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Monday, January 8, 2024

Whip the Cart

Nangaku told Baso, “When a cart does not go, do you whip the horse or the cart? Which do you whip?” [Laughs.] 

Dogen Zenji says usually no person hits the cart when it doesn’t go. Usually people hit an ox instead of a cart. But in our way, there should be a way to whip a cart when it doesn’t go. Usually when you practice zazen, almost all of you just whip the ox [laughs]. You are giving a pretty hard whip on your practice, without knowing to whip the cart. But we should know that there is another way of practice: to whip the cart instead of the ox. To whip an ox—ox symbolizes mind. The cart means body. And it means also formal practice of zazen. And ox means attainment, spiritual attainment. And cart means physical practice.

Photo from DCs 2011 India Trip Notes, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu for links to the source of the photo. Excerpt from Shunryu Suzuki lecture 68-10-12-B as found on, edited by PF. Go to for the Instagram version.