Master Bodhidharma Comes to the East (Bendowa IX)

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In this section of Bendowa, Master Dogen recounts the tale of Zen Buddhism's coming from India to China ...

Much of the story, we now know, is fictional ... centered on historical characters who (if they lived at all) are composites of real persons remade via the creative imaginations of later writers. 

But that does not matter is the least, not one bit. Because, in Master Dogen's view ... merely by sitting a moment of Zazen, all the Lineage is made real, present with us, and all the Buddhas and Ancestors are sitting as we sit ... are no other than the sitting.


Buddha Sakyamuni transmitted the right law to Mahakasyapa on Grdhrakuta Mountain, and a long line of patriarchs handed it down to Bodhidharma. And Bodhidharma went to China and transmitted the right law to Hui-k'o (Eka). This started the transmission of Zen Buddhism to the East. Transmitted thus in its essential purity, it came down by a natural route to the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng. At this time true Buddhism was transmitted to China, and it expressed a meaning free from [conceptual distinctions]. The Sixth Patriarch had two outstanding disciples- Nan-yueh Huai-jang and Ch'ing-yuan Hsing-ssu. Together they transmitted the Buddha seal; they were [guiding teachers for all beings]. These two schools spread, and five styles of Zen appeared. They were the schools of Fa-yen, Wei-yang, Ts'ao-tung (Soto), Yun-men, and Lin-chi (Rinzai). In present-day China only the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school is flourishing. Although the five schools differ, they are all based on the single seal of the Buddha Mind.

  From: Bendowa - A Soto Approach to Zen  - Reiho Masunaga  [with slight changes following Uchiyama]

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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