Category Archives: Scripture

Effortless Effort: Some Thought’s on Ehei Dogen’s Fukanzazengi

“The Way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entranceway, but you are still are short of the vital path of emancipation.

Consider the Buddha: although he was wise at birth, the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen. As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?

Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now.

For practicing Zen a quiet room is suitable…” – Ehei Dogen’s Fukanzazengi


Om.  During the first year that I became serious about Zen I was deeply inspired by the writings of Ehei Dogen.  Dogen was a Japanese Zen master who lived from 1200 – 1253 A.D.  He was orphaned early on and as a young man became a monk and dedicated his life to the study of Zen.  His path led him to many contemporary Japanese Zen teachers, but they ultimately left him dissatisfied.  So, risking his life on a perilous sea excursion, he journeyed to Song China to study with the era’s greatest Zen teachers.

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