A minimally edited transcript

Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. II-6

October 1968

The other day someone asked me about Vairocana Buddha. Vairocana Buddha is Dharmakaya Buddha and Sambogakaya Buddha. In Shingon School, the main Buddha is Vairocana Buddha. And Vairocana Buddha, when he is Dharmakaya Buddha, he is the Buddha whose body is whole world. Whole universe is his body, and so every being is included in him.

But when he help people, he is Sambogakaya Buddha. And he told Diamond Sutra, and Diamond Sutra is the fundamental sutra of Shingon School. So same Buddha in one way he is Dharmakaya Buddha as the main Buddha. And when he take a form of teacher or savior, he is Sambogakaya Buddha. That is why same Buddha is treated as Dharmakaya Buddha and Sambogakaya Buddha. This is true with understanding of all school about Dharmakaya Buddha and Sambogakaya Buddha.

Diamond Sutra is the sutra which was told by Sambogakaya Buddha to himself, because Dharmakaya Buddha or Sambogakaya Buddha. Vairocana Buddha include everything, so we are a part of Vairocana. And Vairocana Buddha tell teaching [laughs] to himself, but to us means to himself because we are a part of him.

This is the system of Shingon School. This Shingon School is very close to Zen. Shingon School is still based on Diamond Sutra, which was told by Buddha. We have no fundamental sutra, but Shingon has. And Shingon School is authorized by Diamond Sutra. So, as long as they have fundamental sutra, the most important sutra on which the school is based, they have to have someone who told that sutra.

Dharmakaya Buddha do not do anything. He is absolutely independent one, which include everything. When he include everything, he has no one to talk [laughs]. Do you understand? If he include whole universe, he has no one to talk, to tell. And he has nothing to tell, actually. If he want to tell, he should tell to himself. That is Dharmakaya Buddha, but still he talks. When he talks, he should be Sambogakaya Buddha.

But from our viewpoint, from Zen viewpoint, from standpoint of Zen, still something which was told by someone, cannot be always true [laughs]. That is why Zen has no teaching. And there is no need for us to have some special teaching. We are part of the Buddha—that we have Buddha nature. So, we are the one who should tell story—tell a sutra. We are not the one who listen to a teaching. That is our, you know, fundamental attitude. So, but the Shingon is very similar to Zen.

Did you understand?

Nirmanakaya Buddha is the Buddha who came out, or another version of Dharmakaya Buddha. When Sambogakaya Buddha is the Buddha, he is also called rewarded body.

And Shingon School put the emphasis very much, on precepts. The Vairocana Buddha is the Buddha who has the virtue of precepts. From the viewpoint of a result, we say “cause and result.” Because he practice something, that practice result a Buddhahood[?]. So, from the viewpoint of a result, he has the virtue of, practice of, virtue of precepts. When he practice, because of past practice of precepts, he attained Sambogakaya Buddhahood.

So, when we take the viewpoint of result, he is Buddha. And when we take viewpoint of practice, he is Bodhisattva who practice precepts. And Vairocana Buddha has virtue of precepts, and he has, also, virtue of wisdom, wisdom who knows sentient beings. And he also helps sentient being by virtue of wisdom and precepts.

So, Vairocana Buddha has some mudra, express always—take some mudra. And Shingon School has many mudras to save sentient beings. I had a picture of Vairocana here [Sound of pages being turned.] sometime[?] generally[?] here, but [turning pages] umm, I have no time to search[?].

Now I must go back to this sutra.) I talked about five disciples of Buddha already: Agnata—Agnata-Kaundinya—Kaundinya, Hanyaku, Gyoji in Japanese, and venerable Asvagit, ??? in Japanese.1

Assistant [Peter Schneider?]: “Excuse me, Roshi, what page are you on?”

SR: Hmm?

Peter: What page are you reading from?

SR: Two, page 2, the first line.

Agnata -Kaundinya, Agnata -Kaundinya [difficulty pronouncing names] Kondia, Anyat Kyogi.

And we count according to Vinaya sutra the order is written different from this, but anyway, here we have five disciples. Agnata -Kaundinya, the venerable Asvagit, the venerable Vashpa, the venerable Mahanaman.

Another spelling is Maharama, but same person. Venerable Bhadrikal. The Venerable Mahakashyapa—this is not the five disciples. Those are five disciples who practiced with Buddha. But Buddha gave up asceticism, so, but they went to Deer Park and continued asceticism. And Buddha crossed the river, Niranjana, and sit under the Bodhi tree, and attained enlightenment.

And after attaining enlightenment, he sat there for 49 days, and during that time, Kegon's sutra was told. For at that time, we have Pratyeka Buddha. The Pratyeka Buddha is a Buddha originated from this idea of sitting 49 days. Actually, he did not tell anything at that time, before he told Kegon Sutra.

So, Buddha, who do not tell anything—that is the idea or viewpoint of the result, or Buddhahood—resulted from the practice. Viewpoint of result—he is attainment, he is Buddha under the Bodhi tree. The viewpoint of practice to attain enlightenment is Pratyeka Buddha. Pratyeka Buddha and Buddha who do not have any special teaching to tell. [Laughs.] This is very complicated!

The same Buddha, same idea. This is Pratyeka Buddha. After he attained enlightenment, he is called “Buddha under the Bodhi tree.” But before he attained enlightenment, he is Pratyeka Buddha. He has no teaching, or all the phenomenal world is his teacher. So, he has no special teacher, and he has no special teaching.

Whatever it is, that is his teaching. So, from this viewpoint, Buddha is also Pratyeka Buddha. But Buddha has two names: Buddha who attained enlightenment, who is Nirmanakaya Buddha, but before he become Nirmanakaya Buddha, he was Pratyeka Buddha. And he was also Sambogakaya Buddha, because his former life, he studied under many teachers [laughs]. If so, he is hearer. He is the one who listened to many teaching, written teaching or teaching which was told by someone.

So, he is both. From viewpoint of result or attainment, he is Nirmanakaya Buddha. And also, if so, he is also Sambogakaya Buddha and Dharmakaya Buddha. So, Sambogakaya Buddha and Svravakakaya Buddha, or Pratyeka Buddha or Sambogakaya Buddha or Dharmakaya Buddha. Same Buddha, but viewpoint, understanding is different.

Actually, this is so, but according to the school—various schools takes their own viewpoint. Viewpoint of Pratyeka Buddha or viewpoint of sravaka, Sravakayana Buddha, or viewpoint of Nirmanakaya Buddha or viewpoint of Sambogakaya Buddha or viewpoint of Dharmakaya Buddha. So, each school takes their own viewpoint.

But Zen has no viewpoint. [Laughs] We have no viewpoint. When we practice zazen, we are Buddha, which could be Dharmakaya Buddha or Sambogakaya Buddha or Nirmanakaya Buddha, or Pratyeka Buddha, or Arhat. That is our viewpoint. That is Zen school.

Those are the disciples. And ??? and after 49 days of practice, he told Kegon Sutra, but he thought this is too difficult for people. So, he had chosen several teaching to tell the five disciples. That is Four Noble Truths, Eight Holy Path and teaching of Dana Prajnaparamita, and Sila Prajnaparamita. And he told so that the five disciples may understand him. He told why you practice Sila or precepts.

The reason why you should practice Sila is to acquire the better life in the future. Actually, that was the teaching which is supposed to be told by Buddha at that time. But actually, what he meant is precepts observation itself is valuable. But not because by this observation we will have a better future life. By practice of Sila, we will have better life. This idea is the idea of pre-Buddhistic teaching. But he applied pre-Buddhistic way of understanding of Sila, when he told Sila Prajnaparamita [to] those five disciples.

This is a kind of ???. In Japanese we say, ??? , shortened by practice of the Dana Prajnaparamita, and Sila Prajnaparamita we’ll have life of celestial being.

And next name we have here is Mahakashyapa. Mahakashyapa, as you know, is the first Patriarch in Zen lineage. Mahakashyapa. He is supposed to be born at Nalanda2 village near Rajagutiha[?]. And he got married with a daughter of a Brahmin, but both he and his wife wanted to practice Dhyana, or Zen. So twelve years after, when he met with Shakyamuni Buddha, he joined his order. And after 8 days [of] practice, he attained enlightenment, and he attained Arhatship, Arhathood, and he changed his robe to Buddha's robe.

We call Buddha's robe in Japanese, “funzo-e.” Funzo-e means robe made of rags, which people put into garbage [laughs]. He picked up all the rags from garbage can, and wash it and purified it, and sew it together like this. And that is why we have okesa in this way. We sew small pieces together like this and make our okesa. This is how Buddha made his robe, and Mahakashyapa changed his robe to Buddha's robe.

And since then, he was presiding over the Buddha's disciples. And at the first congregation, he supervised that meeting. This is Mahakashyapa, and he is also called the Four Great Sravakas.

The Four Great Sravakas are: we have almost all of them are here, but some of them are not here. The Four Great Sravakas or Arhat—Mahakashyapa—here is blackboard [laughs, writing on blackboard, unclear pronouncing names]. [Sleeve and chalk noise and discussion of spelling]

The Four Great Sravakas. [More noise, writing on blackboard and discussion of spelling.] “L-A” is right [laughter] excuse me [laughter]. Mix up always. [More noise, writing on blackboard and discussion of spelling with at least one other student’s voice contributing.]
Excuse me, Pindola, Binzuru, in Japanese Binzuru. Pindola. Binzuru. [More noise and writing.]

Do you have his name here?

Peter: It must be a different listing.

SR: Hmm? [Laughter]

Peter: I’m looking for these names. ???

SR: Pindola is also Arhat. He’s Binzuru. If you go to Japan in small temple, especially, there is Binzuru. The people love to focus about him—to get some power from him. [Laughter, laughs.] It's to send children to the Buddhist—Binzuru.

Peter: What’s at the ??? the ??? Buddhist Pindola? B A, B L A.

SR: Pindola

Peter: Second word?

SR: Pindola—Bharad, B H A R A D, Bharad. [Laughter] [Bharadvaja.] [Laughter] B H A R A D [laughter, laughs]. Confusing.

Peter: BH or D?

SR: B.

Peter: B?

SR: B. [Laugher.] B.

Peter: The second letter of the alphabet?

SR: Umm hmm. [Laughter.] Yeah. I have—we wrote it here.

Peter: Perfect. [Laughter.]

SR: And those are Four Great Sravakas or Great Arhat community[?]. And Mahakashyapa. And there are many Kashapas here, but the most famous one is the Mahakashyapa.

I know among them there is Juriki Kasho in Japanese. I don't know which [laughs] is Juriki Kasho among those great Kashapas. Ribera[?] Kashapa. Ribera is name of the place. Kasyapa of Nadhi, and Kasyapa of Gaya, the Venerable Shariputra. Shariputra is the most important disciple of Buddha, who passed away  before Buddha. And when he passed away, Buddha was very much disappointed. Mahatma [laughter]. Almost, just two, three months before Buddha passed away.

The other disciple, Maudgalyayana, Mokenden—Mokuren, we say. Those are the good friends even before he joined Buddha's order. And Shariputra. I think I had already explained before—when we studied Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra. Shariputra and Maudgalyayana were the good friend. And Shariputra, before he was born, also, he was a son of great scholar.

In India, you know, there were many great teachers. And if there is some great teacher, they had many visitors, learned visitors, and they discussed about teachings. And if they win in discussion, if someone defeat the great scholar, he will take over his place [laughs]. That kind of thing was going at that time, and Shariputra’s father was a great scholar, he was so great that Bimbasara, the King Bimbasara, gave him some land. But another scholar called Desha visited him, and Desha won the discussion or dispute, so the king took back the land and gave [laughs] the land to Desha [laughs]. It was terrible, you know.

And his daughter got married with Desha, and Shariputra is the daughter [son] of that woman who get married to is Desha, but he named after—people called [him] Shariputra instead of calling Upadesha. Upadesha is his proper name, because Desha's son. But people were very much sympathetic with the woman, called Shari. So, he was called by name of Shari. And he went to some festival in—near Rajagaha[?], and there he met with Maudgalyayana. And both of them was not happy to see the people uselessly praying or singing in the festival. And he felt the evanescence of life, and they felt the evanescence of life, and they joined study of religion, not Buddhism, but they promised that if one of us become a good teacher, the other will be a disciple of that teacher.

And soon, when Buddha visited Rajagṛha[?],and met some Buddha's disciples, Shariputra asked who he is and who is his teacher. And that person said, “my teacher is Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha.” So, he joined Shakyamuni Buddha's order, and they both studied under him and attained Arhatship. And Shariputra especially, sometime give them a lecture instead of Buddha.

And Shariputra was the most important disciple, but as I told you, he passed away. And when he passed away, he said to the people, “Buddha is already eighty years old, so he may soon take nirvana. And as I am pretty old too, so I'm sorry I have to go to my home.” And as soon as he arrived at Nalanda Village, he became sick and passed away, or took nirvana.

And many people missed him, and he had pretty big funeral. So, he had many visitors when he passed away. And his sharira was enshrined very respectfully.

Those stories are on the Buddhacarita, A Life of Shakyamuni and his Disciples. This name of the book is called Buddhacarita. If you have a dictionary, you can consult by name of Buddhacarita. This is very reliable material. One famous one [writing on blackboard] Buddhacarita.

For Assaji in Chinese-- he is described in this way in Chinese. He had dignified, upright classical feature, and acquired various acts[?] as a man, when he was young. When he was 16 years old, he could have dispute with many guests, instead of his father-- for his father.

And he was a good friend of Maudgalyayana; and all of father's disciple respected him. And when he visited-- when he went to the festival, he aroused from—he felt deeply the evanescence of life, and he joined the order of Sanjaya Vairatiputra, and in one week he passed in teacher’s teaching, and he became a head of 250 [person] group. And he later he joined Buddha. And before he joined the order, he saw Buddha's disciple. His name is Assaji—A S S A J I.

Those four stories is on ???—in Sanskrit, it called Theragatha[?].


1 Suzuki tried many pronunciations. In the Kern translation, “eminent disciples, such as the venerable Agñâta-Kaundinya, the venerable Asvagit, the venerable Vâshpa, the venerable Mahânâman, the venerable Bhadrikal, the venerable Mahâ-Kâsyapa” etc.

2 According to Wikipedia, “Mahākāśyapa was born Pippali in a brahmin family in a village called Mahātittha, in the kingdom of Magadha, present-day India.”

Source: digital audio archive from DC. Problem set audio work by Angus Atwell. Transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Verbatim version based on Engage Wisdom audio by Peter Ford, Wendy Pirsig and Shundo David Haye 12/2022. Lightly edited for readability by Wendy Pirsig, August 2023.


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