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Helpful Advice from Dogen
Images & Relics
If you think you can become enlightened just by worshipping images and relics, this is a mistaken view. This is actually possession by the poisonous serpent of temptation.
If you insist upon disciplinary regulations and vegetarianism as fundamental, make them established practices, and think you can attain enlightenment that way, you are wrong.
If you would be free of greed, first you have to leave egotism behind. The best mental exercise for relinquishing egotism is contemplating impermanence.
When you see others' errors and you want to guide them because you think they are wrong and you feel compassion for hem, you should employ tact to avoid angering them, and contrive to appear as if you talking about something else.
Students of recent times cling to their own emotional views and go by their own subjective opinions, thinking Buddhism must be as they think it is, and denying it could be any different. As long as they are wandering in illusion seeking something resembling their own emotional judgments, most of them will make no progress on the way of enlightenment.
Appearance and Reality
Most people of the world want others to know when they have done something good, and want others not to know when they have done something bad.
If you refrain from doing something because people would think ill of it, or if you try to do good so others will look upon you as a true Buddhist, these are still worldly feelings.
If you have compassion and are imbued with the spirit of the Way, it is of no consequence to be criticized, even reviled, by the ignorant. But if you lack the spirit of the Way, you should be ary of being thought of by others as having the Way.
What you think in your ow mind to be good, or what people of the world think is good, is not necessarily good.
If people who keep up appearances and are attached to themselves gather together to study, not one of them will emerge with an awakened mind.
You should not be esteemed by others if you have no real inner virtue. People here in Japan esteem others on the basis of outward appearances, without knowing anything about real inner virtue; so students lacking the spirit of the Way are dragged down into bad habits and become subject to temptation.
If you study a lot because you are worried that others will think badly of you for being ignorant and you'll feel stupid, this is a serious mistake.
People of the world cannot necessarily be considered good - let them think whatever they will.
To "leave the world" means that you do not let the feelings of worldly people hang on your mind.
You should not do what is bad just because no one will see it or know of it.
You should think about the fact hat you will surely die. This truth is indisputable. Even if you don't think about the inevitability of death, you should determine not to pass your time in vain. Our lives are only here for now.
One should not differentiate good and bad on the basis of taste.
One need not necessarily depend on the words of the ancients, but must only think of what is really true.
If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing.
The ancients thought it shameful to seek advancement or to want to be the head of something, or the chief or senior.
No one should torment people or break their hearts.
Just regard people's virtues, don't be obsessed with their faults.
People should cultivate secret virtue.
No matter how bad a state of mind you may get into, if you keep strong and hold out, eventually the floating clouds must vanish and the withering wind must cease.
Do not be so proud as to hope to equal the great sages; do not be so mean as to hope to equal the ignoble.
If one pursued selfish schemes to stay alive, there would be no end to it.
There is fundamentally no good or bad in the human mind; good and bad arise according to circumstances.
Though a nobleman's power is greater than that of an ox, he does not contend with an ox.
To plow deep but plant shallow is a way to natural disaster; if you help yourself but harm others, how could there be no consequences?
Don't cling to your own understanding. Even if you do understand something, you should ask yourself if there might be something you have not fully resolved, or if there may be some higher meaning yet.
Although a suspicious mind is bad, still it is wrong to cling to what you shouldn't believe in, or to fail to ask about a truth you should seek.
Even if you have thoroughly studied the stories of the ancients and you sit constantly like iron or stone, as long as you are attached to yourself you cannot find the Way of enlightenment, ever.
Although the Way is complete in everyone, realization of the Way depends on a combination of conditions.
Tenacious opinionation is not transmitted by your parents; it is just that you have tacitly come to believe in opinions for no reason other than that over time you have picked up what people say.
Whether or not beginners are imbued with the spirit of the Way, they should carefully read and study the sagacious teachings of the scriptures and treatises. Once having understood, you should read the teachings of the sages many times.
Truth is not greater or lesser, but people are shallow or deep.