourselves is to be experienced by the myriad dharmas. To be experienced by the myriad dharmas is to let our own body and mind, and the body and mind of the external world, fall away."



  2. #2

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    my current fave

    Set aside all involvements and let the myriad things rest. Zazen is not thinking of good, not thinking of bad. It is not conscious endeavour. It is not introspection. Do not desire to become a buddha; let sitting or lying down drop away. Be moderate in eating and drinking. Be mindful of the passing of time, and engage yourself in zazen as though you are saving your head from fire.
    from Moon in a Dewdrop- will check the page later

  3. #3

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Dear Matt,

    thank you for your contribution. It'd be nice to add the source of the quote, so that people won't have to search for it and can instantly know whether it's from one of the Shobogenzo translations, the Eihei-Koroku etc.



  4. #4

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    done. have to look at the book when I get home

  5. #5

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    "If you cannot find truth where you are, where do you expect to find it?"

    I'm afraid someone else will have to help me here, it was something I found online and it has stuck with me ever since.

    Oh! And another personal favorite

    *Silence* :wink:
    -From:Wherever you are right now

    Taylor (Myoken)

  6. #6

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Good thread idea Hans!

    One of my favorites is also from Genjokoan, the Nishijima and Cross translation of Shobogenzo book 1.

    "And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish."



  7. #7

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.
    I'm pretty sure this is from the Waddell and Masao translation of Fukanzazengi, which is featured in The Art of Just Sitting.

    The phrase "backward step that turns your light inwardly" has had a profound impact on my zazen practice, on more than one occasion.

  8. #8

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    "In Buddhism, practice and enlightenment are identical. You can experience this practice within enlightenment even now by assuming a beginner’s mind and devoting yourself to the way; this is the entirety of intrinsic enlightenment. Why do we recommend in the instructions for practice not having any expectation of enlightenment? Because practice is already the intrinsic realization that points directly to your true self. Enlightenment is practice, so it has no end; practice is enlightenment, so it has no beginning."

    -Bendowa (

  9. #9

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes


    This is an goldie...
    "When steaming rice, treat the pot as one's own head; when rinsing the rice, know that the water is one's own lifeblood."
    - tenzo kyokun
    And here's the video... ... fugen.html

    And try not to make a potheadjoke!


  10. #10

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    The whole Fukanzazengi. Many quotes from the Bendowa. Countless quotes from Shobogenzo. But basically, it boils down to this: silent breath.



  11. #11

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogen
    You should study not only that you become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dogen
    A zen master's life is one continuous mistake.
    are my two most favorite quotes, followed closely by:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogen
    That you carry yourself forward and experience the myriad things is delusion. That the myriad things come forward and experience themselves is awakening

  12. #12

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Hello everyone,

    thank you all for your participation in this thread. Although I might sound terribly German right now, might I strongly suggest that some of you who mention specific quotes try to include the book and or chapter and maybe even page number if possible. That way this thread could become a reference thread for future newbies who would otherwise have more trouble finding the context of the quotes. Obviously I don't own this thread in any way, but I just thought it a good idea to think about the possible future uses of such a thread.

    And let's all not forget to sit, lest we get entangled in those intellectual mindfields



  13. #13

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    “Waking up is like the moon reflecting upon water; the moon isn't wet, the water isn't stirred. With all of its radiance, the moon can be seen even in a puddle. Full moon, vast sky, can both be reflected in a single drop of dew hung from a blade of grass. Awakening does not obstruct you just as the moon doesn't ruffle the water. You can no more grasp at Awakening than the dew drop can restrain the full moon, the vast sky. As deep as the drop is, so high is the moon. As to how long such a reflection will last, just consider the water's depth, the moon's light.”

    I’ve always liked this one from the Genjokoan. I think this quote illustrates that enlightenment is not something that suddenly changes everything, while at the same time realizing it, one cannot see things the same way as before. Just like seeing the moon’s reflection in a dew drop, the moon is still the moon, the dew drop still the dew drop; both whole and complete and perfectly what they are in and of themselves, and yet at the same time, perfectly and completely one. Enlightenment is one with every day life, even though every day life cannot constrain Enlightenment, and Enlightenment does not disturb the waters of every day life. They are as deep as each other, and as vast as themselves. It also reminds me that the sacred can be reflected in everyday actions.

  14. #14

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    When all is said and done you just sit and watch the snow fall or take out the garbage.

  15. #15

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    The entire Tenzo Kyokun.
    ...but, I'm prejudiced.

  16. #16

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Those who regard worldly affairs as a hindrance to buddhadharma only think that there is no buddhadharma in the secular world, and do not understand that there is no secular world in buddhadharma.
    Bendo-wa, Question 14, p155, Moon in a Dew Drop, K. Tanahashi.

    All things and all phenomena are just one mind - nothing is excluded or unrelated.
    Bendo-wa, Question 10, p154, Moon in a Dew Drop, K. Tanahashi.

    The first quote helped me put work and buddhadharma in right perspective. I'm still working on the second!

  17. #17

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    "Those who practice know whether realization is attained or not, just as those who drink water know whether it is hot or cold"

    Shobogenzo-Bendowa-Volume I page 18 of the Kazuaki Tanahashi translation


  18. #18

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    where is the like button on here lots of gems for sure.

    I find a new one each time a crack the book, often in the same line.


  19. #19

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    Realization, neither general nor particular,
    is effort without desire.
    Clear water all the way to the bottom;
    a fish swims like a fish.
    Vast sky transparent throughout;
    a bird flies like a bird.
    Moon in a Dewdrop p219

  20. #20

    Re: Favourite Master Dogen Quotes

    For today:

    Shobogenzo Zuimonki:

    Students of the way should niether read the scriptures of other Buddhist teachings nor study non-Buddhist texts. If you do read, examine the writings of Zen. Other works should be put aside for a while.

    Zen Monks are fond of literature these days, finding it an aid to writing verses and tracts. This is a mistake. Even if you cannot compose a verse, just write what is in your heart. Grammatical niceties do not matter if you just express the teachings of Buddha. Those who lack the mind that seeks the way may complain that someone's writing is bad. Yet no matter how elegant the prose or how exquisite their poetry might be, they are merely toying with words and cannot gain the Truth. I have loved literature since I was young and even now recall beautiful phrases from non-Buddhist works. I have been tempted to take up such books as the Wen-hsuan, but I have come to feel that it would be a waste of time and I am inclined to think that such should be cast aside completely.

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