Gakudo yojinshu

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  • Taigu
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
    • Aug 2008
    • 2710

    Gakudo yojinshu

    As he sits in Koshoji, im the mountains outside Kyoto, Dogen carves out of silence and darkness the following words:

    (...)Just forget yourself for now and practice inwardly—this is one with the thought of enlightenment. We see that the sixty-two views are based on self. So when a notion of self arises, sit quietly and contemplate it. Is there a real basis inside or outside your body now? Your body with hair and skin is just inherited from your father and mother. From beginning to end a drop of blood or lymph is empty. So none of these are the self. What about mind, thought, awareness, and knowledge? Or the breath going in and out, which ties a lifetime together: what is it after all? None of these are the self either. How could you be attached to any of them? Deluded people are attached to them. Enlightened people are free of them.

    You figure there is self where there is no self. You attache to birth where there is no birth. You do not practice the buddha way, which should be practiced. You do not cut off the worldly mind, which should be cut off. Avoiding the true teaching and pursuing the groundless teaching, how could you not be mistaken?


    Once you see or hear the true teaching, you should practice it without fail.

    One phrase offered by a loyal servant can have the power to alter the course of the nation. One word given by a buddha ancestor cannot fail to turn people’s minds. The unwise ruler does not adopt the servant’s advice. One who does not step forward cannot accept the buddha’s teaching. If you are unbending, you cannot stop floating along in birth and death. If appropriate advice is not heeded, governing with virtue cannot be realized.


    In the buddha way, you should always enter enlightenment through practice.

    A worldly teacher says, "Through study one can gain wealth." Buddha says, "Within practice there is enlightenment."

    It is unheard-of that without studying someone should earn wealth or that without practicing someone should attain enlightenment. Though practice varies—initiated by faith or dharma knowledge, with emphasis on sudden or gradual enlightenment—you always depend on practice to go beyond enlightenment. Though study can be superficial or profound, and students can be sharp or dull, accumulated studying earns wealth. This does not necessarily depend on the king’s excellence or inability, nor should it depend on one’s having good or bad luck. If someone were to get wealth without studying, how could he transmit the way in which ancient kings, in times of either order or disorder, ruled the country? If you were to gain realization without practice, how could you comprehend the Tathagata’s teaching of delusion and enlightenment.

    You should know that arousing practice in the midst of delusion, you attain realization before you recognize it. At this time you first know that the raft of discourse is like yesterday’s dream, and you finally cut off your old understanding bound up in the vines and serpents of words. This is not made to happen by Buddha, but is accomplished by your all-encompassing effort.

    Moreover, what practice calls forth is enlightenment; your treasure house does not come from outside. How enlightenment functions is through practice; how could actions of mind-ground go astray? So if you turn the eye of enlightenment and reflect back on the realm of practice, nothing in particular hits the eye, and you just see white clouds for ten thousand miles. If you arouse practice as thought climbing the steps of enlightenment, not even a speck of dust will support your feet; you will be as far from true practice as heaven is from earth. Now step back and leap beyond the buddha land.(...)

    This text ,guidelines for the pratice of the way, is one of the best kept secret of the Dogen collection of writings. It is like a lion 's roar in the ear of a chicken, a bold and uncompromising statement of the non- dual nature of practice and awakening. Of course, it was written with the lay people and the young monks in mind, the guys coming to receive the teachings of this new figure in the Zen landscape of Kyoto. It is with Bendowa and Fukanzazengi, the matrix of the whole Shobogenzo. A few translations are available on line, you may go to this link for what I think is a quite reliable one:


    Last edited by Taigu; 11-02-2012, 04:54 AM.
  • Jinyo
    • Jan 2012
    • 1957




    • Myozan Kodo
      Friend of Treeleaf
      • May 2010
      • 1901

      Thanks for these gems. I will try to not hoard them.


      • Hans
        • Mar 2007
        • 1853

        Hello Taigu,

        a big thank you is in order indeed. Great stuff!


        Hans Chudo Mongen


        • disastermouse

          That was one of the least difficult things I've read of Dogen.



          • Kyonin
            Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
            • Oct 2010
            • 6742

            Thank you Taigu.

            I will read several times more and sit with this.


            Hondō Kyōnin
            奔道 協忍


            • Mp

              This is wonderful Taigu, thank you.



              • Jiken
                • Jan 2011
                • 753




                • Koshin
                  • Feb 2012
                  • 938

                  Thank you teacher

                  Thank you for your practice


                  • Nindo

                    Thank you Taigu.

                    Start of part 4:
                    The practice of Buddha’s teaching is always done by receiving the essential instructions of a master, not by following your own ideas. In fact, Buddha’s teaching cannot be attained by having ideas or not having ideas. (...) Proceed with the mind which neither grasps nor rejects, the mind unconcerned with name or gain. Do not practice buddha-dharma with the thought that it is to benefit others. (...) Clearly, buddha-dharma is not practiced for one’s own sake, and even less for the sake of fame and profit. Just for the sake of buddha-dharma you should practice it.


                    • Heisoku
                      • Jun 2010
                      • 1338

                      Heisoku 平 息
                      Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)


                      • Seimyo
                        • Jan 2012
                        • 861

                        Thank you Taigu.


                        明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)


                        • Risho
                          • May 2010
                          • 3179

                          Thank you.




                          • Shohei
                            • Oct 2007
                            • 2854

                            Deep Bows!



                            • Shokai
                              Treeleaf Priest
                              • Mar 2009
                              • 6391

                              gassho, Shokai

                              仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

                              "Open to life in a benevolent way"