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Getting the Marrow by Doing Obeisance

By: Dogen Zenji | 10/31/2010
In Topics: Dogen Studies, Women in Buddhism

The title of this essay is taken from a well known story, in which Bodhidharma asks four disciples to state their understanding of Buddhism.

The title of this essay is taken from a well known story, in which Bodhidharma asks four disciples to state their understanding of Buddhism. After each does so, Bodhidharma characterizes their degree of understanding. To the first, Daofu, he says, “You get my skin”; to the second, the nun Zongchi, he says, “You get my flesh”; to the third, Daoyu, he says, “You get my bones.” The fourth disciple, Huike (who will become Bodhidharma’s successor), makes no reply but instead does obeisance before Bodhidharma and is then told, “You have gotten my marrow.”

The text of this essay exists in a shorter and longer version. The former occurs in the 75-chapter Shí┤bí┤genzí┤, often now treated as the “standard” redaction; the latter is preserved only in the so-called “secret Shí┤bí┤genzí┤”, in 28 chapters, housed at Eiheiji. The additional material in the longer version was incorporated into the popular 95-chapter Honzan edition of the Shí┤bí┤genzí┤, published in the early nineteenth century. We have translated the longer version here, with the additional material appearing after the first colophon.

This translation is by Stanley Weinstein (Yale) and was reprinted from the website at the Soto Zen Translation Project .



of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 28

Getting the Marrow by Doing Obeisance


(Raihai tokuzui)



one practices supreme and perfect enlightenment, the most difficult task is to
get a guide and teacher. That teacher is not in the form of a man or woman but
rather will be a person of great resolve, will be just such a person. The
teacher is not a person from the past nor a person from the present. More
likely it will be a fox spirit who will be the good friend. This is the face of
getting the marrow, your guide and benefactor. The teacher will not be in the
dark about cause and effect; the teacher may be you or I or someone else.

you have encountered a guide and teacher, you should cast off the myriad
distractions and, without losing a moment, devote yourself energetically to
pursuing the way. You should practice, be it by using the mind or by using
no-mind, or by using half-mind.

you should learn to practice with the same sense of urgency that would drive
you to put out a fire on top of your head or to stand with one leg raised [in
order to pay homage to a buddha]. If you do this, you will not be assaulted by
Mara's legions who will lead you to commit blasphemy. The ancestor who cut off
his arm to get the marrow does not refer to another; the master who will teach
you the sloughing off of body and mind is already within yourself.1

the marrow and receiving the dharma always depend upon utmost sincerity and the
believing mind. Sincere faith is not something that comes to you from the
outside, nor is it something that moves to the outside from within you. It
simply signifies prizing the dharma while making light of yourself. It is to
flee the world and regard the way as your abode. If you think of yourself as
being even only slightly more precious than the dharma, the dharma will not be
passed on to you, nor will you attain it. There is not just one instance of a
person who had the determination to regard the dharma as something precious.
Although you need not turn to the teachings of others, I shall present just a
few examples here.


prize the dharma is to protect and preserve the great dharma, whether as a
pillar, a lantern, all buddhas, a little fox, a demon, a man or a woman. If you
have gotten my marrow, you will attend the buddhas for countless eons,
employing your body and mind as a seat for them. Getting a body and mind is as
easily accomplished as the spread of rice plants, hemp, bamboo, and reeds
throughout the world. But to encounter the dharma is something rare indeed.

Buddha said,

you meet a teacher who speaks of supreme enlightenment, you must not consider
the teacher's caste; you must not look to see whether the features of the
teacher's face are pleasing; you must not scorn the teacher's shortcomings; you
must not think about the teacher's behavior. It is precisely because you
venerate and prize the teacher's wisdom that you should let him or her eat food
worth hundreds or thousands ounces of gold every day. You should make offerings
by presenting the teacher with heavenly foods; you should make offerings by
scattering heavenly flowers. You should do obeisance and respectfully pay
homage to the teacher three times daily and not let feelings of disdain and
weariness arise. When you behave in this way [toward your teacher], the path to
enlightenment will surely appear. By having practiced in this fashion since I
first set my mind [on realizing buddhahood], I have today attained supreme and
perfect enlightenment.2

you should request [the teachings] from trees and rocks; you should seek [the
teachings] in the fields and villages. You should put your questions to a
pillar and practice intensively with a wall. A long time ago the god Taishaku
took a little fox as a teacher, to whom he did obeisance and put questions
about the dharma. Taishaku consequently received the appellation "great
bodhisattva," which was a spiritual level that he did not attain simply as a
result of his past karma.

those ignoramuses who do not listen to the teachings of the buddhas say: "I am
a senior monk and should not do obeisance before a younger monk who has
acquired the dharma; I am one who has practiced over a long period of time and
should not do obeisance before one who began his studies late in life but has
acquired the dharma; I have been assigned the title ‘master' and should not do
obeisance before one who does not have the title ‘master.' I hold the office of
superintendent of the monastery and should not do obeisance before other monks
who have acquired the dharma; I hold the office of bishop and should not do
obeisance before laymen and laywomen who have acquired the dharma; I have
attained the three wisdom stages or the ten noble stages [on the bodhisattva
path] and should not do obeisance before a nun even though she has acquired the
dharma. I belong to the imperial lineage and should not do obeisance before
those who are ministers of state or members of families that have produced
prime ministers, even though they have attained the dharma." Ignoramuses such
as these neither see nor listen to the buddha dharma because they have left the
land of their father to wander in vain along the roads of another land.


long time ago, under the Tang dynasty, the great master Zhaozhou Zhenji, having
set his mind [upon the dharma], undertook a journey by foot [in search of a
teacher]. He declared on this occasion, "If I meet someone superior, even if
only seven years old, I shall ask [the person about the dharma]. If, I meet
someone inferior, even though a hundred years of age, I shall give instruction
to the person."3

asking a seven-year old about the dharma, even an old man should do obeisance.
This shows a determination rare and great; it is the mindset of an old buddha.
When a nun who has attained the way and attained the dharma has appeared in the
world, if a monk in search of the dharma, engaging in practice and study,
should join her community, do obeisance, and ask her about the dharma, it is a
wonderful achievement, like a thirsty person finding water.


Chan master Zhixian in the country of China was a venerable monk under Linji.
Once, when Linji happened to see the master coming, he grabbed hold of him,
whereupon the master said, "I understand."

released him, saying, "Well, I'll spare you a blow."

this time, Zhixian became Linji's descendant.

subsequently left Linji and went to the nun Moshan, who asked him, "Where did
you just come from?"Zhixian replied, "From the entrance to the road."

said, "Why didn't you come here after blocking it?"

had no words. He immediately did obeisance and saluted her as a disciple
acknowledges a teacher.

in return put a question to Moshan, "What is Moshan?"

responded, "Its peak cannot be seen."

said, "What sort of person dwells in the mountain?"

said, "Not with forms such as a man or a woman."

master said, "Then why don't you change yourself?"

replied, "I'm not a fox spirit; why would I want to change?"

did obeisance.

consequently set his mind [on achieving awakening] and for three full years
served as the supervisor of a [monastery] vegetable patch. Later, when he
assumed the position of a teacher, he said to the assembly, "I got half a ladle
at Papa Linji's place, and I got half a ladle at Mama Moshan's place, which
together made a full ladle. Since that time, after having fully digested this,
I've been satisfied to the full."4 Hearing these words and
reflecting fondly on the footprints of these great teachers, we see that Moshan
was Gaoan Dayu's outstanding disciple, who possessed the power transmitted
through the veins [of a lineage of teachers] to become the "mama" of Zhixian.
Linji, the dharma heir of the Chan master Huangbo Yun, possessed the power
transmitted through strenuous effort to become the "papa" of Zhixian.5 "Papa" means "father," and "mama"
means "mother." That the Chan master Zhixian did obeisance to, and sought the
dharma from, the Moshan nun Liaoran is a splendid realization of his
determination [to become awakened]; it is an act of integrity that should
become familiar to those who began their studies late. This is what should be
called "attacking the barriers and breaking the knots."


nun Miaoxin was a disciple of Yangshan. When Yangshan was looking to choose a
director of the monastery's office for secular affairs, he asked around among
the retired senior and junior officers, "Which person would be suitable to

an exchange of questions and answers, Yangshan at last said, "Although [Miao] Xin, the "kid" from the Huai [river region], is a woman, she has the
determination of a person of great resolve. She is truly the one qualified to
serve as the director of the office for secular affairs."

in the assembly agreed.

in the end, Miaoxin was appointed director of the office for secular affairs,
the dragons and elephants among Yangshan's disciples had no misgivings.
Although this was not an important office, she was careful [in performing her
duties] as befitting one who had been chosen [for this responsibility].

[Miaoxin] had taken up her position and was residing in the office for secular
affairs, seventeen monks from Shu banded together to go in search of a teacher
to ask about the way. Thinking that they would climb Yangshan, at sunset they
took lodgings in the office for secular affairs. During the evening lecture,
while they were resting, someone brought up the story of Caoqi Gaozu's words on
the wind and the flag. But what each of the seventeen monks had to say was wide
of the mark. At that time, Miaoxin, who was on the other side of the wall,
heard the monks and said, "How lamentable, you seventeen blind donkeys! How
many straw sandals have you wasted [in your futile search for the dharma]? The
buddha dharma has not yet appeared even in your dreams!"

that time there was a postulant who, having heard the disapproving remarks
about these monks by Miaoxin, reported them to the seventeen monks. The
seventeen monks did not resent Miaoxin's disapproval. To the contrary, they
were ashamed that their words were inadequate and so, comporting themselves in
the proper fashion, they offered incense, did obeisance, and respectfully
inquired [about the dharma].

then said, "Step forward!"

the seventeen monks were walking toward her, Miaoxin said, "It's not the wind
moving, it's not the flag moving, it's not the mind moving ."

in this fashion, all seventeen monks were awakened. They expressed their
gratitude, establishing the formal relationship of teacher and disciple, and
quickly returned to Western Shu. In the end, they never climbed Yangshan. Truly
this [incident] was not something that could have been accomplished by even one
on the three wisdom stages or the ten noble stages. It was the practice of the
way in of the unbroken transmission from the buddhas and ancestors.6

so, today too, when the position of abbot or head monastic falls vacant, a
monastery may invite a nun who appears to have acquired the dharma to fill the
vacancy. Of what use would it be if a monk of advanced age with many years of
practice were invited if he had not acquired the dharma? Those who are the
leaders of monastic communities should rely on their clear eye.

those [leaders] sunk into the body and mind of a villager are obstinate, and
are frequently the object of derision by even lay people. How much less are
they deserving of mention in the buddha dharma. And there will also certainly
be some who have decided not to pay homage to dharma-transmitting teachers who
are lay women and nuns. Because they know nothing and have not studied, they
are close to animals and distant from the buddhas and the ancestors.7

one makes it one's goal from the depths of one's being to throw body and mind
fervently [into the practice of the buddha dharma], the buddha dharma will
always have compassion for that person. Even ignorant men and gods have a turn
of mind that responds to sincerity. How could the true dharma taught by all the
buddhas lack the compassion that rewards [such sincerity]? Even the earth,
stones, sand, and pebbles have a spiritual essence that responds to sincerity.


the present time, in the Great Land of Song [China], there are nuns practicing
in monasteries. If one of them has the reputation of having acquired the
dharma, the court will grant an edict appointing her abbot of a nunnery. She
will then immediately go up to the dharma hall in the monastery [to give a
lecture]. From the abbot on down, all the monks will attend and, standing
erect, they will listen to her expound the dharma. It is the monks who will put
the questions. This has been the rule since ancient times.

a person who has attained the dharma is none other than a true old buddha, you
must not wonder when you meet that person who he or she was in the past. When
that [old buddha] sees you, he or she will treat you as if [the encounter] is
something entirely new and special. And when you see [the old buddha], you
should respond to him or her immediately on that very day. If a nun has
received and holds the treasury of the eye of the true dharma, the arhats, the
pratyeka-buddhas, and those on the three wisdom stages and ten noble stages [of
the the bodhisattva path] will come, do obeisance, and question her about the
dharma, and the nun will receive such obeisance. What is so exalted about a
man? Space is space; the four elements are the four elements; the five
aggregates are the five aggregates. For a woman it is the same thing. In
acquiring the dharma, all acquire the dharma equally. All should pay homage to
and hold in esteem one who has acquired the dharma. Do not make an issue of
whether it is a man or a woman. This is the most wondrous law of the buddha
dharma.íà@Furthermore, what is called a "layman" in Song Dynasty [China] is a
young gentleman who has not yet left home. Some live in small huts with their
wives; others live alone and remain chaste. Even though we must say that they are
still in the dense forest of defilements, when one of them attains
enlightenment, itinerant monks will gather to do obeisance and seek
instruction, just as they would from a master who has left home. And so it
should be whether it be a woman or an animal.

someone has not yet seen the truth of the buddha dharma even in a dream, though
such a person might be an old monk 100 years of age, he cannot reach the level
of a lay man or lay woman who has acquired the dharma. He ought not to be
reverenced but should be treated only according to the rules of etiquette
governing the relationship between a guest and a host. But when someone
practices the buddha dharma and expounds the buddha dharma, though such a
person be a girl seven years of age, that person is a guide and teacher for the
four groups and a compassionate father for all sentient beings. Such a person
may be compared to the daughter of the Dragon King who attained buddhahood.8 Offerings should be made and
respectful homage paid equal to that accorded to the buddhas and tathagatas.
This is an ancient rule in the buddha dharma. Those who do not understood this,
who have not received the single transmission, are to be pitied.

Treasury of the Eye of the True
Book 28
Written at the Kannon Dori Kosho Horinji,
on the day of the Seimei [festival], in the kanoe-ne year of the En'o [era].
[April 5, 1240 C.E.]


in both olden times and today in Japan and China, there have been women who
held the rank of emperor. These emperors controlled all the land of their
empires, and the people all became their subjects. They were venerated not as
individuals but for their rank. Also with nuns, since olden times they have
been venerated not as individuals: they are venerated solely for their having
acquired the dharma.

when there is a nun who has become an arhat, all the merit that accrues from
the four stages of fruition will come to her, and that merit will continue to
follow her. Who among humans or gods surpasses one at the fourth stage of
fruition? Even the gods inhabiting the three realms do not reach her level. Yet
the gods venerate her as one who has cast aside [worldly concerns]. Even more
so is this the case with those who have received the transmission of the true
dharma of the tathagatas and revealed their noble intention of becoming
bodhisattvas! Who would not venerate them? Not venerating them is a personal
offense. When one does not venerate supreme enlightenment, one is a fool who
slanders the dharma.

in our country there are daughters of emperors or daughters of ministers of
state who have been appointed empresses in all but name, and there are
empresses who have been given the title "cloistered." Some have shaved their
heads, and others have not. However, monk-like clergymen who court fame and
seek advantage hasten to the gates of these women's homes and bang their heads
on the footgear [hoping to gain favor]. [The behavior of these clergymen] is
more vile than that of an inferior [groveling before] his superior. And so much
more so is this case with those who turn themselves into menservants and spend
their years [catering to noblewomen]. How pathetic it is that, having been born
in a small country that is a peripheral land, they do not realize that this is
a corrupt custom that never existed in India or China but is found only in our
country. By shaving the hair on the top and sides of their heads for their own
selfish reasons, they destroy the true dharma of the tathagatas, which must be
called a profoundly serious offense. It is to be deplored that they are bound
as menservants to [their female patrons] entirely because they have forgotten
that the world is a dream-like phantom or flowers in the sky. They behave in
this fashion for the sake of a vain world. Why, then, in order to attain
supreme enlightenment, will they not pay homage to one who has acquired the
dharma and hence is deserving of veneration? This is because their intention to
treat the dharma as important is shallow and their intention to seek the dharma
is not all-embracing. When they covet riches, they do not think that they
should not accept a woman's riches. When they seek the dharma, this attitude
should be even stronger. If it is, the grass, trees, and walls dispense the
true dharma; the myriad things of heaven and earth likewise bestow the dharma.
This is a truth you should certainly understand. When you do not seek the
dharma with such intention, you will not receive any gain from the dharma water
[that washes away defilements] even though you might encounter a true good
friend. You should ponder and work on this carefully.

profoundly ignorant people today, believing that women are lustful objects,
view them thus and do not correct this way of thinking. Followers of the Buddha
should not behave this way. If you despise women, believing them to be lustful
objects, should not all men likewise be despised? [If it is a matter of] becoming a cause for [sexual impurity], men likewise may serve as objects [of
sexual attraction], just as women may be objects. Those who are neither men nor
women likewise may serve as objects; dream-like phantoms and flowers in sky
also may serve as such objects. Sometimes impure acts have been committed
because of an image reflected on the water. Sometimes impure acts have been
committed because of the sun in the heavens. Gods may serve as objects [of sexual
attraction] and demons may serve as such objects. It is impossible to count the
number of causes [that might stimulate sexual lust]. Although there are said to
be 84,000 objects [in the cosmos], are we to abandon all of these? Are we not
to look at any of these?

the Vinaya it is said, "With a man it is two places; with a woman it is three
places. [Violation of these places constitutes] equally an unpardonable offense
requiring expulsion.9

this is the case, if you despise people in the belief that they have become
objects of sexual lust, then men and women will all have to despise one another,
such that there will be no opportunity for anyone to cross [to the other
shore]. The implications of this truth should be examined carefully.

some non-Buddhists do not take wives, but even though they have no wives, they
are still non-Buddhists, harboring false views because they have not entered
the buddha dharma. Even among the disciples of the buddha, there are husbands
and wives within the two groups that comprise the laity. But since they are
disciples of the Buddha, there are no others among humans or the gods in the
heavens who can stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

in the country of Tang [China] there are ignorant monks who make a vow saying:
"For a long time, from life to life and generation to generation, I will not
look at a woman." On which teachings is this based? Is it based on the
teachings of the buddhas? Is it based on the teachings of the non-Buddhists? Is
it based on the teachings of Mara? What offenses are women guilty of? What
virtues are men endowed with? As for evil persons, these are found among men.
As for good persons, these are found among women. The desire to hear the dharma
and the search for emancipation certainly do not depend upon whether you are a
man or a woman. When delusions have not yet been severed, whether it be a man
or a woman, those delusions remain unsevered. When delusions are severed and
one experiences the truth, no distinction exists as to whether it is a man or
woman. Furthermore, if you vow never to look at a woman, must you then abandon
women when you chant, "Beings are boundless, I vow to free them."?10 If you abandon them, you are not
a bodhisattva. Would you call this "the compassion of the buddhas"? Since
[monks who vow not to look at a woman] are profoundly intoxicated by the wine
of the sravaka, these are words of madness induced by drunkenness. Humans and gods
ought not believe [such talk].

if you despise people because they have committed offenses in the past, then
you should also despise bodhisattvas. If you despise people because they will
likely commit offenses in the future, then you should also despise all
bodhisattvas who have set their mind [on realizing Buddhahood]. If you despise
people in this way, you will be forsaking everyone. How then will the buddha
dharma be realized? Such words [as "I vow never to look at a woman"] are the crazy
talk of ignoramuses who do not understand the buddha dharma. How sad! According
to your vow, would Sakyamuni and all the bodhisattvas in the world be guilty of
offense? Or would their mind [set on] enlightenment be shallower than yours?
You should reflect on this quietly. Since this vow did not exist at the time of
the ancestors who received transmission of the dharma and the bodhisattvas who
were contemporaneous with the Buddha, you must think hard about whether it is
something to be learned in the teaching of the Buddha. If you were to act in
accordance with your vow, not only would you not be saving women, but when
women who had acquired the dharma go forth in the world to preach the dharma
for the benefit of humans and gods, would it not be the case that you could not
to come to listen to them? If you do not come and listen to them, then you are
not a bodhisattva; you are a non-Buddhist.

we look at the great country of Song [China] today, [we see that] there are
some monks who appear to have practiced over a long period of time while
floating about in the sea of birth and death, vainly counting the grains of
sand by the sea. [On the other hand] there are those who, though they are
women, have gone to ask friends [about the dharma], and who, after having made
strenuous efforts to pursue the way, are guides and teachers of humans and
gods. There is [for example] the old woman who did not sell the pastry [to the
master Deshan] but [instead] threw it away. How sad it is that although
[Deshan] was a male monk, he had spent his time in vain, counting the grains of
sand by the seashore without getting so much as a glimpse of the buddha dharma
even in his dreams.11

you see an object, you must learn to understand it clearly. If you learn to see
it as something only to fear and flee from, you are following the teaching and
practice of the Hinayana sravaka. If you try to flee the east and hide in the
west, the west too is not without objects. Even though you might think that you
have made good your escape, if you do not understand clearly, there are objects
in distant places and objects in places close at hand. Running away from them
is not the path to liberation. The further away the objects, the greater the
attachment to them will become.

there is something laughable here in Japan: places called "restricted realms"
or "training halls for the practice of Mahayana" that do not allow nuns or lay
women to enter. This evil custom has been handed down over a long time, and no
one has ever questioned it. Scholars of things past have not investigated it,
and men of great accomplishment have given it no thought. It is said to be
something established by transformed deities, or declared to be something
bequeathed to us by our predecessors. That no has gone on to question this
makes you laugh till you bust your gut. What is meant by a "transformed deity"?
Is it a wise man or a sagely man, a god or a demon, someone on the ten noble
stages or someone on the three wisdom stages, someone with virtual
enlightenment or with wondrous enlightenment? Furthermore, if we should not
change our old ways, should we then also not cast off our wandering through
birth and death?

addition, the great teacher Sakyamuni is one who has attained supreme and
perfect enlightenment: all that he should understand he has understood; all
that he should do, he has done: all that from which he should be liberated, he
has been liberated from. Who today comes close to him? Yet, within the assembly
of the Buddha during his lifetime there were, in all, four groups: monks, nuns,
laymen, and laywomen. There was the group of eight; there was the group of
thirty-seven; and there was the group of 84,000.12 Together they formed the realm
of the Buddha that newly constituted the assembly of the Buddha. In what
assembly were there no nuns, no women, no group of eight? We ought not seek to
create a restricted realm superior to and purer than that of the assembly of
the Buddha when the Tathagata was living in this world, for it would a realm of
Mara. The conventions of a buddha assembly do not vary, whether in our realm or
in other quarters, or among the 1,000 buddhas in the three time-periods [of
past, present, and future]. We should realize that, if the rule varies, it is
not a buddha assembly.

is called "the fourth stage of fruition" [i.e., the rank of arhat] is the
ultimate level. In neither Mahayana nor Hinayana is the merit of the ultimate
level distinguished. Yet there are many examples of nuns who realized the
fourth stage. Be it within the three realms or the buddha lands of the ten
directions, is there any realm which they do not reach? Who could obstruct
their acitvity?

wondrous enlightenment is the supreme level. Since women have attained
buddhahood, what dharmas have they not exhaustively mastered?13 Who would think to obstruct them
and prevent them from proceeding? Since they are already endowed with merit
pervading and illuminating the ten directions, what could it mean to speak of
boundaries [to exclude them]?

would you obstruct a goddess and prevent her from proceeding? Would you
obstruct a female deity and prevent her from proceeding? Both the goddesses and
the female deities, having not yet severed their delusions, are still sentient
beings subject to rebirth. When they commit offenses, they commit offenses;
when they are without offenses, they are without offenses. Similarly with human
females and animal females: when they commit offenses, they commit offenses;
when they are without offenses, they are without offenses. Who would block the
path of the gods or the path of the deities? Since they take part in the
assemblies of the buddhas of the three periods, they have practiced and learned
at the dwelling places of buddhas. If these were different from the dwelling
places of the buddhas and the assemblies of the buddhas, who would believe that
they are in accord with the buddha dharma? [Restricted realms that bar women] are the ultimate stupidity that deceives and confuses people in the world.
[People who defend them] are even more stupid than the little fox who tries to
prevent humans from violating his lair.

the categories of the disciples of the Buddha, whether they are bodhisattvas or
whether they are sravaka, are monk, nun, layman, and laywoman, as already
mentioned. These categories are known in the heavens and the human world, and
their names have reverberated through the ages. The second category of
disciples of the Buddha [the nuns] are superior even to Wheel-Turning Sage
Kings and to Shakudaikan'in, and there is no place it cannot reach.14 It goes without saying that it
is superior to the ssovereign and ministers of state of a small country [like
Japan] that is a peripheral land. When we look at the training halls today that
forbid entry to nuns, we see that men who work in the rice paddies, people who
toil in the fields, farmers, and old woodcutters enter freely in disorderly
fashion – not to mention the sovereign, ministers of state, high officials, and
prime ministers. Who of these could not enter the training halls? If the men
who work in the rice paddies, and the others were to debate with the nuns about
learning and practicing the dharma or were to debate about reaching the various
stages [leading to buddhahood], who, in the end, would have the superior
understanding and who the inferior? Whether they were to debate from a secular
standpoint or whether they were to debate from the standpoint of the buddha
dharma, the men who work in the rice paddies and the people who toil in the
fields would never be able to reach a nun's level of attainment. In our extreme
confusion, our small country was the first to bequeath to later generations
this tradition [of excluding women from monasteries]. How sad that the eldest
daughters of the compassionate father of the three realms, the Buddha, having
come to our small country, discovered that there were places that obstructed
them and did not let them enter.

the sort of fellows who live in those places called "restricted realms" have no
fear of the ten evil deeds and in fact violate each of the ten major precepts.15 Did they simply create a realm
within which to commit offenses, and do they disdain those people who do not
commit offenses? Worse still are the heinous offenses, which are regarded as
the most serious. The fellows living in the places within a "restricted realm"
have surely committed these heinous offenses.16 One should destroy Mara realms
such as these; one should learn the teachings of the Buddha and enter the realm
of the Buddha. This is how one repays one's debt of gratitude to the Buddha.
You predecessors who have behaved in this fashion! Have you understood the
meaning of "restricted realm." Whose dharma did you inherit? Whose seal of
recognition did you receive?

within the vast realms created by buddhas, whether buddhas and sentient beings
or the immense earth and space, is free from the bonds of defilement and
illusion and returns to its source in the wondrous dharma of the buddhas.
Therefore, sentient beings who even once set foot in this realm receive the
buddha merit just as they are. They are endowed with a kind of merit that does
not misapprehend and distort; they are endowed with a kind of merit that has
gained for them purity. When we restrict one direction, then the entire dharma-realm
is restricted; when we restrict one level [of the ordination precints], then
the entire dharma realm is restricted. There are realms restricted by water;
there are restricted realms restricted by the mind; there are restricted realms
restricted by space. There is always a lineage or transmission through which
these are known.

is more, when the ritual of fixing the boundaries of "restricted realms" is
performed, after the ambrosia is sprinkled, there is a refuge ceremony and so
on until, following the purification of the realm, there is the chanting of the
verse: "This realm permeates the dharma realm, unconditioned and purified."

[you] predecessors and old men who now always [prattle about] what you call
"restricted realms" understood the meaning of this verse or not? I do not think
you understand that the all-permeating dharma realm is restricted within the
restricted realm. Intoxicated by the wine of the sravaka, you think your little
realm is the vast realm. May you speedily awaken from your longstanding
confusion and intoxication, so that you will not continue to misapprehend and
distort the all-permeating realm that is the vast realm of the buddhas. And may
all sentient beings receive the benefits of the transforming power of the
buddhas, so that they might be delivered to the other shore and embraced by
these buddhas. Let us do obeisance and respectfully reverence their merit. Who
would not say that this is acquiring the marrow of the way?

Treasury of the Eye of the True
Book 28
Getting the Marrow by Doing Obeisance
Written at Koshoji
on the day before the winter solstice in the kanoe-ne year, first year of the
Ninji [era].
[December 1240 C.E.]

tokuzui Notes

1. The reference to "the ancestor who cut off
his arm to get the marrow" is the Second Patriarch, Huike; the "the master
who will teach you the sloughing off of body and mind" is likely a
reference to Dogen's teacher, Rujing.

2. The source is unidentified.

3. Zhenji is better known as Congshen Zhaozhou,
dharma heir of Nanchuan Puyuan. His words appear in the Recorded Sayings
and Life of the Chan Master Zhaozhou Zhenji (Zhaozhou Zhenji chanshi yulu
bing xingzhuang, fasc. 13 in Guzunsu yulu).

4. Zhixian (died 895) was a dharma-successor of
Linji. Moshan, whose ordination name was Liaoran, was a dharma heir of
Gaoan Dayu in the lineage of Nanyue. Moshan is the name of the mountain (in
Jiangxi province) where she lived. The encounter between Moshan and Zhixian
is not mentioned in Chinese sources. Their conversation invokes a famous
exhange in the Vimalakirti Sutra, in which Sariputra seeks to persuade a
goddess to change herself into a male.

5. Huangbo Yun is a reference to the famous
Huangbo Xiyun, who died sometime during the Dazhong era (847-860).

6. Dogen's source for this story remains
unclear. The name Miaoxin does not appear in the Chinese chronicles.
Miaoxin's master, Yangshan, is Yangshan Huiji (803-887), desciple of
Weishan Lingyou (771-853). The conversation about the remarks of Caoqi
Gaozu (i.e., the Sixth Patriarch) on the wind and the flag deals with the
well-known story in which Hui-neng, encountering monks arguing over whether
it was the wind or the flag that was moving, told them that it was neither:
it was only their mind that was moving.

7. The interpretation of this passage has
sparked much controversy in recent years. It is also possible to read the
passage, "And there will also certainly be some lay women and nuns who have
decided not to pay homage to their dharma-transmitting teachers. Because
these [lay women and nuns] know nothing and have not studied, they are
close to animals and distant from the buddhas and the ancestors."

8. A reference to the well-known story in the
Lotus Sutra of an eight year old girl, identified only as the daughter of
the Dragon King, who, after singing the praises of the Buddha, transforms
herself into a man and attains buddhahood. The "four groups" of followers
of the Buddha are the monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. More narrowly, the
four groups may denote those who have "left home," namely, monks, nuns,
male novices, and female novices.

9. Dogen is paraphrasing one of the Vinayas
here, most likely the passage in the Four Part Vinaya (Sifen lu), which
says that a monk is guilty of an unpardonable offense if he inserts, with
"lustful intent", his penis into the anus or mouth of a man or into the
anus, vagina, or mouth of a woman.

10. The first of the four universal vows taken
by bodhisattvas.

11. For this story see the "Shin Fukatoku"
chapter of the Shobogenzo.

12. The "group of eight" kinds of protectors of
the dharma include various types of gods, demons, dragons, snakes, and
fabulous birds. The "group of thirty-six" is less common, and its exact
referent here is unclear. The "group of 84,000" likely refers to all

13. Doubtless a reference to the Dragon King's
daughter's buddhahood mentioned above.

14. Wheel-Turning Sage Kings" indicates the
ideal ruler who unifies and brings order to the world through moral suasion
rather than brute military force. Shakudaikan'in is a reference to the god

15. The ten evil deeds are (1) killing, (2)
stealing, (3) wrongful sexual activity, (4) lying, (5) frivolous talk, (6)
speaking ill of others, (7) speaking with two tongues so as to sow
dissension between people, (8) covetousness, (9) anger, and (10) false
views. The ten major precepts are (1) not to kill, (2) not to steal, (3)
not to engage in sexual activity, (4) not to lie, (5) not to sell
intoxicants, (6) not to speak about the faults of others, (7) not to praise
oneself and defame others, (8) not to be grudging in giving, (9) not to
become angry, and (10) not to slander the three treasures (the buddhas, the
dharma, and the sangha).

16. A standard set of the five heinous deeds
lists them as (1) patricide, (2) matricide, (3) killing an arhat, (4)
causing a schism within the sangha, and (5) shedding the blood of a buddha.
An alternative set lists (1) destroying monasteries, burning scriptures,
and looting monastic property, (2) slandering the teachings of the three
vehicles, (3) beating, tormenting, forcibly laicizing, or killing members
of the sangha, (4) committing the five heinous offenses mentioned in the
first set, (5) rejecting the law of cause and effect.