Turn around the light to shine within ...

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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XIV)

In another great early work, Fukanzazengi, Dogen writes ...

Put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest.

This classic line harken's back to an image of Zazen by the eighth Zen ancestor in China, Sekito Kisen (8th century), in his Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage ...

Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can't be faced or turned away from.

Dogen scholar and Soto Priest, Taigen Dan Leighton, offers this perspective ...

[Sekito writes], "Turn around the light to shine within, then just return. . . . Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely. Open your hands and walk, innocent." According to [Sekito], the fundamental orientation of turning within, also later described by Hongzhi and Dogen, is simply in order to return to the world, and to our original quality. Letting go of conditioning while steeped in completely relaxed awareness, one is able to act effectively, innocent of grasping and attachments. So the context of this just sitting suggested by [Sekito] is the possibility of aware and responsive presence that is simple, open-hearted, and straightforward.


That you still do not grasp the certainty of this principle is because your thinking scatters, like wild horses, and your emotions run wild, like monkeys in a forest. If you can make those monkeys and horses, just once, take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward, then naturally you will be completely integrated. This is the means by which we, who are [ordinarily] set into motion by things, become able to set things into motion.

Harmonizing and purifying yourself in this manner, do not lose either the one eye [of transcendent wisdom] or the two eyes [of discriminating consciousness]. Lifting a single piece of vegetable, make [yourself into] a six-foot body [i.e. a buddha] and ask that six-foot body to prepare a single piece of vegetable. Those are [the cook's] spiritual penetrations and magical transformations, his buddha-work and benefiting of living beings.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk

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

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