Nishijima translation of the Shobogenzo: thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo_2_NC.pdf
Shasta abbey translation of the Shobogenzo: shastaabbey.org/pdf/shoboAll.pdf
There were people who were still going to India after the P’u-t’ung era of the Liang dynasty, and for what? This was foolishness in the extreme. Depending on how their bad karma led them, they wandered about in foreign countries. Step by step, they proceeded down false paths that were an insult to the Dharma; step by step, they were running away from their Father’s True Home. And what, pray, was gained by their going off to India? Nothing but suffering the hardships from crossing great mountains and obstructing waters. Without examining the principle that India had already come to the East, they did not clearly see what the eastern advance of the Buddha Dharma was, so that they futilely wandered about, lost in the labyrinths of India. Although they had a reputation for seeking the Buddha Dharma, they lacked an earnest desire for the Way-seeking Mind, so that they did not meet any genuine Masters in India, and vainly encountered only pedantic
teachers of Scriptures and cerebral scholars. Even though genuine Masters were still present in India, these travelers lacked the true spirit that seeks the True Teaching, and, as a result, the True Teaching did not come within their grasp. Some claimed that they had met a genuine Master upon their arrival in India, but we have yet to hear who those Masters were. Had they met genuine Masters, they would naturally have named names, but there have been no such names mentioned because there were no such encounters.
Further, after our Ancestral Master came from the West, there were many monks in China who relied on a mundane understanding of the Scriptures and commentaries, and thus failed to encounter the True Teaching. Even though they may have read the Scriptures and commentaries, they were still in the dark as to Their meaning and purpose. These blind deeds were due not only to the force of their karma from the present but also to the force of bad karma from their past lives. During this lifetime of theirs, they have not heard what the Tathagata’s keys to the Truth are, nor have they encountered the Tathagata’s True Teaching, nor have they been illumined by the Tathagata’s face-to-face Transmission, nor do they employ the Tathagata’s Buddha Mind, nor have they heard of the tradition of the
Buddhas. What a sad life theirs must be! In the Sui, T’ang, and Sung dynasties in China, people like that were plentiful. To put it simply, only people who have planted the seed of wisdom in past lives have become the distant descendants of the Ancestral Master. Some have entered via the gate of training without expectations, and others by letting go of their preoccupation with counting grains of sand. All of them are bright-minded trainees, trainees most capable of understanding, and genuine seeds of a ‘real person’. For ever so long, befuddled and ignorant folks have merely taken up lodging in the thatched hut of the
Scriptures and commentaries. At the same time, the Master did not quit in the face of dangerous frontiers, nor did he avoid them. If we today who still revere the profound principle of our First Ancestor’s coming from the West should, nevertheless, be sparing of these stinking skin bags we call ourselves, what, ultimately, would be the purpose of that?
Zen Master Kyōgen once said in verse:
A hundred plans, a thousand schemes
All made just for this self of ours alone,
As though this body could yet evade
Its future in some dusty grave.
Say not that white-haired corpses mute
Take all their secrets to their tombs.
For they are the ones who fully know
What death’s domain is all about.
Accordingly, even though we make a hundred plans and a thousand schemes to hold onto our self, as he said, yet ultimately we are reduced to dust within some burial mound. How much worse to have countless bodies and minds uselessly endure untold thousands of hardships and myriad miseries whilst galloping off east and west in the service of the ruler or citizenry of some small nation! Following custom, some of our people hold their own existence lightly, being unable to forego committing ritual suicide upon the death of their lord. The journey ahead for those who are driven by such a sense of obligation will be filled with obscuring mists and clouds.
Since ancient times, there have been many who have thrown away life and limb as ordinary citizens in the employ of some minor official. These were human bodies that should have been treasured because they could have been vessels for the Way. Now that you have encountered the True Teaching, you should explore the True Teaching through your training, even though you forsake lives as numerous as the hundreds of thousands of grains of sand in the Ganges. For which is it worthwhile to forsake life and limb: for some small-minded person or for the broad, vast, deep, and far-reaching Buddha Dharma? Neither the nimble nor the maladroit should be concerned with whether they are going forward or backward.