Citation from Dogen Zenji's
On Doing One's Utmost in Practicing the Way of Buddha
Citation from Dogen's Zenji's SHOBOGENZO,
translated by Hubert Nearman, Shasta Abbey
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[You might] ask, “People in India and China have always been basically honest and straightforward. Because both countries have been centers of culture, their people, once instructed in the Buddha Dharma, have succeeded in entering the Way ever so quickly. Our country, from ancient times, has been extremely short on benevolence and wise discernment, so that it has been hard for us to accumulate genuine spiritual seeds. Because we have been a land of savage barbarians, such seeds are, alas, not to be seen. Furthermore, the monks in our country are inferior even to the householders in those great nations. Our people are foolish, narrow-minded, and petty. They cling tightly to transitory successes and delight in surface virtues. Will such a people, even if they do sit in meditation, succeed in quickly realizing the Buddha Dharma?”

I would point out, as you say, people in our country are not yet universally benevolent and wise in their discerning, and are also given to laziness and prejudice. Were they given the Dharma straight on, its Sweet Dew* would turn sour and become a poison to them. A taste for fame and gain comes easily, whilst delusion and grasping are hard to let go of. Even so, it does not necessarily require the worldly wisdom of either the mundane or the saintly for people to recognize and enter the Buddha Dharma so that they may serve as a ferry to carry others beyond the mundane.

While the Buddha was in the world, a certain man came to experience all four fruits leading to arhathood when he was hit in the head with a handball. And a certain woman came to understand what the Great Way is, due to her playfully dressing up in a monk’s kesa in a previous life. These frivolous and dense persons were both like foolish and confused animals. Nevertheless, when their genuine faith and trust rescued them, they were provided with a path which led them out of their delusions. Also, upon seeing an ignorant old monk dumbly sitting, a faithful lay woman who had brought him food opened up and was awakened. Her experience did not depend on ‘enlightened wisdom’ or on Scripture, nor did she rely on words or explanations: she was rescued simply by her genuine faith and trust.
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*Sweet Dew: see Red Pine's translation of the ancient Chinese Tao Te Ching, Chapter 32 — "Sweet dew: the saliva produced during meditation by pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth. An essential element in the creation of a pure body capable of transcending death."

(Zen Master) DOGEN ZENJI'S (道元禅師)
(Gender Inclusive) STUDIES OF THE WAY (學道) | (INDEX)
95-Fascicle SHOBOGENZO (正法眼蔵) & Other Writings
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