The Seven Spikes [and Seven Metaphors]

Homage to the perfect transcendent awareness
which is vacuous and clear


     Encompassing all, showing many disguises,
     Virgin ecstacy is everywhere, without pointing.
     To drive a great spike into unchangingness,
     Drive seven great spikes into the difficult path between samsara and
     Then the great unchanging happiness will arise in one's mind.

     This spiritual guide to the meaning of life is like the sun's rays:
     It awakens one from unconsciousness, it is the Buddha's secret;
     It opens the door to the treasury of high, clear knowing.
     Fathom the meaning, it is like a wish-fulfilling gem.

[The Spikes]

     Attain the sameness of samsara and nirvana with the spike of unimpeded,
         clear, innocent brilliance.
     Attain the intertice between object and mind with the spike of
         self-illuminated awareness.
     Attain the intertice between intellect and thing with the spike of the
         self-pure quintessence.
     Attain the intertice between nihilism and eternalism with the spike of
         speechless vision.
     Attain the intertice between subject and object with the spike of
         zesty reality.
     Attain the intertice between dullness and ebullience with the spike of
         relaxing the five senses.
     Attain the intertice between appearance and vacuousness with the spike
         of the originally perfect stratum of being.


[The Metaphors]

     The clear transcendent wisdom which is not obscured by its own personality
         focuses on the self-liberation of other personalities, like fire
         meeting dry grass.

     Recollection and contemplation do well understanding that naked appearance
         is liberated, like illumination entering a dark house.

     Truly understanding the ground of being is the spirit of virgin ecstacy
         like the coupling of a man and woman with similar minds.

     Transcend neurotic accounting about what is good and bad with the prime
         light that comes of its own, free from personal bias, like a face
         reflected in a mirror.

     The various concepts, freed from a 'perspective' or 'meditation,' arise as
         a joyful dance, like the sun's (rays) touching (morning) dew.

     The spirit within ordinary experience and living beings is in fact the
         primordial ground of everything, (this recognition is) like meeting
         one's own child.

     Since life, the universal reality, is always effortless and neither
         gravitates nor disperses, environments and their inhabitants are
         liberated in their own domains, like poor people finding a treasure.


When Sri Simha's lifeforce entered complete nirvana, a mass of light rays came
from the sky.  Ye-shes mdo fainted and fell to the ground exclaiming, "Oh,
alas."  From the sky came a great clamor.  Hearing it he regained
consciousness.  From the center of the light came a hand.  To awaken Ye-shes
mdo from his darkness a light blue jewel chest fell upon his palm.  Merely by
its falling, Ye-shes mdo achieved realization.  These events took place in

Sri Simha's last testament, "The Seven Spikes," which is like a guide for the
blind, is finished.

OK (type a command or type  opt  for Options): dogensay

                     [Gakudo yojin-shu]


       You should arouse the thought of enlightenment.

The thought of enlightenment has many names but they all refer to one

and the same mind.

     Ancestor Nagarjuna said, "The mind that fully sees into the

uncertain world of birth and death is called the thought of


     Thus if we maintain this mind, this mind can become the thought

of enlightenment.

     Indeed, when you understand the discontinuity the notion of self

does not come into being, ideas of name and gain to not arise. Fearing

the swift passage of the sunlight, practice the way as though saving

your head from fire. Reflecting on this ephemeral life, make endeavor in

the manner of Buddha raising his foot.

     When you hear a song of praise sung by a kinnara god or a

kalavinka bird, let it be as the evening breeze brushing against your

ears. If you see the beautiful face of Maoqiang or Xishi, let it be like

the morning dewdrops coming into your sight. Freedom from the ties of

sound and form naturally accords with the essence of the way-seeking


     If in the past or present, you hear about students of small

learning or meet people with limited views, often they have fallen into

the pit of fame and profit and have forever missed the buddha way in

their life. What a pity! How regrettable! You should not ignore this.

     Even if you read the sutras of the expedient or complete teaching,

or transmit the scriptures of the exoteric or esoteric schools, without

throwing away name and gain it cannot be called arousing the thought

of enlightenment.

     Some of these people say, "The thought of enlightenment is the

mind of supreme, perfect enlightenment. Do not be concerned with the

cultivation of fame or profit."

     Some of them say, "The thought of enlightenment is the insight

that each thought contains three thousand realms."

     Some of them say, "The thought of enlightenment is the  mind of

entering the buddha realm."

     Such people do not yet know and mistakenly slander the thought

of enlightenment. They are remote from the buddha way.

     Try to reflect on the mind concerned only with your own gain.

Does this one thought blend with the nature and attributes of the three

thousand realms? Does this one thought realize the dharma gate of being

unborn? There is only the deluded thought of greed for name and love

of gain. There is nothing which could be taken as the thought of


     From ancient times sages have attained the way and realized

dharma. Although as an expedient teaching they lived ordinary lives,

still they had no distorted thought of fame or profit. Not even attached

to dharma, how could they have worldly attachment?

     The thought of enlightenment, as was mentioned, is the mind

which sees into impermanence. This is most fundamental, and not at all

the same as the mind pointed to by confused people. The understanding

that each thought is unborn or the insight that each thought contains

three thousand realms is excellent practice after arousing the thought of

enlightenment. This should not be mistaken.

     Just forget yourself for now and practice inwardly--this is one

with the thought of enlightenment. We see that the sixty-two views are

based on self. So when a notion of self arises, sit quietly and

contemplate it. Is there a real basis inside or outside your body now?

Your body with hair and skin is just inherited from your father and

mother. From beginning to end a drop of blood or lymph is empty. So

none of these are the self. What about mind, thought, awareness, and

knowledge? Or the breath going in and out, which ties a lifetime

together: what is it after all? None of these are the self either. How

could you be attached to any of them? Deluded people are attached to

them. Enlightened people are free of them.

     You figure there is self where there is no self. You attache to

birth where there is no birth. You do not practice the buddha way,

which should be practiced. You do not cut off the worldly mind, which

should be cut off. Avoiding the true teaching and pursuing the

groundless teaching, how could you not be mistaken?


          Once you see or hear the true teaching,

            you should practice it without fail.

One phrase offered by a loyal servant can have the power to alter the

course of the nation. One word given by a buddha ancestor cannot fail

to turn people's minds. The unwise ruler does not adopt the servant's

advice. One who does not step forward cannot accept the buddha's

teaching. If you are unbending, you cannot stop floating along in birth

and death. If appropriate advice is not heeded, governing with virtue

cannot be realized.


            In the buddha way, you should always

            enter enlightenment through practice.

A worldly teacher says, "Through study one can gain wealth." Buddha

says, "Within practice there is enlightenment."

     It is unheard-of that without studying someone should earn wealth

or that without practicing someone should attain enlightenment. Though

practice varies--initiated by faith or dharma knowledge, with emphasis

on sudden or gradual enlightenment--you always depend on practice to

go beyond enlightenment. Though study can be superficial or profound,

and students can be sharp or dull, accumulated studying earns wealth.

This does not necessarily depend on the king's excellence or inability,

nor should it depend on one's having good or bad luck. If someone were

to get wealth without studying, how could he transmit the way in which

ancient kings, in times of either order or disorder, ruled the country?

If you were to gain realization without practice, how could you

comprehend the Tathagata's teaching of delusion and enlightenment.

     You should know that arousing practice in the midst of delusion,

you attain realization before you recognize it. At this time you first know

that the raft of discourse is like yesterday's dream, and you finally cut

off your old understanding bound up in the vines and serpents of

words. This is not made to happen by Buddha, but is accomplished by

your all-encompassing effort.

     Moreover, what practice calls forth is enlightenment; your treasure

house does not come from outside. How enlightenment functions is through

practice; how could actions of mind-ground go astray? So if you turn the eye

of enlightenment and reflect back on the realm of practice, nothing in

particular hits the eye, and you just see white clouds for then thousand

miles. If you arouse practice as thought climbing the steps of enlightenment,

not even a speck of dust will support your feet; you will be as far from true

practice as heaven is from earth. Now step back and leap beyond the buddha


This portion was written on the night day, third month, second year of

Tempuku [1234].


            You should not practice Buddha's teaching

                     with the idea of gain.

The practice of Buddha's teaching is always done by receiving the essential

instructions of a master, not by following your own ideas. In fact, Buddha's

teaching cannot be attained by having ideas or not having ideas. Only when

the mind of pure practice coincides with the way will body and mind be calm.

If body and mind are not yet calm, they will not be at ease. When body and

mind are not at ease, thorns grow on the path of realization.

     So that pure practice and the way coincide, how should we proceed?

Proceed with the mind which neither grasps nor rejects, the m ind


with name or gain. Do not practice buddha-dharma with the thought that it is

to benefit others.

     People in the present world, even those practicing the buddha-dharma,

have a mind which is far apart from the way. They practice what others

praise and admire, even though they know it does not accord with the way.

They reject and do not practice what others fail to honor and praise, even

though they know it is the true way. How painful! You should try to quiet

your mind and investigate whether these attitudes are buddha-dharma or not.

You may be completely ashamed. The eye of the sage illuminates this.

     Clearly, buddha-dharma is not practiced for one's own sake, and even

less for the sake of fame and profit. Just for the sake of buddha-dharma you

should practice it.

     All buddhas' compassion and sympathy for sentient beings are neither

for their own sake nor for others. It is just the nature of buddha-dharma.

Isn't it apparent that insects and animals nurture their offspring, exhausting

themselves with painful labors, yet in the end have no reward when their

offspring are grown? In this way the compassion of small creatures for their

offspring naturally resembles the thought of all buddhas for sentient beings.

     The inconceivable dharma of all buddhas is not compassion alone, but

compassion is the basis of the various teachings that appear universally.

Already we are children of the buddhas. Why not follow their lead?

     Students! Do not practice buddha-dharma for your own sake. Do not

practice buddha-dharma for name and gain. Do not practice buddha-dharma to

attain miraculous effects. Practice buddha-dharma solely for the sake of

buddha-dharma. This is the way.


                You should seek a true teacher to

                 practice Zen and study the way.

A teacher of old said, "If the beginning is not right, myriad practices will be


     How true these words are! Practice of the way depends on whether the

guiding master is a true teacher or not.

     The disciple is like wood, and the teacher resembles a craftsman. Even

if the wood is good, without a skilled craftsman its extraordinary beauty is

not revealed. Even if the wood is bent, placed in skilled hands its splendid

merits immediately appear. By this you should know that realization is genuine

or false depending on whether the teacher is true or incompetent.

     But in our country from ancient times, there have not been many true

teachers. How do we know this is so? We can guess by studying their

sayings, just as we can scoop up stream water and find out about its source.

In our country from ancient times, various teachers have written books and

instructed their disciples, offering their teaching to human and heavenly

beings. Their words are immature, their discourse has not yet ripened. They

have not yet reached the peak of study; how could they have come close to

the state of realization? They only transmitted words and phrases or taught

the changing of Buddha's name. They count other people's treasure day and

night, not having half a penny themselves.

     Previous teachers are responsible for this. They taught people to seek

enlightenment outside mind, or to seek rebirth in another land. Confusion

starts from this. Mistaken ideas come from this.

     Though you give good medicine, if you do not teach a method of

controlling its use it will make one sicker than taking poison. In our country

since ancient times it seems as though no one has given good medicine. There

are as yet no masters who can control the poisonous effects of medicine.

Because of this, it is difficult to penetrate birth and death. How can old age

and death be overcome.

     All this is the teacher's fault, not at all the fault of the disciples. The

reason is that those who are teachers let people neglect the root and go out


the limbs. Before they establish true understanding, they are absorbed only in

their own thinking, and they unwittingly cause others to enter a realm of

confusion. What a pity! Those who are teachers do not yet understand this

confusion. How could students realize what is right and wrong?

     How sad! In this small, remote nation buddha-dharma has not yet spread

widely. True masters have not yet appeared here. If you wish to study the

unsurpassed buddha way, you have to travel a great distance to call on the

masters in Song China, and you have to reflect deeply n the vital road

outside thought. Until you have a true teacher, it is better not to study.

     Regardless of his age or experience, a true teacher is simply one who

has apprehended the true teaching and attained the authentic teacher's seal

of realization. He does not put texts first or understanding first, but his

capacity is outside any framework and his spirit freely penetrates the nodes

in bamboo. He is not concerned with self-views and does not stagnate in

emotional feelings. Thus, practice and understanding are in mutual accord.