Dogen

‘Each person naturally receives his allotted share in his life. He need not think of it, he need not search for it; the allotted portion is there. Even if you rush about in search of riches, what happens when death suddenly comes? Students should clear their minds of these non-essential things and concentrate on studying the Way.’ (Shobogenzo Zuimonki)

I may have posted this quote before; certainly I often think about what he says here, and several other times in the talks collected in the Zuimonki. Generally, it is worth bearing in mind that he is addressing his young – and perhaps inexperienced – monks, who might still be coveting more than a bare minimum of food and clothing (the items Dogen is referring to).

A recent article in the New Yorker (the kind of  joined-up thinking that encourages me to maintain my subscription) brought these phrases to mind again. Particularly, in discussing the life of our hunter-gatherer forebears, this paragraph stood out:

‘It turns out that hunting and gathering is a good way to live. A study from 1966 found that it took a Ju/’hoansi only about seventeen hours a week, on average, to find an adequate supply of food; another nineteen hours were spent on domestic activities and chores. The average caloric intake of the hunter-gatherers was twenty-three hundred a day, close to the recommended amount. At the time these figures were first established, a comparable week in the United States involved forty hours of work and thirty-six of domestic labor. Ju/’hoansi do not accumulate surpluses; they get all the food they need, and then stop. They exhibit what Suzman calls “an unyielding confidence” that their environment will provide for their needs.’

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