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Dogen watching the moon. Detail

Dogen Quotations

The transmission of the Way is not to be found in following after others. If you want to know the truth of the universe, see that the reality of ignorance is no other than buddha nature, and the illusory form is itself the pure Dharmakaya. - Dogen, in Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Daido Loori, 2011, No. 25.

Following the teachings of Dogen more than suggests "following after others" - which is not finding the Way, Dogen says - or the white buffalo either. Hm. Or maybe "Be warned - look."

A white buffalo on open ground is truly hard to come by.
If you can immediately understand, you see it doesn't come from outside.
If you cannot immediately understand, you certainly will never recognize it.

Dogen, Ib. No. 70.

If you get skilled in diving and see "the white buffalo" within - good [More]. If not, words by Dogen or others of Soto Zen, may not be all you want to come clean. Anyway, Dogen teaches: "Let daily cultivation of meditation, the precepts, and wise discernment develop."

Eihei Dogen (1200–53) is also called Kigen Dogen, Joyo Dogen, Dogen Roshi and just Dogen. He taught a mindful Zen as he learnt it in China, and became a very influential Zen teacher in his homeland, Japan. His variant of Zen is called Soto Zen in Japan and Ts'ao-Tung Ch'an in China. He writes,

"I decided to compile a record of the customs and standards that I experienced first-hand in the Zen monasteries of the great Kingdom of Sung, together with a record of profound instruction from a counselor which I have received and maintained. I will leave this record to people who learn in practice and are easy in the truth, so that they can know the right Dharma of the Buddha's lineage." - Dogen, in the Shobogenzo's chap. "Bendowa".)

Dogen advocates more than mere Zen sitting, zazen, and talks for aligning well to it and higher states too.


If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it? - Dogen

Do not fragment your attention but see what each moment calls for. - Dogen

Old buddhas and new buddhas reveal their bodies and expound dharma. - Dogen 2004:57.

Use your own hands, your own eyes, your own sincerity. - Dogen

Take continuous care. - Dogen

Examine the rice and sand so that rice is not thrown out with sand. - Dogen

Clarify and harmonize your life without losing the Single Eye which sees the context or the two eyes which recognize the details. - Dogen

Work . . . without wasting a moment. If you do this and everything that you do whole-heartedly, this nourishes the seeds of Awakening. - Dogen

The Zazen School . . . nowadays it is called the Zen School. . . . The practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma". - Dogen, Beyond Thinking, 2004, 20-21.

To sit in the meditation posture is to transcend the deepest and most intimate teaching of the buddha ancestors . . . Sit in the mind's meditation posture. - Dogen, 2004:50. Sitting is the gateway . . . to total liberation. - Dogen

You should find a fit place to do a Zen sitting, and a suitable, comfortable sitting pose so as to have the very best results possible. . . . As soon as you get distracted, you at once just accept that it happened, and . . . make sure that you are comfortable, that is, adequately fed, clothed, and rested, to be better able to harmonise body and mind.

It is not bad and may be recommendable to do mindfulness training lying down, for example when weak and elderly.

When you get good at these things, a still, small voice of your true nature can be listened to in a state of harmony, coming to the fore through meditative harmonisation of body and mind. That is part of the Zen-sitting teaching too. (See Master Jiyu-Kennett Commentary on Dogen's "Rules for Meditation." On-line)

Studying Zen is zazen [Zen sitting]. For zazen, one should have a quiet place. - Dogen

Zazen is not thinking of good . . . Do not desire to become a Buddha . . . Be moderate in eating and drinking. Be mindful of the passing of time, and engage yourself in zazen - Dogen

Enlightenment is intimacy with all things. - Dogen

The true person is . . . like the deep blue colour of the limitless sky - everyone, everywhere in the world. - Dogen

When the aspiration to seek the Way has become sincere, either during the period of sole concentration on sitting, or when dealing with illustrative example of the people of olden times, or when meeting the teacher, [then act accordingly]. - Dogen

Dogen story

"When I was staying at Tiantong-jingde-si, I came upon a monk named Lu from Qingyuan in front of the Buddha Hall. He was drying mushrooms in the sun. He had a bamboo stick in his hand and no hat covering his head. The heat of the sun was blazing. It looked very painful; his back was bent like a bow and his eyebrows were as white as the feathers of a crane.

I went up to him and asked, "How long have you been a monk?"

"Sixty-eight years," he said.

"Why don't you have an assistant do this for you?"

"Other people are not me."

I was moved . . . I asked, "What is practice?" and was told, "Nothing in the entire universe is hidden." - Dogen, abr.


Those who have wisdom, if they hear [the Dharma], are able to believe and understand at once. - Dogen, Shobogenzo, "Inmo".

Listen to the voice within yourself. - Dogen

Do not miss the opportunity of offering even a single drop into the ocean of merit or a grain atop the mountain of the roots of beneficial activity. - Dogen

In preparing food never view it from the perspective of usual mind. - Dogen

If you only have wild grasses with which to make a broth, do not disdain them. - Dogen

In preparing food, it is essential to be sincere and to respect each ingredient irregardless of how coarse or fine it is . . . Even the grandest offering to the Buddha, if insincere, is worth less than the smallest sincere offering in bringing about a connection with awakening. - Dogen

If you think you can become enlightened just by worshipping images and relics, this is a mistaken view. - Dogen

A zen master's life is one continuous mistake. - Dogen

"The mouth of a monk is like a furnace. (Old saying)" - Dogen

Do not discriminate . . . whether the monks are senior or junior. . . . Although there are differences between seniors and juniors, all are equally members of the assembly. - Dogen

It is wrong to cling to what you should not believe in, or to fail to ask about a truth you should seek. - Dogen

Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma see no Dharma in everyday actions; they have not yet discovered that there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma. - Dogen

Studying the Buddha way is studying oneself. - Dogen

Worldly duties do not, in and of themselves, impede the Buddha Dharma. - Dogen

To hear "Refrain from all evil whatever" is to hear what the genuine Dharma of Buddha is. - Dogen

Pursue genuine training. - Dogen

Diligently apply yourself, and whatever arises as 'just for a while'. - Dogen

From this life through all future lives, pray to be able to hear the True Teachings and not to fail to trust in Them, to embrace the Buddha's Teachings. - Dogen

You should not lend support to the misconduct of others. - Dogen

In Buddhism, we have always spoken not only of body and mind as being inseparable, but also of the nature of something and the form it takes as not being two different things. - Dogen

Adhere to the Precepts as set down by the Buddhas and Ancestors. - Dogen

Innate enlightenment . . . is inseparable from [correct, attuned] practice. - Dogen

Never think that those who possess the five or six spiritual abilities . . . are in any way superior to an ordinary, everyday person. - Dogen

That place where 'sentient beings take their delight and play' has continually existed as the Buddha's Pure Land, which can never be destroyed. We must meticulously make this our fundamental practice. - Dogen

Having once realized the Place, you must not analyze It in order to understand It through discriminatory thought and, thereby, reduce It to fit your own opinions. - Dogen

Do your training and practice, even though you may still be attached to discriminatory thinking, and do your training and practice, even if you have gone beyond discriminatory thinking, and even though you may be half-hearted in the attempt. - Dogen

The recognition of the coming and going of things is a first step in training and practice. - Dogen

You should regret that time, in unseen ways, is depriving you of your life of training in the Way. - Dogen


The black dragon's jewel you have been searching for, is everywhere. - Dogen, using quite settled, figurative language that is mostly unknown to outsiders.

Handle even a single leaf of green in such a way that it manifests the body of the Buddha. This in turn allows the Buddha to manifest through the leaf. - Dogen

If learners practice sincerely they attain enlightenment. Working with trees and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment. This is because trees and walls are fellow students; they are of the same essence. - Dogen abr.

The fifth patriarch of Zen was once a pine-planting wayfarer; Rinzai worked on planting cedars and pines on Mount Obaku. . . . Working with plants, trees, fences and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment. - Dogen, in Awakening the Unsurpassed Mind, No. 31

I come to realize that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, . . . - Dogen

The sound of running water is Buddha's great speech. - Dogen

A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it - Dogen

Swim as they may, fish find no end to the sea; fly as they may, birds find no end to the sky. - Dogen

The Way of the Buddha

The holy ones do not stop at dhyana [meditation], and yet they do not oppose dhyana - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

Our ancient forebear [Huihong] says here, "Dhyana is but one among various practices; how could it suffice to exhaust [the practice of] the holy ones?" - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

To listen to the praise of the worldly is to take the unwise as the wise, to take the unintelligent as the intelligent, to take the disloyal as the loyal, to take the unfaithful as the faithful. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

If the lord takes as wise and intelligent those praised by the worldly and takes as unworthy those reviled by the worldly, then the majority party will advance and the minority party will retreat. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

When the wicked group together, they obscure the wise. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

Wicked ministers seek court ranks with flattery. Thus, the disorder of the world increases and the country cannot avoid peril. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

When one listens to what the worldly praise, one fails to get the truly wise. If one would get the truly wise, one should have the wisdom to illumine behind and see ahead. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

What the worldly praise is not always wise, is not always holy; what the worldly disparage is not always wise, is not always holy. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

Not to use the wise is a loss to the country; to use the unworthy is a regret for the country. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

The beasts and minions of Mara are many. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

If the designation school is the dharma of the Buddhas and ancestors, it should be in the kingdom of the Buddha; if it is in the kingdom of the Buddha, the Buddha should preach it. The Buddha does not preach it; . . . I beg of you, do not call [yourself] a school. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

A late production, if its words were right, we should attend to it. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.

The dharma as bequeathed by the Buddha; there is no further additional dharma. This principle is the bones of the dharma, the marrow of the way. - Dogen, in Way of the Buddha.


Zen Dogen Zenji quotations, Dogen quotes in Soto Zen Buddhism, Literature  

Abe, Masao. A Study of Dogen: His Philosophy and Religion. Ed. Steven Heine. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Bielefeldt, Carl. Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988.

Cleary, Thomas, tr. Eihei Koroku I-V: Speeches of Zen Master Dogen. Amazon Kindle ed. 2013.

Cleary, Thomas, tr. Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

Dogen, Eihei. Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation. Ed. Kazuaki Tanahashi. Boston: Shambala, 2004.

Jiyu-Kenneth. Nd. Commentary on Dogen's "Rules for Meditation". Mount Shasta CA: Shasta Abbey. booklet files/cm_rules.pdf

Leighton, Taigen Daniel, Shohaku Okumura, trs. Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community: A Translation of the Eihei Shingi. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996.

Masunaga, Reiho tr: A Primer of Soto Zen. A Translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1975.

Nearman, Hubert, tr. Shobogenzo: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching. Mount Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey Press, 2007. On-line.

Tanahashi, Kazuaki, ed. Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation. London: Shambhala, 2004.

Tanahashi, Kazuaki, and John Daido Loori, trs. The True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans with Commentary and Verse by John Daido Loori. Boston: Shambhala, 2011.

Waddell, Norman, and Masao Abe, trs. The Heart of Dogen's Shobogenzo. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002.

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