Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 3

Buddha Nature


1. “Buddha nature” (busshō 佛性): A central term of art in Mahāyāna texts, subject to much commentarial opinion. Depending on interpretation and context, the expression may mean: (a) The state or condition of being a buddha, “buddhahood”; the essential nature of a buddha, that by reason of which one is a buddha (buddhatva, buddha-dhātu). (b) The nature shared by buddhas and sentient beings; the ultimate nature of all things. (c) The potential to be a buddha, the karmic “seed” (bīja) or “clan” (gotra) that enables one to become a buddha; the “buddha mind” (busshin 佛心) inherent in consciousness. The text below will explore these various senses of the term.

“The Buddha Śākyamuni said” (shakamuni butsu gon 釋迦牟尼佛言): From the Northern text of the Daban niepan jing 大般涅槃經 (Mahā-parinirvāṇa-sūtra), T.12[374]: 522c24.

“All living beings in their entirety have the buddha nature” (issai shujō shitsu u busshō 一切衆生悉有佛性): Or, more simply, “all living beings have the buddha nature.” The term shujō 衆生 (translated here as “living beings”) represents one standard Chinese translation for the Sanskrit sattva, used in reference to sentient beings transmigrating in saṃsāra. The term shitsu (Chinese xi ), rendered here as “in their entirety,” functions simply as an emphatic adverb meaning “each and every,” “without exception,” etc.; the translation here seeks to reflect something of Dōgen’s play with this term below (see below, Note 4: “The term entirety of being”).

2. “Turning the dharma wheel” (ten bōrin 轉法輪): I.e., expounding the buddha-dharma. (Sanskrit dharma-cakra-pravartana.) A common metaphor for the act of promulgating Buddhism, used especially in reference to the teaching of a buddha. The image of turning a wheel derives from the advance of a chariot in battle, as in the all-victorious “wheel-turning king” (cakravarti-rāja).

“The lion’s roar” (shishi ku 師子吼): A standard metaphor for the preaching of a buddha, also written 獅子吼 (Sanskrit siṃhanāda). The passage cited from the Nirvāṇa-sūtra occurs in the chapter of the sūtra of this name and is given there as “the lion’s roar.”

“Great Master, Śākyamuni, the Honored One” (daishi shakuson 大師釋尊): An epithet for the Buddha combining a standard East Asian reference to Śākyamuni as “world honored” (seson 世尊) with the honorific title “great master” (daishi 大師) awarded to prominent clerics.

“The pate and the eyes” (chōnei ganzei 頂[寧+頁]眼睛): The “pate” (“head” or “crown of the head”) is often used in Chan texts as (a) synecdochy for the person, and (b) the “pinnacle” or best of someone (or something); the “the eye” is used in similar senses, as well as (c) the spiritual “vision” or insight of a person. Both terms are very common in Dōgen’s writings.

“Ancestral masters” (soshi 祖師): I.e., the teachers in the lineage of the Chan tradition.

3. “Two thousand, one hundred ninety years (to this the second year of the Japanese era Ninji, eighth heavenly stem, second terrestrial branch)” (nisen ippyaku kyūjū nen tō nihon ninji ninen kanoto-ushi sai 二千一百九十年當日本仁治二年辛丑歳): Parentheses here are in the original text. The second year of the Ninji era (1240-1243) corresponds to 1241 CE of the Julian calendar, 2190 years from 949 BCE., the date traditionally used in East Asia for the parinirvāṇa of the Buddha Śākyamuni.

“My former master, the Reverend Jing of Tiantong” (senshi tendō jō oshō 先師天童淨和尚): I.e., Dōgen’s Chinese teacher Tiantong Rujing 天童如淨 (1163-1228), to whom he regularly refers as “my former master.” Again, the parentheses are in the original. The title oshō 和尚, translated here as “reverend,” derives from (some variant of) the Sanskrit upādhyāya; a term used for a monk qualified to teach and to bestow the precepts; regularly applied as an honorific especially to a senior monk.

“Twenty-eight generations in the Western Heavens” (saiten nijūhachi dai 西天二十八代); “twenty-three ages in the Eastern Earth” (tōchi nijūsan se 東地二十三世): I.e., the twenty-eight members in the traditional lineage of Chan ancestors in India, from Śākyamuni’s disciple Mahākāśyapa to Bodhidharma; and the twenty-three ancestors in the Chinese Chan lineage leading from Bodhidharma to Rujing. (The total of “fifty generations” mentioned here reflects the fact that Bodhidharma is counted as both the twenty-eighth ancestor in the Indian succession and the first ancestor of the Chinese succession.) The terms “Western Heavens” and “Eastern Earth” represent a literary expression, often used by Dōgen, for India and China respectively. The phrase represents a play with the Chinese tianzhu 天竺, a transliteration of sindhu.

“Buddhas and ancestors of the ten directions” (jippō no busso 十方の佛祖): An expression combining the common Mahāyāna notion of buddha lands throughout the cosmos and a reference to Chan masters throughout China. The “ten directions” are the four cardinal and four ordinal directions, plus the zenith and nadir; a standard Buddhist term for “in all directrions,” “everywhere.”

4. “Essential point” (shūshi 宗旨): A common expression for the “purport,” or “message” of a statement.

“Turning the dharma wheel of the saying “what is it that comes like this?” (ze jūmo butsu inmo rai no dō ten bōrin 是什麼物恁麼來の道轉法輪): I.e., presumably, a Buddhist teaching equivalent to the famous question put to the Chan master Nanyue Huairang 南嶽懷讓 by the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng 慧能. For the source, see Supplemental Note 1. The question is likely a play on the term “Thus Come One” (nyorai 如来; tathāgata), an epithet of the buddhas.

“Sentient beings” (ujō 有情); “the multitude of beings” (gunjō 群生); “multitude of types” (gunrui 群類): Terms regularly used as synonyms for “living beings.” The point here would seem to be that all these terms (as well as the synonymous “multitude of beings” [gun’u 群有] in the following sentence) may be referred to as the “entirety of being.”

“The term entirety of being” (shitsu’u no gon 悉有の言): Dōgen here creates a neologism from the adverb shitsu and the verb u in the phrase shitsu u busshō 悉有佛性, translated in the quotation as “in their entirety have the buddha nature.” The word play relies on the fact that the term u means both “to have” and “to exist” and is regularly used in philosophical discourse as a noun for “being.” The resultant expression might also be rendered “all existents” or, more simply, “everything.”

“One entirety of the entirety of being” (shitsuu no isshitsu 悉有の一悉): Presumably the point is that “living beings” represent but one type within the “entirety of being” — with, perhaps, the added suggestion that any one type is in some sense one with the entire set.

“Skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” (hi niku kotsu zui 皮肉骨髄): An expression, very common in Dōgen’s writings for the essence or truth or entirety of something or someone, as handed down in the Chan tradition; from the famous story of Bodhidharma’s testing of four disciples, to whom he said of each in turn that he (or, in one case, she) had got his skin, flesh, bones, and marrow. For the story, see Supplemental Note 2.

“Singly transmitted” (tanden 單傳): A term commonly used in Chan to describe the passing down of the dharma from master to disciple; here, no doubt a reference to the transmission from Bodhidharma to Huike. Though the term suggests (and in some cases is used to indicate) a lineage in which there is only one representative in each generation (e.g., see below, Note 48. “Single transmission”), it regularly appears in contexts where the graph tan is better understand as “unique,” “pure”, or “simple” (e.g., see below, Note 29. “Singly transmit it”); closely related to the notion of direct transmission “from mind to mind” (ishin denshin 以心傳心).

“For you have got my skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” (nyo toku go hi niku kotsu zui naru ga yue ni 汝得吾皮肉骨髄なるがゆゑに): Quoting Bodhidharma’s statement, “you have got” to each of his four disciples (see above, Supplemental Note 2). Presumably, the implication here is that the statement concerns not just Bodhidharma’s “single transmission” to Huike but the affirmation of the buddha nature in all beings (as proposed, e.g., in Shōbōgenzō keiteki 正法眼藏啓迪 2:185).

5. “The being that is here made the entirety of being by the buddha nature” (ima busshō ni shitsuu seraruru u いま佛性に悉有せらるる有): An odd locution, presumably meaning something like, “the term ‘being’ in the expression ‘entirety of being’ that is here being identified with the buddha nature.”

“The tongue of the buddha” (butsuzetsu 佛舌): No doubt here used as a figure of speech for the speech of the buddha.

“The nose of the patch-robed monk” (nōsō bikū 衲僧鼻孔): The term “patch-robed monk” (nōsō 衲僧) is a playful self-reference used by Chan monks. The “nose” (or “nostril”; bikū 鼻孔) is often used in Chan texts to indicate (a) the person, especially (b) that which is essential to the person, or (c) the very essence or identity of someone or something; a term occuring frequently in the Shōbōgenzō.

“Initial being” (shi’u 始有); “original being” (hon’u 本有); “marvelous being” (myō’u 妙有); “conditioned being” (en’u 縁有); “deluded being” (mō’u 妄有): A series of terms expressing modes of existence discussed in Buddhist thought. The first, “initial being,” while not itself particularly common, is here contrasted with the familiar “original being,” a term used to express the fundamental reality from which the phenomenal world emerges. The expression “marvelous being” is probably best known in the phrase “true emptiness and marvelous being” (shinkū myō’u 眞空妙有), where it expresses the ultimate emptiness of phenomena. The term “conditioned being” suggests that which exists as a result of conditions — i.e., the conditioned dharmas of dependent origination (engi 縁起; pratīya-samutpāda); “deluded being” suggests that which exists as a result of deluded thoughts — i.e., the false objects of our misguided discrimination (funbetsu 分別; vikalpa).

“Mind and object, nature and attribute” (shin kyō shō sō 心境性相): Two standard pairs in Buddhist thought: the mind, or thought (citta), and the objects of thought or of the senses (viṣaya, ālambana); and the nature, or essence (svabhāva), of a thing, and its attributes, or characteristics (lakṣana).

“Circumstantial and primary recompense” (eshō 依正): A standard Buddhist term for the results of past karma reflected respectively in the circumstances into which one is born and the mental and physical makeup of the person; an abbreviation of ehō shōbō 依報正報. Here, perhaps to be understood as “the quality of the experience” of living beings as the “entirety of being.”

“The generative power of karma” (gō zōjō riki 業増上力): I.e., the power of karma to produce phenomena; adhipati.

“Deluded conditioned origination” (mō engi 妄縁起): An unusual expression, probably indicating phenomena that arise as a result of deluded thoughts. Given the apparent distinction, above, between “conditioned being” and “deluded being,” one is tempted to parse the expression “deluded or conditioned origination.”

“Of its own accord” (hōni 法爾): A loose translation of a term indicating what is true of itself or by necessity, what is naturally or inevitably so; used to translate Sanskrit niyati (“destiny”).

“Practice and verification of spiritual powers” (jintsū shushō 神通修證): I.e., mastery of the “supernormal knowledges” (jintsū 神通; abhijñā); here, presumably, the ability in particular to manifest oneself in diverse bodies and circumstances — one of the powers known as the “bases of spiritual power” (jinsoku 神足; ṛddhi-pāda).

“Verification of the way of the nobles” (shoshō no shōdō 諸聖の證道): I.e., the spiritual attainments of advanced adepts on the Buddhist path. The phrase “verification of the way” is a somewhat forced translation of shōdō 證道, a common expression for Buddhist spiritual awakening; here, as in many other contexts, the term could be taken as a rendering of bodhi. The translation “nobles” takes shoshō 諸聖 in its Buddhist sense of ārya, those who have transcended the state of the “commoner” (bonbu 凡夫; pṛthagjana); the term could also be rendered in a more “Chinese” idiom as “the sages” or “holy ones.”

6. “In all the realms” (jinkai 盡界): A common abbreviation for “all realms in the ten directions” (jin jippō kai 盡十方界) — i.e., all world systems of Buddhist cosmology.

“Adventitious dust” (kyakujin 客塵): The spiritual defilements (bonnō 煩惱; kleśa) understood as not intrinsic (agantuka) to the mind.

“There is no second person” (daini nin arazu 第二人あらず): A common expression in Chan texts, generally taken to mean “this is all there is.” The expression also appears in Dōgen’s Bendō wa 辨道話 (DZZ.2:553); the version here seems to reflect the Fozhao chanshi zoudui lu 佛照禪師奏對録 (ZZ.118,823a7): zhixia geng wu dier ren 直下更無第二人.

“The root source is directly cut” (jiki setsu kongen 直截根源): Recalling a line from the famous poem Zhengdao ge 證道歌, attributed to the early Chan figure Yongjia Xuanjue 永嘉玄覺 (d. 723) (T.48[2014]:395c21-22):


Directly cutting off the root source — this is sealed by the buddha;
Plucking at the leaves and searching the branches — this I can’t do.

“The busy, busy karmic consciousness” (bōbō gosshiki 忙忙業識): An idiomatic expression in Chan texts, sometimes in reverse order (yeshi mangmang 業識忙忙). The term “karmic consciousness” (gosshiki 業識; also read gōshiki) may be understood either as the consciousness that arises from past karma or the consciousness that produces future karma. The translation here takes the final yue ni, rendered as “for,” to govern both clauses of this sentence — a reading that makes the two clauses an intriguing explanation of the preceding claim that the “entirety of being” is a single, undefiled buddha nature. A somewhat less satisfying reading would limit the scope of “for” to the the first clause: “the root source is directly cut,” but people have not noticed; for the busy, busy karmic consciousness, when will it rest?”

“Throughout the realms, it has never been hidden” (henkai fu zō zō 徧界不曾藏): A popular saying attributed the Chan Master Shishuang Qingzhu 石霜慶諸 (807-888); see, e.g., Zongmen tongyao ji 宗門統要集, Zengaku tenseki sōkan 禅学典籍叢刊, 1:155d1-2; shinji Shōbōgenzō 真字正法眼藏, DZZ.5:157-158 (case 58).

“What fills the realms is being” (man kai ze u 滿界是有): An odd locution, put in Chinese syntax, presumably meaning something like “being is the stuff of the cosmos.”

“Throughout the realms is my being” (henkai ga u 徧界我有): Or “I exist throughout the realms.” Another phrase in Chinese syntax, commonly interpreted to express the notion that the self (ātman) is co-extensive with reality (brahman).

“Alien paths” (gedō 外道): I.e., “outsiders,” members of non-Buddhist traditions (Sanskrit tīrthika), most often referring in the Indian context to Hindus and Jains.

“Throughout the past and throughout the present” (gōko gōkon 亙古亙今; also written 亘古亘今). A common idiom for extension throughout all history.

“It does not admit a single mote of dust” (fuju ichijin 不受一塵): From a line attributed to Guishan Lingyou 潙山靈祐 (771-853) (Jingde chuan deng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:265a1-2):


The ground of principle at the limit of reality does not admit a single mote of dust;
Those within the gate of the myriad practices, do not discard a single dharma.

“What is it that comes like this?” (ze jūmo butsu inmo rai 是什麼物恁麼來): See above, Note 4. “Turning the dharma wheel of the saying “what is it that comes like this?” Here, presumably, the point is that the “entirety of being” actually appears and is, therefore, not merely some eternal being.

“It is not the being of initially arising being; for my usual mind is the way” (shiki u no u ni arazu go jō shin ze dō no yue ni 始起有の有にあらず吾常心是道のゆゑに): The expression “initially arising being” (shiki u 始起有) is an unusual one; it may mean simply “a kind of being that comes into existence,” or, on the analogy of the common term “initial awakening” (shikaku 始覺), it may suggest “a kind of being that one acquires upon awakening.” The expression “my usual mind is the way” (go jō shin ze dō 吾常心是道) is likely a variant of a famous saying attributed to Nanquan Puyuan 南泉普願 (748-834): “The ordinary mind is the way” (bianchang shin shi dao 平常心是道). (See, e.g., shinji Shōbōgenzō, case 19 [DZZ.5:134]; Jingde chuan deng lu [T.51:276c15].) Some manuscripts of our text give Nanquan’s version. Presumably, Dōgen wants to contrast the change implied by “initially arising being” with the constancy ( ) of the “usual mind.”

“Living beings are hard conveniently to meet” (shujō kaiben nanbō 衆生快便難逢): A tentative translation of an obscure passage in Chinese syntax that is subject to various interpretations; generally understood to mean that (since the “entirety of being” is equated with “living beings”) one does not easily encounter living beings in the “entirety of being.” The phrase awkwardly rendered here “hard conveniently to meet” (kaiben nanbō 快便難逢) is an idiomatic Chinese expression, used in Chan texts, that seems to derive from the saying, “If you don’t run down the bank, a convenient one is hard to meet” (xia po bu zou kuai bian nan feng下坡不走快便難逢), where the binomial kuai bian is thought to refer to a “convenient” boat. The sense of the Chinese idiom, then, would seem to be something like, “you don’t get it if you don’t hurry” — a sense difficult to read into our context here.

“Passes through the body and sloughs it off” (tōtai datsuraku 透體脱落): Generally taken to mean that the “entirety of being” itself is liberation. The expression translated “passes through the body” (tōtai 透體) is not common and does not appear elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings; the term “slough off” (datsuraku 脱落) is best known from the expression “body and mind sloughed off” (shinjin datsuraku 身心脱落) that Dōgen attributes to his master, Rujing.

7. “Students” (gakusha 學者): This term, used to translate the Sanskrit śaikṣa, “student,” is regularly used in Buddhist literature to refer to one who is practicing on the Buddhist path. Chan texts similarly employ the term, like the closely cognate gakunin 學人, for a practitioner of Chan but also introduce a more perjorative usage, to refer to those who know Buddhism only through books. Dōgen often uses the word in this latter sense, in such expressions as “scholar of the Tripiṭaka (sanzō no gakusha 三藏の學者), “scholar of words and letters” (monji no gakusha 文字の學者).

“The alien path of Śreṇika” (senni gedō 先尼外道): Or “Śreṇika, of the alien path.” I.e., the non-Buddhist view expressed to the Buddha by the tīrthika Śreṇika, who held that the self (ātman) was constant and pervaded all space. Dōgen refers to this position in several texts of the Shōbōgenzō; his source is likely the Daban niepan jing, T.12:594a16ff.

“They have not met a person” (hito ni awazu 人にあはず): I.e., a “real” person; probably akin to the expression “that person” (sono hito その人) used in reference to a significant spiritual figure (see below, Note 34. “If the Sixth Ancestor is that person”).

“The mind, mentation, and consciousness moved by wind and fire” (fūka no dōjaku suru shin i shiki 風火の動著する心意識): An unusual expression not repeated elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings; probably meaning something like “mental processes as a function of physical life.” For details, see Supplemental Note 3.

“Knowing and comprehending” (kakuchi kakuryō 覺知覺了): A tentative translation for terms subject to two lines of interpretation. The verb kaku is regularly used to represent spiritual awakening (bodhi), and some readers would take it in this sense here; the translation “knowing and comprehending” takes it as “perception,” as in the common expression “seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing” (kenmon kakuchi 見聞覺知). The translation of the binomial kakuryō 覺了 takes the element ryō as “understanding”; some would read it as a particle of completed action (Chinese le ), though this seems somewhat unlikely in our context.

“Perceivers and knowers” (kakusha chisha 覺者知者): Dōgen has here divided the binomial kakuchi 覺知 into two terms; the translation takes the element sha as “one who” (Chinese zhe); it could also be read as a nominalizer — i.e., “perception and knowledge.”

“The false understandings you talk on about” (nandachi ga unnun no jage なんだちが云云の邪解): Dōgen here addresses his imagined opponents directly, in a rather dismissive second person plural. To “talk on” renders un’un 云云, somewhat akin to the English “blah blah.”

One or two faces of the buddhas and faces of the ancestors” (ichiryō no butsumen somen 一兩の佛面祖面): Perhaps suggesting “actual historical instances of buddhas and ancestors.” While not particularly common in Chan texts, the expression “buddha faces, ancestor faces” (butsumen somen 佛面祖面) occurs quite frequently in Dōgen’s writings — often in contexts where the word “face” (men ) would seem to add little to the meaning (and may sometimes, as possibly in this case, simply function as a playful numerical counter).

8. “Like rice, hemp, bamboo, and reeds” (tō ma chiku i 稲麻竹葦): I.e., they are dense and profuse; a simile from Kumārajīva’s translation of the Saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtra (Miaofa lianhua jing 妙法蓮華經, T.9[262]:6a13):


[Bodhisattvas who have newly produced the thought of awakening] . . . who fill the kṣetras of the ten directions, like rice, hemp, bamboo, and reeds . . . .

“Estranged from the study of the way” (gakudō tenso 學道轉疎): Or “the study of the way is remote [from them]”; as in the saying of Mazu, “if you run around seeking it outside, it gets remote and distant from you” (ruo xiang wai chi qiu zhuanshu zhuanyuan 若向外馳求轉疎轉遠) (Mazu Daoyi chanshi yulu 馬祖道一禪師語録, ZZ.118:a17).

“Beginners and latecomers” (shoshin bangaku 初心晩學): A casual translation of an expression quite common in Dōgen’s writings: “Beginners” (shoshin 初心; literally, “beginning mind”) in this context refers to one at an early stage of Buddhist practice; “latecomers” (bangaku 晩學; literally, “late student”) can refer either to one who is junior or to one who comes to study later in life.

“Movements are not like this” (dōjaku wa inmo ni arazaru nari 動著は恁麼にあらざるなり): The antecedent of “this” is likely “the movements of wind and fire” identified with “the knowing and perceiving of the buddha nature.”

“With buddha and nature, to master that one is to master this one” (butsu shi yo shō tatsu bi tatsu shi 佛之與性達彼達此): I.e., to understand one is to understand the other; a sentence in Chinese syntax employing a linguistic pattern often found in Chan texts: e.g., “the buddha and the way” (fo zhi yu dao 佛之與道), “the buddha and the dharma” (fo zhi yu fa 佛之與法), etc.

“A hundred pieces” (hyaku zassui 百雜碎): A common Chan idiom for the multiplicity of phenomena.

“One strip of iron” (ichijō tetsu 一條鐵): A common Chan idiom for the unity of phenomena, as in the saying, “one strip of iron for ten thousand li (wanli yitiao tie 萬里一條鐵).

“Raising a fist” (nen kentō 拈拳頭): The raising of the fist is a common Chan gesture expressing what is beyond language and discrimination.

“It should not be of equal stature with the nobles” (shoshō to seiken naru bekarazu 諸聖と齊肩なるべからず): The sense here is likely that, while we call the “entirety of being” the buddha nature, it should not be thought of as the spiritual state of the advanced Buddhist adepts. The following “it should not be made of equal stature with the buddha nature” (busshō to seiken subekarazu 佛性と齊肩すべからず) is generally taken to mean that the “entirety of being,” being the entirety, is beyond compare.

9. “When the rain of the dharma continually waters it” (hō’u no uroi shikiri ni uruosu toki 法雨のうるほひしきりにうるほすとき): The “rain of the dharma” (hō’u 法雨; dharma-varṣa) is a common metaphor for the Buddhist teachings. The Japanese uruoi here should probably be read as the grammatical subject: literally, the pleonastic “when the watering of the rain of the dharma repeatedly waters.”

“The sentiment of commoners” (bonpu no jōryō 凡夫の情量): I.e., the thinking of ordinary people. The term translated “sentiment” (jōryō 情量) is a common compound in Buddhist texts, usually parsed as the “calculations” (ryō ) of a mind governed by emotional attachments ( ). In Buddhist usage, “commoners” (bonpu 凡夫; also read bonbu) are those not yet advanced on the Buddhist path, in contrast to “nobles” (shō ).

“The bare mind in each instance” (jōjō no sekishin 條條の赤心): A “bare (or “red”) mind” (chixin 赤心) is a common Chinese idiom for a sincere, or straightforward, mind (or heart); here, commonly interpreted as the buddha mind (busshin 佛心), equivalent to the buddha nature. The phrase translated here “bare mind in each instance” also occurs in Shōbōgenzō kokyō 正法眼藏古鏡 (DZZ.1:233): “not knowing” is the bare mind in each instance” (fushiki wa jōjō no sekishin 不識は條條の赤心なり); likely equivalent to the more common “each piece of the bare mind,” or “the bare mind in pieces” (sekishin henpen 赤心片片).

“Great span” (dai i 大圍): I.e., the span of the tree trunk.

“Though not assembled” (atsumezaredomo あつめざれども): Presumably, the sense is “though no one (or nothing) puts them together.”

“Is not a issue of inside or outside, and is not empty in past or present” (naige no ron ni arazu kokon no toki ni fukū nari 内外の論にあらず古今の時に不空なり): Presumably, meaning something like, “[the development of the tree] is not the result of internal or external causes but is nevertheless true throughout history.”

“Are all born together, die together, and are the buddha nature that is the “entirety of being” together” (mina dōshō shi dōshi shi dōshitsu’u naru busshō naru beshi みな同生し同死し同悉有なる佛性なるべし): Or, perhaps, “are all the buddha nature, with which they are born together, die together, and are the ‘entirety of being’ together.” The expressions “same birth” (dōshō 同生) and “same death” (dōshi 同死) are elsewhere used in Dōgen’s writings to indicate the identity or co-extension of two things.

10. “The Buddha said” (butsu gon 佛言): Although indirectly derived from words attributed to the Buddha, the passage is based on a saying by the Chan Master Baizhang Huaihai 百丈懐海 (749-814), drawing on a line in the Daban niepan jing 大般涅槃經 (Mahā-parinirvāṇa-sūtra). For the sources, see Supplemental Note 4.

“You should observe the conditions of the time” (tō kan jisetsu innen 當觀時節因縁): A variant of the line from the Mahā-parinirvāṇa-sūtra (see Supplemental Note 4). In a Buddhist context, the term translated as “observe” (kan ; “to see,” “regard,” “contemplate,” etc.) often (though not always) indicates a contemplative practice. The expression jisetsu innen 時節因縁, translated here as “the conditions of the time,” typically in the sense “the actual circumstances of the particular occasion,” occurs often in Chan texts,— as, e.g., in the line from the Biyan lu 碧巖録 (T.48:154c4-5):


Followers of the Chan house, if you wish to know the meaning of the buddha nature, you should observe the conditions of the time. This is called “the separate transmission outside the teachings, the single transmission of the mind seal, direct pointing at the person’s mind, seeing the nature and becoming a buddha.”

11. “The whisk, the staff, and so on” (hossu shujō tō 拂子拄杖等): I.e., the concrete objects of (or, perhaps, their use by) the Chan teacher. The whisk (hossu 拂子) is a ceremonial fly-whisk, often held by the master during lectures and other rituals; the staff (shujō 拄杖) is a walking stick, often carried by the master when he “ascends the hall” (jōdō 上堂; i.e., gives a formal lecture).

“Contaminated wisdom, uncontaminated wisdom, original awakening, initial awakening, non-awakening, right awakening, and the like” (uro chi muro chi hongaku shikaku mukaku shōkaku tō 有漏智無漏智本覺始覺無覺正覺等): A list of terms for various sorts of knowledge discussed in Buddhist texts. “Contaminated wisdom” (uro chi 有漏智; sāsrava-jñāna) and “uncontaminated wisdom” (muro chi 無漏智; anāsrava-jñāna) refer respectively to knowledge defiled or undefiled by the mental “afflictions” (bonnō 煩惱; kleśa). The former is characteristic of the spiritual “commoner” (bonpu 凡夫; pṛthagjana); the latter, of the spiritual “noble” (shō ; ārya). The pair “original awakening” (hongaku 本覺) and “initial awakening” (shikaku 始覺) distinguish between the bodhi inherent in the buddha nature and the bodhi attained at the end of the bodhisattva path. “Non-awakening” (mukaku 無覺; “without awakening”) plays on the sense of kaku as both “perception” and “awakening”: it is used in reference both to insentience and to a mental state free from ordinary perception, as in Chan sayings such as “the awakening of non-awakening — this is called the true awakening” (wujue shi jue shi ming zhen jue 無覺之覺是名眞覺), or “right awakening is without awakening; true emptiness is not empty” (zheng jue wu jue zheng kong bu kong 正覺無覺眞空不空). “Right awakening” (shōkaku 正覺) is a standard translation of saṃbodhi or samyak-saṃbodhi, often translated “perfect enlightenment.”

12. “Should observe” (tōkan 當觀): Dōgen has here created a neologism from the predicate in the clause “you should observe the conditions of the time.” The translation loses the play with the element , which functions in the quotation simply as a deontic modal (“should,” “ought to,” etc.) but also has among its uses such meanings as “now,” “at that very time,” “immediately,” “just then,” etc. Hence, the sense of tōkan here is typically understood as “observing right now,” “immediately observing,” etc.

“It is not one’s own observing, it is not another’s observing” (fujikan nari futakan nari 不自觀なり不他觀なり): This could also be parsed “it does not observe the self, it does not observe the other.”

“The very conditions of the time themselves” (jisetsu innen nii 時節因縁聻): Here and in the parallel constructions that follow, the translation attempts to capture something of the use of the colloquial final particle nii (sometimes read ni), which has the primary function of an emphatic or a device for calling the hearer’s attention to the preceding, somewhat akin to an English final “right?” In Dōgen’s use here, it is usually interpreted to mark off what precedes it as “X itself,” “X just as it is,” “nothing but X,” etc.

“The buddha nature with body cast off” (dattai busshō 脱體佛性): Or “the fully exposed buddha nature.” The term dattai 脱體, translated rather literally here as “body cast off,” can indicate a state of liberation; but, in Chan texts, it often carries the sense “to reveal all,” or, as we might say, “to say it as it is” — hence, “the very thing itself,” “the ‘naked’ thing.”

13. “One will encounter the time when the buddha nature appears naturally” (jinen ni busshō genzen no jisetsu ni au 自然に佛性現前の時節にあふ): Or “one naturally encounters the time when the buddha nature appears.”

“Concentrated effort to pursue the way” (bendō kufū 辨道功夫): An expression occurring regularly in the Shōbōgenzō in reference to Zen spiritual practice (also in reverse order: kufū bendō). Kufū is a common colloquial expression with such meanings as “to work away” at something, “to figure out” how to do something, “to concentrate” one’s energies or attention on something; regularly used in Chan texts and throughout the Shōbōgenzō, perhaps especially for the practices of meditation and kōan study. The word bendō, though regularly written with the graph (which suggests “to discern,” “descriminate”), seems more often to carry the sense of the cognate (“to manage,” “transact,” “deal with”). Bendō is one of Dōgen’s favorite terms for Buddhist practice and the title of one his earliest, most celebrated writings, the Bendō wa 辨道話 (“Talks on pursuing the way”).

“The red dust” (kōjin 紅塵): I.e., the secular world. The sense of this common Chinese expression is said to derive from the dust kicked up by the bustle of the city streets.

“Stare vacantly at the milky way” (munashiku unkan o maboru むなしく雲漢をまぼる): Or, by extension, “at the sky.” “To gaze at the milky way” (mu shi yunkan 目視雲漢) is a fairly common expression for idleness. The unusual verb maboru here is generally understood as mimamoru 見守る.

“The alien path of the naturalists” (tennen gedō 天然外道): Seemingly synonymous with jinen gedō 自然外道; the non-Buddhist view that things exist or arise of themselves, rather than as the result of causes and conditions. A fairly common perjorative in Dōgen’s writings.

14. “You should know the meaning of the buddha nature” (tōchi busshō gi 當知佛性義): Here and in the following sentence, Dōgen seems again to be playing with the modal auxiliary “should” ( ) in its additional meaning of “now,” etc., as above (see Note 12. “Should observe”). Hence, these sentences might be interpreted as follows: “To say ‘if you wish to know the meaning of the buddha nature’ is to say, for example, ‘you know right now the meaning of the buddha nature.’ To say ‘just observe the conditions of the time’ is to say ‘you know right now the conditions of the time.’”

“You should know it is precisely the conditions of the time” (shirubeshi jisetsu innen kore nari しるべし時節因縁これなり): Or, more literally, “you should know that ‘the conditions of the time’ are it.

“The time has already arrived” (sude ni jisetsu itareri すでに時節いたれり): Dōgen is here giving a vernacular reading of a variant in the sources of Baizhang’s saying, some of which have “once the time has arrived” (shijie ji zhi 時節既至). (See, e.g., Jingde chuan deng lu, [T.51:264b24], translated above, Supplemental Note 4.)

“What is there to doubt?” (nani no gijaku subeki tokoro ka aran なにの疑著すべきところかあらん): Possibly a variant in Japanese of the common Chinese idiom “who could doubt it?” (you shui yi zhao 有誰疑著).

“Give me back the buddha nature” (gen ga busshō rai 還我佛性來): Or, more colloquially, “give me back the buddha nature.” The Chinese imperative construction here, gen ga . . . rai 還我 . . . 來 (“give me back . . .”), is a fairly common challenge in Chan texts, in such expressions as “give me back the buddha dharma” (huan wo fofa lai 還我佛法來); “give me back the lion’s roar” (huan wo shizi hou rai 還我師子吼來); “give me back your original face” (huan wo benlai mianmu lai 還我本來面目來); etc. Dōgen uses the construction (or the closely similar gen go . . . rai 還吾 . . . 來) elsewhere in the Shōbōgenzō, in phrases like “give me back the bright mirror” (gen ga myōkyō rai 還我明鏡來),” “give me the pieces” (gen go saihen rai 還吾碎片來) (Shōbōgenzō kokyō 正法眼藏古鏡, DZZ.1:227); “give me back concentrated effort” (gen go kufū rai 還吾功夫來) (Shōbōgenzō hakujushi 正法眼藏柏樹子, DZZ.1:440).

“Not passing the twelve times in vain” (jūni ji chū fukū ka 十二時中不空過): I.e., “not wasting the day [waiting for the time to arrive].” The “twelve times” (jūni ji 十二時) are the twenty-four hours of the day figured traditionally in two-hour divisions. The use of this expression here may be a reflection of a conversation recorded in Dōgen’s shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:260 [case 261]):


Once a monk asked Yunmen, “How can we not pass the twelve times in vain?”
The master said, “Where do you ask this question?”

“If it were if the time arrives, the buddha nature would not arrive” (jisetsu nyakushi sureba busshō fushi nari 時節若至すれば佛性不至なり): The translation interprets the argument to be that, if we take the phrase “if the time arrives” literally, it implies that the buddha nature is not yet present — hence, the need to read the phrase as “since the time has already arrived.”

“Its principle is self evident” (go ri ji shō 其理自彰): Or “its principle is spontaneously manifest.” Taken from a variant of Baizhang’s saying found, for example, in the Liandeng huiyao 聯燈會要 (ZZ.136:540b12):

欲識佛性義、當觀時節因縁。時節若至、 其理自彰 。

If you wish to experience the meaning of the buddha nature, you should observe the conditions of the time. If the time arrives, its principle is self-evident.

“A time when the time does not arrive” (jisetsu no nyakushi sezaru jisetsu 時節の若至せざる時節): The translation fails to capture the play with the expression nyakushi 若至 (“if [the time] arrives”) treated as a binomial verb; a literal translation would yield the grotesque, “a time when the time does not ‘if it arrives.’”

15. “The Twelfth Ancestor, the Venerable Aśvaghoṣa” (daijūni so Memyō sonja 第十二祖馬鳴尊者): The famous second-century Buddhist author; his biography as the Twelfth Chan Ancestor can be found in the Jingde chuan deng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:209c1ff. The Thirteenth Ancestor is Kapimala (Kabimara, Jiapimoluo 迦毘摩羅). For the source of this quotation, see Supplemental Note 5.

“The ocean of the buddha nature” (busshō kai 佛性海): I.e., the buddha nature likened to an ocean; a term not common in Dōgen’s lexicon: elsewhere in the Shōbōgenzō, it receives only passing notice in the Kaiin zanmai 海印三昧 fascicle (DZZ.1:125). In the Jingde chuan deng lu version of this episode (T.51:209c19-20; see Supplemental Note 5), Aśvaghoṣa’s teaching is said to be on the “ocean of the nature” (shōkai 性海), a more familiar East Asian Buddhist term for the ultimate realm of suchness.

“The mountains, rivers, and the earth” (sanga daichi 山河大地): A common expression for “the physical world,” occurring very frequently throughout Dōgen’s writings. In his shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:128 [case 6]), Dōgen records the well-known Chan question,


“Pure and originally such — how do the mountains, rivers, and the earth suddenly arise [from it]?”

The question comes from the Shoulengyan jing 首楞嚴經 (T.19[945]:119c17), where the topic is the tathāgata-garbha (rulai zang 如來藏).

“Samādhi and the six powers” (zanmai rokuzū 三昧六通): Or “the samādhis and the six powers.” I.e., states of extreme mental concentration and the paranormal powers said to be attainable through their cultivation. For “the six powers,” see Supplemental Note 6.

16. “Such is the shape of the ocean of buddha nature” (busshō kai no katachi wa kaku no gotoshi 佛性海のかたちはかくのごとし): Presumably, the antecedent of “such” here is “the mountains, rivers, and the earth.”

“An ass’ jaw and a horse’s muzzle” (rosai bashi 驢腮馬觜): A Chinese colloquial expression, appearing often in Chan texts, for “this and that,” “every sort of thing,” etc.

“All . . . dependent, we understand — and we do not understand — as wholly dependent, as dependent on the whole” (kai e wa zen’e nari ezen nari to eshu shi fueshu suru nari 皆依は全依なり依全なりと會取し不會取するなり): Dōgen is here playing with the Chinese grammar, taking the adverb-verb combination kai e 皆依 as if it were a binomial expression and then substituting zen (“complete,” “total,” “perfect,” etc.) for kai ; presumably, the results are intended to convey the sense that each thing is dependent on the whole [ocean of the buddha nature]. The implication of the playful remark that we both understand and do not understand this is ambiguous; it is often taken to suggest that this is true whether or not we understand it.

17. “The from here and the not from here of the whole of the six powers” (zen rokuzū no yūji fuyūji 全六通の由茲不由茲): The awkward translation tries to retain something of Dōgen’s play here again with the Chinese passage, in which he takes the prepositional phrase translated “from here” (yū ji 由茲) as a verbal nominative (“deriving from here,” “depending on here,” etc.); like the structure, the sense seems to parallel the preceding clause and to be something like, “whether or not we take the complete six powers as arising from or not arising from the buddha nature, they are dependent on it.”

“The teachings of the Āgamas (agyūma kyō 阿笈摩教): I.e., the teachings of the non-Mahāyāna sūtras of the Buddhist canon (more commonly transliterated as agon 阿含); equivalent to the teachings of the Hīnayāna. Dōgen doubtless has in mind here the standard Buddhist list of powers given above, Supplemental Note 6. In his Shōbōgenzō jintsū 正法眼藏神通 (DZZ.1:394), Dōgen identifies this list with what he calls there the “small spiritual powers” discussed in the traditional Buddhist texts, in contrast to the “great spiritual powers” discussed in the Chan texts:


The two vehicles, the outsiders, the sūtra masters and treatise masters, and the like, learn the small spiritual powers; they do not learn the great spiritual powers. The buddhas maintain the great spiritual powers; they transmit the great spiritual powers. These are the spiritual powers of a buddha. . . . Again, the five powers or six powers are all small spiritual powers.

“Three and three before and three and three after” (zen sansan go sansan 前三三後三三): Or, perhaps, “three and three of the former, three and three of the latter.” Dōgen is clearly playing here with the number six, but the exact sense of this Chan expression is uncertain; the traditional interpretation is that it indicates something “innumerable” or “unquantifiable.” For the source, see Supplemental Note 7.

“The pāramitā of the six spiritual powers” (roku jintsū haramitsu 六神通波羅蜜): Or “the six spiritual power pāramitās.” I.e., the perfection of the six paranormal powers, or the paranormal powers as the six perfections of the bodhisattva. The paranormal powers are not typically listed among the six pāramitās, or “perfections”; rather, as is seen elsewhere in Zen literature, Dōgen seems here to be playing with the coincidence that both the powers and perfections are listed as six in number.

“Do not investigate the six spiritual powers as being clear and bright, the hundred grasses; clear and bright, the intention of the buddhas and ancestors” (roku jintsū wa meimei hyaku sōtō meimei busso i nari to sankyū suru koto nakare 六神通は明明百草頭明明佛祖意なりと參究することなかれ): The translation seeks to capture the multivalance of the graph mei , which can be rendered both “clear” and “bright”; the expression meimei 明明 usually has the sense “obvious.” “The hundred grasses” (hyaku sōtō 百草頭) is commonly used for “the infinite variety of things in the world.” (Though often translated “the tips of the hundred grasses,” the element (“head”) should probably be taken simply as the colloquial nominal suffix.) Variant of a saying best known from a conversation between the famous Layman Pang Yun 龐蘊居士 and his daughter, Lingzhao 靈照; for the source; see Supplemental Note 8. The suprising imperative “do not investigate as” (to sankyū suru koto nakare と參究することなかれ) is typically taken here to mean “there is no need to investigate as” — i.e., to add a “higher” interpretation to what is already “three and three before, three and three after.”

“Even if they are constricted by the six spiritual powers, they are obstructions in the flow to the source in the ocean of the buddha nature” (roku jintsū ni tairui seshimo to iedomo busshō kai no chōsō ni keige suru mono nari 六神通に滞累せしむといへども佛性海の朝宗に罣礙するものなり): A tentative translation of an odd sentence, generally taken to mean that, even defined as the six spiritual powers, the powers belong to the ocean of the buddha nature. The expression keige suru mono 罣礙するもの, translated here as “obstructions,” should probably be taken as something like “that which identifies with,” in keeping with Dōgen’s recurrent use of the passive form keige seraru in the sense “to be identified with” (given the active mood of the predicate, the particle ni is taken here as a locative, rather than an instrumental). The expression chōsō 朝宗, translated losely here as “flow to the source,” has the primary sense “to attend court” but is regularly used for rivers flowing into the ocean.

18. The Fifth Ancestor, the Chan Master Daman (goso Daman zenji 五祖大滿禪師): I.e., the Fifth Ancestor of Chan in China, Daman Hongren 大滿弘忍 (602-675). Huangmei 黄梅 was located in Qizhou 蘄州, modern Hubei. Dōgen’s source for this story is unknown. Elements of his account (without mention of his rebirth) can be found in several texts—e.g., at Jianzhong jingguo xu deng lu 建中靖國續燈録 (ZZ.136:46b3-11); Jingde chuan deng lu 景徳傳燈録 (T.51:222b10-14). A version including the rebirth story does appear in the Chanzong songgu lianzhu tongji 禪宗頌古聯珠通集 (ZZ.65[1295]:511c23-512a6).

“Gained the way as a child” (dōji tokudō 童兒得道): The term “gained the way” (tokudō 得道) can refer either to the spiritual attainment of awakening or to the ritual admission into the Buddhist order.

“Practitioner who grew pines” (sai matsu dōsha 栽松道者): The term dōsha 道者 (“person of the way”) may refer to any Buddhist (or Daoist) practitioner or, in particular, to a Buddhist acolyte.

“Xishan in Qizhou” (kishū seizan 蘄州西山): I.e., Shuangfeng shan 雙峰山, known as the West Mountain (Xishan 西山), in contrast to the Fifth Ancestor’s East Mountain.

“Fourth Ancestor” (shiso 四祖): I.e., Dayi Daoxin 大醫道信 (580-651), the Fourth Ancestor of Chan in China, who resided at Huangmei.

“If you wait till you come again” (nyaku tai nyo sai rai 若待汝再來): I.e., when you return in your next life.

“It’s the buddha nature” (ze busshō 是佛性): The boy’s answer plays on the close semantic relationship between the homophonous Chinese graphs for “surname” (xing ) and “nature” (xing ). The graph for “surname” is regularly used in Buddhist texts to translate the Sanskrit gotra (“clan”) and, hence, appears in reference both to the “clan” of the Buddha Śākyamuni and, metaphorically, to the “clan,” or “lineage,” of the bodhisattvas who seek to become buddhas.

“You have no buddha nature” (nyo mu busshō 汝無佛性): Or, more collquially, “you don’t have a buddha nature”; a fairly common retort in Chan texts. In scholastic Buddhism, the lack of buddha nature makes one an icchantika (yichanti 一闡提, someone without the potential to achieve the perfect awakening of a buddha.

“Vessel of the dharma” (hōki 法器): A common expression for one worthy to receive the Buddhist teachings.

“Dongshan at Huangmei” (ōbai tōzan 黄梅東山): I.e., the eastern peak at Mt. Huangmei. The community of Daoxin and Hongren became known as the “East Mountain teachings” (dongshan famen 東山法門).

“Dark style” (genpū 玄風): Or “mysterious style”; a common expression for deep teachings.

19. “What’s your name?” (nyo ka shō 汝何姓): Dōgen begins here a play with the terms in the quotation. First up is a Chinese version of the old Abbott and Costello joke, “Who’s on first?” The game puns on the Chinese interrogative he (“what”), also used as a family name.

“From the country of What” (gakokunin 何國人): Or “a citizen of the land of What.” For the source, see Supplemental Note 9.

“I’m also like this, you’re also like this” (go nyaku nyo ze nyo nyaku nyo ze 吾亦如是汝亦如是): From the words of the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng, in the dialogue with Nanyue Huairang alluded to above; see Supplemental Note 1.

20. “Being as itself a name” (u soku shō 有即姓): The translation struggles in vain to capture this play with words. Dōgen has here reversed the order of the three graphs shō soku u 姓即有, translated as “I have a name,” in the process, once again shifting the meaning of u from “have” to “be” (see above, Note 4. “The term entirety of being”) and redoing the function of soku from the concessive (“as for a name, I may have one, but . . .”) to an emphatic copula (“is precisely”).

“An ordinary name is not right for being as itself” (jōshō wa sokuu ni fuze nari 常姓は即有に不是なり): Another rearrangement of the Chinese terms in the quotation. Here, Dōgen has taken the graphs soku u 即有 (“have”) as a binomial with a sense, presumably, of something like “precisely being,” “being itself,” etc.; and treated the negative copula fuze 不是 (“it’s not”) as the adjectival “not correct,” “not appropriate,” etc.

21. “What is this” (ga wa ze nari 何は是なり): Or “what is right.” Continuing his play with the interrogative “what,” Dōgen here reads the question, “what is this [name]?” as a declarative sentence. The translation obscures the pun on the graph, ze , rendered here as “this” (from the Fourth Ancestor’s question, “What is this name?”) and as “right” in the preceding remark by Dōgen, “An ordinary name ‘is not right’ for ‘being as itself.’”

“He has what-ed this” (ze wo ga shikitareri 是を何しきたれり): Here, the interrogative “what” is treated as a transitive verb; presumably the meaning is “to make ‘what’ of ‘this,” “to take ‘this’ as ‘what.’” Most interpretation takes “what” to represent the ultimate mystery of things, and “this” to stand for the immediate presence of things; hence, to “what” “this” is to see the mystery in the presence.

“This is the name” (kore shō nari これ姓なり): The antecedent of “this” here is unclear; possibly the act of “what-ing” “this.”

“For what makes it what is this; making it this is the function of what” (ga narashimuru wa ze no yue nari ze narashimuru wa ga no nō nari 何ならしむるは是のゆゑなり是ならしむるは何の能なり): If we follow the common interpretation, the causatives here would convey the reciprocal relationship between the “what” of the ultimate mystery and the “this” of the immediate presence: it is the immediate realm of things that reveals the ultimate; it is the ultimate realm that expresses itself as things.

“We fix it as artemisia tea” (kore o kōtō ni mo tenzu これを蒿湯にも點ず): Likely a suffusion of mugwort (or wormwood) taken for medicinal purposes. The antecedent of “it” (kore これ) is unclear; presumably, his “name.”

“Everyday tea and rice” (kajō no sahan 家常の茶飯): A fairly common expression, in both Chan texts and Dōgen’s writings, for the “daily fare” of the home, what we might call “homestyle” cooking; well known in the saying, often cited by Dōgen, of Fuyung Daokai 芙蓉道楷 (1043-1118): “The words of the buddhas and ancestors are like everyday tea and rice” (fozu yenju ru jiachang chafan 佛祖言句如家常茶飯) (or, in some versions, “the intentions and words of the buddhas and ancestors” (fozu yiju 佛祖意句). See, e.g., Dōgen’s shingji Shōbōgenzō, case 143 (DZZ.5:202).

22. “It’s is the buddha nature” (ze wa busshō nari 是は佛性なり): Continuing the play with the graph ze, here translated as “it’s” in Hongren’s remark, “It’s the buddha nature.”

“Has it’s been exhaustively investigated only in the name what?” (ze wa nan shō nomi ni kyūshū shikitaranya 是は何姓のみに究取しきたらんや): I.e., is the term ze (“it is”) being treated in this conversation only as the name “what”?

When it’s was said to be it’s not, it was the buddha nature” (ze sude ni fuze no toki busshō nari 是すでに不是のとき佛性なり): I.e., when Hongren said, “it’s not [an ordinary name],” the negation of “it is” (ze ), “it’s not” (fu ze 不是), also indicated the buddha nature.

“When they have been sloughed off, when they have been liberated, it is necessarily his name” (datsuraku shikitari tōdatsu shikitaru ni kanarazu shō nari 脱落しきたり透脱しきたるにかならず姓なり): Usually taken to mean that, although “it’s” can be identified with “what” or “buddha,” when it is freed from these “higher” abstractions, it is Hongren’s actual name.

“That name is Zhou” (sono shō sunawachi shū nari その姓すなはち周なり): According to his biography (e.g., Jingde chuan deng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:222c6), Hongren’s family name was Zhou (a common surname, with the meaning “all-embracing”).

“How could it be of equal stature with onlookers?” (bōkan ni seiken naranya 傍觀に齊肩ならんや): I.e., how could the Fifth Ancestor’s name be compared with the names of others?

23. “Although I allow that you are you and not another” (nyo wa tare ni arazu nyo ni ichinin suredomo 汝はたれにあらず汝に一任すれども): A tentative translation of an odd locution, literally something like, “you are not someone; although entrusting [this] to you . . . ”); taken here to mean, “acknowledging your identity as ‘you,’” The verb ichinin su 一任 (translated here “allowing”) occurs often in Dōgen’s writings in the sense, common in Chan texts, “to leave entirely to . . . .”

“You are no buddha nature” (mu busshō nari 無佛性なり): Or “you lack a buddha nature.” Here and in the remainder of his discussion of this topic, Dōgen treats the phrase mu busshō 無佛性 (“having no buddha nature,” “lacking buddha nature”) as a single semantic unit.

“At what time now is it” (ima wa ikanaru jisetsu ni shite いまはいかなる時節にして): Perhaps recalling the earlier discussion of the phrase “if the time arrives.”

“The head of the buddha” (buttō 佛頭): An unusual expression, not occurring elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings; possibly a variant of the more common bucchō 佛頂 (“buddha’s ‘crown,’ or ‘topknot’”; buddhōṣṇīṣa), often used metaphorically as the very pinnacle of awakening; generally taken here to indicate the attainment of buddhahood.

“Beyond the buddha” (butsu kōjō 佛向上): A common expression in Chan texts and Dōgen’s writings, as in the sayings “a person beyond the buddha” (butsu kōjō nin 佛向上人) or “what lies beyond the buddha” (butsu kōjō ji 佛向上事).

“Block up the seven penetrations” (shittsū o hissaku su 七通を逼塞す); “grope for the eight masteries” (hattatsu o mosaku su 八達を摸索す): The “seven penetrations and eight masteries” (shittsū hattatsu 七通八達), or “seven passes and eight arrivals,” is a common expression in Dōgen’s writings and earlier Chan texts for “thorough understanding,” or “complete mastery.”

“Studied as a momentary samādhi” (ichiji no zanmai nari to shushū su 一時の三昧なりと修習す): The term samādhi here should probably be understood in its common usage in reference to any spiritual practice or experience, rather than to a psychological state of extreme concentration. Some interpreters take ichiji no zanmai 一時の三昧 as indicating “samādhi in each moment”; the translation takes it simply as a temporary state, or experience (in contrast to a general condition”) of which the following two questions here would be examples.

“The buddha nature becomes a buddha” (busshō jōbutsu 佛性成佛); “the buddha nature arouses the aspiration” (busshō hosshin 佛性發心): I.e. at the end and at the beginning respectively of the bodhisattva path. The questions may presuppose the common notion that the “buddha nature” refers to the potential to undertake and complete quest for buddhahood.

“We should make the columns ask it; we should ask the columns” (rochū o shitemo monshu seshimubeshi rochū ni mo monshu subeshi 露柱をしても問取せしむべし露柱にも問取すべし): The term rochū 露柱 (“exposed column”) refers to the free-standing pillars of monastic buildings, appearing often in Chan conversations as symbols of the objective world. Dōgen here reflects a saying attributed to Shitou Xiqian; see Supplemental Note 10.

24. “Ancestral rooms” (soshitsu 祖室): A common expression in Chan for the “inner recesses” of the tradition handed down from master to disciple.

“Huangmei” (ōbai 黄梅); “Zhaozhou” (jōshū 趙州); “Dayi” (daii 大潙): Reference to famous Chan masters who use the expression “no buddha nature.” “Huangmei” indicates the Fourth Ancestor, Daoxin himself; “Zhaozhou” and “Dayi” refer to Zhaozhou Congshen 趙州從諗 (778-897) and Guishan Lingyou 潙山靈祐 (771-853) respectively, both of whom will be quoted below.

“Pursue with vigour” (shōjin subeshi 精進すべし): I.e., make effort to understand. The term shōjin 精進, commonly used for the virtue of “zeal,” or “exertion,” does not typically occur as a transitive verb.

“Though we may well have lost our bearings in no buddha nature” (mu busshō tadorinubeshi to iedomo 無佛性たどりぬべしといへども): Most readers take the verb tadoru here in the sense tomadoi 戸惑 (“lose one’s way,” “grope about,” etc.).

“We have what as the standard” (ga naru hyōjun ari 何なる標準あり): The first in a list of four terms in Dōgen’s preceding discussion of the dialogue. The term hyōjun 標準 occurs fairly often in Dōgen’s writings in the sense of a “marker” or “norm”; akin to hyōkaku 標格.

“You as the time” (nyo naru jisetsu 汝なる時節): It is unclear what “time” is referred to here: the most likely candidate is the “time” in the question of the preceding section: “at what time now is it that he is ‘no buddha nature’?”

“This as the accord” (ze naru tōki 是なる投機): The term ze (“this”) has also appeared above as “it’s” in Hongren’s statement, “it’s the buddha nature.” The word “accord” here translates tōki 投機, a term often indicating a perfect “fit,” or “match,” perhaps especially between master and disciple; here, perhaps the accord between “what” and “this.”

“Zhou as the same name” (shū naru dōshō 周なる同姓): Some manuscripts give the more familiar expression dōshō 同生 (“the same birth,” “born together”). “Zhou” (“all-embracing”) is Hongren’s family name (see, above, Note 22: “That name is Zhou”). It is not clear who (or what) here shares the name Zhou.

“We advance directly” (jikishu 直趣): The implication seems to be that, though “no buddha nature” may be confusing, given the guidance of the terms in the dialogue listed, we can immediately understand it. The expression, “advance directly” here may reflect the words, quoted elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings, “advance directly to supreme bodhi” (jikishu mujō bodai 直趣無上菩提).

25. “Being empty is not having none” (kū wa mu ni arazu 空は無にあらず): Or, as more commonly read, “emptiness is not non-existence.” Here and in the following discussion, the translation aims to retain something of the language of the Fifth Ancestor’s remark with which Dōgen is playing. Hence, the translation of the graph mu , (the “no” of Daoxin’s “no buddha nature”) which might well be taken here in the abstract sense of “nothingness” or “non-existence,” keeps to the original sense “to have none.” For a more common metaphysical rendering of this passage, see Supplemental Note 11.

“A half catty” (han kin 半斤); “eight tael” (hachi ryō 八兩): A tael (Chinese liang ) is a unit of weight (varying throughout history) equal to 1/16 catty (Chinese jin ); hence, eight tael equal a half catty. Although Dōgen’s use here could be taken to mean simply “without calling it this or that,” the point may be “without saying that (“emptiness”) equals mu (“non-existence”).

“The emptiness of the buddha nature” (busshō kū 佛性空): Or “the buddha nature is empty.” The translation assumes that here and below Dōgen is treating the graph (“empty”) in the Fifth Ancestor’s remark, no longer as a predicate adjective, but as a noun modified by busshō 佛性 (“buddha nature”). The influential Shōbōgenzō monge 正法眼藏聞解 (Shōbōgenzō chūkai zensho 正法眼藏註解全書 3:125) interprets this sentence to mean that the use of and mu here are not the “emptiness” taught in the Hīnayāna (nijō no kū 二乗の空) or the “non-existence” of annihilation in non-Buddhist thought (gedō no mu 外道の無) but “non-existence” as the ultimate meaning of the buddha nature (busshō no daiichi gi no mu 佛性の第一義の無).

“The pieces of his having none are the signposts of his saying it is empty” (mu no henpen wa kū o dōshū suru hyōbō nari 無の片片は空を道取する標榜なり): An odd locution that might be taken to mean something like, “the individual instances of [the use of] mu are the markers of what he means by saying ‘[the buddha nature is] empty.’” The following clause would then seem to say, “what he means by ‘empty’ is what enables him to say that [the buddha nature] ‘does not exist.’”

26. “Form is emptiness” (shiki soku ze kū 色即是空): The famous formula of the perfection of wisdom literature, known especially from the Heart Sūtra (Bore boluomiduo xin jing 般若波羅蜜多心經, T.8.253:849c7): “Form is itself emptiness; emptiness is itself form” (se ji shi kong kong ji shi se 色即是空空即是色).

“Divided up to author form” (wakachite shiki o soka seru わかちて色を作家せる): I.e., “form” has been constructed from parts [of “emptiness”]. The term soka (commonly read sakke) derives from the Chinese zuojia 作家, an author or poet and, in Chan usage, an accomplished master; here put in a verbal form seen elsewhere in the Shōbōgenzō.

“A single stone in space” (kūri ippen seki 空裏一片石): Usually understood to indicate the complete identity of “form” and “emptiness.” The word “space” here translates the term , the same graph used for “emptiness.” For the likely source, see Supplemental Note 12.

27. “The Sixth Ancestor of Cīnasthāna, the Chan Master Dajian of Caoxi shan” (shintan dairokuso sokeizan daigan zenji 震旦第六祖曹谿山大鑑禪師): I.e., the monk Huineng 慧能 (638-713); Chan Master Dajian 大鑑禪師 is a posthumous title. Mt. Caoxi 曹谿山, in present-day Guangdong, is the site of his temple, the Baolin si 寶林寺. The term shintan 震旦 (Chinese zhendan) represents the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit name for China, cīnasthāna (“land of the Chin”). Dōgen here begins retelling in Japanese the famous story of the first encounter between the Fifth and Sixth Ancestors; for the source, see Supplemental Note 13. The conversation between the two masters is continued below, following Dōgen’s comments on this section.

“A person of Lingnan” (reinan nin 嶺南人): “Lingnan” is a term for the region “south of the peaks” — i.e., the area of present-day Guangdong and other Southeastern provinces. In Tang times, it was considered a semi-barbaric border region, beyond the pale of Han civilization.

“Make a buddha” (sabutsu 作佛): A common term for “becoming a buddha.”

28. “The no buddha nature of the person of Lingnan” (reinan nin mu busshō 嶺南人無佛性): Dōgen simply repeats here the Chinese of Hungren’s remark; the translation assumes that he wants us to read the declarative sentence as a single nominal expression.

29. “Predecessors” (sendatsu 先達): Also read sendachi. Literally, “one who has previously arrived”; a guide. Akin to the more frequent kosen 古先.

“Teachers of the sūtras and treatises” (kyōronji 經論師): Equivalent to “sūtra teachers and treatise teachers” (kyōji ronji 經師論師); specialists in the interpretation of the Buddhist scriptures; scholastics. A perjorative term commonly found in Dōgen’s works.

“Descendants of the buddhas and ancestors” (busso no jion 佛祖の兒孫): I.e., the “progeny” of the lineage of the Chan ancestors.

“Singly transmit it” (tanden 單傳): Or “uniquely transmit it” (see above, Note 4. “Singly transmitted”).

“The buddha nature always studies together with becoming a buddha” (busshō kanarazu jōbutsu to dōsan suru nari 佛性かならず成佛と同參するなり): The term dōsan 同參 (“to study together” or “the same study”); is regularly used in reference to fellow students; here, it suggests that the buddha nature and the attainment of buddhahood occur together within spiritual practice.

“The ten noble and three worthy” (jisshō sanken 十聖三賢): Also read jisshō sangen. A common Buddhist technical term in reference to the traditional path of the bodhisattva: the ten stages, or “grounds” (chi , bhūmi), of the “noble” (ārya) — i.e., those on the advanced levels of the path — and the three types of “worthy” (bhadra) — i.e., those on the level just preceding the ārya. Also written sanken jisshō 三賢十聖.

30. “See the buddha and hear the dharma” (kenbutsu monpō 見佛聞法): A standard expression seen throughout the Buddhist canon.

“Whether from a friend, whether from a scripture” (waku jū chishiki waku jū kyōkan 或從知識或從經巻): A fixed phrase in Chinese syntax occurring often in Dōgen’s writings. A “friend” (chishiki 知識) is a common term for a Buddhist teacher, short for “good friend” (zen chishiki 善知識, kalyāṇa-mitra).

“Those who have not studied their fill of seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing” (ken mon kaku chi ni sanpō sezaru mono 見聞覺知に參飽せざるもの): I.e., “those who have not fully understood the experience.” The expression ken mon kaku chi 見聞覺知 (“seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing”) is a common idiom for cognition; the term sanpō 參飽 (“studied their fill”) is a somewhat unusual expression, occurring several times in the Shōbōgenzō, that suggests one who is “satiated” or “surfeited” with Buddhist study.

“Ingenuous device” (zengyō 善巧): A loose translation of a term meaning “skill” or “skillful,” as in the “skill in means” (hōben 方便, upāya-kauśalya ) of the buddha or bodhisattva; a clever pedagogic strategem.

31. “The Sixth Ancestor said” (rokuso iwaku 六祖いはく): The text here returns to the conversation between the two ancestors; see above, Supplemental Note 13.

32. “What is within the phrases” (kuri 句裏): A fairly common expression for the content or significance of an utterance.

“Reflect with bare mind” (sekishin ni shōko 赤心に照顧): See above, Note 9. “The bare mind in each instance.”

“It captures one corner” (ichigū no kōtoku ari 一隅の搆得あり): A tentative translation of a somewhat unusual expression. The term kōtoku 搆得 (rendered here “capture”) has the basic meaning “being able to pull in” or “hold back” something; it occurs in Chan texts with a sense “to grasp” (i.e., “understand”), akin to kōtoku 覯得. The term will appear again below, in the sense, probably, of “to catch.” The expression ichigū 一隅 (“one corner”) suggests something partial.

“Did the Sixth Ancestor know this?” (rokuso kore o shiru ya ina ya 六祖これをしるやいなや): The implication seems to be that the Sixth Ancestor may not have understood the significance of his own saying. Although he is often critical of the Chan masters’ words, it is hard to find doubts about the famous Sixth Ancestor, Huineng, in Dōgen’s writings; such doubts seem to recur in the section following.

33. “In making a buddha and turning the dharma” (sabutsu shi tenbō suru ni 作佛し轉法するに): I.e., “when the buddhas become buddhas and preach the dharma”; the term “turning the dharma” (tenbō 轉法) is a common expression for the buddhas’ teaching, equivalent to “turning the wheel of dharma” (tenbōrin 転法輪).

“The Buddha Kāśyapa and the Buddha Śākyamuni, and the rest of the buddhas” (kashō butsu oyobi shakamuni butsu tō no shobutsu 迦葉佛およひ釋迦牟尼佛等の諸佛): The Buddha Kāśyapa is the sixth of the seven past buddhas (shichi butsu 七佛), of which Śākyamuni is the last.

In their entirety have the buddha nature” (shitsu u busshō 悉有佛性): Or, in Dōgen’s reading, “the entirety of being is the buddha nature.” From the opening quotation of the Nirvāṇa-sūtra.

“Drawing from afar on one corner, which has the power to delimit” (haruka ni gaige no rikiryō aru ichigū o ukete はるかに㝵礙の力量ある一隅をうけて): An awkward attempt to render an odd expression probably meaning something like “receiving from a [historical] distance the feature [of the two ancestors’ words] that defines [the buddha nature].” The term gaige 㝵礙 (“obstruction,” “impediment”), translated here “to delimit,” is regularly used by Dōgen in the sense “to identify,” “to define”; synonymous with keige 罣礙.

“How could the being of the entirety of being not succeed to the dharma of the no of no no?” (shitsu u no u nanzo mu mu no mu ni shihō sezaran 悉有の有なんぞ無無の無に嗣法せざらん): For interpretation of this odd sentence, see Supplemental Note 14.

34. “If the Sixth Ancestor is that person” (rokuso sono hito naraba 六祖その人ならば): The expression sono hito その人, translated here “that person,” occurs several times in the Shōbōgenzō in the sense “a real person,” “a person with real understanding”; here, perhaps “a person worthy to be called the Sixth Ancestor.” The implication seems to be that the Sixth Ancestor’s response here was inadequate; and, indeed, this phrase could be translated as a past subjunctive: “had the Sixth Ancestor been ‘that person.’”

“The no of being or non-being” (u mu no mu 有無の無): Or “the having no” of “having” and “having no.” Here, again, the translation struggles with the several uses of the terms u and mu .

“Study the no of various nos in the no of no buddha nature” (shomu no mu wa mu busshō no mu ni gaku su 諸無の無は無佛性の無に學す): Probably meaning something like “the use of the term ‘no’ (mu ; or ‘has no’) in the phrase ‘has no buddha nature’ provides the key to the meaning of the term in other contexts.”

“Scoop up two or three times” (saisan rōroku 再三撈摝): The term rōroku 撈摝 (also written 撈漉) means “to fish out” something from the water with a scoop or wicker basket; used as a metaphor for “dredging” for something. The expression “scoop up two or three times” reflects a line from the Shi xuantan 十玄談, by Tong’an Changcha 同安常察 (Jingde chuandeng lu, T.51:455c7-8) quoted in Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō kokyō 正法眼藏古鏡 (D.1:231):


Blue depths ten thousand ages old, the moon in an empty realm;
You’ll only know it when you scoop it up two or three times.

“There should be power in the scoop” (masa ni rōposu ni rikiryō aru beki nari まさに撈波子に力量あるべきなり): The “scoop” (rōposu 撈波子) is a wicker device used to dredge, sieve or drain something; here, likely a figure of speech for the words of the Sixth Ancestor.

“Take up and let go of” (nenpō su 拈放す): Commonly interpreted to mean something like “to examine [the words] without clinging to them”; perhaps continuing the imagery of the preceeding “scoop up” and expressing what we might call the practice of linguistic “catch and release.”

“Obstructed by materiality” (zetsuge su 質礙す): A Buddhist technical term for the inability of two physical objects to occupy the same space at the same time, here treated as a verbal form.

“Vacant and pervasive” (koyū 虚融): A fairly common term in Buddhist texts, typically interpreted to mean “pervades everywhere like space.” The only occurrence in the Shōbōgenzō.

“Indiscrimate simpletons” (mubun no gumō 無分の愚蒙): The term mubun 無分 (“indiscriminate”) is understood here to mean “lacking the ability to make distinctions”; gumō 愚蒙 is a common Buddhist term for an ignorant and foolish person.

“Straightaway study with diligence” (jiki shu gon gaku 直須勤學): A set phrase appearing in several Chan texts.

35. “The Sixth Ancestor addressed his follower Xing Chang” (rokuso shi monjin gyōshō 六祖示門人行昌): From the Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:239a2-3. Xing Chang is the lay name of the monk Jiangxi Zhiche 江西志徹. For the source, see Supplemental Note 15.

36. “The alien paths and the two vehicles, from first founder to final follower, may say it is impermanent” (nijō gedō no biso bimatsu sore mujō nari to iu tomo karera gūjin subekarazaru nari 二乘外道の鼻祖鼻末それ無常なりといふとも): Or, perhaps, “the alien paths and the two vehicles may say from first to last that it is impermanent.” The odd expression biso bimatsu 鼻祖鼻末, loosely translated here as “first founder to final ancestor,” plays on the word biso, “founding ancestor” (literally, “nose ancestor,” from the notion that the foetus develops from the nose); some read the expression here to mean “the founder and the descendants”; others take it simply as “beginning and end.” The antecedent of sore (translated “it”) is unclear; presumably “the buddha nature,” though this is in fact a doctrine peculiar to the Mahāyāna. The term “two vehicles” (nijō 二乘) refers to the non-Mahāyāna Buddhists of the śrāvaka-yāna (shōmon jō 聲聞乘) and pratyekabuddha-yāna (engakujō 縁覺乘); a common term of dismissal in Dōgen’s writings.

Now, if there are those who attain deliverance by its manifesting its own body, then it manifests its own body and preaches the dharma to them” (kon i gen jishin tokudo sha soku gen jishin ni i seppō 今以現自身得度者即現自身而爲説法): A sentence in Chinese that plays on the famous passage in the Lotus Sūtra describing the thirty-three manifestations of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Kannon 觀音); see Supplemental Note 16. The grammatical subject is unexpressed: in the sūtra, it is clearly the Bodhisattva; here, presumably the “buddha nature.” The implication of the introductory adverb “now” (kon ) here is unclear.

“A long dharma body” (chō hosshin 長法身); “a short dharma body” (tan hossin 短法身): Again, a sentence in Chinese reflecting Chan usage seen in sayings such as “the long one is a long dharma body; the short one is a short dharma body” (chang zhe chang fashen duan zhe duan fashen 長者長法身短者短法身). The “dharma body” (hosshin 法身; dharma-kāya) refers in most Mahāyāna literature to the buddha as “the body” of truth, or the true “body” of reality.

“The permanent noble” (jōshō 常聖); “the permanent commoner” (jōbon 常凡): Unusual expressions likely introduced here in expansion of the thought of the previous sentence: the ostensibly permanent dharma body of the “noble” buddha is impermanent, appearing variously as “long” and “short”; similarly one’s seemingly permanent status as spiritual “commoner” is impermanent.

“The buddha is a small body; the nature is a small activity” (butsu sha shōryō shin ya shō sha shōryō sa ya 佛者小量身也性者小量作也): Dōgen here switches to Chinese for a sentence undoubtedly intended to convey the consequences of the “small, stupid view” (shōryō no guken 小量の愚見) of permanence: that, under such a view, the buddha nature would be reduced to something trivial in both substance and function.

37. “Permanence means unconverted” (jō sha miten nari 常者未轉なり): Dōgen is here presumably commenting on the Sixth Ancestor’s definition of “permanence”: “‘permanence’ means the mind that discriminates all the dharmas, good and bad.” Some readers take the term miten 未轉 to mean simply “unchanging”; the translation “unconverted” treats it as a reference to the mental state prior to the “conversion of the basis” (tenne 轉依; āśraya-parivṛtti), a technical term for the transformation of consciousness from defiled ignorance to undefiled knowledge; i.e., the spiritual commoner’s “mind that discriminates.”

“Change to eradicating” (nōdan to henzu 能斷と變ず); “transform to the eradicated” (shodan to kesu 所斷と化す): Dōgen here splits the common word for “change” (henka 變化) into two verbs, translated here as “change” and “transform.” The term “eradicating” (nōdan 能斷) refers to the wisdom that removes the two obstacles to bodhi: the afflictive obstacles (bonnō shō 煩惱障; kleśāvaraṇa) and the cognitive obstacles (shochi shō 所知障; jñeyāvaraṇa); “eradicated” (shodan 所斷) refers to the obstacles to be removed. The clause might be paraphrased, “even though it [i.e., the discriminating mind that is unconverted] might achieve wisdom . . . .”

“The traces of coming and going” (korai no shōseki 去來の蹤跡): Probably here a reference to progress on the bodhisattva path, through which the mind is “converted” by “eradication” of the obstacles to bodhi; “coming and going” might thus indicate practice before and after the conversion.

“Therefore, it is permanent” (yue ni jō nari ゆゑに常なり): The argument of this difficult section might be paraphrased as follows.

The Sixth Ancestor describes “the mind that discriminates all the dharmas” as permanent in the sense that it is “unconverted” — i.e., has not been transformed from ignorance to knowledge. Even though it may undergo the change of such conversion, we can still speak of it as permanent; for the true meaning of “unconverted” is that spiritual transformation is not a matter of changing the mind through spiritual practice.

38. “The grasses, trees, thickets and groves” (sōmoku sōrin 草木叢林): A common Chan expression for the natural world, as in the saying attributed to Wuzu Fayan 五祖法演 (d. 1104), “the mountains, rivers, and great earth are the buddha; the grasses, trees, thickets, and groves are the buddha” (shan he dadi shi fo cao mu cong lin shi fo 山河大地是佛草木叢林是佛).

“Humans and things, body and mind” (ninmotsu shinjin 人物身心): Two contrasting pairs, not elsewhere grouped in Dōgen’s writings.

“Lands, mountains, and rivers” (kokudo sanka 國土山河): An unusual combination; Dōgen seems here to be combining two common expressions often occuring together: “lands in the ten directions” (jippō kokudo 十方国土) and “mountains and rivers and the earth” (sanka daichi 山河大地), as, e.g., in a passage in the Zongjing lu 宗鏡録 (T48-946c15-16):

十方國土、山河大地、石壁瓦礫、虚空與非空、有情無情、草木叢林、 通爲一身。

The lands in the ten directions, the mountains and rivers and the earth, stones, walls, tiles, and pebbles, the spatial and the non-spatial, the sentient and the non-sentient, grass, trees, thickets, and groves — all together make one body.

“Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi” (anokutara sanmyaku sanbodai 阿耨多羅三藐三菩提): A transliteration of the Sanskrit term for the “supreme, perfect awakening” of a buddha.

“Tripiṭaka master teachers of the sūtras and treatises” (kyōronji no sanzō tō 經論師の三藏等): The term “tripiṭaka” (sanzō 三藏) is used as an honorific for scholars of the Buddhist canon.

“Alarmed, dubious, and frightened” (kyōgi fui 驚疑怖畏): Borrowing an expression found in the Lotus Sūtra; see Supplemental note 17.

“Māra and the aliens” (mage 魔外): A contraction of tenma gedō 天魔外道 (“the deva Māra and the aliens paths”). Māra, lord of the sixth heaven (deva-loka) of the realm of desire (kāma-loka), is “the evil one” (pāpīyām) who seeks to obstruct Buddhist enlightenment.

39. “The Fourteenth Ancestor, the Venerable Nāgārjuna” (daijūshi so ryūju sonja 第十四祖龍樹尊者): The early Mahāyāna philosopher thought to have lived in the second to third centuries CE., famed as the founder of the Madhyamaka school of thought; traditionally considered the fourteenth ancestor in the Indian lineage of Chan. The exact source of this quotation is unclear; a quite similar passage appears in the Jingde chuan deng lu 景徳傳燈録 (T.51:210a29-b15); a more distant version can be found in the Zongjing lu 宗鏡録 (T.48[2016]:938b13-27).

“The language of the brahmans” (bon ); “the language of the Tang” ( ): I.e., “Sanskrit” and “Chinese” respectively. The term bon represents a transliteration of Sanskrit brahma (and related forms), used to refer to the Sanskrit and prakṛt languages of South Asia; bongo 梵語, bonnon 梵音, etc. The term , like kan , is used in generic reference to China.

“Longshu” (ryūju 龍樹); “Longsheng” (ryūshō 龍勝); “Longmeng” (ryūmyō 龍猛): Representing variant intepretations by Chinese translators of the etymology of the Sanskrit nāgārjuna (meaning roughly “dragon tree,” “dragon victory,” and “dragon ferocity,” respectively). The first form, favored by the early translator Kumārajīva, is the most popular in East Asia.

“The country of the western Sindh” (saitenjiku koku 西天竺國): The term tenjiku 天竺 represents a transliteration of sindhu (“river”); i.e., the Indus River, from which we get the words “Hindu” and “India.” The expression saitenjiku 西天竺 (also saiten 西天) is ambiguous: it typically refers to “India to the west [of China],” but here could indicate “the west of India.” Although there is little reliable information on Nāgārjuna’s life, most legendary biographies identify him with south India.

“Meritorious deeds” (fukugō 福業): I.e., the good karma that will yield the recompense of pleasant experience.

“Self-conceit” (gaman 我慢): Though regularly used simply to mean “pride,” in technical terms, gaman represents one member of a standard list of seven conceits (shichi man 七慢), referring especially to the conceit that one has an enduring self (asmimāna).

“Converted to the initial thought” (e shoshin 廻初心): Or “turned to the first thought [of bodhi].” The term shoshin 初心, translated here as “beginner’s mind,” is used in Chinese literature to indicate (a) a first thought, and (b) a state of innocence, or inexperience. In Buddhist usage, the term may refer to (a) the Bodhisattva’s initial aspiration for buddhahood (hosshin 發心, bodhi-cittotpâda) or (b) to a beginner or beginning stage in a practice.

“Body of freedom” (jizai shin 自在身): Or “autonomous body”; the body of a spiritual adept with the supernormal powers of transformation.

“Like the disk of the full moon” (nyo mangetsu rin 如滿月輪): The full moon is a common symbol in Chan for perfect awakening (or the ultimate reality to which one is awakened).

40. The Jingde chuandeng lu version of this story concludes with the report (T.51:210b15):


Hearing this verse, the congregation suddenly understood the unborn; and together they vowed to leave home in order to pursue liberation.

“Kāṇadeva” (kanadaiba 迦那提婆): I.e., the famous Madhyamaka author Āryadeva, considered Nārgājuna’s leading disciple and regarded in the Chan tradition as the fifteenth ancestor. The sobriquet Kāṇadeva (“one-eyed deva”) derives from the story that Āryadeva offered one of his eyes to (in Chinese accounts) an image of Maheśvara.

“Our bodies, no place for it” (shin mu shojū 身無所住): A loose translation of a somewhat odd expression, presumably meaning “we have never felt it,” that uses a verb ( ) meaning “to reside,” “stop,” or “stay,” to represent what must be physical sensation — perhaps in the sense “to accommodate.”

“The formless samādhi” (musō zanmai 無相三昧): The translation of musō 無相 as “formless” loses the polyvalence of the term in this expression. The musō zanmai is a member of a standard Buddhist list of concentrations known as “the three samādhis” (san zanmai 三三昧): sometimes rendered “empty” ( ), “signless” (musō 無相), and “wishless” (mugan 無願); in this list, musō refers to the absence of an identifying feature, or “sign” (nimitta) by which the object of meditation is recognized. The same term is also used to describe the body of the buddha as “without marks” — in particular, to be “empty” of the thirty-two “marks” (lakṣana), or attributes, said to adorn the body of a buddha; more generally, to be beyond all attribution. The translation “form” retains the use of the term elsewhere in this passage to mean “shape” or “appearance.”

“Wide open, spacious and clear” (kakunen komei 廓然虚明): A loose translation. The term kakunen 廓然 has the sense of vast, open expanse; komei 虚明 suggests something as clear and bright as the empty sky.

“Showing by which the body of the buddhas” (i hyō shobutsu tai 以表諸佛體): Here and below, the translation makes a “theological” choice to take the plural marker sho here to govern only butsu ; the expression could also be translated “the buddha bodies (sho buttai)” The clumsy “showing by which” (i hyō 以表; “use it to show”) seeks to establish a form of English that can reflect Dōgen’s play with these words below.

“The explanations, not sound or sight” (yōben hi shōshiki 用辯非聲色): I.e., “my teachings are not what is seen or heard.” The term yōben 用辯 (also written 用辨) suggests “verbal clarifications” — i.e., explanations of the dharma; the expression “sound and sight” (shōshiki 聲色) is regularly used as shorthand for what is experienced through the physical senses, as in the Chan expression, “beyond sound and sight” (shengse wai 聲色外).

41. “True explanation is not then it manifests sound and sight” (shinko no yōben wa shōshiki no sokugen in arazu 眞箇の用辨は聲色の即現にあらず): Or, more simply, “true explanation is not the appearance of sound and sight.” The awkward translation tries to preserve something of Dōgen’s play with the words soku gen 即現 (“then it manifests”), from his earlier line, “Now, if there are those who attain deliverance by its manifesting its own body, then it manifests its own body and preaches the dharma to them.”

42. “The eye’s seeing what the eye sees” (gen ken moku to 眼見目覩): A tentative translation of an obscure remark, generally taken to mean “whatever we see” or “our ordinary seeing.” The phrase, no doubt recalling the assembly’s statement that the full-moon body was “something our eyes have never seen” (moku shomiken 目所未見), simply creates two ways of saying “the eye sees,” by splitting the binomial terms “eye” (ganmoku 眼目) and “see” (kento 見覩).

43. “Do not exemplify” (reisho suru koto nakare 例諸することなかれ): A somewhat odd use of a Chinese idiom meaning “to take as example or instance” — as in the phrase, “to take one instance” (ju yi li zhu 舉一例諸).

“Lopsidely” (henko ni 偏枯に): Adverbial form of a term, literally “half crippled,” regularly used for one-sided or partial understandings, as in the expression “a lopsided view” (jianchu pianku 見處偏枯; or jianjie pianku 見解偏枯).

“The principle delimited by this saying right now that it is not large and it is not small, we should think of just as we hear it here” (dai ni arazu shō ni arazaran shōtō inmo ji no dōshu ni keige seraren dōri ima chōshu suru ga gotoku shiryō subeki nari 大にあらず小にあらざらん正當恁麼時の道取に罣礙せられん道理いま聴取するがごとく思量すべきなり): A rather convoluted sentence that might be restated, “what is meant at this point in the story by [Nāgārjuna’s] saying [that the buddha nature is] not large or small should be understood simply by attending to what we hear it saying [i.e., what it actually says]” (that is, we should take the words literally as “not big and not small,” rather than imagining that they indicate an enormous expanse). On the idiosyncratic use of keige 罣礙 (“to obstruct”), translated here by the passive “delimited,” see above, Note 33: “Drawing from afar on one corner, which has the power to delimit.”

“For we make use of hearing that is our thinking” (shiryō naru chōshu o shitoku suru ga yue ni 思量なる聴取を使得するがゆゑに): An obscure remark that might be paraphrased, “[just as our thinking should accord with our hearing,] our hearing should correspond to our thinking.” Elsewhere, as well, Dōgen uses the colloquial shitoku 使得 (commonly, “to be O.K.,” “to work”) as a transitive verb in the sense “to use” or “be able to use.”

44. “The body manifesting that has been showing by which the body of the buddhas” (sude ne shobuttai o ihyō shikitareru shingen すでに諸佛體を以表しきたれる身現): Here and below, the translation seeks to preserve Dōgen’s use as nominal compounds of the neologisms, “body manifesting” (shingen 身現) and “showing by which” (ihyō 以表) from Nāgārjna’s words, “I manifest my body [in the round moon form], showing by which [the body of the buddhas].” The emphasis here, as suggested by the following sentence, should probably be on the word en (“round”), which also has the senses “perfect,” “complete”: i.e., it is “round” because it is the perfect embodiment of the ultimate body of the buddhas.

“For the body and its manifestation to be alienated from each other” (shin to gen to ni tenso naru wa 身と現とに轉疎なるは): Dōgen here takes apart his new compound shingen 身現 (“body manifesting”). “Alienated” translates tenso 轉疎 (“to turn away from”), as in the expression tenso ten’on 轉疎轉遠 (“to grow estranged, to grow distant”). The phrase may be taken to mean, “to think that the body and the manifestation of the body are distinct.”

“Be in the dark about the round moon form” (engetsu sō ni kuraki 圓月相にくらき): The translation seeks to preserve what may be intended as a pun on the term kuraki, commonly used in the sense “ignorant” or “oblivious” but bearing the primary sense “dark.”

“Transformation body” (keshin 化身): I.e., an apparitional body manifest by a buddha or bodhisattva; a term regularly used to translate the Sanskrit nirmāṇa-kāya.

“A bunch that has not succeeded to the way of the buddha” (butsudō o sōjō sezaru tōrui 佛道を相承せざる黨類): I.e., those without authentic transmission of the dharma. Dōgen uses the term tōrui 黨類 (“confederates”; also written 儻類) elsewhere, as here, in a dismissive sense.

“Where and when would he manifest what is not his body?” (izure no tokoro no izure no toki ka hi shin no ta gen naran いづれのところのいづれのときか非身の他現ならん): A peculiar phrase that might also be read, “where and when would he manifest a body not his own?” The point, as suggested by the following sentence, is presumably that the “full moon form” is Nāgārjuna’s body.

45. “Assuming the high seat” (kōza seru 高座せる): “The high seat” is a standard term for the place or office of Buddhist preaching, here put in verbal form.

“Not hidden or apparent” (onken ni arazu 隠顯にあらず): The word “hidden” translates on , rendered as “vanished” in the line in the quotation, “once he had said this, the form of the disk then vanished.”

“An aggregate of 84,000” (hachiman shisen un 八萬四千蘊): I.e., put together from countless factors. The numeral 84,000 is a standard expression for an extremely large number; “aggregate” translates un , a standard translation of the Sanskrit skandha.

“Where are we, that we’re talking about a fine or rough moon?” (shari ze jinmo shozai setsu sai setsu so getsu 這裏是甚麼處在説細説麤月): A sentence in Chinese expressing a common Chan rhetorical question. For examples, see Supplemental Note 18.

“Confines of the buddha” (buppen 佛邊): A term that can imply either “the limits of” or “the vicinity of the buddha,” it appears with some frequency in Chan texts, often in a dismissive sense, as in “to fall into the confines of the buddha” (lao fobian 落佛邊 — as opposed to the “unlimited” [wubian 無邊] buddha body) or “what is within the confines of the buddha” (fobian shi 佛邊事 — as opposed to “what lies beyond the buddha” [fo xiangshang shi 佛向上事]).

46. “Has a spacious clarity that takes a shape like the full moon” (mangetsu o gyōmei suru komei ari 滿月を形如する虚明あり): Dōgen is here again playing with the language of the quotation, in Kāṇadeva’s statement, “because the formless samādhi has a shape like the full moon. The meaning of the buddha nature is wide open, spacious and clear,” treating “spacious and clear” (komei 虚明) as a noun modified by a verb “to shape like (gyōnyo 形如).”

“It is not the case that it lines up with the round moon form” (engetsu sō o hairetsu suru ni arazu 圓月相を排列するにあらず): I.e., it cannot be associated with the visible shape of the moon.

“Form and mind” (shikishin 色心): I.e., the physical (shiki ) and mental (shin ) dharmas.

“The aggregates, fields, and elements” (un jo kai 蘊處界): Three common terms used in Buddhist writing to account for the psychophysical organism and its world: (a) the five skandha (goun 五蘊): form (shiki , rūpa), sensation (ju , vedanā), perception ( , samjñā), formation (gyō , samskāra), and consciousness (shiki , vijñāna); (b) the twelve āyatana (jūni sho 十二處): i.e., the six sense faculties (kon , indriya) and their objects (kyō , viṣaya); and (c) the eighteen dhātu (jūhachi kai 十八界): the six sense faculties, six sense objects, and six consciousnesses (shiki , vijñāna).

“The aggregate of dharma preached” (setsu hōun 説法蘊): The “aggregate of dharma” (dharma-skandha) is a standard reference to the collection of the Buddhist teachings; here, no doubt, playing on the term “aggregate” and indicating the manifestation of the body as a teaching.

The turning point of the aggregate of dharma preached” (setsu hōun no tenki 説法蘊の轉機): The term tenki 轉機 generally carries the sense “an opportunity,” “a shift of fortune or circumstance,” etc.

“The not sound or sight of manifesting his body of freedom” (gen jizai shin no hi shō shiki 現自在身の非聲色): An awkward attempt to retain Dōgen’s playful nominative use of hi shō shiki 非聲色 (“is not sound or sight”), from the final line of Nāgārjuna’s verse: “The explanations, not sound or sight” (yōben hi shōshiki 用辯非聲色).

“Then vanished and then manifest are the stepping forward and stepping back of the form of the disk” (soku on soku gen wa rinsō no shinpo taiho nari 即隠即現は輪相の進歩退歩なり): “Then vanished and then manifest” (soku on soku gen 即隠即現) continues Dōgen’s play with “then it manifests” (see above, Note 41. “True explanation is not then it manifests sound and sight”), adding “vanished” from the line in the quotation, “once he had said this, the form of the disk then vanished.” “Stepping forward and stepping back” (shinpo taiho 進歩退歩) is an expression occurring regularly in Dōgen’s writings; the contrasting pair can indicate advancement toward to the goal (“stepping forward”) and return to the world (“stepping back”); or participation in the world (“stepping forward”) and looking within (“stepping back”) in meditation.

47. “Recognized this” (shiki shi shi 識此し): Dōgen has here created a new verb, “to recognize this” from Kāṇadeva’s question to the assembly, “Do you recognize this form?” (shiki shi sō hi 識此相否).

“Nature of the buddhas” (shobutsu shō 諸佛性): Like the parallel expression “body of the buddhas,” this expression could also be read as a plural: “buddha natures” (sho busshō); see above, Note 40. “Showing by which the body of the buddhas”).

“Entered the room and drained the jug” (nisshitsu shabyō 入室瀉瓶): To “enter the room” is a standard term for study with a Chan master; to “drain the jug” is to receive the teachings of the master, from the image of draining one jar into another.

“A venerable with a co-seat” (hanza no son 半座の尊): I.e., an elder honored by sharing the “seat” of the master; in the Zen monastery, the “co-seat” is an office, equivalent to a vice-abbot. The rite of sharing the seat is best known from the story in the Lotus Sūtra (T.9:33c5-8) of the Buddha Prabhūtaratna’s sharing the seat in his stūpa with the Buddha Śākyamuni.

“A shared seat with the whole seat” (zenza no bunza 全座の分座): The “shared seat” here is probably synonymous with “co-seat”; in the Zen monastery, it represents the function of the head monk, or “head seat” (shuso 首座), standing in for the abbot. Dōgen’s playful expression probably means something like, “a co-teacher who was a whole teacher.”

“The treasury of the eye of the true dharma, the unexcelled great dharma” (shōbōgenzō mujō daihō 正法眼藏無上大法): An unusual description of the content of the Chan transmission, not repeated elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings; the more common form is “treasury of the eye of the true dharma, the wondrous mind of nirvāṇa” (shōbōgenzō nehan myōshin 正法眼藏涅槃妙心).

“Like Venerable Mahākāśyapa’s being the prime seat on Numinous Mountain” (ryōzen ni makakashō sonja no zagen narishi ga gotoshi 靈山に摩訶迦葉尊者の座元なりしがごとし): Reference to Śākyamuni’s disciple, considered the First Ancestor of the Chan lineage. “Numinous Mountain” (ryōzen 靈山) is an abbreviated form of “Numinous Vulture (or Eagle) Peak” (ryōju sen 靈鷲山; Gṛdhrakūṭa-parvata), the site in Magadha of the legendary first transmission of Chan from Śākyamuni to Mahākāśyapa. “Prime seat” (zagen 座元 [also read zogen]) is another term for the head monk in a monastery (from the location of his seat in the monks’ hall). For more, see Supplemental Note 19.

48. “Prior to Nāgārjuna’s conversion” (ryūju mi kaishin 龍樹未廻心): According to his hagiographies, before he converted to Buddhism, Nāgārjuna was a student of Brahmanical texts.

“Single transmission” (tanden 單傳): On this term, see above, Note 4. “Singly transmitted”; given the context here, it seems clear that Dōgen takes Kāṇadeva as Nāgārjuna’s sole legitimate heir.

“They made treatises and put together doctrines, which they often ascribe to Nāgārjuna’s hand” (ron o tsukui gi o atsumuru ooku ryūju no te o kareri 論をつくり義をあつむるおほく龍樹の手をかれり): Or, perhaps, “in which they often borrow from Nāgārjuna”; the expression te wo karu (“borrow a hand”), while most commonly meaning simply “to get help,” may here include the sense of the “hand” of an author. The term gi 義, translated here as “doctrines,” might also mean “teachings” or “works of interpretation.”

“Should know without doubt” (hitosuji ni . . . shirubeki nari ひとすぢに . . . しるべきなり): Taking hitosuji ni in the sense “single-mindedly”; it might also mean here “as one” (i.e., “all [disciples of the buddha], as a single group”).

“This is believing correctly” (kore shō shin toku gyū nari これ正信得及なり): The form shin toku gyū (literally, “faith can reach it”) is a common Chinese idiom for “to believe,” as in expressions like xu shi xin de ji 須是信得及 (“believe it”) or huan xin di ji 還信得及麼 (“can you believe it?”).

49. This passage simply repeats the earlier quotation of Kāṇadeva, with an introduction in Japanese.

50. “Prior and later skinbags” (zengo no hitai 前後の皮袋): I.e., “people throughout history.” The term hitai 皮袋 (“bag of skin”) is a common Chan locution for “human being” or “people” — especially, as no doubt here, Buddhist monks.

“Dharma realms of the great chiliocosm” (daisen hokkai 大千法界): Or, more simply, “a billion dharma realms.” The term daisen 大千 is generally used as an abbreviation for sanzen daisen sekai 三千大千世界 (trisāhasra-mahāsāhasra-loka-dhāu), the “threefold, great thousandfold world system,” or “great chiliocosm,” that constitutes the domain of a buddha. A great chiliocosm equals three chiliocosms, or one billion worlds (10003).

“Never having recognized it with their bodies, they cannot discern it” (shinshiki imada okorazushite ryōbetsu suru koto atahazaru nari 身識いまだおこらずして了別することあたはざるなり): In the expression translated “recognized with their bodies” (shinshiki 身識), Dōgen has created a new term by substituting “body” (shin ) for the homophonous “mind” (shin ) in the preceding expression “the mind recognizes.” The word ryōbetsu 了別 (“discern”) is a standard Buddhist term used variously for “cognition,” “perception,” “comprehension,” etc.

“Not something their eyes have seen” (moku mishoto 目未所覩): Variation on the assembly’s description of the buddha nature as “something our eyes have never seen” (moku shomiken 目所未見).

51. “Does not buddha body this showing by which” (kono ihyō o buttai sezaran この以表を佛體せざらん): An ugly attempt to capture an odd locution that continues the earlier play on “showing by which” as a noun and treats the noun “buddha body” (buttai 佛體) as a verb. The meaning is probably something like, “[is there any buddha that] does not embody the act of showing the buddha body?” or, perhaps, “[is there any buddha that] does not show himself as the buddha body?”

“The measure of a buddha or the measure of an ancestor” (butsuryō soryō 佛量祖量): Or “the thinking of a buddha or the thinking of an ancestor.” The term butsuryō 佛量 is used in Buddhist literature to mean “knowledge established on the authority of the buddha (buddha-pramāṇa)”. Though not particularly common in Zen texts, it appears several times in Dōgen’s writings, often in a sense traditionally interpreted as “the thinking of a buddha” (butsu no shiryō 佛の思量) or “the power of a buddha” (butsu no rikiryō 佛の力量). The unusual term soryō 祖量 is no doubt employed here to reflect the common compound “buddha and ancestor” (busso 佛祖), perhaps in reference to Zhaozhou (see below, Supplemental Note 20).

“The four major elements and five aggregates” (shidai goun 四大五蘊): Two standard Buddhist technical terms for the phenomenal world. The former refers to the basic material elements (mahā-bhūta): earth (chi ), water (sui ), fire (ka ), and wind ( ) (to which list is often added a fifth: space ( ). For the latter, see above, Note 46. “The aggregates, fields, and elements.” Likely an allusion to a saying by the Chan master Zhaozhou 趙州; see Supplemental Note 20.

“The hurried act of the body manifesting” (shingen no zōji 身現の造次): Or, perhaps “a fleeting occurrence of the body manifesting.” Here and in the following “single hurried act” (ichi zōji 一造次), the translation seeks to reflect the common use of the term zōji 造次 in the sense of something done “in haste,” “on the spot”, something done “rashly” or “haphazardly”; the term can also mean (and is more often interpreted here to mean) “a short time,” “a while,” “momentary,” “transitory,” etc. Elsewhere Dōgen uses the term in a perjorative sense when he accuses a monk of “wild, hurried acts” (araarashiki zōji あらあらしき造次) (Shōbōgenzō shin fukatoku 正法眼藏心不可得 [DZZ:1:86]) and in a positive sense when he quotes the saying “the hurried [or transient] mind is the way” (zōji shin kore dō 造次心これ道) (himitsu bon 秘密本 Shōbōgenzō shin fukatoku 正法眼藏心不可得 [DZZ:2:509]).

“Since we have called them the body of the buddhas, the aggregates, fields, and elements are like this” (sude ni shobutsu tai to iu un sho kai no kaku no gotoku naru nari すでに諸佛體といふ蘊處界のかくのごとくなるなり): A tentative translation, taking sude ni . . . iu to be a reference to Dōgen’s earlier remark, “even if we say [the body manifesting] completely resembles the aggregates, fields, and elements, it is ‘showing by which’; it is ‘the body of the buddhas.’” Presumably the antecedent of “like this” is “the hurried act of the body manifesting.”

“All their virtues are this virtue” (issai no kudoku kono kudoku nari 一切の功徳この功徳なり): Or, perhaps, “all virtues are this virtue”; the translation supplies the pronoun “their,” taking as the antecedent “the aggregates, fields, and elements.” The antecedent of “this” is again presumably “the hurried act of the body manifesting.” The term kudoku 功德, rather like the English “virtue,” can carry a sense both of (a) a “quality,” or “attribute” (especially a positive quality) (Skt. guṇa), and (b) a moral property, state, or action — in the Buddhist context, “good karma,” or “merit” (Skt. puṇya); the former sense is the likelier choice in this passage.

“Are a single hurried act of this body manifesting” (kono shingen no ichi zōji nari この身現の一造次なり): Or, perhaps, “are each a single hurried act of this body manifesting.”

52. “Master and disciple” (shishi 師資): Also read shiji. A standard term for teacher and student; the use of the graph shi (“property,” “resource,” “supply,” etc.) for “student” is said to come from a line in the Daode jing 道徳經:


The good person is the teacher for the person not good; the person not good is the resource for the good person.

“People who have periodically studied Buddhism” (mama ni butsugaku suru ninmotsu ままに佛學する人物): Taking mama as 間間 (“on occasion,” “now and then”).

“The three countries” (sangoku 三國): A standard reference in Japanese Buddhism to India, China, and Japan (or, less frequently, Korea).

“Sūtra teachers and treatise teachers” (kyōji ronji 經師論師): Synonymous with the earlier “teachers of the sūtras and treatises”; see above, Note 29. “Teachers of the sūtras and treatises.”

“In trying to paint this episode” (kono innen o ga sen to suru ni この因縁を畫せんとするに): The word “episode” translates innen 因縁, here taken, not in its technical Buddhist sense of “causes and conditions” (hetu-pratyāya) but in its common Chan usage for historical “instances” or “the accounts of instances”; akin in this sense to kosoku 古則, “old cases.”

“Missed the words of the buddhas and ancestors” (busso no dō o shaka suru 佛祖の道を蹉過する): Or “missed the way of the buddhas and ancestors.” The translation takes the term here in the sense of “speech,” referring specifically to the words of Nāgārjuna and Kāṇadeva; it could also be taken as “path.” The term shaka 蹉過 (also read saka) occurs often in Dōgen’s writing; it has the sense “to pass by,” “to miss [an opportunity],” “to overlook [a passage in a text].”

“Paint it on their bodies” (shin ni ga shi 身に畫し): Here, and in the following “paint it on their bodies, paint it on their minds, paint it on the sky, paint it on a wall,” the translation treats the particle ni as a locative marker, whereas in the subsequent “painted it with a brush tip,” it is taken as an instrumental. The more radically consistent version would read “paint it with their bodies,” etc. The phrase “paint it on the sky” (kū ni ga shi 空に畫し) could also be taken as “paint it on space,” or “paint it on emptiness.”

“Above a dharma seat” (hōza jō 法座上): The hōza 法座 is the seat of the teacher at an assembly.

“Already for hundreds of years of frost and flowers blossoming and falling” (sude ni sūhyaku sai no sōke mo kairaku shite すでに数百歳の霜華も開落して): The expression “frost and flowers” (sōke 霜華, more commonly read sōka) is a literary expression for autumn and spring — hence, a year. Since Dōgen has here modified the expression with the term “years” (sai ), this use seems somewhat redundant; given the predicate “blossom and fall” (kairaku 開落), which would apply only to flowers, it may be that he is playing on the other poetic meaning of sōke, “frost flowers.”

“Although they have formed gold dust in people’s eyes” (nengen no kinsetsu o nasan to suredomo 人眼の金屑をなさんとすれども): From the common proverb, found in Buddhist texts, “gold dust may be precious, but it blinds when it gets in the eyes” (jinyi sui gui lao yan cheng xie 金屑雖貴落眼成翳).

“That everything has gone amiss like this” (banji no sada taru koto gaku no gotoki naru 萬事の蹉跎たることかくのごときなる): More literally, “that [people] have stumbled over the myriad things”; the predicate sada 蹉跎 means to “lose one’s footing,” “to be tripped up,” etc.

53. “A real painted cake” (shinko no gabyō ichimai 眞箇の畫餅一枚): Dōgen is playing here on both the round shape of the image and, more profoundly, on the well-know Chan proverb that “a painted cake can’t satisfy hunger” (huabing bu ke chong ji 畫餅不可充飢). For the source, see Supplemental Note 21. The modifier “real” (shinko no 眞箇の) here probably carries the sense, “an actual example of.”

“To play around with that — what a laugh!” (rō ta sen shō ya shōsatsu nin naru beshi 弄他せん笑也笑殺人なるべし): The antecedent of “that” is likely the “painted cake.” “What a laugh” is a loose translation of a Chinese phrase meaning something like, “laugh, it’s laughable.” The idiom shōsatsu nin 笑殺人 should probably be understood as “make people laugh,” with the verb satsu (“to kill”) taken with shō (“to laugh”) as an intensive.

“Householders and renunciates” (zaike shukke 在家出家): I.e., laymen and clerics. The term shukke 出家 (literally, “to leave home”) refers to those who have “gone forth” (pravrajita) into the Buddhist order.

“Made the full moon wane” (mangetsu o kiketsu seri 滿月を虧闕せり): Dōgen has here artfully made a transitive verb of the “waning” of the moon.

“Investigating the ancient” (keiko 稽古); “yearning for the ancients” (boko 慕古): Two fixed expressions from Chinese literature for the knowledge and appreciation of classical tradition as guide; both occur with great frequency in Dōgen’s writing — often, as here, in laments over the decline of Buddhist tradition.

“Old buddhas and new buddhas” (kobutsu shinbutsu 古佛新佛): Terms of ambiguous reference. They may be taken simply to mean “Buddhists of past and present” (some would take them in a more “theological” sense to indicate “Buddhists, who are at once buddhas by nature and practicing buddhas”). Though the terms appear together elsewhere in Dōgen’s work, it is unusual to find them used, as here, in direct address; it is unclear whether Dōgen is addressing his own audience or the “householders and renunciates” of the Song.

54. “Raising the eyebrows and blinking the eye should be authentic” (yōbi shunmoku sore tanjiki naru beshi 揚眉瞬目それ端直なるべし): The expression “raising the eyebrows and blinking the eyes” (yōbi shunmoku 揚眉瞬目) is a set phrase used in Chan texts to represent the ordinary actions through which Buddhism is expressed; often said to reflect the blink of the Buddha in the story of the first transmission of Chan alluded to just below here in the line “the face breaking into a smile.” For an example of the use, see Supplemental Note 22. The English “authentic” is a loose translation of tanjiki 端直, a term usually meaning “upright and straightforward”; here, presumably, used less as an ethical than as an aesthetic quality: “true to life,” “realistically portrayed.”

“The skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, the treasury of the eye of the true dharma, should always be sitting fixedly” (hinikukotsuzui shōbōgenzō kanarazu gotsuza subeki nari 皮肉骨髄正法眼藏かならず兀坐すべきなり): The grammatical relationship between “the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” (for which, see above, Note 4. “Skin, flesh, bones, and marrow”) and “the treasury of the eye of the true dharma” is unclear; the translation treats them in apposition, as two ways of expressing the Zen tradition. The term gotsuza 兀坐 (Chinese wuzuo), translated here as “sitting fixedly,” is regularly used in reference to seated meditation, or zazen 坐禪, and occurs frequently in Dōgen’s work. The sense of this sentence seems to be that the Zen tradition should be depicted [as “the form of the body manifested”] seated in meditation.

“It should convey the face breaking into a smile” (hagan mishō tsutawaru beshi 破顔微笑つたはるべし): The “face breaking into a smile” (hagan mishō 破顔微笑) is a reference to the famous story of the first transmission of Zen from Śākyamuni to Mahākāśyapa. Dōgen records a version of the story in his shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:258, case 253):


Once upon a time, before an assembly of a million on Numinous Mountain, the World Honored One held up a flower and blinked his eyes. At that time, Kāśyapa alone broke into a smile. The World Honored One said, “I have a treasury of the eye of the true dharma; I bequeath it to Mahā, the Great, Kāśyapa.”

“Making a buddha, making an ancestor” (sabutsu saso suru 作佛作祖する): The combination of these two expressions seems not so common in the Chinese Chan texts but occurs with some frequency in the Shōbōgenzō. The point here would seem to be that the depiction of the “body manifesting” should express, through Mahākāśyapa’s smile, the very moment that one becomes a buddha and ancestor.

“It has no shape like” (gyōno nashi 形如なし): Dōgen has here created a nominal compound from Kāṇadeva’s statement, “because the formless samādhi has a shape like the full moon” (gyō nyo mangetsu 形如滿月). The three subsequent characteristics in this sentence (“preaching the dharma,” “sound or sight,” and “explanations”) are taken from Nāgārjuna’s verse.

55. “If we seek the body manifesting, we should depict the round moon form” (moshi shingen o motomeba engetsu sō o zu subeshi もし身現をもとめば圓月相を圖すべし): The English “depict” for the verb zu masks what may be a significant ambiguity in Dōgen’s use of the term here and throughout this passage: in addition to its sense “to draw,” “to picture,” etc., the term has the meaning “to plan for,” “to anticipate,” “to ‘figure’ on doing or getting,” etc. In this latter sense, then, the sentence could be rendered, “if we seek to get (or get at) the body manifesting, we should plan to make a round (or perfect) moon.” For more on the term zu and this alternative reading of the passage, see Supplemental Note 23.

“We should manifest the form of the full moon” (mangetsu sō o gen subeshi 滿月相を現ずべし): Dōgen has here borrowed the verb “manifest” from “the body manifesting”; it is unclear whether the manifestation occurs in the painting or the artist (or both).

“Without embodying the showing by which” (ihyō o tai sezu 以表を體せず): Another awkward attempt to render Dōgen’s playful use of ihyō 以表 as a noun (see above, Note 44. “The body manifesting that has been showing by which the body of the buddhas”).

“Look at it” (kore o kyū chakugan kan これを急著眼看せん): A loose translation of an expression more literally, “in trying immediately to cast our eyes on it”; kyū chaku gan 急著眼看 is a fixed colloquial imperative common in Chan texts.

“Who would be satisfied as I am now and not hungry?” (tare ka jikishi nyokon hō fuki naran たれか直至如今飽不飢ならん): Dōgen is here playing on the painted cake that “doesn’t satisfy one’s hunger,” borrowing a common saying in Chan texts. The expression is also written 直至如今飽不饑; a frequent variant is zhizhi rujin bao xiangxiang 直至如今飽餉餉 (“I’m satisfied as I am now, fully provisioned”).

“The coin and the cake, we should study in its roundness” (ichimai sen ichimai byō wa en ni gakushū subeshi 一枚錢一枚餅は圓に學習すべし) I.e., “we should understand the roundness of the coin and cake through the meaning of “round” in “the round moon.”

56. “My wanderings” (unyū 雲遊): A loose translation of a term meaning “to drift, or float, cloudlike,” regularly used to describe the monk’s peregrinations in search of the dharma; an expression occurring several times in the Shōbōgenzō. For a brief summery of Dōgen’s wanderings, see Supplemental Note 24.

“Autumn of the sixteenth year of Jiading (tenth stem, eighth branch)” (katei jūroku nen kimi shū 嘉定十六年癸未秋): I.e., 1223; the Jiading era of the Song emperor Ningzong 寧宗 lasted from 1208 to 1225. The autumn date would have been within just a few months of Dōgen’s arrival at Tiantong shan.

“Guangli Chansi on Mt. Ayuwang” (aikuō zan kōri zenji 阿育王山廣利禪寺): I.e., the monastery better known as Ayuwang si 阿育王寺. Mt. Ayuwang (“King Aśoka Mountain”) is located in present-day Zhejiang, just west of Tiantong shan. The monastery there is said to have been founded in the fifth century; in Dōgen’s day, it was famous for its relic of the Buddha and was ranked among the “five mountains” (wushan 五山), the leading Chan institutions recognized by the Southern Song court.

“Illustrations” (hensō 變相): Literally, “changed form,” a standard term for the depiction of Buddhist themes.

“The thirty-three ancestors of the Western Heavens and the Eastern Earth” (saiten tōchi sanjūsan so 西天東地三十三祖): I.e., the Zen ancestral lineage of India and China through the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng 慧能 (638-713). For the expression “Western Heavens and Eastern Earth,” see above, Note 3. “Twenty-eight generations in the Western Heavens.”

“I had no grasp of them” (ryōran nashi 領覽なし): Or “I could not take them in.” The term ryōran 領覽 has the sense “to grasp [the significance],” “to comprehend” (ran here is cognate with ran in ryōran 領攬).

57. “Summer retreat” (ge ango 夏安居): The dates of the traditional Buddhist retreat (varṣa) vary with time and place; it was the practice of the Chinese Chan monasteries to keep the retreat from the sixteenth of the fourth month to the fifteenth of the seventh month. This event would have taken place just prior to the start of Dōgen’s study with Tiantong Rujing.

“First year of Baoqing (second stem, tenth branch)” (hōkyō gannen itsuyū 寶慶元年乙酉): I.e., 1225; the Baoqing era of the emperor Lizong 理宗 covered 1225-1228.

“The guest prefect Cheng Gui of Western Shu” (seishoku no jōkei shika 西蜀の成桂知客): A figure otherwise unknown. The “guest prefect” (shika 知客) is the monastic officer in charge of visitors. “Western Shu” is the name of an ancient kingdom in present-day Sichuan; probably used here simply to indicate the Sichuan region.

“No nose on his face, no words in his voice” (ganshiki ni bikū nashi shōri ni goku nashi 顔色に鼻孔なし、聲裏に語句なし): Probably meaning something like, “his facial expression showed he had no substance, and his tone of voice showed he had nothing to say.” For this use of “nose” (bikū 鼻孔), see above Note 5. “The nose of the patch-robed monk.”

“In the laugh there was no blade, and he could not crack the painted cake” (shōri mu tō ha gabyō futoku 笑裏無刀破畫餅不得): Or “in the laugh there was no blade that could split the painted cake”; the translation of the verb ha as “crack” takes it in the sense, “to attack a problem” or “solve a case.” “A blade within a laugh” (shōri u tō 笑裏有刀; also shōchū u tō 笑中有刀) is an idiom for danger concealed in the seemingly friendly or cheerful, somewhat as we might say, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” (See, e.g., Sushan’s 疎山 description of Guishan’s 潙山 laugh: “From the beginning, Guishan had a sword in his laugh” (guishan yuanlai xiao li you dao 潙山元來笑裏有刀) (quoted in shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:208, case 157); Dōgen will use the idiom again below.

“The śarīra hall and the six outstanding sites” (shari den oyobi roku shushō chi tō 舎利殿および六殊勝地等): I.e., the hall at Tiantong enshrining its famous relic of the Buddha and the six famous sites at the monastery.

“Head of hall” (dōchō 堂頭): I.e. “the abbot.”

“Reverend Daguang” (daikō oshō 大光和尚): Otherwise, unknown.

“Prior and later heads of meals” (zengo no shukuhantō 前後の粥飯頭): I.e., “abbots one after another.” The use of the term “head of meals” in reference to the abbot is sometimes said to reflect his ranking in the order of the meal service. Among the previous abbots of Ayuwang shan was Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲 (1089-1163), arguably the most famous Chan monk of the Southern Song and a figure that Dōgen would come to criticize in his later writings.

58. “Because they have not awakened” (samezaru ni yorite さめざるによりて): The subject is unexpressed; presumably, the “heads of meals” discussed in the preceding paragraph and below.

“Our present consideration, knowledge, thought, and perception” (ima no ryo chi nen kaku いまの慮知念覺): The four terms translated here as “consideration, knowledge, thought, and perception” represent a list that, while seemingly not common elsewhere, appears several times in the Shōbōgenzō, generally understood to indicate the full range of ordinary mental activities; it is also possible to take ryochi 慮知 as a compound meaning “discriminative knowledge.” For a closely parallel example of this usage, see below, Supplemental Note 25.

“Lost the point from which to penetrate” (tsūtatsu no tan o shisseru 通達の端を失せる): Taking tan in the sense “beginning” (or, perhaps, “first premise”).

“There are even those who have spent their entire lives without ever speaking of the buddha nature” (subete busshō to iu dōtoku o isshō iwazu shite yaminuru mo aru nari すべて佛性といふ道得を一生いはずしてやみぬるもあるなり): In his Shōbōgenzō sesshin sesshō 正法眼藏説心説性 (DZZ.1:450), Dōgen returns to this theme in a criticism of the former abbot of Ayuwang shan, Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲 (1089-1163), for warning against talking about the buddha nature; for the passage, see Supplemental Note 25.

“Those who listen to the teachings” (chōkyō no tomogara 聴教のともがら); “those robed in clouds who study Zen” (sanzen no unnō 參禪の雲衲): I.e., those who know Buddhism only from books vs. monks who engage in the practice of Zen. “Robed in clouds” (unnō 雲衲) is a literary term for the itinerate monk; synonymous with unsui 雲水 (“clouds and water”). In his Shōbōgenzō butsudō 正法眼藏佛道 (DZZ.1:472ff), Dōgen engages in an extended critique of those who distinguish Zen from the “way of the buddha” (butsudō 佛道).

“Minions of Māra” (matō 魔黨): Also written 魔儻. See above, Note 38. “Māra and the aliens.”

59. “National Master Qian of Yanguang district in Hangzhou” (kōshū enkan ken seian kokushi 杭州鹽官縣斎安國師): I.e., Yanguang Qian 鹽官齋安 (d. 842), disciple of the famed master Mazu Daoyi 馬祖道一 (709–788).

“All living beings have the buddha nature” (issai shujō u busshō 一切衆生有佛性): For the source of this saying, see Supplemental Note 26.

60. “Deeds, paths, circumstantial and primary recompense” (gō dō ehō 業道依正): I.e., karma and its consequences. “Deeds” ( ) translates the standard Buddhist term for “karma”; “paths” ( ) here refers to the “destinies” (shu ), or “births” (gati) of saṃsāra: deva, human, animal, ghost, and dweller in hell (to which is added in some lists titan). For the expression “circumstantial and primary recompense” (ehō 依報), see above, Note 5. “Circumstantial and primary recompense.”

“The three vehicles or five vehicles” (sanjō gojō 三乘五乘等): I.e., the vehicles of the śrāvaka (shōmon 聲聞), the pratyeka-buddha (engaku 縁覺), and bodhisattva (bosatsu 菩薩). The “five vehicles” adds to the three vehicles the vehicles of humans (nin ) and devas (ten ).

“All living beings spoken of here on the way of the buddha” (ima butsudō ni iu issai shujō いま佛道にいふ一切衆生): Beginning with this line, Dōgen introduces what seems to represent an exploration, in the following sentences, of the term “living beings” in the light of famous lines, popularly (though wrongly) attributed to the Avataṃsaka-sūtra (Huayan jing 華嚴經), discussed in Shōbōgenzō sangai yui shin 正法眼藏三界唯心 (DZZ.1:443ff):


The three worlds are but one mind; outside the mind, there is no other dharma.
The mind, the buddha, and living beings — these three are without distinction.

“Those with minds” (ushin sha 有心者); “those without minds” (mushin sha 無心者): The term ushin 有心 (“having mind” or “having thought”) is a standard reference to “conscious” or “sentient” beings; the term mushin 無心 (“having no mind”), while famously used in Chan as description of a spontaneous state free from discrimination or intention, is probably used here simply to mean the “non-conscious,” or “insentient,” phenomena (“grass and trees,” etc.) that Dōgen will go on to invoke.

“Grasses, trees and lands” (sōmoku kokudo 草木國土): A common expression for the natural world, as in the saying, “grasses, trees, and lands all become buddha” (cao mu guotu xi jie cheng fo 草木國土悉皆成佛); and see above, Note 38. “The grasses, trees, thickets, and groves” and “Lands, mountains, and rivers.”

“Sun, moon, and stars” (nichigatsu seishin 日月星辰): A common generic expression in Buddhist texts for the “celestial bodies”; occurs often in Dōgen’s writings, not infrequently together with the expression “the mountains, rivers and earth” — a combination likely reflecting an exchange recorded in the shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:212, case 168):


Dagui asked Yangshan, “The wondrous, pure, clear mind — how do you understand it?”
Yang said, “The mountains, rivers and earth, the sun, moon, and stars.”

61. “Those who are not living beings would not have the buddha nature” (shujō ni arazaran wa u busshō ni arazaru beshi 衆生にあらざらんは有佛性にあらざるべし): I.e., if we interpret the National Master’s remark to mean that only sentient beings have the buddha nature, it would follow that other beings would not have it. The logic is obscured by the Japanese syntax of the preceding clause, in which “only” (nomi) governs the entire Chinese phrase “all living beings have the buddha nature.”

“The have of have the buddha nature, he should slough off” (u busshō no u masa ni datsuraku subeshi 有佛性の有まさに脱落すべし): I.e., he should get rid of the verb “to have” in this saying; the result would be a phrase, issai shujō busshō 一切衆生佛性, that could be read “all living beings are buddha nature.” The subject here is unexpressed and could as well be taken as “we,” (the readers) rather than “he” (the speaker).

“Sloughing it off is one strip of iron; one strip of iron is the path of the bird” (datsuraku wa ichijō tetsu nari ichijō tetsu wa chōdō nari 脱落は一條鐵なり一條鐵は鳥道なり): The verb “to slough off” (datsuraku 脱落), best known in Dōgen’s writings from the expression “body and mind sloughed off” (shinjin datsuraku 身心脱落), is regularly used to express liberation (as, e.g., above, Note 22. “When they have been sloughed off, when they have been liberated”). For “one strip of iron” (ichijō tetsu 一條鐵), see above, Note 8. “One strip of iron.” “The path of the bird” (chōdō 鳥道) is a favorite expression of Dongshan Liangjie 洞山良价 (807-869) that occurs several times in Dōgen’s writings; generally taken to imply “a way that follows no route and leaves no traces.”

“Explains thoroughly” (settō su 説透す): An unusual term not found elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings. The translation takes the element in the sense “completely penetrate”; the combination is regularly interpreted to mean “explain and transcend.”

“May not have acceded to a saying of this understanding” (etoku o dōtoku ni jōtō sezu得を道得に承當せず): An odd locution probably meaning “did not know how to express this understanding.” The verb jōtō 承當, quite common in Dōgen’s writing, seems typically to mean “to succeed (to an office),” “to accept” (or “understand” a teaching).

“He has the four major elements and five aggregates, he has the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” (shidai goon mo ari hi niku kotsu zui mo ari 四大五陰もあり皮肉骨髄もあり): I.e., (while he may not understand the meaning of his buddha nature,) he has it by reason of his having the elements and aggregates, the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow. The translation takes the subject here to be “the National Master,” but the sentence could as easily be read with the pronoun “we” or “one.” For “the four major elements and five aggregates” (shidai goon 四大五陰) as the buddha nature, see above Note 51. “The four major elements and five aggregates.” (Dōgen substitutes here the common term goon 五陰 for the “five aggregates,” in contrast to the earlier goun 五蘊). For “the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow” (hi niku kotsu zui 皮肉骨髓), see above, Note 4. “Skin, flesh, bones, and marrow.”

“There are lifetimes contingent on a saying” (dōshu ni kakareru shōshō mo ari 道取にかかれる生生もあり): Generally interpreted to mean “some sayings may take lifetimes.”

62. “Chan Master Dayuan of Mt. Dagui” (daii san daien zenji 大潙山大圓禪師): I.e., Guishan Lingyou 潙山靈祐 (771-853), disciple of Baizhang Huihai 百丈懐海. Chan Master Dayuan is an honorific posthumous title. Mt. Dagui (also known as Guishan 潙山) is in present-day Hunan province.

“All living beings have no buddha nature” (issai shujō mu busshō 一切衆生無佛性): Dōgen here returns to the story of the two monks who studied with Yanguan and Dagui; see above, Supplemental Note 26.

63. “Those of great capacities” (daiki 大機): A term regularly used to indicate one with the capacity to accept the teachings of the great vehicle. Also used in Chan texts in the sense “great functioning, “great workings,” especially in reference to the freedom and spontaneity of the adept.

“The meanings of have and have no” (u mu no gonri 有無の言理): “Meaning” here is a somewhat loose translation of gonri 言理, typically interpreted as “the words and the principle” or “the principle of the words.”

Superior on the way of the buddha” (butsudō ni chō nari 佛道に長なり): I.e., “is the superior expression of Buddhism”; the phrase could also be read “superior as a Buddhist saying.”

“Extend a hand with the old buddha” (kobutsu to tomo ni isseki no te o idasu 古佛とともに一隻の手をいだす): I.e., offer a teaching together with the Buddha Śākyamuni. “To extend a hand” (shutsu isseki shū 出一隻手) is a common idiom for teaching.

“One staff borne by two people” (ichijō shujō ryōnin yo 一條拄杖兩人舁): I.e., “they are simply saying the same thing.” An idiomatic expression in Chinese syntax indicating “two statements with the same purport,” or, as we might say, “a distinction without a difference;” seemingly synonymous with the variant “two people leaning on one staff” (ichijō shujō ryōnin fu 一條拄杖兩人扶).

64. “One staff swallowing up two people” (ichi jō shujō don ryōnin 一條拄杖呑兩人): Generally taken to mean that Dagui’s saying outdoes both Śākyamuni and Yanguan.

“The National Master is the child of Mazu, while Dagui is the grandchild of Mazu” (koku shi wa baso no shi nari daii wa baso son nari 國師は馬祖の子なり大潙は馬祖の孫なり): As Dōgen mentions above, Yuanguan was a direct student of Mazu Daoyi (see above, Note 59. “National Master Qian of Yanguang district in Hangzhou”). Dagui’s teacher, Baizhang Huihai 百丈懐海 (749-814), was also a disciple of Mazu.

“The dharma grandchild is an elder in the way of his master’s father, while the dharma child is a youth in the way of his master father” (hosson wa shiō no dō ni rōdai nari hossu wa shifu no dō nenshō nari 法孫は師翁の道に老大なり法子は師父の道に年少なり): I.e., the grandson, Dagui, is a veteran of Mazu’s tradition, while the son, Yuanguan, is still a beginner. The term shiō 師翁 (“master’s father”) is used in reference to the teacher of one’s teacher; shifu 師父 (“master father”) is a term for master, understood as “master and father” or “fatherly master.”

“What Dagui says here by way of explication” (ima daii dō no richi いま大潙道の理致): A loose translation of a sentence that seems to say, more literally, “In regard to Dagui’s explication, he takes ‘all living beings have no buddha nature’ as his explication.” The term richi 理致, translated here as “explication,” has the sense “presentation of the theory”; it is often used in Chan to indicate the use of Buddhist texts and doctrines in teaching.

“A vastness beyond the line of ink” (kōzen jōboku gai 曠然縄墨外): An idiomatic expression for a realm free from norms. The term “ink line” (jōboku 縄墨; also written bokujō 墨縄) refers to the carpenter’s guide, similar to a “chalk line.” This phrase does not occur elsewhere in Dōgen’s writing; for an example of its use in Chan, see Supplemental Note 27.

“The scripture within the quarters of his own house” (jike okuri no kyōten 自家屋裏の經典): This phrase could be taken to mean “a tradition within Dagui’s school”; more often it is read in a metaphorical sense, as “the authority of his own experience.” The term okuri 屋裏 (also written 屋裡), translated here “within the quarters,” occurs very often in Dōgen’s writings, especially in reference to the “house” (i.e., lineage) of the buddhas and ancestors or to their “rooms” (i.e., innermost dwelling place).

65. “We should grope further” (sara ni mosaku subeshi さらに摸索すべし): I.e., “we should extend our exploration [of this saying]”; mosaku 模索 is a common idiom meaning “to search for,” as in the expression mosaku fu jaku 摸索不著, “to grope for it with touching it.”

“Minions of Māra” (matō 魔黨): See above, Note 58. “Minions of Māra.”

“They bring in a son of Māra and try to pile him on all living beings” (mashi ichimai o shōrai shite issai shujō ni kasanen to su 魔子一枚を將來して一切衆生にかさねんとす): The demonic “sons of Māra” (mashi 魔子) appear elsewhere in the Shōbōgenzō in perjorative reference to what Dōgen considers heretical types, in contrast to “sons of the Buddha” (busshi 佛子). Here, there seems to be the additional sense that the buddha nature itself is a demonic (i.e., anti-Buddhist) notion smuggled into the Buddhist concept of “all living beings.” The translation ignores Dōgen’s playful use of the numeric classifier ichimai 一枚, used for flat objects, in the expression mashi ichimai 魔子一枚 (literally, “one sheet of Māra son”).

“When Mr. Chang drinks wine, Mr. Li gets drunk” (chō kō kisshū ri kō sui 張公喫酒李公醉): A familiar idiom in Chan texts, generally taken to mean that two things, while distinct, are in some sense one. The common surnames names “Chang and Li” regularly occur as examples of “everyman.” Dōgen’s admonition here can be taken as a warning simply not to collapse the two concepts of “living beings” and “buddha nature”; or, more pointedly, as a warning not to think that what the living being does will bring about the buddha nature.

66. “Baizhang said” (hyakujō iwaku 百丈いわく): I.e. Dagui’s teacher, Baizhang Huihai 百丈懐海. For the source, see Supplemental Note 28.

“If you have talked of it, it delimits the talk; and where there is talking, it should study together with hearing” (tatoi settoku seba setsujaku o keige sen setsujaku araba monjaku to dōsan naru beshi たとひ説得せば説著を罣礙せん説著あらば聞著と同參なるべし): A difficult passage, generally interpreted to mean something like, “if you have expressed it, this is the buddha nature expressing itself; and if it can express itself, it can hear itself.” For the idiosyncratic use of keige 罣礙 (“delimit”), see above, Note 33. “Drawing from afar,” and Note 43. “The principle delimited.” For the use of dōsan 同參 (“study together with”), see above, Note 29. “The buddha nature always studies together with becoming a buddha.”

“Much less have you seen, even in your dreams, all buddhas have no buddha nature” (iwanya issai shobutsu mu busshō wa mu ya miken zai nari いはんや一切諸佛無佛性は夢也未見在なり): The expression “have not seen even in your dreams” or “have never even dreamt of” (mu ya miken zai 夢也未見在) is a common dismissal of an opponent that occurs frequently in Dōgen’s writings.

“Try taking this up” (shi ko kan 試擧看): I.e., “what do you have to say?”; a frequent Chan master’s challenge, here directed at Baizhang and Dagui.

67. “The Chan Master Dazhi of Mt. Baizhang” (hyakujō san daichi zenji 百丈山大智禪師): I.e., Baizhang Huaihai 百丈懷海. Dazhi chanshi 大智禪師 is his title; Baizhang shan 百丈山 is in Hongzhou 洪州, modern Jiangxi province. The passage can be found in the Tiansheng guangdeng lu 天聖廣燈録 (ZZ.135;167b10-16). The translation here follows the traditional punctuation, as reflected in Kawamura’s edition, and treats the entire passage as a discussion of the term “buddha”; the text, however, could be differently parsed, making “this person” (shi nin 此人) the implied subject of the subsequent sentences.

“It is this person established on the way of the buddha; it is the buddha that has the buddha nature” (ze butsudō ritsu shi nin ze butsu u busshō 是佛道立此人是佛有佛性): Or, as it is often read, “it is the way of the buddha that establishes this person.” Though there is a long tradition of reading the text in this way, the punctuation here could be done differently, and the text of the Tiansheng guangdeng lu (ZZ.135;167b10-11) would seem to suggest an alternative, less awkward reading:

是佛道上立。此人是佛。 有佛性。

It is to stand on the way of the buddha. This person is the buddha; he has the buddha nature.

“It is the guide; it is making use of an unobstructed style; it is the unobstructed wisdom” (ze dōshi ze shitoku mushoge fū ze muge e 是導師是使得無所礙風是無礙慧): The translation follows the traditional practice of reading each phrase as a separate predicate of “buddha.” A less cramped reading might be, “He is the guide, who makes use of his unobstructed style, his unobstructed wisdom.”

“Its merit and wisdom functioning freely” (fukuchi jiyū 福智自由): I.e., it freely manifests the two desiderata of the bodhisattva ideal of perfect awakening: an infinite store of merit (puṇya) and complete knowledge (jñāna).

“It forms the cart that carries cause and effect” (ze sa sha unsai inga 是作車運載因果): A translation following the traditional reading of this phrase. The exact significance is uncertain, and it may be that “cart” and “carry” should be understood in apposition respectively to “cause” and “effect”: i.e., the vehicle (cause) that conveys one to the goal (effect) — an interpretation that might yield something like, “it forms the cart and the conveyance, the cause and effect.”

“The pure and wondrous land” (jōmyō kokudo 淨妙國土): A common expression for a buddha land, especially the “pure land” (jōdo 淨土) of the Buddha Amitābha.

68. “This body that won’t be destroyed” (ima no fue shin いまの不壞身): Likely an allusion to Zhaozhou’s saying that the “nature that won’t be destroyed” is “the four major elements and the five aggregates.” See above, Supplemental Note 20.

“This hurried act” (ima no zōji いまの造次): I.e., the everyday acts [of a buddha]; for this notion, see above, Note 51. “The hurried act of the body manifesting.”

“This is this buddha that is the supreme vehicle” (kore saijō jō naru ze butsu nari これ最上乘なる是佛なり): Dōgen here switches the word order of Baizhang’s first phrase, “Buddha is the supreme vehicle,” such that the copula “is” (ze ) in “buddha is” now modifies “buddha” in “this buddha.”

69. “Huangbo was sitting in Nanquan’s tea hall” (ōbaku zai nansen sadō nai za 黄檗在南泉茶堂内坐): “Huangbo” refers to the famous monk Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希運 (died during the Dazhong 大中 era, 847-859), disciple of Baizhang Huaihai; “Nanquan” is Nanquan Puyuan 南泉普願 (748-834), disciple of Mazu Daoyi 馬祖道一. The “tea hall” (sadō 茶道) is the abbot’s private reception room. The conversation can be found in the Tiansheng guangdeng lu 天聖廣燈録 (ZZ.135:658b14-18); a variant occurs in the Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録 (T.51:257c25-28).

“Studying meditation and wisdom equally, one clearly sees the buddha nature” (jō e tō gaku myōshō busshō 定慧等學明見佛性): For the source, see Supplemental Note 29.

“Throughout the twelve times” (jūni ji chū 十二時中): I.e., “twenty-four hours a day”; see above, Note 14. “Not passing the twelves times in vain.”

“Not at all” (fukan 不敢): A colloquial expression of modest acknowledgement of a compliment; short for fukan tō 不敢當.

“The money for the rice water” (shōsui sen 漿水錢); “the money for the straw sandals” (sōai sen 草鞋錢): I.e., the cost of Huangbo’s board and travels respectively. The term shōsui 漿水 refers to the water in which rice has been cooked (what we might call “rice slops”) that can be taken as a thin rice gruel.

70. “Buddha and nature studied equally” (busshō tōgaku 佛性等學): The translation retains the original grammatical structure “A B studied equally”; but, given the preceding question about the agent, the phrase might also be read, “when the buddha nature studies equally.”

71. “Because not relying on a single thing is throughout the twelve times, the buddha nature is clearly seen” (fuei ichimotsu kore jūni ji chū naru ga yue ni busshō myōken nari 不依倚一物これ十二時中なるがゆゑに佛性明見なり): I.e., “because ‘not relying’ is [the nature of] the twenty-four hours a day.” The phrase busshō myō ken 佛性明見 (“the buddha nature is clearly seen”) could also be read “the buddha nature clearly sees.”

“Are there twelve times over there?” (ta nari ni jūni ji no aru ka 他那裏に十二時のあるか): Dōgen uses here a colloquial term for “there,” “in that place”— i.e., a place other than the human realm.

“The silver world” (byakugon sekai 白銀世界): A pure realm sometimes associated with the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Puxian pusa 普賢菩薩); known in Chan especially from a line in a verse by Shoushan Xingnian 首山省念 (926-993) (Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:305a3-4):


The silver world and the golden body,
Sentient and insentient share a single truth.

“This land” (shido 此土); “other worlds” (takai 他界): Terms of ambiguous referent. Depending on context, shido 此土 (“this land”) can indicate (a) the Sahā world (shaba sekai 娑婆世界), the world of the Buddha Śākyamuni; (b) the human realm (ningen 人間), as opposed to other realms of saṃsāra; or (c) China (or East Asia), as opposed to India. Similarly, takai 他界 (“other worlds”) can refer to (a) other buddha lands, or (b) other realms of saṃsāra; it can also be translated in the singular, as a reference (much like the English “the other world”) to (c) the world of the dead, of spirits, etc.

72. “He should not turn his head, thinking it must refer to himself” (jiko naru beshi to kaitō subekarazu 自己なるべしと回頭すべからず): I.e., “Huangbo should not respond with the assumption that Nanquan is referring to him by the expression ‘the elder.’”

“It may be accurate of himself, but it is not Huangbo, and Huangbo is not necessarily merely himself” (jiko ni tekitō nari to mo ōbaku ni arazu ōbaku kanarazushimo jiko nomi ni arazu 自己に的當なりとも黄檗にあらず黄檗かならずしも自己のみにあらず): A rather obscure passage, perhaps to be interpreted, “It may be that it is accurate to say that Huangbo’s statement is ‘the elder’s viewpoint,’ but ‘the elder’ here does not refer to Huangbo, nor does ‘Huangbo’ here necessarily refer merely to Huangbo.”

“For the elder’s viewpoint is exposed everywhere” (chōrō kensho wa rokaikai naru ga yue ni 長老見處は露回回なるがゆゑに): A tentative translation. The term rokaikai 露回回, rendered here rather loosely as “exposed everywhere,” represents a variant of the somewhat more common rokeikei 露迥迥; subject to two lines of interpretation: (a) “clearly visible” (taking kaikai 回回 in the sense “brilliant”); (b) “visible far and wide” (taking kaikai as “distant”).

73. “He should be a water buffalo coming up and saying, moo, moo” (ittō suikogyū shutsurai dō unun naru beshi 一頭水牯牛出來道吽吽なるべし): Dōgen here slips into Chinese for this phrase. The sense would seem to be that it is as natural for Huangbo to say “not at all” as it is for the water buffalo to say “moo, moo.” Chan masters themselves regularly respond by saying “moo, moo”; and Nanquan famously predicted that in a hundred years he would be water buffalo (Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:259a27-28).

74. “What he is saying” (iwayuru wa いはゆるは): Dōgen is here simply translating the Chinese into the vernacular.

“Years of pilgimage” (angya no nengetsu 行脚の年月): Literally, “months and years of travelling on foot.” The term angya 行脚 is regularly used for the peregrinations of the Chan monk in search of the dharma.

“If I hadn’t returned the money, I wouldn’t have put on the straw sandals” (nyaku fu gen sen mijaku sōai 若不還錢未著草鞋): Dōgen puts this remark into Chinese. The tense of the first clause is unexpressed; it might also be translated, “if I weren’t going to return the money.”

75. “Not being affirmed, he desisted; or, not affirming, he desisted” (fukō serarete kyū shi fukō nite kyū su 不肯せられて休し不肯にて休す): I.e., he stopped because his words were not approved by Nanquan, or he stopped because he did not himself approve Nanquan’s words.

“A patch-robed one of true colors” (honjiki nossu 本色衲子): I.e., an authentic Chan monk. The translation “of true colors” repesents a playful rendering of the term honjiki 本色: while the graph shiki is used for “color,” in this case, the sense is probably more like “authentic type.” The term nossu 衲子 (“patch-robed one”) is synonymous with nōsō 衲僧; see above, Note 5. “The nose of the patch-robed monk.”

“The blade within the laugh” (shōri u tō 笑裏有刀): See above, Note 57. “In the laugh there was no blade.”

“This is the gruel is enough, the rice is enough, of the buddha nature clearly seen” (kore busshō myōken no shuku soku han soku nari これ佛性明見の粥足飯足なり): Or “of the buddha nature seeing clearly.” The expression “the gruel is enough, the rice is enough” (shuku soku han soku 粥足飯足) is a fairly common Chan expression, occurring several times in Dōgen’s writings, meaning that the monk’s meals are sufficient and suggesting, by metaphorical extension, that the monk’s practice is replete.

76. “Guishan asked Yangshan” (isan kyōzan ni tōte iwaku 潙山仰山にとふていはく): Dōgen here quotes the passage that immediately follows the story of Huangbo and Nanquan in the Tiansheng guangdeng lu 天聖廣燈録 (ZZ.135:658b:18-22). “Guishan” 潙山 has appeared several times above; see, e.g., Note 62. “Chan Master Dayuan of Mt. Dagui.” “Yangshan” refers to Guishan’s disciple Yangshan Huiji 仰山慧寂 (803-887). Together, the two monks are treated by later histories as the founders of the so-called Guiyang 潙仰 lineage of Chan.

“Huangbo couldn’t catch that Nanquan” (ōbaku kōtoku ta nansen futoku 黄檗搆得他南泉不得): For the predicate “catch” (kōtoku 搆得), see above, Note 32. “It captures one corner.”

“The ability to trap a tiger” (kan ko shi ki 陥虎之機): A fixed expression in Chan texts for a superior type. The term “trap” kan (variant ) here connotes especially use of a pit for catching animals.

“Your viewpoint is thus better” (shi kensho toku inmo chō 子見處得恁麼長): The comparative is amibguous: “better than mine,” or “better than it used to be.”

77. “Dagui’s words” (daii no dō 大潙の道): This and the following sentence represent simply Dōgen’s rendering of the Chinese quotation into Japanese.

“Pet the tiger’s head” (chiku kotō 捋虎頭): Another common expression in Chan, usually as a sign of complete mastery.

“Trapping the tiger and petting the tiger, he moves among other species” (kan ko chiku ko irui chū gyō虎捋虎異類中行): Dōgen here and in the following sentence shifts to balanced parallel Chinese phrases, in the style of traditional Chan comment. The expression “he moves among other species” (irui chū gyō 異類中行) is associated especially with a comment by Nanquan about the monk Zongzhi 宗智; the incident is widely repeated in Chan sources and is quoted in Dōgen’s shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:154, case 57).

“A single snare, throughout the times twelve” (rarō ichimai ji chū jūni 籮籠一枚時中十二): A loose translation of the term rarō 籮籠 (“nets and baskets,” for catching birds and fish; also written 羅籠), used very commonly in Chan, and in Dōgen’s writings, for spiritual or cognitive “traps.” “Throughout the times twelve” reflects the text’s reversal of the syntax of Huangbo’s saying. Here, again, to the end of this section, Dōgen has shifted into Chinese parallel construction.

“Relying and not relying, like climbing vines depend on the tree” (nyo kattō i ju 依倚不依倚如葛藤倚樹): Again, a loose translation for the term kattō 葛藤, an expression composed of two terms denoting climbing plants — the former often used for the kudzu vine; the latter, for wisteria. The term appears very commonly in Chan texts, and in Dōgen’s writing, in the colloquial sense, a “tangle,” a “complexity,” or “complication.” Dōgen devotes an entire fascicle of the Shōbōgenzō to this term. The phrase “like climbing vines depend on the tree” represents a variation on the more common expression, “like wisteria depends on the tree” (ru teng yi shu 如藤倚樹), perhaps simply expanded here to achieve the requisite five graphs to the line. For an example of the use of this expression that may be relevant here, see Supplemental Note 30.

“Throughout the heavens and the whole of heaven” (tenchū gyū zenten 天中及全天): A tentative translation. The term tenchū 天中 (“throughout the heavens”) is a common expression, usually meaning “among the devas” (i.e., the beings of the Buddhist “heavens”). The word zenten 全天 (“the whole of heaven”) is less common and does not appear elsewhere in the Shōbōgenzō; it is generally taken to mean “all of heaven” or “all the heavens.”

“Afterwards, he’s had no words” (gotō mi u go 後頭未有語): Not doubt an allusion to Huangbo’s “desisting”; likely reflecting another remark by Huangbo in the Tiansheng guangdeng lu 天聖廣燈録. For the source, see Supplemental Note 31.

78. “Great Master Zhenji of Zhaozhou” (jōshū shinsai daishi 趙州眞際大師): I.e., the famous Tang-dynasty Chan master Zhaozhou Congshen 趙州從諗 (778-897); “Great Master Zhenji” is a posthumous title; “Zhaozhou” 趙州 refers to the province, in present-day Henan, where Congshen spent many years, at Guanyin yuan 觀音院. His biography appears at Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:276c-278b.

“Does a dog have the buddha nature?” (kushi gen u busshō ya mu 狗子還有佛性也無): One of the most famous kōan, appearing throughout the Chan and Zen literature, perhaps most prominently as the first case in the popular kōan collection Wumen guan 無門関 (T.48[2005]:292c20-21). Recorded in Dōgen’s shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:188, case 114); the source for this version is thought to be the Congrong lu 從容録, (T.48[2004]:238b25-c1), the kōan collection based on the verses of Hongzhi Zhengjue 宏智正覺 (1091-1157).

79. “The term gouzi means dog” (kushi to wa inu nari 狗子とはいぬなり): Dōgen is here simply explaining what must have been a Chinese word unfamiliar to his Japanese audience.

“Whether the man of iron also studies the way” (tekkan mata gakudō suru ka 鐵漢また學道するか): The “man of iron” (tekkan 鐵漢) is a common Chan term for the solid pratictioner; occurs frequently in Dōgen’s writings.

“Although he may deeply regret having inadvertantly encountered a poison hand” (ayamarite dokushu ni au urami fukashi to iedomo あやまりて毒手にあふうらみふかしといへども): The “poison hand” is an idiom referring to the stringent methods of the Chan teacher. The unexpressed subject here is no doubt the monk who asked the question.

“It is in the style of seeing half a holy one after thirty years” (sanjū nen yori kono kata sara ni hanko no shōnin o miru fūryū nari 三十年よりこのかたさらに半箇の聖人をみる風流なり): Allusion to a story about the Chan monk Sanping Yizhong 三平義忠 (781-872) facing the arrow of the master Shigong Huizang 石鞏慧藏 (dates unknown). For the source, see Supplemental Note 32. Dōgen is likely praising the monk for his willingness to face Zhaozhou.

80. “There will be a day when this no just melts the stone” (sono mu wazuka ni shōshaku no hi aru beshi その無わづかに消石の日あるべし): A tentative translation, taking wazuka ni (“just”) as Chinese cai (“just then,” “thereupon,” etc.), and hi as “day” (rather than “sun”). This does not appear to be a common expression and does not appear elsewhere in Dōgen’s writings; it is generally taken to mean that, in the presence of this “no,” all things are dissolved.

81. “Why doesn’t the dog have it” (kushi i jinmo mu 狗子爲甚麼無): The translations masks the word “no” (mu ) central to Dōgen’s comment below; to follow better that comment, the monk’s question here might be put, “Why is it ‘no’ in the case of the dog?”

82. “If all living beings are no” (issai shujō mu naraba 一切衆生無ならば): The translation seeks to reflect Dōgen’s emphasis on Zhaozhou’s “no” as “the ‘no’ the buddha nature calls itself,” “the ‘no’ the dog calls itself.” In this passage, he seems to be assigning that “no” to each of the nouns in the monk’s question: “all living beings,” “the buddha nature,” and “the dog.” Thus, he interprets the monk as asking, in effect, when “no” applies equally to “living beings” and “the buddha nature,” obviously it applies to “the dog”; so why say “no” in the case of the dog? Alternative readings could take the term mu here (a) as “not having” (“if all living beings have no [buddha nature] . . . .”), or (b) as “non-existent” (“if all living beings are non-existent . . . .”).

83. “Because it has karmic consciousness” (i ta u gosshiki zai 爲他有業識在): For the term “karmic consciousness” (gosshiki 業識), see above, Note 6. “The busy, busy karmic consciousness.” In Buddhist usage, of course, all living beings have karmic consciousness.

“Because it has is karmic consciousness, and having karmic consciousness is because it has” (i ta u wa gosshiki nari gosshiki u i ta u nari 爲他有は業識なり業識有爲他有なり): Dōgen is here playing with the terms in Zhaozhou’s answer, treating the first three words, “because it has” (i ta u 爲他有) as a single nominal expression identified with “karmic consciousness.” Part of the play depends on the fact that the words happen to include the graphs for the term ita 爲他 (“for the other,” “for the sake of others”; parārtha); hence, the phrase could be rendered “being for others is karmic consciousness, and having karmic consciousness is being for others.”

“Karmic consciousness does not understand the dog; so how could the dog meet the buddha nature?” (gosshiki imada kushi o e sezu kushi ikade ka busshō ni awan 業識いまだ狗子を會せず狗子いかでか佛性にあはん): Generally taken to mean that, since “karmic consciousness,” “the dog,” and “the buddha nature” are all “no,” they do not understand or meet each other; possibly a play on the graph e , which has the sense both “to understand” and “to meet.”

“Whether we disperse the pair or collect the pair” (tatoi sōhō sōshū su tomo たとひ雙放雙収すとも): Probably to be understood, “whether we take [the dog and the buddha nature] as two or take them as one.”

84. “A monk asked Zhaozhou” (jōshū u sō mon 趙州有僧問): Dōgen is continuing his quotation from the same passage. In both the shinji Shōbōgenzō and Congrong lu texts, this part of the passage actually occurs prior to the part quoted above.

85. “Everyday tea and rice” (kajō no sahan 家常の茶飯): I.e., normal practice; see above, Note 21. “Everyday tea and rice.” No doubt directed at those “beasts,” criticized above, who say that Zen students should not talk about the buddha nature.

86. “Not the being of the treatise masters of the teaching houses, not the being discussed by the Existence school” (kyōke no ronji tō no u ni arazu ubu no ron u ni arazaru nari 教家の論師等の有にあらず有部の論有にあらざるなり): The translation of Zhaozhou’s answer as “yes” obscures the semantic range of the graph u (“to have,” “to exist”) rendered here as “being” (as in the earlier “entirety of being”). “Teaching houses” (kyōke 教家) refers to those styles of Buddhism that emphasize scriptural study. The “Existence school” (ubu 有部) refers to the Buddhist philosophical school known as Sarvāstivāda (setsu issai ubu 説一切有部), which held the position that dharmas were real entities (dravya) existing through past, present, and future.

87. “Force entry into this bag of skin” (tōnyū sha hitai 撞入這皮袋): I.e., “take birth as this dog body.” The English “force entry” renders a binomial term, tōnyū 撞入, that suggests something like, “ram (or stab) into and enter”; the translation here is intended to facilitate Dōgen's remarks on the second element (nyū , “enter”) in his comments below.

88. “Present being” (kon u 今有); “past being” (ko u 古有); “already being” (ki u 既有): Dōgen here treats the adverb and verb, ki u 既有 (“since it already has”), of the monk’s question as the nominal expression “already being,” in parallel with “past being” and “present being.” The adverb ki is a marker of both temporal and logical senses of completion: “already,” “previously,” etc.; and “since,” “given that,” etc.

“Already being shines alone” (ki u wa komyō nari 既有は孤明なり): I.e., “already being” stands out from the other types of being. The term komyō 孤明, while common throughout Buddhist literature, does not appear elsewhere in the Shōbōgenzō; it is generally parsed as “shines by itself.”

“There is no concerted effort that idly overlooks the conduct of forcing entry into this bag of skin” (dōnyū sha hitai no anri itazura ni shaka no kufū arazu 撞入這皮袋の行履いたづらに蹉過の功夫あらず): A tentative translation of an ambiguous sentence, perhaps meaning something like, “in making concentrated effort, one should not idly miss this conduct of ‘forcing entry into this bag of skin.’” The effort in question is likely the study of the conduct (rather than the conduct itself).

89. “Knowing, it intentionally transgessed” (shirite kotosara okasu しりてことさらをかす): Dōgen is here simply explaining the Chinese phrase.

“The term entry here” (ima ichiji no nyū いま一字の入): Dōgen is here referring back to the monk’s question, “why does it still force entry into this bag of skin?”

“The word ‘enter’ is not necessary” (nyū shi ichiji mo fuyōtoku nari 入之一字も不用得なり): “The word ‘enter’” here picks up the graph nyū from tōnyū 撞入 (“force entry”). Allusion to a saying attributed to Yangshan 仰山; see Supplemental Note 33.

“If you wish to know the undying person in the hermitage, how could you leave this present bag of skin?” (yoku shiki an chū fushi nin ki ri shikon sha hitai 欲識庵中不死人豈離只今這皮袋): A line from the Caoan ge 草菴歌, by Shitou Xiqian 石頭希遷 (700-790), Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:46c21-22.

“When would it leave the bag of skin?” (izure no toki ka hitai ni maku ri naru いづれのときか皮袋に莫離なる): A tentative translation, taking the problematic maku ri 莫離, not as “(do) not leave,” but as “isn’t it that [it] leaves?” However it is to be read, most interpreters take the point here to be that the “undying person” never “leaves the bag of skin.”

90. “Because it is knowingly, there must be the commission of an intentional crime” (chi ni no yue ni ko han aru beki 知而のゆゑに故犯あるべきなり): I.e., it is “knowingly” that makes it an “intentional crime.” Dōgen here creates a new term from the two graphs translated “knowingly” (chi ni 知而 [“knows, but”]); generally interpreted to mean that life in the “bag of skin” (commission of an “intentional crime”) depends on states of consciousness (“knowingly”).

“The conduct of the body cast off” (dattai no anri 脱體の行履): I.e., “authentic, fully exposed activity”; for the expression dattai 脱體 (“body cast off”), see above Note 12. “The buddha nature with body cast off.”

“The guy ahead of the ass and behind the horse” (ro zen ba go kan 驢前馬後漢): I.e., an ordinary workman. (For the usage, see Supplemental Note 34.) The phrase is probably to be taken as descriptive of the one who “has not escaped.”

“The Eminent Ancestor Yunju says” (ungo kōso iwaku 雲居高祖いはく): I.e., Yunju Daoying 雲居道膺 (d. 902), prominent disciple of Dongshan Liangjie 洞山良价. His saying, here put in Japanese, comes from a lecture found at Liandeng huiyao 聯燈會要, ZZ.136:797a15.

91. “The Reverend Changsha Jingcen” (chōsha keishin oshō 長沙景岑和尚): Dates unknown; a disciple of Nanquan Puyuan 南泉普願 (748-834). Minister Zhu (chiku shōsho 竺尚書) is otherwise unknown; the government title shōsho 尚書 indicates that he was head of the Department of State Affairs (shangshu sheng 尚書省) in the Tang government. This exchange is found in several sources, including Dōgen’s shinji Shōbōgenzō (DZZ.5:136, case 20). For sources and the full conversation, see Supplemental Note 35.

“Wind and fire haven’t dispersed” (fūka misan 風火未散): The expression “wind and fire” is likely shorthand for the “four major elements” (shidai 四大; catvāri-mahā-bhūtāni): earth (chi ), water (sui ), fire (ka ), and wind ( ). Regularly used in reference to the life of the physical body; e.g., see above Note 7. “The mind, mentation, and consciousness moved by wind and fire.”

92. “Everyday life of the buddhas and ancestors” (busso no kajō 佛祖の家常): I.e., “in the practice of the Chan masters”; for the expression “everyday” (kajō 家常), see above Note 21. “Everyday tea and rice.”

“Beyond the buddha” (butsu kōjō 佛向上): See above, Note 23. “Beyond the buddha.”

“Is it that, while the two cut parts are one, there is a further one?” (kitaretaru ryōdan wa ittō ni shite sara ni ittō no aru ka きれたる兩段は一頭にしてさらに一頭のあるか): Probably meaning, “is there one thing beyond the one thing that was cut?”

“Concentration moves them and wisdom uproots them” (jō dō chi batsu 定動智抜): A saying based on a passage in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra; see Supplemental Note 36.

93. The translation follows the Kawamura text here. Other versions give a different order of these sentences:


“I don’t understand, in which one is the buddha nature?” He should say, “When the buddha nature is cut in two pieces, I don’t understand, in which one is the worm?” This saying, we should examine in detail.

94. “What do you make of their moving?” (dō zuru wa ikaga sen 動ずるはいかがせん): Dōgen here puts the minister’s question into Japanese.

“Since they are moving, we should add another layer of buddha nature on top of them” (dō zureba sara ni busshō ichimai o kasanu beshi 動ずればさらに佛性一枚をかさぬべし): This could also be read, “since they are moving, they must add add another layer of buddha nature.”

“Is it trying to say” (dōkan suru ka 道看するか): Following the Kawamura text’s dōkan 道看 (“try to say”); other versions give dōjaku 道著 (“say”) here.

95. “The way of life of the buddha nature” (busshō no kakkei 佛性の活計): Or “the livelihood of the buddha nature.” The term kakkei 活計 is a colloquial expression for one’s way of “making a living,” often applied to the Chan master’s activities.

“The dharma is a single sound; for it is the dharma of a single sound” (hō wa itton nari itton no hō naru yue ni 法は一音なり一音の法なるゆゑに): The adverb yue ni (“for”) could also be taken as governing the preceding sentence — a reading that would yield, “For the dharma is a single sound; a single sound is the dharma.” The notion that the dharma is a single sound derives from the common claim that the Buddha speaks with a single voice, while his audience understands him in varied ways; see, e.g., the Vimalakīrti-sūtra (Weimojie suoshuo jing 維摩詰所説經, T.14[475]:538a2):


The Buddha preaches the dharma with a single sound;
Living beings each understand it according to his or her type.

96. “From beginningless kalpas” (mushi kō rai 無始劫來): This sentence reflects Changsha’s verse for Minister Zhu (see above, Supplemental Note 35):

People who study the way do not know the truth;
Because from the past they have acknowledged the knowing spirit.
From beginningless kalpas, the root of birth and death,
The deluded call the original person.

“Covered in mud and soaked in water” (dadei taisui 拕泥滞水): A common idiom referring to the Chan master’s “getting his hands dirty,” as we might say, in the teaching of his students. Here, Dōgen seems to be saying, “while there is no need to teach more about this matter.”

“Fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles” (shō heki ga ryaku 牆壁瓦礫): An expression, appearing frequently in Dōgen’s writing, for the inanimate world of objects. Best known from a saying attributed to Nanyang Huizhong 南陽慧忠 (d. 775); see e.g., the Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録 (T.51:438a9):


A monk asked further, “What is the buddha mind?”
The master answered, “Fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles.”

“Is everything clear?” (gen ishitsu mo 還委悉麼): A fixed Chinese phrase, often used by Chan masters.

“Three heads and eight arms” (sanzu happi 三頭八臂): A fixed expression, generally taken as reference to wrathful forms of Buddhist icons; synonymous with the somewhat more common “three heads and six arms” (sanzu roppi 三頭六臂) — as, e.g., in the saying attributed to Fenzhou Shanzhao 汾州善昭禪師 (947-1024) (Jingde chuandeng lu 景徳傳燈録, T.51:305a26-27):

曰如何是主中主。師曰, 三頭六臂驚天地。

[A monk] said, “What is the master within the master?”
The master answered, “His three heads and six arms startle heaven and earth.”

97. “Fourteenth day, tenth month, second year of Ninji (kanoto-ushi)” (ninji ninen kanoto-ushi jūgatsu jūyokka 仁治二年辛丑十月十四日): I.e., November 18, 1241, in the cyclical calendar year of the eighth heavenly stem, second terrestrial branch).

“Kannon Dōri Kōshō Hōrinji, Yōshū” 雍州觀音導利興聖寶林寺: Dōgen’s monastery in the district of Uji 宇治, in the province of Yamashiro 山城 (present-day southern Kyoto).