From ‘Bendōwa’ (辨道話), in the Shōbōgenzō (正法眼蔵), by Eihei Dōgen (永平道元)


“ Do you know the virtues gained from such practices as reading scriptures and invoking Buddha names?” It is vain to think that simply moving your tongue and raising your voice is meritorious as Buddhist service; to pretend it is the way to enlightenment is even further off.

As far as reading scriptures is concerned, the point is that the Buddha taught models of immediate and gradual practice, and if one understands them and practices according to the teaching, this will surely enable one to attain realisation. It is not a matter of vainly expending thought and assuming that is merit for attaining enlightenment.

Trying to reach the dharma by ignorantly making millions of verbal repetitions is like heading north to go south. It is also like someone trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Someone who reads passages in religious works while remaining in the dark about the path of spiritual training is someone who would pay a visit to a doctor and leave the prescription behind. What is to be gained from that? Keeping sound flowing incessantly from the mouth is like the springtime day-and-night croaking of a frog in a rice paddy: ultimately, this too produces no benefit.”

From ‘Bendōwa’ (辨道話), in the Shōbōgenzō (正法眼蔵), by Eihei Dōgen (永平道元)

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