Monday, April 08, 2013

Zen Master Dogen also said,
You should maintain the precepts and eating regulations (one meal a day before noon, etc.). Still, it is wrong to insist upon them as essential, establish them as a practice, and expect to be able to gain the Way by observing them. We follow them just because they are the activities of Zen monks and the lifestyle of the Buddha’s children. Although keeping them is good, we should not take them as the primary practice. I don’t mean to say, however, that you should break the precepts and become self-indulgent. Clinging to such an attitude is an evil view and not that of a Buddhist practitioner. We follow the precepts or regulations simply because they form the standard for a Buddhist and are the tradition of Zen monasteries. While I was staying at Chinese monasteries, I met no one who took them as the primary concern. 
For true attainment of the Way, devoting all effort to zazen alone has been transmitted among the buddhas and patriarchs. For this reason, I taught a fellow student of mine, Gogenbo, a disciple of Zen Master Eisai, to abandon his strict adherence of keeping the precepts and reciting the Precept Sutra day and night.
Ejo asked, 
“When we practice and learn the Way in a Zen monastery we should keep the pure regulations made by Zen Master Hyakujo, shouldn’t we? In the beginning of the Regulations (Hyakujo-Shingi), it says that receiving and maintaining the precepts is prerequisite. In this tradition, the Fundamental Precept has also been handed down. In the oral and face-to-face transmission of this lineage, the students are given the precepts transmitted from India. These are the Bodhisattva Precepts. Also, it says in the Precept Sutra, that people must recite the Sutra day and night. Why do you have us discontinue this practice?”
Dogen replied, 
“You are right. Practitioners of the Way certainly ought to maintain Hyakujo’s regulations. The form of maintaining the regulations is receiving and observing the precepts and practicing zazen, etc. The meaning of reciting the Precept Sutra day and night and observing the precepts single-mindedly is nothing other than practicing shikantaza, following the activities of the ancient masters. When we sit zazen, what precept is not observed, what merit is not actualized? The ways of practice carried on by the ancient masters have a profound meaning. Without holding on to personal preferences, we should go along with the assembly and practice in accordance with those ways.

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