( Dogen’s Instructions for the Cook – XXXIII)

As we close this year 2009 … all is truly but a constant beginning, ever new …

And as we conclude our reading of the Tenzo Kyokun, there remains ongoing life and practice …

In these final passages, Master Dogen reminds us to be joyful, to take care of our responsibilities like a parent for a child, and to embody “Great Mind and Vast Heart” …

For the first, he writes (as we saw yesterday)

Now we have the good fortune to be born as human beings … Let us be joyous.

For “Mother Mind” he writes …

So-called[motherly heart] is the spirit of fathers and mothers. … Withoutregard for their own poverty or wealth, [parents] earnestly turn their thoughtstoward raising their child. Without regard for whether they themselves are coldor hot, they shade the child or cover the child.

And for “Great Mind, Vast Heart”, he states [in a good reminder for the turning year],

This vast heart … does not follow the sounds of spring or try to nest in a spring garden; it does not darken with the colours of autumn. See the changes of the seasons as all one movement,  [all] in relation to each other within a view which includes both.

He then concludes with three famous Koan stories which exemplify the point.

*   *   *   *  *

And so, from tomorrow, January 1st, we depart Beliefnet and move our home for this daily “Sit-a-long with Jundo” Zazen netcast to SHAMBHALA SUNSPACE, the webpage of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma magazines.

I want to thank so much Beliefnet, their editors and staff, for this past wonderful year and all their assistance and support …

and wish them … and everyone … a most content and peaceful 2010.


  This life we live is a life of rejoicing, this body a body of joy which can be used to present offerings to the Three Jewels. It arises through the merits of eons and using it thus its merit extends endlessly. I hope that you will work and cook in this way, using this body which is the fruition of thousands of lifetimes and births to create limitless benefit for numberless beings. To understand this opportunity is a joyous heart because even if you had been born a ruler of the world the merit of your actions would merely disperse like foam, like sparks.

  A “motherly heart” is a heart which maintains the Three Jewels as a parent cares for a child. A parent raises a child with deep love, regardless of poverty or difficulties. Their hearts cannot be understood by another; only a parent can understand it. A parent protects their child from heat or cold before worrying about whether they themselves are hot or cold. This kind of care can only be understood by those who have given rise to it and realized only by those who practice it. This, brought to its fullest, is how you must care for water and rice, as though they were your own children.

  The Great Master Sakyamuni offered to us the final twenty years of his own lifetime to protect us through these days of decline. What is this other than the exertion of this “parental heart”? The Thus Come One did not do this hoping to get something out of it but sheerly out of munificence.

  “Vast heart” [or “Great Mind”] is like a great expanse of ocean or a towering mountain. It views everything from the most inclusive and broadest perspective. This vast heart does not regard a gram as too light or five kilos as too heavy. It does not follow the sounds of spring or try to nest in a spring garden; it does not darken with the colours of autumn. See the changes of the seasons as all one movement, understand light and heavy in relation to each other within a view which includes both. When you write or study the character “vast,” this is how you should understand its meaning.

  If the tenzo at Jiashan had not thus studied the word “vast,” he could not have woken up Elder Fu by laughing at him [from a story in which a monk’slaughter spurred Elder Fuon to great practice].If Zen Master Guishan had not understand the word “vast,” he would not have blown on dead firewood three times.[from a story in fascicle6 of the Jingde Record: Once when the teacher [Baizhang] was working withGuishan he asked, “Have you any fire, or not?” Guishan said, “Ihave.” The teacher said, “Where is it?” Guishan took a stick ofwood, blew on it two or three times, and passed it to the teacher.] If the monk Dongshan had not understood the word “vast,” he could not have taught the monk through his expression, “Three pounds of flax.”[from case 18 of the koan collectionGateless Barrier (Wumenguan):A monk asked Dongshan, “What is buddhalike?” Dongshan replied, “Three pounds of flax.”]

  All of these and other great masters through the ages have studied the meaning of “vast” or “great” not only though the word for it but through all of the events and activities of their lives. Thus they lived as a great shout of freedom through presenting the Great Matter, penetrating the Great Question, training great disciples and in this way bringing it all forth to us.

  The abbot, senior officers and staff, and all monks should always maintain these three hearts or understandings.


Written in the spring of 1237 for those of coming generations

who will practice the Way by Dogen, abbot of Kosho-(Horin-)ji temple

From: Tenzo Kyokun – Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen –

Translated by Yasuda Joshu and Anzan Hoshin [with additions from T. Griffith Foulk]

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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