Friday, January 16, 2015

60 Quotes From Dogen on Words in Zen

60 Quotes From Dogen on Words in Zen

 (Translations by Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross - emphasis added)

After he had attained the truth at last, he taught people with the words that the whole universe in ten directions is one bright pearl.

At the same time, by virtue of Gensha’s words of Dharma, we have heard, recognized, and clarified the situation of a body and mind which has already become the bright pearl.

Shobogenzo, Ikka-no-myoju, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

What sounds like this is speech which is the supreme state of bodhi in words. It is bodhi-speech already, and so it speaks bodhi.

Shobogenzo, Shoaku-makusa, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

The will and the words are both existence-time.

Furthermore, “the will” is the time of the realized universe, “the wordsare the time of the pivot that is the ascendant state, “presence” is the time of laying bare the substance, and “absence” is the time of “sticking to this and parting from this.” We should draw distinctions, and should enact existence-time, like this.

Shobogenzo, Uji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

But people who are not liberated from common sentiment make light of the Buddha-Dharma; not believing the Buddha’s words, they aim blindly to follow the sentiment of the common person.

Shobogenzo, Den-e, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

The mountains and water of the present are the realization of the words of eternal buddhas.

It is because of the grossness of the viewpoint of the vulgar that they doubt the phrase “the Blue Mountains are walking.” It is due to the poorness of their scant experience that they are astonished at the words “flowing mountains.” Now, not even fully understanding the words “flowing water,” they are drowned in prejudice and ignorance.

They do not know that images and thoughts are words and phrases, and they do not know that words and phrases transcend images and thoughts. When I was in China I laughed at them, but they had nothing to say for themselves and were just wordless. Their present negation of rational understanding is nothing but a false notion. Who has taught it to them?

Without this investigation in practice, it is not the right Dharma wheel of the Tathagata. An eternal buddha says, “If you want to be able not to invite the karma of incessant [hell], do not insult the right Dharma wheel of the Tathagata.” We should engrave these words on skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, we should engrave them on body and mind, on object-and-subject, we should engrave them on the immaterial, and we should engrave them on matter; they are [already] engraved “on trees and on rocks” and they are [already] engraved “in fields and in villages.”

Shobogenzo, Sansuigyo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

If Sanzo had learned the Buddha-Dharma, he would listen to the words of the National Master, and he might be able to see the body and mind of the National Master.

Shobogenzo, Shin-fukatoku, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

But if we seek to know, the evidence that they are cast from a mirror is just [here] in the words of the master.

The words “Venerable monk, to what place have the features you had before you became a monk departed?” hold up a mirror to reflect [the monk’s] face.

We should study and clarify these words.

Testimony to the existence of [both] the eternal mirror and the clear mirror has been expressed directly in the words of Seppo and Gensha.

There must be learning in practice that widely covers the teachings of all the buddhas and all the patriarchs.

We should not idly pass over the words “Please, master, you ask” spoken now by Gensha.

We must diligently learn these words in practice.

Gensha’s words, “How wide is the furnace?” are an unconcealed expression of the truth, which we should learn in practice for a thousand ages and for ten thousand ages.

Shobogenzo, Kokyo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

We must unfailingly apply ourselves to the words “being without the buddha-nature.” Do not be hesitant.

Remember, saying and hearing the words “being without the buddha-nature” is the direct path to becoming buddha.

We should take this expression and make effort to get inside the words. We should reflect on the words “south and north” with naked mind.

It is regrettable that among laypeople and monks throughout the great kingdom of Song, not even one has heard and understood the words of Nagarjuna or penetrated and realized the words of Kaṇadeva.

Few even learn that they should speak the words. Remember, this state of neglect comes from their having stopped making effort. Among heads of the table in many districts there are some who die without once in their life voicing the expression of the truth “the buddha-nature.” Some say that those who listen to teachings discuss the buddha-nature, but patch-robed monks who practice Zen should not speak of it. People like this really are animals. Who are the band of demons that seeks to infiltrate and to defile the truth of our buddha-tathagata?

These words “all living beings” should be investigated at once.

To fathom the vigorous state of the buddha-nature, we should use Chosha’s words as the standard. We should quietly consider the words “Wind and fire have not dissipated.” What kind of truth is present in the words “not dissipated”?

“Wind and fire have not dissipated” is Buddha preaching Dharma, and “undissipated wind and fire” are the Dharma preaching Buddha.

Shobogenzo, Bussho, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

If you want to learn through experience the words “the whole earth and the whole cosmos,” mull them over three times and five times.

There are those who merely hear the phrase “non-birth” without clarifying it, seeming to set aside effort with body and mind. It is the utmost stupidity.

Shobogenzo, Gyobutsu-yuigi, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

 Although they have transmitted and received the fallacy of “a separate transmission outside the teachings,” because they have never known “inside” and “outside,” the logic of their words is not consistent. How could the Buddhist patriarchs who receive the one-to-one transmission of the Buddha’s right-Dharma-eye treasury fail to receive the one-to-one transmission of the Buddha’s teaching? Still more, why would Old Man Sakyamuni have instituted teachings and methods that could have no place in the everyday conduct of Buddhists? Old Man Sakyamuni intended, already, to create teachings and methods to be transmitted one-to-one: what Buddhist patriarch would wish to destroy them? Therefore, the meaning of “the one mind that is the supreme vehicle” is just the three vehicles and the twelve divisions of the teaching, and is just the Mahayana treasury and the Hinayana treasury.

Learning these words in practice, we should meet with the ancestral patriarchs of Buddhism and we should see and hear the teachings and methods of Buddhism.

Shobogenzo, Bukkyo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Students who study Rinzai’s words like this will not be passing time in vain.

We must investigate these words quietly; we should replace our heart with them and replace our brain with them.

Shobogenzo, Daigo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

We should clarify and master these words.

We should clarify the meaning of these words.

Investigating these words, we should grasp them as just the pivotal essence of the ancestral patriarchs.

Zazenshin, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

The present words of master and disciple we should without fail examine in detail.

Shobogenzo, Butsu-kojo-no-ji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Even today, although [people] hear the Sixth Patriarch’s words they do not know the Sixth Patriarch’s words: how much less could they express the Sixth Patriarch’s expression of the truth?

Shobogenzo, Inmo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Hearing these words, Hojo realized the great state of realization under their influence.

We should imbue our minds with this state of truth, and should engrave these words on our bodies.

We should attach importance to these words, considering them day and night, and putting them into practice morning and evening.

Let us quietly consider: a lifetime is not so long, [and yet] if we are able to speak the words of a Buddhist patriarch—even if three and three [words] or two and two—we will have expressed the state of truth of the Buddhist patriarchs themselves. Why? [Because] the Buddhist patriarchs are the oneness of body and mind, and so the one word or the two words will be totally the warm body-and-mind of a Buddhist patriarch. That body-and-mind comes to us and expresses as the truth our own body-and-mind. At just the moment of speaking, the state of expressing the truth comes and expresses our own body-and-mind.

Shobogenzo, Gyoji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

We should painstakingly learn in practice and consider these words of the Buddha.

Shobogenzo, Kai-in-zanmai, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

On one occasion [the Buddha] gave affirmation by holding up an uḍumbara flower and on another occasion he gave affirmation by taking up a robe of golden brocade. Neither of these was an enforced act; they were the words and deeds of affirmation itself.

Shobogenzo, Juki, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

If we want to learn Kannon in experience, we should investigate the present words of Ungan and Dogo.

Shobogenzo, Kannon, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

The words expressed here are verification of the Buddha’s truth; they are not mere speculation from the sentimental hearts of commentary teachers; they contain the standard that is universal to Buddhism.

Shobogenzo, Arakan, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

In general, those who understand that an expression like this exists to assert that abstract teaching is utterly useless are making a great mistake. They have not received the authentic transmission of the ancestral founders’ virtuous conduct, and they are blind to the Buddhist patriarchs’ words. If they have not clarified this one saying, who could affirm that they have mastered the words of other buddhas?

Shobogenzo, Gabyo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Now, learn in practice, the First Patriarch’s words “You have got my skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” are the Patriarch’s words.

So the eternal buddha’s words are evidence of the Buddha-Dharma and are a past expression of the self.

Shobogenzo, Katto, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Great Master Sakyamuni says,

The triple world is only the one mind,
There is nothing else outside of the mind.
The mind, buddha, and living beings—
The three are without distinction.

[This] one saying is the whole effort of [the Buddha’s] lifetime. The whole effort of his lifetime is the complete wholeness of his total effort. While it is deliberate action, it may also be action in the natural stream of speech and action. Thus, the words now spoken by the Tathagata, “The triple world is only the mind” are the whole realization of the whole Tathagata, and his whole life is the whole of this one saying.

Shobogenzo, Sangai-yuishin, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

If I put it in words, “expounding the mind and expounding the nature” is the pivotal essence of the Seven Buddhas and the ancestral masters.

Shobogenzo, Sesshin-sessho, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Even a work produced latterly, if its words are true, should be approved.

Shobogenzo, Butsudo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

The Tathagata’s words “the ultimate state of equilibrium of substance and detail” are the self-expression of “the real form of all dharmas,” are the self-expression of an acarya, and are the learning in practice of total equilibrium.

Shobogenzo, Shoho-jisso, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Only people who have penetrated Unmon’s words have received the Dharma from Unmon.

Shobogenzo, Menju, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Who could not believe and understand the Buddha’s words of real truth?

Shobogenzo, Kenbutsu, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

These are words naturally expressed by the Eye itself. We should quietly investigate the principle of, and learn in practice, the realization of words like this.

Shobogenzo, Ganzei, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

So we should clearly maintain and rely upon [the teaching that] a Buddhist patriarch’s ideas and words are a Buddhist patriarch’s everyday tea and meals. Coarse tea and plain food in everyday life are the ideas and words of a Buddhist patriarch.

Shobogenzo, Kajo, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross


“We do not know what words these are” describes the existence, in words, of dragons.

Shobogenzo, Ryugin, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross


Because “this place is where something ineffable exists,” it is through the realization of these words that Buddhist patriarchs are caused to be. And because the realization of these words of Buddhist patriarchs passes naturally from rightful successor to rightful successor, the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, realized as “a whole body,” are “hanging in space.” This space is beyond such categories as the twenty kinds of space.

Shobogenzo, Koku, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross


Just because we have not understood them, we should not disregard them; we should resolve to understand them without fail. They are words that were actually preached, and so we should listen to them. Having listened to them, then we may be able to understand them.

Shobogenzo, Yui-butsu-yo-butsu, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

[These] are the words of the two Zen masters; they are the words of people who had got the truth, and so they were decidedly not laid down in vain.

Shobogenzo, Shoji, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross


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