9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39446

    9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

    Hi All,

    Some of my favorite little Dogenisms this week, much wisdom. Dogen in a a lighter mood

    Which leads me to repost something I wrote a couple of days ago about the Zuimonki ... in case anyone missed it ...

    ... but secretly worry about such things as clothing for winter or summer and livelihood for tomorrow or the next year, [/b]
    You know, I almost regret selecting the Zuimonki as the reading assignment. The reason is that Dogen can seem such a hard-ass sometimes, although we have to remember that he is a General trying to keep up his "troops'" morale and spur them on. These passages are meant for monks ... and really seem harsh unless we remember that he is trying to keep his troops' asses on the cushions during the hard, cold, snowy, long, lonely winters in a monastery in the middle of nowhere, day after day. No easy task, unless you preach a little "fire and brimstone", which is what General Dogen does to his men.

    FOR EXAMPLE, I bet all these references to the unimportance of food and clothes ... were because the monks were grumbling about the bad food and the clothes being so poor in the monastery, in the cold and snow ... and Dogen had to keep morale up. So, he emphasized again and again how one must not care about food and clothes. Just a hunch.


    What's more, Dogen's monks in those days were a hodgepodge of refugees with various backgrounds, some who were almost forced into studying with Dogen because their own teacher (who taught in a different style from Dogen) was outlawed by the government.

    You can read more about that here (please read from the bottom of page 32 "Dogen's charisma probably met its greatest challenge" ... to the end of page 34.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=BnLOFw ... hu&f=false

    Herding cats!

    The change in Dogen's writing style in his later years may be due in good part to this ... Summarized here ...

    The picture of the latter years of Dogen emerges as that of a man struggling with disciples who had come to him already trained in doctrines of Original Enlightenment, Japanese esoteric Buddhism (mikkyo), and the naturalism of the Daruma school, whose understanding of Buddhism was swayed by these traditions in ways of which Dogen did not approve and that Dogen was unable to counter conclusively. Significantly, this was also a time in which the growing Pure Land tradition was questioning the value of the monastic vinaya. This context would explain the evolution in his writing from his early dynamic engagement with contemporary Buddhist issues to a dogmatic condemnation of doctrines, practices, and teachers during his later years. His late emphasis on the training of his disciples at the Eihei-ji may be evidence of a kind of desperation to leave behind at least something of his original vision. In this sense Professor Sugio may be right in seeing Dogen's final intention for the Shobogenzo as a legacy to future generations. But, as we have seen, this is a highly ambiguous and controversial legacy, in light of the problem of which part of the Shobogenzo represents the "true" Dogen.
    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Dog ... putney.htm
    You can read about the Daruma-shu and Dogen in greater detail here ...

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Dog ... _Soto.html

    My point is that Dogen had to herd cats, keep all these very different and disagreeing people motivated, unified somehow. He had them practicing in ways that were different from their earlier teachers, and with which some of them might have had personal and doctrinal disagreements. He had to avoid "Mutiny on the Bounty" on the S.S. Eiheiji.

    This all contributed to a change in Dogen in his later years ... He became more the tough captain to keep the sailors in line.

    This is the Dogen who shines through in the Zuimonki, which is largely from that period.

    Gassho, Jundo (herder of so kool kats around Treeleaf)
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39446

    Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

    Originally posted by chugai
    I'm caught up again ... I really liked reading up on Dogen and the Daruma-shu and the other historical Zen figures in the accounts posted on the Zensite, thank you for those links. Would it be helpful to study the Confucian text (if one could even get a copy) the lay buddhists of that day studied as well?
    Hi Chugai,

    Well, probably no need to study that particular text ... but it is important to know how much of "Zen" is actually Chinese and Japanese culture (including Confucian teachings) that we assume to be "Zen". So, it is always good to have a general knowledge of Indian-Chinese-Japanese(-Vietnamese-Korean-Etc) culture when studying Zen and Buddhism.

    It is important not to confuse what is just Indian or Chinese or Japanese culture with what is at the heart of the Buddha's teachings. (Not, of course, that there is anything wrong with Japanese culture, for example, Japanese clothing is very comfortable so I wear it alot since I live in Japan ... just, no need to think that to be "Zen" one has to walk around dressed and talking like a Samurai!)

    This practice is not limited to any place or time ... we drop all thought of place and time. It certainly is not Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French or American. But, of course, we live in place and time, so as Buddhism traveled over the centuries from India to China, Japan, Korea etc. it naturally became very Indian/Chinese/Japanese/Korean etc.

    I post this sometimes ...

    Absorb what is useful and discard the rest. [M]any parts of our Practice are worth keeping, even if they strike someone as strange at first. Bowing, statues, incense and, yes, weird talks about Koans all fit in that category. They may seem like unnecessary "Japanese" or "Esoteric" elements at first, until you understand the role they serve....For example, I think Oryoki [formal meal ritual] is a great practice, and worth keeping.. Same for bowing.

    Some things I keep out of respect for TRADITION [the robes, the ways of doing some ceremonies]. It is important to keep ties to where we come from. Some things also have a special symbolic meaning if you look into them, so worth keeping [for example, a Rakusu]

    But other stuff, no need to keep: For example, I usually avoid to chant in Japanese or Chinese [except once in awhile, out of respect for tradition]. Tatami mats and Paper screens have nothing to do with Zen practice particularly [but I happen to live in an old Japanese building, so ... well, tatami and paper screens!} Some things I think are just dumb (except symbolically), like the Kyosaku stick. Incense is great, until it was recently shown to cause cancer. Many beliefs of Buddhism are rather superstitious things that were picked up here and there. I abandon many of those.
    The particular point of interest about Confucianism here is the historical conflict between the Confucian obligations of "Filial Piety" (so central to Chinese and Japanese society ... the obligation to marry, have children, honor one's parents and ancestors) and being an unmarried, home leaving monk. Monks in Northern Asia were always seen as breaching one of the most basic tenets of society by not marrying and cutting off ties. They probably often felt pretty guilty about doing so. That is what Dogen was trying to counter in his "pep talk" there.

    Gassho, J


    • JamesVB
      • Mar 2009
      • 79

      Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

      We are only alive now.
      From the third paragraph of section 2-20, this resonates with me.


      • Hoko
        • Aug 2009
        • 444

        Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

        First off, regarding the above posts:
        (a) I think a 6' 5" white samurai would be awsome, IMHO

        (b) WTF? Incense causes CANCER?!?!
        http://health.usnews.com/articles/healt ... -risk.html

        Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
        2-18: Don't be a wastrel. Walk the middle path between attachment to old things and grasping after new ones.

        2-19: You owe a debt of kindness to your family/parents but as Zen practitioners you also owe a debt of kindness to the buddha-dharma. Express gratitude towards all living beings and you will fulfill your debt to filial piety.

        2-20: Once again, Dogen points out that it is sincerity, not inherent ability that secures the Way. We are all "falling off a horse" in that we will meet death. Use the immediacy of this truth to awaken your aspiration to resolve the Matter.

        2-21: I'd say this was just "good and bad are just differences seen through the eyes of the small self" but after reading the background for this text it makes me wonder if the monks in Dogen's temple were just bitching about the food a little too much and needed a kick in the kesa!

        2-22: This is a great chapter for anyone who's practiced Zen and said "what the heck am I wasting all this time practicing for if I'm already enlightened?". Put succinctly, it's the practice that IS the enlightenment so to stop practice because you feel there's no point is, in itself, grasping/attachment. The three types of attachment are attachment to sense pleasures, attachment to becoming and attachment to non-becoming. Giving up your practice because you think "what's the point?" is dangerously close to attachment to non-becoming.
        法 Dharma
        口 Mouth


        • Dosho
          • Jun 2008
          • 5784

          Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

          2-18 -- A classic description of the middle way and the main reason buddhism is appealing to me...never one size fits all, quite literally in this example.


          • Rich
            • Apr 2009
            • 2601

            Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

            "A person who seems superficially dull but has a sincere aspiration will attain enlightenment more quickly than one who is clever in a worldly sense. "

            This gives me hope.
            無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...



            • Tb
              • Jan 2008
              • 3186

              Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22



              See to what you have and not go chasing after something else.


              In our day-to-day practice and time-to-time study, following the Buddha-Way continuously is the only true way of fulfilling our filial piety.
              Don't do something one-heartedly, don't stop and the start again, over and over.
              Do it continuously.


              The distinction between being brilliant or dull applies only when thorough aspiration has not yet been aroused.
              Do not choose good from bad on the basis of taste.
              Just realize that practice and study themselves are the buddha-dharma. Without seeking anything, refrain from engaging in worldly affairs or evil things even if you have the mind to do so. Do not think of or hate the boredom of the practice of the Way. Just practice wholeheartedly.
              These quote has an important meaning.
              Don't miss it.
              Just do it.

              Life is our temple and its all good practice
              Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/


              • Jinyu
                • May 2009
                • 768

                Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22


                2-18: esteem what you get because it won't be always there. And don't think too much about what you're going to chase.

                2-19: "Our manner of paying off the debt of gratitude should not be limited to one particular person." Do what you have to do, day by day, without any special thought of doing thing right or wrong, doing thing for us or for the others... just do!

                2-20: "We are only alive now" ...

                2-21: "Do not choose good from bad on the basis of taste." Do not make too many distinction, too many categorizing!

                2-22: "Do not think of or hate the boredom of the practice of the Way. Just practice wholeheartedly." We can do things freely, without always wanting something in return! The path is not a bank account, where we can see everyday "how many" we get, or "where" we are, just don't intellectualize too much, keep doing!

                Gassho to all,

                Jinyu aka Luis aka Silly guy from Brussels


                • Dosho
                  • Jun 2008
                  • 5784

                  Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

                  2-19 -- In the end, layperson or monk, follow the buddha-dharma to honor all sentient beings.

                  2-20 -- Book smart, or street smart, effort and dedication to non-attainment is key.

                  2-21 -- Take what is given, expect nothing particular.

                  2-22 -- Arguments of logic and aspirations of enlightenment are irrelevant; there is only the dharma.


                  • BrianW
                    • Oct 2008
                    • 511

                    Re: 9/4 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 2-18 to 2-22

                    Originally posted by Rich
                    "A person who seems superficially dull but has a sincere aspiration will attain enlightenment more quickly than one who is clever in a worldly sense. "
                    The one line in the Sandokai comes to mind....

                    While human faculties are sharp or dull
                    ...and Suzuki Roshi's discussion of how he saw himself as being "dull" as compared to others with which he began practice, yet they left and he stayed.