Monday, February 23, 2009

Zen Master Dogen on what to do after enlightinement

Students of the Way, even if you attain enlightenment, do not think that this is now the ultimate and thus abandon your practice of the Way. The Way is endless. Even if you are enlightened, you should still practice the Way.

Record of Things Heard, Classics of Buddism and Zen, Vol.4, p.840, Thomas Cleary


Anonymous said...

Always a Catch-22.


Barry said...


I'll just leave another comment for you.

Thanks, Ted.

Ted Biringer said...

Hello Glenda,

Thank you for your comment.

Ha! Yes, always...

But then, what else do we have to do?


Ted Biringer said...

Hello Barry,

You are welcome. Thank You!


Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,

Dogen was a monk speeking to monks.

He might have been trying to ensure that numbers are maintained in the monastary.

He might have been able to justify to himself not going and getting a job.

No reason is offerred for his "should". Still, it probably can't hurt!

Anonymous said...

Reading on (and before) from that quote it's clear that Dogen's Way involves hanging out with monks at the monastary complete with begging bowl.

Who is going to support all these selfish monks who want to spend their days sat on their arses?

Uku said...

Continuous practice... Thank you, Ted.

Ted Biringer said...

Hi Mike,

Thank you for your comments.

It is always good to have someone carrying on the family style of Danxia, to remind us how wooden Buddhas make excellent firewood for keeping warm. Ha!

Speaking of Danxia, Dogen praises him in a wonderful talk he gave to some of his lay practitioners. As in the Genjokoan, which was also written for a lay follower, I find little substantial difference between his talks to monastics and lay people. Here are some excerpts from something I posted elsewhere. They are from Eihei Koroku 8:14 - It is entitiled:

Good Teachers for Lay Practitioners

"For ministers and generals studying the way it is most important to visit a teacher. Depending on whether the teacher is false or genuine, the students’ understanding will naturally become erroneous or correct.

…one person went to the place for selecting buddhas (Danxia – the layman who was going to his examination to become an ‘official’ but instead ‘got a glimpse’ when he happened to meet Ma-tsu. He is famous (infamous?) for the story about burning a wooden Buddha statue to keep warm). There he was able to pass the examination for the mind of emptiness… Before having experienced three calls, someone had broken through the single point (a reference to the koan “Nanyang Calls His Attendant”). These are exactly the kindly power of the inducement of true teachers.

If you become intimate with a bad teacher, you can never be like this… If you meet a true teacher and establish the aspiration to inquire and practice, you will resolve the great matter of life and death and be liberated from long being stuck in your old nest…

Good gentlemen (Jap.: shidaijobu – eligible to be officials), if you earnestly aspire to study the way and visit a genuine master, do not be precipitous. You should transmit the family style of Yangi Wen[gong] (Jap.: Bunko – the noted poet and Zen layman). Why are there no fruits from the stable master Li [Zunxu] (Jap.: Ri Junkyoku – The Zen layman credited with coining the Zen term “Iron Man”)? Minister Pei[xiu] (the Zen layman that compiled and edited the Record of Huang-po) threw himself into [study with] Guifeng [Zongmi], and further crumbled the lump of mud by responding to Huangbo’s call. Yudi (the Zen lay practitioner and prime minister) went up to Mount Ziyu [and met Ziyu Daotong], and [this example] was further clarified as a radiant flower by Yaoshan’s skillfulness with the complete way.

As for the power of Layman Pang clarifying the [difference between] mirror and tile with his polishing at Shitou and Kiangsi [where Ma-tsu taught], and the example of Emperor Suzong distinguishing between a jewel and a rock… they can be further illuminating for later wayfarers.

Good gentleman (Jap.: shidaijobu), when you first meet a teacher, first ask for one case of a [koan] story, and just keep it in mind and study it diligently. If you climb to the top of the mountain and dry up the oceans, you will not fail to complete [this study]… If someone sees wise people and thinks of being their equal, how could they not become a person who rises high above the herd?… Now I see worldly people (laymen) who visit and practice with teachers, and before clarifying one question (koan), assertively enjoy bringing up other stories. They withdraw from the discussion as if they understood, but are close-mouthed and cannot speak. They have not yet explained one-third of the story (koan), so how will we see a complete saying?…

Do not be hesitant or disrespectful. Examine for awhile the strength of snow and frost, and you will know the faithfulness of pines and cedars. Take another step and you will surmount the imposing barrier. Do you not trust this yet?

When even a little word emerges, ten thousand meanings will be apparent… we have heard that [Jinhua] Juszhi cut off a boy’s finger and saw blood. Blown in the mysterious wind of Shaolin, we should awaken from the crazy sleep of the long night. Penetrating the blood vein of Juzhi, we should cut through the diseased root of doubt and delusion.
(Translated by Taigen Dan Leighton & Shohoku Okumura)

Thanks again Mike - Always good to hear from you!


Ted Biringer

Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,

ISTR that after getting warm for the night he went out and replaced the statues with new ones.

So I guess take medicine if needed but don't become a junkie.


Ted Biringer said...

Hi Mike,

Thank you!

That is one I have not heard before, but shall certainly adopt immediately.



Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,

I looked at my 'mantlepiece' today and realized it was missing a buddha statue so I've gone and bought a small pewter one.

It's the smallest statue on the mantlepiece and it's the only metal one.

Ted Biringer said...

Hi Mike,


Are you familiar with The Blue Cliff Record Case 96?

Hekiganroku - Case 96: Joshu's Three Turning Words [1]

Joshu showed the assembly three turning words:
"The Buddha made of clay will not pass through water."
"The Buddha made of metal will not pass through a furnace."
"The Buddha made of wood will not pass through fire."

I hope your mantlepiece is not near a furnace.



Anonymous said...


Indeed. I had that in mind when I bought a metal one. Also the variant of it that ISTR Dogen quotes from an earlier text about a buddha becoming a wooden buddha to enter the fire and becoming a clay buddha to enter the water and so on.

I'll reread Case 96 at bedtime.

Meanwhile, in Dogen's record he states that Milk nature but Cheese does not have Milk nature!

Who knew that Dogen could cook!!

Anonymous said...


Milk has cheese nature but cheese does not have mik nature.

[I've lost the bookmark so cannot give chapter and verse]