The Essential Dogen…Trust
“Trust, also translated as faith, is one of the four pillars of Buddhism: teaching, practice, trust, and realization (page 73).” This is the order in which we move as we are invited to take on the mantle of Buddhism in our lives. Dogen said, “The realm of all buddhas is inconceivable. It cannot be reached by intellect—much less can those who have no trust or lack of wisdom know it. Only those who have the great capacity of genuine trust can enter this realm (page 73)”
Trust is a very difficult thing to do. We all have put our faith and trust in someone or something and we were let down, or the bottom fell out of the investment, or the job offer fell through, but that did not stop us from “trusting” something or someone else in the future. For the novice it is important to remember that people have been following the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha for thousands of years and have tested and tried, and failed and succeeded in their lives by following his advice and teachings.
This is the way of true learning. It is like when you first learn anything you try and fail and try again until you master the thing. If you give up to soon you may lose faith in yourself or the teacher. If the teacher is a good one he or she will continue to help you and support you and show you a better way, a simpler way, a more loving way, or a faster way. Then the teacher lets you try it again and watches to see how you do this time. A true teacher will show he or she has “trust” in you and your abilities, talents, and skills. They often see things in you that you do not see in yourself. That is the eye of the true teacher.
Trust in these wonderful principles of Buddhism, practice them daily, and watch what happens. It is not by accident that these principles have lasted for thousands of years it is by practice and trust that those who have come before you have made them work in their lives making them better, sustaining them, and broadening their outlook on life.
[According to Ejo] Dogen said, “When Eisai, the late Bishop, was abbot of the Kennin Monastery, a man came and said, ‘My family is very poor. We haven’t eaten for several days. The three of us—my wife, my son, and I—are starving to death. Please show your compassion and help us.’ At that time there was no clothing, food, or money in the monastery. Eisai could find no way to help. But he remembered the copper sheet intended for the halo of the Medicine Buddha figure. He got this out, broke off a portion of it, crushed it together, and gave it to the poor man, saying, ‘Please exchange this for food and satisfy your hunger.’ The man departed overjoyed.
The students were upset and said, ‘That copper was for the radiance of the Medicine Buddha’s image. Is it not a crime to give such sacred material to a layperson?’
“Eisai said, ‘yes, it is a crime. But think of the Buddha’s intention. He gave up his own flesh and bones and offered them to sentient beings. We would honor the Buddha’s intention even if we were to give the entire body of the Medicine Buddha to those who are starving now. We may fall into hell for this act. Still we should continue to save people from starvation.’
“Students nowadays should reflect on the great heart of our guiding master. Don’t forget this (pages 71-71).”
Eisai had trust in the principles lived and taught by the Buddha regardless of what others thought may be the outcome of the action. He trusted that doing the “right” thing would surpass all rules made by man. The Buddha said we were to live a life filled with actions, thoughts, and deeds that would help alleviate the suffering on this planet. So when your heart knows what to do trust it and follow it to the loving actions, words, and deeds that will help end suffering, if not for all forever, at least for that person in that moment.
Trust yourself, your compassion, and the teachings of the Buddha to know when and how to do the right thing. Follow in the footsteps of Eisai.
Trust in yourself, Shokai
Things to focus on this week:
1. I will begin each day trusting in the principles taught by Shakyamuni Buddha.
2. I will remind myself that trust when shared with another will brighten his or her day and improve our relationship.
3. I will remember to keep my eyes and ears open for any and all opportunities to show trust in the principles of Buddhism.
4. Lastly, I will keep a journal of the opportunities that have been presented to me so I can keep track of my progress and my opportunities for growth.
 Tanahashi, K. Levitt, P. (2013) The Essential Dogen, Writings of the Great Zen Master. Shambhala: Boston, MA