BUSSHO 仏性
Butsu means Buddha and sho means nature, so bussho means Buddha-nature. The Chinese characters read in Japanese as bussho represent the meaning of the Sanskrit word buddhata, or Buddha-nature; this was usually understood as the potential we have to attain the truth, or as something which we have inherently and which grows naturally day by day. But Master Dogen was not satisfied by such interpretations. In his view, the Buddha-nature is neither a potential nor a natural attribute, but a state or condition of body and mind at a present moment. Therefore, he saw the Buddha-nature neither as something that we might realize in the future, nor as something that we have inherently in our body and mind. From this standpoint, Master Dogen affirmed and at the same time denied the proposition “We all have the Buddha-nature.” He also affirmed and at the same time denied the proposition “We all don’t have the Buddha-nature.” At first sight, these views appear contradictory, but through his dialectic explanation of the Buddha-nature in this chapter, Master Dogen succeeded in interpreting the concept of the Buddha-nature from the standpoint of action or reality.
 GYOBUTSU-YUIGI 行仏威儀
The Dignified Behavior of Acting Buddha
Gyo means to practice or to act, butsu means buddha, yui means dignity or dignified, and gi means ceremony, formal attitude, or behavior. Therefore Gyobutsu-yuigi means the dignified behavior of acting buddha. Buddhism can be called a religion of action. Buddhism esteems action very highly, because action is our existence itself, and without acting we have no existence. Gautama Buddha’s historical mission was to find the truth of action, by which he could synthesize idealistic Brahmanism and the materialistic theories of the six non-Buddhist teachers. In this chapter Master Dogen explained the dignity that usually accompanies buddhas in action.
 BUKKYO 仏教
The Buddha’s Teaching
Butsu means Buddha or Buddhist, and kyo means teaching or teachings. Bukkyo is usually translated as Buddhism, but in this chapter Master Dogen emphasized the importance of the theoretical side of Buddhism. For this reason it is better here to translate bukkyo as “Buddha’s teaching” in order to distinguish between the peculiar usage of the word in this chapter and the usual usage. Some Buddhist sects, wanting to emphasize the value of practice in Buddhism, insist on the importance of a transmission which is beyond and separate from theoretical teachings. They say we need not rely on any verbal explanation of Buddhism. But Master Dogen saw that this theory itself was mistaken. Of course, practice is very important in Buddhism, but Master Dogen considered that both practice and theory are important. If we deny the importance of the theoretical side of Buddhism, we lose the method to transmit Buddhism to others. In this chapter Master Dogen explained the role of Buddhist theory and insisted that we should not forget the importance of theoretical Buddhist teachings.
 JINZU 神通
Jin means mystical and zu, which is a corruption of tsu, means ability or power, so jinzu means mystical power. It is said in Buddhism that a person who has attained the truth may have certain kinds of mystical power, but many Buddhists invented fantastic exaggerations of these powers. Master Dogen did not affirm such exaggerations. He affirmed the existence of Buddhist mystical powers, which we can get when we become buddhas, but he thought that in the case of Buddhist mystical powers, mystical means not supernatural but real. Master Dogen thought that Buddhist mystical powers are the abilities we use in our usual life. When asked what Buddhist mystical powers are, an old Chinese Buddhist replied, “Fetching water and carrying firewood.”
 DAIGO 大悟
Dai means great and go means realization, so daigo means great realization. Many Buddhist scholars, for example Dr. Daisetsu Suzuki, have translated go as “enlightenment.” But the meaning of the word “enlightenment” is ambiguous and the word has for many years been a stumbling block to the understanding of Buddhism. So it may be better to translate go as realization. The meaning of realization in Master Dogen’s theory is also difficult to understand. Anyway, it is clear that realization is not only intellectual understanding, but a more concrete realization of facts in reality. So we can say that realization in Master Dogen’s theory is realization in real life. We can study his thoughts on realization in this chapter.
 ZAZENSHIN 坐禅箴
A Needle for Zazen
Shin means a bamboo needle that was used for acupuncture in ancient China. So shin means a method of healing body and mind, and the word came to be used for a maxim that has the power to cure a human being of physical and mental discomfort. Subsequently, the word shin was used to describe short verses useful in teaching the important points of a method of training. In this chapter Master Dogen first explained the true meaning of Zazen, quoting and commenting on a famous exchange between Master Nangaku and Master Baso. Then he praised a Zazenshin by Master Wanshi Shokaku, and finally, he wrote his own Zazenshin.
 BUTSU-KOJO-NO-JI 仏向上事
The Matter of the Ascendant State of Buddha
Butsu means “buddha,” kojo means “ascend,” or “be beyond,” and ji means “matter,” so butsu-kojo-no-ji means “the matter beyond buddha” or “the matter of the ascendant state of buddha.” These words describe a buddha continuing Buddhist practice after attaining the truth. Attainment of the truth is the practitioner’s recognition that he or she has been buddha since the eternal past. Therefore even though buddhas have attained the truth, they do not distinctly change their thought, their physical condition, their life, and their practice of Zazen, after having attained the truth. They just continue with their lives, practicing Zazen each day. Buddhas like this are called “beyond buddha” or “ascendant buddhas” because they are buddhas who do not look like buddhas, and who continue the same usual Buddhist life as the life which they had before their enlightenment. Master Dogen revered these ascendant buddhas very much. Ascendant buddhas like these are actual buddhas, and we cannot find buddhas other than they in this world. So in this chapter, Master Dogen explained the matter of ascendant buddhas, quoting the words of many masters.
 INMO 恁麼
Inmo is a colloquial word in Chinese, and it means “it,” “that,” or “what.” We usually use the words “it,” “that,” or “what” to indicate something that we do not need to explain. Therefore Buddhist philosophers in China used the word inmo to suggest something ineffable. At the same time, one of the aims of studying Buddhism is to realize reality, and according to Buddhist philosophy, reality is something ineffable. So the word inmo was used to indicate the truth, or reality, which in Buddhist philosophy is originally ineffable. In this chapter Master Dogen explained the meaning of inmo, quoting the words of Master Ungo Doyo, Master Samghanandi, Master Daikan Eno, Master Sekito Kisen, and others.
 GYOJI 行持 ( 上/下 )
[Pure] Conduct and Observance [of Precepts] – Parts 1 & 2
Gyo means deeds, actions, or conduct; and ji means observance of precepts. So gyoji means “Pure Conduct and Observance of Precepts.” In short, we can say that Buddhism is a religion of action. Gautama Buddha recognized the importance of action in our life, and he established an ultimate philosophy dependent on action. In sum, the solution to all problems relies upon the philosophy of action and therefore Master Dogen esteemed action highly. In this chapter he quoted many examples of pure conduct and observance of precepts by Buddhas and patriarchs. The contents of this chapter are thus very concrete, and encourage us in practicing our Buddhist life and observing the Buddhist precepts.
 KAI-IN-ZANMAI 海印三昧
Samadhi, State Like the Sea
Kai means “sea” and in (a translation of the Sanskrit word mudra) means “seal” or “stamp.” Zanmai (a phonetic representation of the Sanskrit word samadhi) means the state in Zazen. So kai-in-zanmai means “sea-stamp samadhi” or “samadhi as a state like the sea.” These words appear frequently in the Garland Sutra. Master Dogen explains that the words describe the state in Zazen, or the mutual interrelation between subject and object here and now. In this chapter Master Dogen expounds on samadhi as a state like the sea, quoting from the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and from a conversation between Master Sozan Honjaku and his disciple.
 JUKI 授記
Ju means to give, and ki means affirmation, so juki means affirmation. Buddhist sutras contain many descriptions of Gautama Buddha giving his disciples affirmation that they would attain the truth, but few Buddhist scholars concerned themselves with the meaning of these affirmations. Master Dogen, however, saw the great significance of these affirmations in Buddhist philosophy. In this chapter he explained the meaning of affirmation and taught us why Buddhist sutras so often described affirmations of attaining the truth.
 KANNON 観音
Kannon is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese name of the Bodhisattva called Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit. Avalokitesvara is described in the Lotus Sutra as someone who always comes to this world to save a man or woman who cries for help. Kannon literally means “Regarder of Sounds,” and this expresses the character of Avalokitesvara who always responds to the cries for help of living beings in this world. Thus, Avalokitesvara is usually thought of as a symbol of compassion. But Master Dogen understood Avalokitesvara as a symbol of a life force that is more fundamental to living beings than compassion. So in this chapter he explained the true meaning of Avalokitesvara, quoting a famous conversation about Avalokitesvara between Master Ungan Donjo and Master Dogo Enchi.
 ARAKAN 阿羅漢
Arakan represents the sound of the Sanskrit word arhan or arhat, which means a person who is worthy of veneration. Arhathood is also the ultimate state of the Sravaka, or rigoristic Buddhist. The Sravaka belongs to Hinayana Buddhism, and so Mahayana Buddhists usually did not value arhathood. But Master Dogen did not share this opinion. According to Master Dogen, there cannot be any difference between Hinayana Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, because he believed that there is only one Buddhism, which has been transmitted from Gautama Buddha to us. He thought that the difference between Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism was a difference produced by the difference between ages, and so we should not affirm the existence of more than one Buddhism. From this basis he explained the supreme value of the arhat in this chapter.
 HAKUJUSHI 栢樹子
The koan, or story, of Hakujushi, “The Cedar Trees,” is very famous both in China and in Japan. Although many Buddhists have presented their interpretations of the story, most of them are unsatisfactory. In this chapter, Master Dogen gives his own interpretation. First he describes Master Joshu’s character, then he interprets the story. In the story a monk asks Master Joshu Jushin what was Master Bodhidharma’s intention in coming to China from the west. Master Joshu says “The cedar trees in the garden.” His intention is “It was just reality” or “It was just Dharma.” But the monk understood him to mean that cedar trees are just objective things. So he asked the Master for another answer. But the Master again insisted that cedar trees in the garden are just reality.
 KOMYO 光明
Komyo means luminosity, light, or brightness. Such light has been revered in Buddhism since ancient times, and has both a physical and a mental or spiritual side. Generally speaking, idealistic people believe in spiritual light whereas materialistic people only believe in physical light, but according to Buddhist theory, brightness has both a physical side and a mental side. In this chapter Master Dogen explained this brightness. He explained that the Universe is our own brightness, that the Universe is just brightness, that our behavior in the Universe is brightness, and that there is nothing other than brightness.
 SHINJIN-GAKUDO 身心学道
Learning the Truth with Body and Mind
Shinjin means “body and mind,” and gakudo means “learning the truth,” so shinjin-gakudo means “Learning the Truth with Body and Mind.” Generally speaking, people usually think that they can arrive at the truth through intellectual reasoning. In Buddhism, however, it is taught that the truth can be attained not by the intellect alone, but through action. Therefore learning the truth in Buddhism includes both physical pursuit of the truth and mental pursuit of the truth. This is why Master Dogen called the Buddhist pursuit of the truth “learning the truth with body and mind.” In this chapter he explained learning the truth with body and learning the truth with mind, and at the same time, he explained that the two ways of pursuing the truth are always combined in the oneness of action. So we can say that the division of learning the truth into two ways is only a method of explaining the Buddhist pursuit of the truth through action.
 MUCHU-SETSUMU 夢中説夢
Preaching a Dream in a Dream
Mu means “dream,” chu means “in,” and setsu means “preach.” So muchu-setsumu means “preaching a dream in a dream.” In Buddhist philosophy there is an idea that our life is a kind of dream, because in everyday life we cannot recognize our life itself. In other words, our actual life is just a moment here and now, and we cannot grasp such a moment. We are living at every moment of the present, and every moment cannot be expressed with words. So we can say that we are living in something like a dream. At the same time, to preach Buddhist theory is a kind of preaching a dream, and furthermore to live our life is also a kind of preaching, telling, or manifesting a dream. So Master Dogen compared our life to preaching a dream in a dream.
 DOTOKU 道得
Expressing the Truth
Do means “to speak” and toku means “to be able,” so do-toku literally means “being able to say something.” But over time the meaning of do-toku changed to “expressing the truth” or “an expression of the truth.” In this chapter, Master Dogen explained the meaning of do-toku, or expressing the truth, from his standpoint.
 GABYO 画餅
A Picture of Rice Cake
Ga means a picture, a painting, or a drawing, and byo means rice cake. Therefore gabyo means a rice cake painted in a picture. Needless to say, a picture of rice cake cannot satisfy an appetite. Therefore, in Buddhism, painted rice cakes have frequently been used as a symbol of something serving no useful purpose. Notably, they were used as a symbol for abstract theories and concepts, which are useless to realize Buddhism. But Master Dogen’s interpretation about painted rice cakes differed from this usual interpretation. He felt that a painted rice cake represents one half of the Universe-the conceptual or mental side of Reality. Therefore we can say that even though abstract theories and words have sometimes misled people who are studying Buddhism, if there were no theories or words it would be impossible to understand Buddhism systematically or to explain Buddhist philosophy to others. In this chapter Master Dogen explained the real meaning of painted rice cakes in Buddhism: painted rice cakes-theories and concepts-cannot satisfy hunger, but they can be utilized to understand and explain the Truth. Further, Master Dogen insists that all existence has both a physical, material side and a conceptual, mental side, and that these two aspects are inseparable in Reality. Thus without a picture of rice cake-that is, the concept “rice cake”-we can never find the real existence of rice cakes.
 ZENKI 全機
Zen means “all” or “total” and ki means “functions,” so zenki means “all functions” or “the total function.” From the Buddhist standpoint, we can say that this world is the realization of all functions. Master Dogen explained this state of the world, quoting the words of Master Engo Kokugon that life is the realization of all functions and death is the realization of all functions.