‘Guard and maintain your towel in this way. Fold it in two and hang it over your left elbow. Dry the face with one half of it and the hands with the other half. Don’t wipe the nose means not to wipe inside the nose or wipe off the snivel. You should not wipe the armpits, back, stomach, navel, thighs, or legs with the hand towel.’(Shobogenzo Semmen)

This might seem a little more practical  and prosaic than yesterday’s words – and indeed it is worth remembering that Dogen was probably having to instruct young monks who might never have learned the kind of etiquette that Dogen himself would have been brought up with – but then there is also the visual poetry of imagining lines of monks following the forms carefully as an expression of practice. Who is to say that one of these is more profound than the other?

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