Sunday, July 23, 2017

Buddha on the Mantra 'A'

Everybody say, "Ah!"

The Sutra of the Blessed Perfection of Wisdom, The Mother of All the Tathagatas, in One Letter

Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom!

Thus have I heard at one time. The Blessed One dwelt at Rajagrha, on the Vulture Peak, together with a large congregation of monks, with 1,250 monks, and with many hundreds of thousands of niyutas of kotis of Bodhisattvas. At that time the Lord addressed the Venerable Ananda, and said:

"Ananda, do receive, for the sake of the weal and happiness of all beings, this perfection of wisdom in one letter, A."

Thus spoke the Blessed One. The Venerable Ananda, the large congregation of monks, the assembly of the bodhisattvas, and the whole world with its gods, men, asuras and gandharvas rejoiced at the teaching of the Blessed One.

Notes: 'Blessed One' (Bhagava) is a title of Buddha; 'Perfection of Wisdom' (Prajna-paramita) is a class of highly regarded teachings in Mahayana Buddhism; 'Tathagatas' refers to all buddhas of past, present & futture; The syllable 'A' is a meditation object in the Tantric Buddhist schools of Tibet & Japan, amongst other places.

For more on this subject see Kukai on the Mantra 'A'

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Keido Fukushima: Everything Exists, Nothing Exists

Keido Fukushima: A smile, and yet not a smile

"In the world of philosophy and in the world of common sense, when something exists, it exists, and when something doesn't, it doesn't. That's the common-sense view. What makes the notion of Mu so difficult is that while everything exists, nothing exists, and while nothing exists, everything exists. Because of this profound meaning of Mu, we can't simply translate it as 'nothing.' In addition, translating Mu as 'nothing' creates a very negative impression, but the Mu of Zen includes both the affirmative and the negative. It is essential to understand this if you want to understand Zen.

If you don't comprehend this notion -that while everything exists, nothing exists, and while nothing exists, everything exists - it's very difficult to understand Buddhism, including Zen Buddhism. There are about three thousand sutras, or Buddhist sacred scriptures. The Prajnaparamita, or Perfection of Wisdom, sutras are one set of these sutras, made up of six hundred volumes. The essence of all these volumes is expressed in the Heart Sutra, and the central phrase of the Heart Sutra is while everything exists, nothing exists, while nothing exists, everything exists."

(Zen Master Keido Fukushima, 1933-2011, was head abbot of Tofukuji in Kyoto, one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan. He trained Japanese and foreigners alike, with his wit and insight. A book of his teachings, Zen Bridge: The Zen Teachings of Keido Fukushima is published by Shambhala Publications, and contains many wonderful teachings as the extract above.)