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Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

Where Does The Root Of The Illusion Lie?
Now let us examine where illusion lies hidden from the view o...

Nature Is The Mother Of All Things
Furthermore, man has come into existence out of Nature. He i...

Our Conception Of Buddha Is Not Final
Has, then, the divine nature of Universal Spirit been complet...

Wang Yang Ming (o-yo-mei) And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

The Spiritual Attainment Of The Sixth Patriarch
Some time before his death (in 675 A.D.) the Fifth Patriarch ...

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
[FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to ha...

The Mystery Of Life
Thus far we have pointed out the inevitable conflictions in l...

How To Worship Buddha
The author of Vimalakirtti-nirdeca-sutra well explains our at...

Missionary Activity Of The Sixth Patriarch
As we have seen above, the Sixth Patriarch was a great genius...

Enlightenment Is Beyond Description And Analysis
In the foregoing chapters we have had several occasions to re...

Nature Favours Nothing In Particular
There is another point of view of life, which gave the presen...

Thing-in-itself Means Thing-knowerless
How, then, did philosophers come to consider reality to be un...

The Characteristics Of Do-gen The Founder Of The Japanese So To Sect
In the meantime seekers after a new truth gradually began to ...

Zazen Or The Sitting In Meditation
Habit comes out of practice, and forms character by degrees, ...

True Dhyana
To sit in Meditation is not the only method of practising Zaz...

The Sermon Of The Inanimate
The Scripture of Zen is written with facts simple and familia...

The Ancient Buddhist Pantheon
The ancient Buddhist pantheon was full of deities or Buddhas,...

Real Self
If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where ...

The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...




Buddha The Universal Life








Zen conceives Buddha as a Being, who moves, stirs, inspires,
enlivens, and vitalizes everything. Accordingly, we may call Him the
Universal Life in the sense that He is the source of all lives in the
universe. This Universal Life, according to Zen, pillars the heaven,
supports the earth, glorifies the sun and moon, gives voice to
thunder, tinges clouds, adorns the pasture with flowers, enriches the
field with harvest, gives animals beauty and strength. Therefore,
Zen declares even a dead clod of earth to be imbued with the divine
life, just as Lowell expresses a similar idea when he says:

Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers.

One of our contemporary Zenists wittily observed that 'vegetables are
the children of earth, that animals which feed on vegetables are the
grand-children of earth, and that men who subsist on animals are the
great-grand-children of earth.' If there be no life in earth, how
could life come out of it? If there be no life, the same as the
animal's life in the vegetables, how could animals sustain their
lives feeding on vegetables? If there be no life similar to ours in
animals, how could we sustain our life by subsisting on them? The
poet must be in the right, not only in his esthetic, but in his
scientific point of view, in saying-

I must
Confess that I am only dust.
But once a rose within me grew;
Its rootlets shot, its flowerets flew;
And all rose's sweetness rolled
Throughout the texture of my mould;
And so it is that I impart
Perfume to them, whoever thou art.

As we men live and act, so do our arteries; so does blood; so do
corpuscles. As cells and protoplasm live and act, so do elements,
molecules, and atoms. As elements and atoms live and act, so do
clouds; so does the earth; so does the ocean, the Milky Way, and the
Solar System. What is this life which pervades the grandest as well
as the minutest works of Nature, and which may fitly be said 'greater
than the greatest and smaller than the smallest?' It cannot be
defined. It cannot be subjected to exact analysis. But it is
directly experienced and recognized within us, just as the beauty of
the rose is to be perceived and enjoyed, but not reduced to exact
analysis. At any rate, it is something stirring, moving, acting and
reacting continually. This something which can be experienced and
felt and enjoyed directly by every one of us. This life of living
principle in the microcosmos is identical with that of the
macrocosmos, and the Universal Life of the macrocosmos is the common
source of all lives. Therefore, the Mahaparinirvana-sutra says:

Tathagata (another name for Buddha) gives life to all beings, just
as the lake Anavatapta gives rise to the four great rivers.
Tathagata, says the same sutra, divides his own body into
innumerable bodies, and also restores an infinite number of bodies to
one body. Now be becomes cities, villages, houses, mountains,
rivers, and trees; now he has a large body; now he has a small body;
now he becomes men, women, boys, and girls.






Next: Life And Change

Previous: Buddha Is Unnamable



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