31/10 Shoaku-makusa



Not Doing Wrongs

Sho means “many” or “miscellaneous,” aku means “wrong” or “bad,” maku means “not” or “don’t,” and sa means “to do.” So shoaku makusa means “not doing wrong.” These words are quoted from a short poem called “the Seven Buddhas’ Universal Precept:” “Don’t do wrong; do right; then our minds become pure naturally; this is the teaching of the many Buddhas.” This poem tells us how closely the teaching of Buddhism is related to morals. In this chapter Master Dogen teaches us the Buddhist theory of morality. Morality or ethics is, by its nature, a very practical problem. But most people are prone to forget the practical character of morality, and usually only discuss it with words or as an abstract theory. However, talking about morality is not the same as being moral. Morality is just doing right or not doing wrong. Here Master Dogen explains real morality, quoting an interesting story about Master Choka Dorin and a famous Chinese poet called Haku Kyoi.