Dogen brought Soto Zen from China to Japan

Dogen was the great patriarch he brought the Soto line of Zen from China to Japan in the 13th century. He established it on a very firm ethical basis in Japan, and his great work Shobo-genzo (Treasury of the true law) carries enormous prestige even outside the Soto sect. Buddhist teachers of other sects quoted either directly or by allusion. On such echo is the following. There are two ways: either you invite the Buddha into your house, or you leave your house and throw yourself down on the doorstep of the Buddha’s house.

To invite the Buddha to your house, you have to make it spotlessly clean. With reverent devotion you dust and polish your furniture, and every nook and corner. Poor as you now it to be you make it as best you can fit to receive the World Honoured One.

In the second case you get up and leave everything behind. Not merely your house and your possessions but your name and your very individuality itself are abandoned without a backward look you throw yourself down at the portal of the Buddha’s house. The teacher who was thus echoing Dogen’s thought remarked that the people who invite the Buddha to their own house are often models of virtue and saintliness, respected and revered in the society where they live. But the people of the second way are often unknown: dissolved like an appetising sauce in the pan; it promotes digestion but its outer form is lost.

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