Commentary on Dogen Zenji's
MUJO SEPPO (無情説法),
The Precept of Non-Sentient Being
citation from "The Essence of Dogen" by Masanobu Takahashi
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THE CHAPTER, "Mujo Seppo" deals with the idea in Buddhism that
mujo (non-sentient beings, like mountains, grasses and trees)
are able to preach (seppo). This idea may be construed
logically from the thought mentioned already in the preceding
explanation [in Keisei-Sanshoku] that "84,000 hymns of
praise come from the valleys and mountains." However if mujo
can preach, how can we hear it? Probably we may not. [...]
To this question Dogen answers:
"If you are not willing to hear,
the loudest voices could not reach your ears;
if you are willing to hear,
even the silent voices could reach your ears."
Indeed those who are not willing to listen or have not sufficient
spiritual faculties would be deaf to any honest preaching.
On the other hand, those who are ready to listen and are in the
right state to hear understand even the implications of the precepts.
In some cases they hear unspoken words 'spoken' by the mere
expressions of the speaker. There is, after all, no difference to
the ear between the precepts of the [Buddha Ancestor] as a living,
human being and those of the valleys and mountains as
non-sentient beings, so long as they reach the ear.
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