Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shobogenzo Ch16 Shisho (I) - The Certificate of Succession

Buddhas, without exception, receive the Dharma from buddhas, buddha-to-buddha, and patriarchs, without exception, receive the Dharma from patriarchs, patriarch-to-patriarch; this is experience of the [Buddha’s] state, this is the one-to-one transmission, and for this reason it is “the supreme state of bodhi."

In our time, and Dogen's as well, masters give certificates of succession — documentation of Dharma transmission — to disciples that have studied with them. A certificate of succession, however, is not a diploma, which is received after completing the requisite coursework, it is recognition of one-to-one transmission and "..[this] is realization of the truth before the Seven Buddhas; it is the same realization of the truth shoulder-to-shoulder with, and in time with, the many buddhas; it is realization of the truth before the many buddhas; and it is realization of the truth after all the many buddhas."

The different views of time, as described in Uji, are significant in our understanding of the succession from buddha to buddha. For example, Dogen writes:

..without buddhas it has no time.

[It] profound and eternal; it is without regression or deviation and without interruption or cessation.

One-to-one transmission and succession occur in linearly in time as we commonly view it — in other words, in coming-and-going time, and also occur in Now, both the immediate moment and the eternal Now. The Buddha's truth also moves via us, much in the same way as time moves via us. If we understand succession in terms of these different views of time, we can begin to understand the truth of the following:

The fundamental point is this: although Śākyamuni Buddha realizes the truth before the Seven Buddhas, it has taken him a long time to succeed to the Dharma of Kāśyapa Buddha...There is also the principle to be mastered in practice that Kāśyapa Buddha succeeds to the Dharma of Śākyamuni Buddha. Those who do not know this principle do not clarify the Buddha’s state of truth.

The state is like, for example, stones succeeding each other as stones, jewels succeeding each other as jewels, chrysanthemums succeeding each other, and pine trees certifying each other, at which time the former chrysanthemum and the latter chrysanthemum are each real as they are, and the former pine and the latter pine are each real as they are.

Transmission of the Buddha's truth and succession arise co-dependently. Their origin and existence are rooted in the interdependence of all things.


Not grouped together
Nor succession in a line —
The gift of Dharma.

Profound, eternal
Passage of truth, no regress
Or deviation.


Glen said...

Hello, I just wanted to say I enjoy reading your posts on Shobogenzo. As Im still reading Dogen pretty much as a beginner it helps to read what others point out.



Happi said...

Hi Glen -

Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate it.

..Ultimately we're all beginners.