‘Many people today think that the making of statues and the building of pagodas cause Buddhism to prosper. This, too, is not so. No one gained the Way by erecting lofty buildings that have gleaming jewels and gold adornments. This merely is a good action that gives blessings by bringing lay treasures into the Buddhist world. Although small causes can have large effects, Buddhism does not prosper if monks engage in such activities. If you learn one phrase of the Buddha’s teaching or practice zazen even for a moment in a thatched hut or even under a tree, Buddhism will truly flourish.
I am now trying to build a monastery, and am asking people for contributions. While this requires much effort on my part, I cannot believe that it necessarily stimulates Buddhism. It is just that nowadays there is no one who wants to study Buddhism, and I have much time on my hands. Since there is no place now for them to study, I want to provide a place for students to practice zazen, should any deluded followers appear who might wish to establish a connection with Buddhism. If my plans do not work out, I will have no regrets. If I can put up just one pillar, I won’t care if people see it later and think that I had a plan but was unable to carry it out.’ (Shobogenzo Zuimonki)
In this collection, Dogen is talking directly to his assembly of monks, and the flavour is quite different to his style in the fascicles of the Shobogenzo. This talk offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse, showing Dogen wondering if he can establish a viable community, just as he also talked about in the Bendowa.