Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. II-10
Zen Mountain Center
This transcript is a retyping of the existing City Center transcript. It is not verbatim. The City Center transcript was entered onto disk by Jose Escobar, 1997. It was reformatted by Bill Redican (7/17/01).
File name: 68-10-00-I: Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. II-10 (Not Verbatim) Edited by Brian Fikes
As Zen Buddhists, it is necessary for us to understand the Second Patriarch Mahakashapa. He is famous for his zudagyo, or in Sanskrit, dvadasa dhutagunah. We count twelve zudagyo [junizuda = twelve zuda; gyo = practice], which are mostly important ways of organizing one's life as a person and as a member of the sangha.
The first zudagyo is to live in a calm place, such as the forest or woods, aranyaka [”forest dweller”]. In India, everyone, after finishing their household or family life, would join the religious life with other people. So to enter the aranya or forest means to start the religious life, not only for priests, but for everyone. That was the Indian custom. Here, to live in aranya means to live like religious people do.
The second zudagyo is to support one's life by begging, yathasamstrarika [”taking any seat which may be offered”]. This is mostly about food, and there are two more about food.
One is that when you beg, you have to visit houses in order [3rd: paindapatika = “living on alms”]. We should not choose houses. You should not choose someone you know or someone who is wealthy. Whether they are poor or wealthy or you don't know them, you should not change the order. This is the next one.
The fourth one is aikasanika [”using only one seat for meditation and eating”], which means to eat at certain times, not to eat many times. They did not eat supper, just breakfast and lunch.
And you should know how much you should eat, you shouldn't eat too much. That is the fifth one, namatika [”wearing coarse garments”]. This is also important. We should not be greedy.
The next one [6th] is also about food [khalupascadbhaktika = “not eating after the time when one should cease eating”]. We should not eat or drink except at mealtime. To have tea is our rule; that may be alright. This is a very difficult excuse. Anyway, we should not be greedy, especially when we eat.
The seventh one is about the clothes we wear [pamsukulika = “wearing clothes made of rags taken from a dust heap”]. We should wear Buddha's robe, which is made from the material people throw away. I think not only clothes, but also furniture and everything should be like this. In America, if you go to a second hand store, you can buy something which you want quite cheaply. So I thought there's no need for us to buy brand new furniture, paying a lot of money, if you can get it for two or three dollars.
This is, I think, a kind of attitude we take for our living.
And [8th: traicivarika] we should wear only three robes. When we have ordination ceremony, we receive three robes: rakusu, which is made of five pieces, and okesa, which is made of seven pieces, and the third one, which is made of nine pieces. There may be many reasons why they named three kinds. In some scripture it says they wear the simplest kind when it is warm or hot. When it is cold they wear the robe made of nine pieces of material, and in the spring or fall, they wear the robe made of five pieces.
Nowadays we have robes for everyday practice and robes for ceremonies. I think that we should not use as gorgeous robes as we do now, never wore such gorgeous robes. When I gave a funeral service for the first time for a very rich old person, I just wore a black robe with a brown okesa. They were very angry with me. At the time they didn't say anything, but later they said, “Why didn't you wear a more beautiful one like your master had?” They knew what my master wore, so they asked why I didn't wear it that time. But now I think we should not be attached to the material or the outlook of the robes. A gorgeous one is alright, a shabby one is alright. Now that is my attitude, but at that time I was very concerned about what I wore.
Perhaps no one likes to wear robes that are too gorgeous, like an actor or actress on the stage. In Japan we have ______ [sounds like “agratory”] actresses. In the winter, when they don't have much to do, or during their lunch, they would come out to the city with some gorgeous clothes, hitting drums and bells, and entertaining people with music or a play. So I thought, “We shouldn't be like that. We are not ______ [this time sounds like “andratory”] actors.” But, I think, this kind of attitude is very important, and we should not forget this point.
So far, all of the zudagyo have been about food and clothing, except the first one, which is about where we should live. And the next three are also about where we should live. We should live someplace where it is appropriate to practice zazen.
One [9th = smasanika] is to live near a cemetery. How about it? An American cemetery is very beautiful, but a Japanese cemetery is not so beautiful. It is supposed to be a very gloomy, monotonous place. A place where there is a shrine or temple or cemetery is supposed to be a very lonely, monotonous place. They live near a cemetery because they will feel more deeply the evanescence of life, and maybe they can eliminate various desires.
The next one [10th: vrksamulika] is to live under a big tree. Maybe this is because it is cool, especially in India.
But at the same time, we should not be attached to the coolness of the place. So the next one [11th: abhyavakasika = “living in the open air”] is to live where there are no trees, where everyone can see you, like a common place or square, where nothing will protect you. This is a pretty strict practice.
And the last one [12th: naisadika = “using the sitting posture for sleeping”] is not to sleep in bed, to always sleep in a sitting position. Those are the twelve zudagyo.
You will have various questions, and there are many things to think about in this area. If you see those rules just as rules, in a rigid way, that will not give you right understanding. But if you think about the underlying thought, there are many things to think about.
This is, actually, how to protect people, how to maintain our order, and how to maintain our system of society. If our human life is supported with this kind of spirit, a perfect, peaceful world will be acquired by human beings. It may look rigid and strict, but the underlying thought is very warm and full of mercy. Practicing in those ways, they try to make people happy. Just to have a bare and simple life and to have joy in our life will give a limitless source of spirit to the people. Only when we practice our way, when we live in this way and maintain our order and maintain our joy of life will people be able to know it is possible to have complete joy in various kinds of life. Even in adversity, they may feel, it is possible to have complete composure, and they will have a strong spirit or strong faith in our human life.
[Text missing here?-- WKR]
Buddha's nirvana day. At various temples they hang a picture of Buddha lying down on a bed surrounded by many disciples who are very sad. Even various animals and birds came to see how he was. And when they saw that he was critically ill, they all cried. But we cannot find a cat in the picture.
No one explained why there is no cat, but I thought, “Where is the cat?” When I asked them, they said, “I don't know why the cat didn't come.”
When I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I found some words expressing a superficial good manner. At that time I didn't like the monk's way or priest's way. They always went like this [presumably making some gesture], and it seemed to me they didn't mean it, they just did it superficially without any feeling. And that kind of way is called a “catlike manner.” Cats look very lovely, and their manner is very gentle, but it is not so deep. There is no strong feeling in it. If we say, “Go away,” they will go away. [I'm not sure about my interpretation of this. What he actually said was, “There is no strong feeling in it, they're just [laughs] go-- we say go away, they will go away.”] If they think it is all right, they may easily approach you. When we are busy or are observing something else, a cat may come. They are supposed to be very sneaky in some way. In some literature, someone called that “catlike manner”. So I thought that is why the cat did not come to Buddha's last hour.
Why did I start to talk about this? To just do this [making some gesture] is not a true expression of respect. To live a humble, bare, and simple life is already an expression of respect. It is the best way to express respect to ourselves and others. Even though we lead a bare life, inside, spiritually, we are rich. Even living the simplest way, we have the possibility of giving good feeling to others.
So I am not concerned about the beatnik style or hippie like style, but only when they can express respect to others even in those costumes. There is a possibility to express respect to others in the simplest way, even though they may wear rags. But this point is missing in hippie like living. Of course, I think they have that kind of costume to express some resistance to the old catlike manner. I can understand their feeling. But instead of being antagonistic or feeling resistance to the catlike manner, they should express some respect to the truth or to the real religious life. The essential element of religious life is respect. And respect could be expressed in various ways.
Exposing various parts of the body may be an expression of resistance to the catlike manner. But in that manner, something is missing. Buddhists emphasize being ashamed of our bare, natural, primitive, naïve, undefined manner. So to respect Buddha means to be ashamed of not being what we should be when we see how perfect Buddha was or when we see someone who has a very respectable character. Naturally, we become ashamed of our want of practice, want of attainment or acquisition. So to become ashamed of ourselves means to respect Buddha. When we have no idea of religion or Buddha or perfect character, we are not ashamed of anything. So we may enter the Buddha Hall with dirty sandals. When we know who Buddha is, we cannot do that, we will be ashamed of our dirty feet. Naturally, when you want to enter a practice hall or Buddha Hall, you will clean up your clothing and body. That may not be enough, but at least that much we can do. That is an expression of respect.
This kind of attitude maintains our order and supports a warm feeling for our sangha and society. Right now what we have is a catlike culture and antagonism towards the cat. “Cat, go away. I don't like you at all. Go away.” It is so noisy, you know. “Go away, go away, go away,” so society. If you go to San Francisco, young people express their antagonism towards the cats. They hit drums and dance with long hair, and, “Go away! Go away, cats!” That is a kind of good feeling, you know. If there are one or two cats, we will feel sorry for them, but nowadays there are too many cats. Even though you use electric sound, they don't go away. The sound is not strong enough, but they have to make as strong a sound as possible. “Go away! Go away! Go away!” I can understand that, but that is too noisy.
So there must be some way to maintain our order, to have some warm feeling in our society. That is why this practice of the twelve zudagyo, in Japanese, or dvadasa dhutagunah in Sanskrit, could maintain our order. When we really make this kind of effort, we will have complete freedom in our society. We should make our effort towards this point.
So instead of being enslaved by antagonism, we should make our effort in right order, with right spirit. This kind of spirit should be established in some place like Tassajara. Someone must do that, or else we have no place to live. And this is why we practice zazen, and in explanation of those twelve zudagyo or zuda practices.
There are many words for zazen, Zen or sitting: eight characters. Two tenths of the characters are sitting. You may understand how the practice of just sitting is so important. We say zazen practice, simple as it is, its meaning is very deep, and spiritual zazen will support, will maintain our order.
Mahakashapa is famous for his zudagyo, his kind of twelve practices. But he is not famous for his understanding of shunyata or emptiness. Subhuti is the one who is famous for his understanding of emptiness, and Shariputra is the most famous one. Nevertheless, Mahakashapa is supposed to be a successor to Buddha himself. He devoted himself to Buddha's practice, not only zazen practice, but also the zazen practice which includes everyday life, and to spiritually maintaining the order of our life as a sangha and as human beings. And he became a successor to Buddha. This point should be remembered, I think. We say, “Zen and everyday life,” but it does not mean to extend zazen practice to everyday life, but that to have deep understanding of the teaching, of Buddha's spirit, we practice zazen. That is the true way. Actually, there is no Zen or everyday life; Zen or everyday life is the expression of the true spirit of Buddha, the true spirit to help others or to maintain our order or to support this society, this human world. I think this is the reason why Mahakashapa became the successor of Buddha.