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The Way is fundamentally perfect. It penetrates everything. How could it depend upon practice and realization?

The vehicle of the Dharma is free and unobstructed. Why is concentrated effort necessary?

The truth is that the Great Body is well beyond the dust of this world. Who could believe there is a way to dust it?

It is never separate from anyone, always right there where you are. Then,what good is it to go here or there to practice?

But if there is a gap, however narrow, the Way remains as distant as the sky from the earth. If you show the slightest preference or the slightest antipathy, the mind becomes lost in confusion.

Imagine someone who flatters himself on his own understanding and creates illusions about his own awakening. Seeing the wisdom which penetrates all things, join the way, clarify your soul, and climb the heavens.

Do I need to speak of Buddha, who possessed innate knowledge? We still feel the influence of the six years he lived, seated in the lotus, in total immobility.

And the transmission of the seal has preserved the memory of Bodhidharma's nine years of Zazen facing the wall.

Since Buddhas and Patriarchs in ancient times exercised such a great will, how can men and woman today reach the Way with so little effort?

So abandon all practice founded on intellectual comprehension, running after words and holding to the letter, and learn the about-face which reveals your inner light illuminating your own true nature.

Then, by themselves, body and mind drop off, and your original face appears.

If you want to attain awakening, you must practice awakening, without delay.

For Zazen, find a quiet room. Eat and drink moderately. Throw off all obligations and give up all affairs.

Do not think: "This is good, that is bad." Do not take sides for or against. Stop all movement of the conscious mind. Do not judge or worry about thoughts and opinions… and have no desire to become a Buddha.

Zazen has absolutely nothing to do with the frame of sitting posture or the lying posture but with what is experienced throughout.

In the place where you sit, spread out a thick mat and place a thick cushion on top of it. Sit down in the lotus or half-lotus posture.

In the lotus, place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus simply press your left foot against your right thigh.

Make sure that you loosen your clothes and your belt, and arrange them carefully.

Then place your right hand, palm up, on your left leg and your left hand on top of your right hand, palms up, the tips of the thumbs touching.

Sit straight in the correct posture, without leaning to the left or to the right, nor forwards or backwards.

Make sure your ears in line with your shoulders and your nose in line with your navel, that means your chin is lightly tucked in.

Place your tongue against the front of the palate: mouth closed, teeth just touch.

The eyes are always open, and always breathe gently through the nose.

Once you assume the correct posture, breathe once deeply in and out.

Sway your body from the right to the left at first, and then sit without moving, in this most stable posture.

Think from the depths of non-thinking by becoming your breath.

How do you think from the depths of non-thinking?

There is a beyond thinking and non-thinking state ascribed to meditation.

This in itself is the essential art of Zazen.

This Zazen is not a step-by-step meditation, it is nothing other than the dharma of peace and happiness, the practice-realization of perfect awakening.

Zazen is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Snares and nets can never catch it.

Once you have grasped its heart, you are like the dragon when he enters the water and like the tiger when she enters the mountain.

For you must know that at this moment in Zazen, your true destiny manifests itself. So from the start, drop off all physical and mental laziness and distraction… and pay attention.

When you get up again, move without hurrying, calmly and deliberately. Do not get up suddenly or clumsily.

Consider the past and see that transcending at once both illumination and non-illumination, that dying seated or standing, has always depended upon the vigor of Zazen.

And further, the opening to illumination in the situations provided by a finger, a banner, a needle, a mallet; and the accomplishment of realization due to a fly-swatter, a fist, a stick, a cry-all this cannot be fully grasped by dualistic thinking. Nor any better understood through the practice of supernatural powers.

This is beyond that which man sees and hears, isn't it prior to knowledge and to perception?

So it doesn't matter if you are intelligent or not, and do not think whether you are superior or inferior. When you practice wholeheartedly, this in itself is to be in the Way.

Practice-realization cannot be defiled. Making the effort to follow the Way, is itself, its manifestation in daily life.

This world and the others respect the seal of the Buddha. This school is unique in its devotion only to Zazen: sitting immobile in total engagement.

Though it is said that there are as many souls as people, all negotiate the way in the same manner; through the practice of Zazen.

Why give up your seat at home to wander in the dust of other lands? One false step and you stray from the Way traced out directly before you.

You have had the unique opportunity to take human shape. Do not waste it.

You can contribute to the essential work of the Way of the Buddha. Who could take vain pleasure from sparks of flint?

Form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the destined one similar to a flash of lightning. Your body will vanish soon, your life will be lost in an instant.

So I ask you please, honored disciples of Zen, for a long time so used to feeling for the elephant in the dark, do not fear the true dragon! Devote your energy to the way which points directly to the absolute. Respect those who realize their Self and no longer seek outside themselves. Put yourself in harmony with the illumination of the Buddhas, succeed to the legitimate dynasty of the satori of the Patriarchs. Practice like this always, and you can be as they. Your treasure house will open of itself, and you can use it as you please.


Eihei Dogen (1200 – 1253)

Interpretation: Adolfo Aguirre Vergara 1993

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