Teachings of Dogen

The Four Integrative Methods of Bodhisattvas (Bodaisatta shishoho)” Excerpt – Dogen

from “The Four Integrative Methods of Bodhisattvas (Bodaisatta shishoho)” by Zen Master Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), trans Thomas Cleary

The four integrative methods of bodhisattvas are giving, kind speech, beneficial action and cooperation.

This giving means not coveting; not coveting is not being greedy…To offer flowers from distant mountains to a Buddha, to give away treasure’s from one’s past life to living beings–in terms of teaching as well as in terms of things, in each are inherent virtues in giving.

…It doesn’t matter how insignificant the thing is–the principle is that the effort must be genuine. When one leaves the Way to the Way, one attains the Way. When attaining the Way, the Way is necessarily being left to the Way. When goods are left to goods, the goods unfailingly become giving. Self gives to self, other gives to other. The causal power of this giving reaches afar, throughout the heavens and the human world, and even reaches the realms of sages and saints.

Therefore one should give even a single phrase or a single verse of the teaching. It becomes a good seed in this life and other lives. One should give even a single coin or a single blade of grass of resources–it causes roots of goodness in this age and other ages to sprout. Teaching too is treasure, material resources too are teaching. It must depend on the will and aspiration…

When one learns giving well, being born and dying are both giving. All productive labor is fundamentally giving. Entrusting flowers to the wind, birds to the season, also must be meritorious acts of giving…

Truly it is because of the virtues of giving are inherent in oneself that one has now attained oneself. The Buddha said, “It may even be used oneself–how much the more can one give it to one’s parents, spouse, and children.” So we know that even using something oneself is a portion of giving; giving to one’s parents, spouse and children must also be giving. If one can give away even a mote of dust as charity, even though it is one’s own doing, one should quietly rejoice in it, because one has correctly passed on one of the virtues of the Buddhas, because one has begun to practice one of the principles of bodhisattvas.

What is difficult to transform is the mind of living beings: this giving is to intend, from having put forth a single chattel and thus begun to transform the mind of living beings, to transform it even as far as attainment of enlightenment. In the beginning, it must be done by giving. For this reason in the beginning of the six transcendent ways is the transcendent way of giving. One should not calculate the greatness or smallness of the mind, nor the greatness or smallness of the thing. Nevertheless, there is a time when the mind transforms things, and there is giving in which things transform the mind.

Posted by Quotable Notables and Notable Quotables- Nov 18 2018

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