As I understand it, Dogen says that, at least for those new to seated meditation, there is no enlightenment outside seated meditation.

Well, to me that if true that's awful! No speech, no writing, no solidarity, etc.? I think it's this that is the stumbling block along the buddha way, for me.

Does it even have an answer?

  • to improve your question, i suggest to quote exactly what Dogen said. Thanks. Regards Aug 30 '17 at 3:51
  • Dogen is not alone in his opinion. Samma samadhi is one of the factors of the eightfold path. Unless you meditate, your practice will never be as deep as it could be.
    – user698
    Aug 31 '17 at 17:47
  • @xxxx no i know that. i was referring to a more extreme claim
    – user2512
    Aug 31 '17 at 20:16

One of Dogen's major teachings is 'practice and enlightenment are one' - what is important for Dogen is continuous effort in the dharma, and the basis of that effort is seated meditation. This applies to all practitioners, new and old alike.

Dogen tended to be disparaging of other schools, but if you want a less partisan Soto opinion you could read 'The teachings of Homeless Kodo' which acknowledges the value of other types of practice.

  • 1
    To clarify a bit: I don't think Dogen means there's no enlightenment outside zazen, he means no difference can be found between enlightenment and the expression of enlightenment, and the expression of enlightenment is practice, whether that's formal zazen, samu (work), ceremonies, eating, washing, using the toilet etc. It's not an easy message to swallow, and not for everyone. Also, Dogen's writing is notoriously difficult, many think deliberately difficult. Good luck :)
    – user10515
    Sep 1 '17 at 11:43
  • 1
    samu ceremonies are not different from enlightenment even for those that have not sat zazen??
    – user2512
    Sep 1 '17 at 20:26
  • 1
    If you are mindful, everything is an expression of enlightenment.
    – user10515
    Sep 2 '17 at 3:51

Perhaps you're reading a paraphrase or mistranslation. Wikiquote says ...

Zazen is the ultimate practice. This is indeed the True Self. The Buddhadharma is not to be sought outside of this.

... which is more or less what you're quoting or referring to in the OP.

But read item 2-22 (page 64 of 145) of this translation of Shobogenzo Zuimonki -- it says ...

Apart from sitting, there is nothing to seek as the buddha-dharma.

If you read the whole story I think the emphasis is meant to be on "not seeking", that it's "not to be sought" ... perhaps the lesson is that "seeking" is a symptom of desire, craving, aversion, vanity, etc.

The story at the end ...

Baso said, “How can you make a mirror by polishing a tile?”
Nangaku replied, “How can you become a buddha by practicing zazen?”

... might even imply the opposite about zazen: that the act, or outward form, of sitting is not sufficient.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy