Keizan Jokin

‘Therefore, you should avoid engaging in any arts or crafts, medicine or fortune-telling.  Needless to say, you should stay away from music and dancing, arguing and meaningless discussion, fame and personal profit.  While composing poetry can be a way to purify one’s mind, do not be fond of it.  Give up writing and calligraphy.  This is the fine precedent set by practitioners of the Way.  This is essential for harmonizing the mind.

Wear neither luxurious clothing not dirty rags.  Luxurious clothing gives rise to greed and may also arouse fear of theft.  Thus, they are a hindrance for a practitioner of the Way.  Even if someone offers them to you, it is the excellent tradition of the masters to refuse them.  Therefore, if you already own luxurious clothing, do not keep it.  Even if it is stolen, do not chase after or regret its loss.  

Dirty or old clothes should be washed and mended; clean them thoroughly and put them on.  If you do not clean them, they will cause you to become chilled and sick.  This will be a hindrance to your practice.  Although we should not be anxious about bodily life, insufficient clothing, insufficient food, and insufficient sleep are called the three insufficiencies and will cause your practice to suffer.

Do not indulge in fine foods.  It is not only bad for your body and mind, but also shows you are not yet free from greed.  Eat just enough to support your life and do not be fond of its taste.  Moreover, if you sit after eating too much, you will get sick.  Wait for a while before sitting after eating either big or small meals.  Monks must be moderate in eating.’ (Zazen Yojinki)

These old monastic guidelines can seem amusing, but it is always worth examining what lies underneath, in terms of curbing our instincts towards greed, hate and delusion. If you don’t live at the monastery, you don’t need to give these things up, but it is always worth examining your relationships with them.


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