Date and Place Written: 1239, Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple
Fascicle number and English title in Hubert Nearman translation: 5. On Conduct Appropriate for the Auxiliary Cloud Hall
Fascicle number and English title in Nishijima/Cross translation: 5. Rules for the Hall of Heavy Cloud
Fascicle number and English title in Tanahashi translation: 5. Regulation for the Auxillary Cloud Hall
Fascicle number in 12, 28, 60 and 75 fascicle editions: not included in original Shōbōgenzō
Commentaries: Don’t Be A Jerk chapter 9
Audio reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzjMnTgHFY8


The Hall of Heavy Cloud, or Auxillary Cloud Hall, was the Zazen hall at Dōgen’s Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple.  In this fascicle, which was not part of the original Shōbōgenzō, he sets out the rules and conduct he expects of his monks in this place. 

The fascicle begins by establishing that entry to the hall should be limited to those who have the will to the truth (bodhicitta) and that monks not felt to be sincere in this regard may be asked to leave.  He also advocates for harmonious conduct with members of the sangha supporting each other’s practice. 

Monks should refrain from going out and should let the head monk know where they are going if they do leave the hall.  Reading, even of Buddhist texts, is not appropriate for the Zazen hall.  Neither is kinhin (walking meditation) or using a mala.

There should be no loud chanting in the Zazen hall, or raised voices, loud blowing of the nose or coughing.  There should be no wearing of brocade. 

No one should come into the Zazen hall drunk or bring in alcohol.  Quarrellers should both be sent back to their quarters.

Neither monks nor lay people should be invited to the hall.  Conversations in the vicinity of the hall should be conducted in quiet voices.

Monks should eat and sleep in the Zazen hall.  Anyone dropping food utensils during breakfast or the midday meal will be penalised.  The precepts should be strongly guarded at all times.

Important passages

“People who have will to the truth and who discard fame and gain may enter.  We should not randomly admit those who are insincere.  It someone is admitted by mistake, we should, after consideration, make them leave.  Remember, when the will to the truth has secretly arisen, fame and gain will evaporate at once.”

“The members of the Hall should harmonize like milk and water, and we should whole-heartedly promote each other’s practice of the truth.  Now we are for the present as guests and hosts, but in future we will forever be Buddhist patriarchs.”

“We have already left our families and left our hometowns, we rely on clouds and rely on waters1.  The benevolence of the members of this sangha in promoting each other’s health and in promoting each other’s practice, surpasses even that of a father and mother.  A father and mother are only parents for the short span between life and death, but the members of this Sangha will be friends in the Buddha’s truth forever.”

1. Unsui (clouds and water) is the Japanese work for a monk, coming from the lines of a Chinese poem, “to drift like clouds and flow like water“.

%d bloggers like this: