BENDOWA 弁道話
A Talk about Pursuing the Truth
Ben means “to make an effort” or “to pursue,” do means “the truth,” and wa means “a talk” or “story.” Master Dogen usually used the word bendo to indicate the practice of Zazen, so Bendowa means a talk about pursuing the truth, or a talk about the practice of Zazen. This volume was not included in the first edition of Shobogenzo. It was found in Kyoto in the Kanbun era (1661-1673), and added to Shobogenzo when the 95-volume edition was edited by Master Hangyo Kozen in the Genroku era (1688-1704).
 MAKA-HANNYA-HARAMITSU 摩訶般若波羅密
Maka is a phonetic rendering of the Sanskrit word maha, which means “great.” Hannya is a phonetic rendering of the Sanskrit word prajna which can be translated as “real wisdom” or “intuitive reflection.” Haramitsu is a phonetic rendering of the Sanskrit word paramita which literally means “to have arrived at the opposite shore,” that is, to have accomplished the truth. So maka-hannya-haramitsu means the accomplishment which is great real wisdom. In this chapter, Master Dogen wrote his interpretation of the Maha-prajna-paramita-hrdaya-sutra. Hrdaya means heart. This short sutra, usually called “the Heart Sutra,” represents the heart of the six hundred volumes of the Maha-prajna-paramita-sutra. Even though it is very short, the Heart Sutra contains the most fundamental principle of Buddhism. What is the most fundamental principle? Prajna. What is prajna? Prajna, or real wisdom, is a kind of intuitive ability that occurs in our body and mind, when our body and mind are in the state of balance and harmony. We normally think that wisdom is something based on the intellect, but Buddhists believe that wisdom, on which our decisions are based, is not intellectual but intuitive. The right decision comes from the right state of body and mind, and the right state of body and mind comes when our body and mind are balanced and harmonized. So maha-prajna-paramita is wisdom that we have when our body and mind are balanced and harmonized. And Zazen is the practice by which our body and mind enter the state of balance and harmony. Maha-prajna-paramita, then, is the essence of Zazen.
 GENJO-KOAN 現成公案
The Realized Universe
Genjo means “realized,” and koan is an abbreviation of kofu-no-antoku, which was a notice board on which a new law was announced to the public in ancient China. So koan expresses a law, or a universal principle. In Shobogenzo, genjo koan means the realized law of the Universe, that is Dharma, or the real Universe itself. The fundamental basis of Buddhism is belief in this real Universe, and in Genjo Koan Master Dogen preaches to us the realized Dharma, or the real Universe itself. When the seventy-five chapter edition of Shobogenzo was compiled, this chapter was placed first, and from this fact we can recognize its importance.
 IKKA-NO-MYOJU 一顆明珠
One Bright Pearl
Ikka means “one,” myo means “bright” or “clear,” and ju means “pearl.” So ikka no myoju means one bright pearl. This chapter is a commentary on Master Gensa Shibi’s words that the whole Universe in all directions is as splendid as a bright pearl. Master Dogen loved these words, so he wrote about them in this chapter.
 JU-UNDO-SHIKI 重雲堂式
Rules for the Hall of Heavy Cloud
Ju-undo or “the Hall of Heavy Cloud” was the name of the Zazen Hall of Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple. Shiki means rules. So Ju-undo-shiki means “Rules for the Hall of Heavy Cloud.” Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple was the first temple established by Master Dogen. He built it in Kyoto prefecture in 1233, several years after coming back from China. Ju-undo was the first Zazen Hall to be built in Japan. Master Dogen made these rules for the Hall, and titled them. The chapter was not included in Shobogenzo when the 75-chapter edition was compiled, but was added when the 95-chapter edition was compiled at the end of the 17th century. The inclusion of this chapter is very useful in understanding Shobogenzo, because what is written here represents in a concrete way Master Dogen’s sincere attitude in pursuing the truth.
 SOKU-SHIN-ZE-BUTSU 即心是仏
Mind Here and Now Is Buddha
Soku means “here and now.” Shin means “mind.” Ze means “is.” Butsu means “buddha.” The principle of soku-shin-ze-butsu, or “mind here and now is buddha” is very famous in Buddhism, but many people have interpreted the principle to support the beliefs of naturalism. They say if our mind here and now is just buddha, our conduct must always be right, and in that case, we need not make any effort to understand or to realize Buddhism. However, this interpretation is a serious mistake. The principle soku-shin-ze-butsu, “mind here and now is buddha,” must be understood not from the standpoint of the intellect, but from the standpoint of practice. In other words, the principle does not mean belief in something spiritual called “mind” but it affirms the time “now” and the place “here” as reality itself. This time and place must always be absolute and right, and so we can call them the truth or “buddha.” In this chapter, Master Dogen explained this meaning of soku-shin-ze-butsu, or “mind here and now is buddha.”
 SENJO 洗浄
Sen means “to wash,” and jo means “to purify.” So senjo means “washing.” Buddhism is neither idealism nor materialism, but belief in reality, which has both a spiritual side and a material side. So Buddhism insists that to clean our physical body is to purify our mind. Therefore, in Buddhism, cutting our fingernails, shaving our head, and washing our body are all very important religious practices. In this chapter Master Dogen expounds the religious meaning of such daily behavior, and preaches the importance in Buddhism of cleansing our physical body.
 RAIHAI-TOKUZUI 礼拝得随
Prostrating to Attainment of the Marrow
Raihai means “to prostrate oneself to,” toku means “to get,” or “to attain,” and zui means “marrow.” So raihai-tokuzui means prostrating oneself to attainment of the marrow, in other words, revering what has got the truth. In this chapter Master Dogen preached to us that the value of a being must be decided according to whether or not it has got the truth. So he said, even if it is a child, a woman, a devil, or an animal like a wild fox, if it has got the truth, we must revere it whole-heartedly. In this attitude, we can find Master Dogen’s sincere reverence of the truth, and his view of men, women, and animals.
 KEISEI-SANSHIKI 谿声山色
The Voices of the River-Valley and the Form of the Mountains
Kei means “river-valley,” sei means “sound” or “voice,” san means “mountain,” and shiki means “form” or “color.” So keisei-sanshiki means voices of river-valleys and forms of mountains – that is, Nature. In Buddhism, this world is the truth itself, so Nature is a face of the truth. Nature is the material side of the real world, so it is always speaking the truth, and manifesting the law of the Universe every day. This is why it has been said since ancient time that sounds of rivers are the preaching of Gautama Buddha and forms of mountains are the body of Gautama Buddha. In this chapter, Master Dogen preached to us the meaning of Nature in Buddhism.
 SHOAKU-MAKUSA 諸悪莫作
Not Doing Wrongs
Sho means “many” or “miscellaneous,” aku means “wrong” or “bad,” maku means “not” or “don’t,” and sa means “to do.” So shoaku makusa means “not doing wrong.” These words are quoted from a short poem called “the Seven Buddhas’ Universal Precept:” “Don’t do wrong; do right; then our minds become pure naturally; this is the teaching of the many Buddhas.” This poem tells us how closely the teaching of Buddhism is related to morals. In this chapter Master Dogen teaches us the Buddhist theory of morality. Morality or ethics is, by its nature, a very practical problem. But most people are prone to forget the practical character of morality, and usually only discuss it with words or as an abstract theory. However, talking about morality is not the same as being moral. Morality is just doing right or not doing wrong. Here Master Dogen explains real morality, quoting an interesting story about Master Choka Dorin and a famous Chinese poet called Haku Kyoi.
 UJI 有時
U means “existence” and ji means “time,” so uji means “existent time,” or “existence-time.” In this chapter Master Dogen teaches us the meaning of time in Buddhism. As Master Dogen explains in other chapters, Buddhism is realism. Therefore, the view of time in Buddhism is always very realistic. Specifically, time is always related with existence and existence is always related with momentary time. So in reality, the past and the future are not existent time; the present moment is the only existent time – the point at which existence and time come together. Also, time is always related with action here and now. Action can only be realized in time, and time can only be realized in action. Thus, the view of time in Buddhism reminds us of existentialism in modern philosophy. It is very important to understand the Buddhist view of time in order to grasp the true meaning of Buddhism.
 KESA-KUDOKU 袈裟功徳
The Merit of the Kasaya
Kesa represents the Sanskrit word kasaya, or Buddhist robe, and kudoku means “virtue” or “merit.” So kesa kudoku means the merit of the kasaya. Being a realistic religion, Buddhism reveres our real life. In other words, Buddhism esteems our real conduct in daily life; wearing clothes and eating meals are very important parts of Buddhist life. In particular, the kasaya and patra, or Buddhist bowl, are the main symbols of Buddhist life. In this chapter Master Dogen explains and praises the merit of the kasaya.
 DEN-E 伝衣
The Transmission of the Robe
Den means “transmission” and e means “robe,” so den-e means “the transmission of the robe.” The content of this chapter is very similar to that of the previous chapter, Kesa-kudoku. Furthermore, the date recorded at the end of each chapter is the same. But whereas the note at the end of Kesa-kudoku says “preached to the assembly at Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple,” the note to this chapter says “written at Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple…” It thus seems likely that Den-e is the draft of the lecture Master Dogen was to give on October 1st, and Kesa-kudoku is the transcript of the lecture he gave on that day.
 SANSUIGYO 山水経
The Sutra of Mountains and Water
San means “mountains,” sui means “water” – rivers, lakes, and so on. Sansui suggests natural scenery, or Nature itself. Kyo or gyo means Buddhist sutras. So Sansuigyo means mountains and water, or Nature, as Buddhist sutras. Buddhism is basically a religion of belief in the Universe, and Nature is the Universe showing its real form. So to look at Nature is to look at the Buddhist truth itself. For this reason Master Dogen believed that Nature is just Buddhist sutras. In this chapter he explains the real form of Nature, giving particular emphasis to relativity in Nature.
 BUSSO 仏祖
The Buddhist Patriarchs
Butsu means “buddha” or “Buddhist,” so means “patriarch,” and therefore busso means Buddhist patriarchs. Master Dogen revered Buddhas of the past; he also esteemed the Buddhist transmission from Buddha to Buddha. Furthermore he believed in the continuity of the Buddhist order; the successive leaders of the Buddhist order held an important place in his thought. Here Master Dogen enumerates the names of the Patriarchs of the Buddhist order, and in doing so, he confirms the Buddhist tradition they maintained.
 SHISHO 嗣書
The Certificate of Succession
Shi means “succession” or “transmission.” Sho means “certificate.” So shisho means “the certificate of succession.” Buddhism is not only theory, but also practice or experience. Therefore it is impossible for a Buddhist disciple to attain the Buddhist truth only by reading Buddhist sutras or listening to a master’s lectures. The disciple must live with a master and study the master’s behavior in everyday life. After a disciple has learned the master’s life and has realized the Buddhist truth in his or her own life, the master gives a certificate to the disciple, certifying the transmission of the truth from master to disciple. This certificate is called shisho. From a materialistic viewpoint, the certificate is only cloth and ink, and so it cannot hold religious meaning or be revered as something with religious value. But Buddhism is a realistic religion, and Buddhists find religious value in many concrete traditions. The certificate is one such traditional object which is revered by Buddhists. Therefore Master Dogen found much value in this certificate. In this chapter he explains why the certificate is revered by Buddhists, and records his own experiences of seeing such certificates in China.
 HOKKE-TEN-HOKKE 法華転法華
The Flower of Dharma Turns the Flower of Dharma
Ho means “Dharma,” “the law of the Universe,” or the Universe itself. Ke means “flowers.” So hokke means “the Universe which is like flowers.” The full title of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho-renge-kyo, “The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma,” is usually abbreviated to Hokke-kyo. So hokke also suggests the wonderful Universe as manifested in the Lotus Sutra. Ten means “to turn,” or “to move.” So hokke-ten-hokke means “the wonderful Universe which is like flowers is moving the wonderful Universe which is like flowers itself.” This is the Buddhist view of the Universe, and Master Dogen’s view. In this chapter, Master Dogen explains this view of the Universe, quoting many words from the Lotus Sutra. The message of the Lotus Sutra is “How wonderful is the Universe in which we are now living!” So here Master Dogen unfolds his view of the Universe, following the theory of the Lotus Sutra.
 SHIN-FUKATOKU 心不可得
Mind Cannot Be Grasped [The former]
Shin means “mind,” fu expresses negation, ka expresses possibility, and toku means “to grasp.” Shin-fukatoku, or “mind cannot be grasped,” is a quotation from the Diamond Sutra. On the basis of our common sense, we usually think that our mind can be grasped by our intellect, and we are prone to think that our mind must exist somewhere substantially. This belief also extends into the sphere of philosophy; Rene Descartes, for example, started his philosophical thinking with the premise “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think therefore I am.” The German idealists, for example, Kant, Fichte, von Schnelling, and Hegel, also based their philosophies on the existence of mind. But in Buddhism we do not have confidence in the existence of mind. Buddhism is a philosophy of action, or a philosophy of the here and now; in that philosophy, mind cannot exist independently of the external world. In other words, Buddhism says that all existence is the instantaneous contact between mind and the external world. Therefore it is difficult for us to grasp our mind independently of the external world. In short, Buddhist theory cannot support belief in the independent existence of mind. In this chapter, Master Dogen preached that mind cannot be grasped, explaining a famous Buddhist story about a conversation between Master Tokuzan Senkan and an old woman selling rice cakes.
 SHIN-FUKATOKU 心不可得
Mind Cannot Be Grasped [The latter]
The 95-chapter edition of Shobogenzo has two chapters with the same title Shin-fukatoku or Mind Cannot Be Grasped. We usually discriminate between the two chapters with the words “the former,” and “the latter.” The contents of the two chapters are different, but the meaning of the two chapters is almost the same. Furthermore, the end of each chapter records the same date – the summer retreat in 1241. However, while the former chapter says “preached to the assembly” this chapter says “written.” So it may be that the former chapter was a short-hand record of Master Dogen’s preaching, and the latter was Master Dogen’s draft of his lecture. This is only a supposition, and scholars in future may be able to find a more exact conclusion.
 KOKYO 古鏡
The Eternal Mirror
Ko means “ancient” or “eternal” and kyo means “mirror,” so kokyo means “the eternal mirror.” And what “the eternal mirror” means is the question. In this chapter Master Dogen quoted Master Seppo Gison’s words “When a foreigner comes in front of the mirror, the mirror reflects the foreigner.” From these words we can understand the eternal mirror as a symbol of some human mental faculty. The eternal mirror suggests the importance of reflection, so we can suppose that the eternal mirror is a symbol of the intuitional faculty. In Buddhist philosophy, the intuition is called prajna, or real wisdom. Real wisdom in Buddhism means our human intuitional faculty on which all our decisions are based. Buddhism esteems this real wisdom more than reason or sense-perception. Our real wisdom is the basis for our decisions, and our decisions decide our life, so we can say that our real wisdom decides the course of our life. For this reason, it is very natural for Master Dogen to explain the eternal mirror. At the same time, we must find another meaning of the eternal mirror, because Master Dogen also quoted other words of Master Seppo Gison, “Every monkey has the eternal mirror on its back.” Therefore we can think that the eternal mirror means not only human real wisdom, but also some intuitional faculty of animals. So we must widen the meaning of the eternal mirror, and understand it as a symbol of the intuitional faculty which both human beings and animals have. Furthermore Master Seppo Gison said, “When the world is ten feet wide, the eternal mirror is ten feet wide. When the world is one foot wide, the eternal mirror is one foot wide.” These words suggest the eternal mirror is the world itself. So we can say that the eternal mirror is not only a symbol of an individual faculty but is also something universal. From ancient times Buddhists have discussed the eternal mirror. In this chapter Master Dogen explains the meaning of the eternal mirror in Buddhism, quoting the words of ancient Buddhist masters.
 KANKIN 看経
Kan means “to read” and kin means “sutras.” Many Buddhist sects revere reading sutras, because they think that the Buddhist truth is theory which can be understood through abstract explanation. They think that we can understand Buddhism only by reading sutras. At the same time, there are other sects who deny the value of reading sutras; they say that because Buddhist truth is not a theoretical system, we cannot attain the truth by reading sutras. Master Dogen took the middle way on the problem: rather than deny the value of reading sutras, he said that reading sutras is one way of finding out what Buddhist practice is. He did not believe, however, that we can get the truth by reading sutras; he did not think that reciting sutras might exercise some mystical influence over religious life. In this way Master Dogen’s view on reading sutras was very realistic. However, his understanding of “reading sutras” was not limited to written sutras; he believed that the Universe is a sutra. He thought that observing the world around us is like reading a sutra. So for him, grass, trees, mountains, the moon, the sun, and so forth were all Buddhist sutras. He even extended his view of reading sutras to include walking around the master’s chair in the middle of the Zazen Hall. This viewpoint is not only Master Dogen’s; it is the viewpoint of Buddhism itself. So in this chapter, Master Dogen explains the wider meaning of reading sutras.