Zen Master Dogen's SHOBOGENZO (正法眼蔵) & Other Writings
On Arhats / ARAKAN 阿羅漢
(Arhat: ‘One who is venerable’ or ‘worthy of respect’)
Citation from Dogen's Shobogenzo,
trans. by Hubert Nearman, Shasta Abbey

‘Entering nirvana’ is an arhat’s practice of getting inside his, or her, own Fist.* Thus, the Wondrous Heart of Nirvana is a place which an arhat does not turn away from or shun. Arhats who have entered their own Nostrils are those we call true arhats: those who have not entered their own Nostrils are not arhats.**

It was said in olden times in the Lotus Scripture, “We today are also true arhats, and, by our voicing of the Buddha’s Way, we can help all to hear It.” The main point of ‘we can help all to hear It’ is that we can help all things to be voices of Buddha. Why would anyone stop at just listening to Buddhas and Their disciples? When all those who are conscious of It and have knowledge of It, who have Its Skin and Flesh, Bones and Marrow, proceed to help others hear It, that is what I would call ‘helping all’. Our ‘being conscious of It and having knowledge of It’ is synonymous with the grasses and trees of our native land and with the tiles and stones of our walls and fences.*** What we hear is the rising and falling away of all these things, their flourishing and fading out, their births and deaths, their comings and goings. But the basis of helping all to hear the Buddha’s Way by means of our voicing It is not simply exploring through our training that the whole world is an ear.
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Translator's Notes:
[*] That is, operating from the place of enlightenment within.
[**] Someone entering his, or her, Nostrils’ is a common Zen Buddhist metaphor for someone who has awakened to the Truth: such a one has gotten ‘a whiff of It.'
[***] The bits and pieces of our experiences, which we use to fashion our perception of the universe.
(Zen Master) DOGEN ZENJI'S (道元禅師)
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