A Wordless Smile (and Celestial Beings too)

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Master Dogen upheld Zazen ... not only as one Buddhist Practice among many Buddhist practices ... but as ...

THE Buddhist Practice.

I think Dogen can make a good case for his assertion being right.

Zazen is what was present when the Buddha held up a flower, and his disciple Mahakasyapa offered a subtle, wordless smile in return.
You see, says Dogen, Zazen is rather different from mere practices of "concentration" or "meditation" as those words are usually used, and misunderstood, in Buddhist philosophy  ...

Zazen is so wondrous that, says Dogen, even 'celestial beings' are moved by its power (we will talk a bit about who those 'celestial beings' are said to be).   


Question Five:

Q. [Someone] asks, "Among the three kinds of training [in the precepts, concentration and wisdom] there is training in [concentration], and among the six Paramitas [the Perfections of charity, keeping the precepts, patience, diligence, the practice of meditation and wisdom] there is [included meditation], both of which all bodhisattvas learn from the outset and all bodhisattvas practice, regardless of whether they are clever or stupid. The zazen [that you are discussing] now is surely one of these [and already included]. Why do you say that the Tathagata's [Buddha's] right Dharma is concentrated in this [one practice of zazen]?"


A. I say: The question arises because this right Dharma-eye treasury, the supreme and great method, which is the one great matter of the Tathagata has been called the "Zen Sect." Remember that this title"Zen Sect" was established in China and the east; it is not heard in India. When Great Master Bodhidharma first stayed at Shaolin Temple in the Sung-shan mountains and faced the wall for nine years, monks and laymen were still ignorant of the Buddha's right Dharma, so they called [Master Bodhidharma] a Brahman man who made a religion of zazen. Thereafter, the patriarchs of successive generations all constantly devoted themselves to zazen. [Foolish] secular people who saw this, not knowing the reality, talked at random of a Zazen Sect. Nowadays, dropping the word "Za", they talk of just the Zen Sect. This interpretation is clear from records of the patriarchs. [Zazen] should not be [considered to be the concentration and meditation] in the six paramitas and the three kinds of training.

That this Buddha-Dharma is the legitimate intention of the one-to-one transmission has never been concealed through the ages. In the order on Vulture Peak in ancient times, when the Tathagata gave the Dharma to Venerable Mahakasyapa, transmitting the right Dharma-eye treasury and the fine mind of nirvana, the supreme and great method, only to him, the ceremony was witnessed directly by beings among the celestial throng which are present in the world above, so it must never be doubted. It is a universal rule that those celestial beings will guard and maintain the Buddha-Dharma eternally; their efforts have never faded. Just remember that this [transmission of zazen] is the whole truth [and complete path] of the Buddha's Dharma; nothing can be compared with it.

From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross [with some amendments according to Uchiyama]

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

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