Dogen: Every Step is Home

Treading along in this dreamlike, illusory realm,
Without looking for the traces I may have left;
A cuckoo’s song beckons me to return home,
Hearing this, I tilt my head to see
Who has told me to turn back;
But do not ask me where I am going,
As I travel in this limitless world,
Where every step I take is my home.

~ Eihei Dogen



Generally, this image (bird call) is used in a positive sense, calling wayward souls back to their true source, but Dōgen reverses the meaning from the standpoint of Zen itinerancy and purposeful wandering. He uses the bird’s call for another purpose—to show that the itinerant monk doesn’t need to be called home, because everywhere is home for him. (commentary by Steve Heine)


Poem and commentary from Zen Poetry of Dogen, by Steven Heine
Image: Bird by ArtsyBee, CC0 Public Domain from


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