( Dogen’s Instructions for the Cook – XXIX)

Hey, I think we’ve all worked with a guy like this at one time or another …

In fact, this guy is –me– more of the time than I care to admit …

(sorry if today’s posting is late … I was procrastinating … :oops:)


After I returned to Japan I stayedat Kennin-ji for around two years. They had the office of tenzo there but itwas only nominal because no one actually carried out the real activity of thistraining post. They did not understand it as the activity of Awake Awareness sohow could they have been able to use it to express the Way? Truly, it was verysad. The tenzo there had never encountered a living one who could use theoffice of tenzo as the functioning of Awake Awareness and so he carelesslyidled away, breaking the standards of practice.

I watched the tenzo there quite closely. He never actually worked at preparingthe morning and evening meals but just ordered about some rough servants,lacking in intelligence and heart, leaving to them all the tasks whetherimportant or not. He never checked on whether they were working well or not, asif it would be shameful to do so like peeping into the private quarters of aneighbouring woman. He just hung about in his own rooms, reading sutras orchanting when he wasn't lying down or chatting. Months would go by before hewould even come close to a pot, let alone buy utensils or make out a menu. Hedid not understand that these activities are the exertion of Awareness. Thepractice of donning the wrap robe and offering nine bows before sending out thefood was something he would never have even dreamed of; it just wouldn't haveoccurred to him. As he himself did not understand the office of tenzo, when itcame time for him to teach a novice how to carry out the office whatunderstanding could be passed on? It was very regrettable. Although one mighthave the fortune to hold this post, if one is without the mind which uncoversthe Way and fails to meet with one who has the virtue of the Way, it is likereturning empty-handed after climbing a mountain of treasure or entering anocean of jewels.

[You should know that even if henever aroused the thought of enlightenment, if he had seen a single person whoset a worthy example he would have attained that way in his practice. And evenif he never saw a single person who set a worthy example, if his thought ofenlightenment had been profound, he would have hit upon that way in hispractice. But in actuality both were lacking, so there was no way for him tobenefit.]

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

Translated by Yasuda Joshu and Anzan Hoshin [portion from Griffith Foulk]

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

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