From a non-canon Buddhist text (T2123)

“Why everyone should fear deceit, Part 5″ 詐怖縁第五 from 諸經要集 (T2123, 0149b29), a non-canon collection of Buddhist admonitions and anecdotes from the Tang dynasty.

I translated this without punctuation because it’s funnier that way.

It is written in the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sutra: all composite things, every one is deceit. Sentient beings are foolish, unaware of close and distant. Hate, harsh speech, harm, up to taking a life. It creates these great crimes. So falling into three hells, we create innumerable sufferings. For example, in the mountains there was a little stupa. In the stupa there was a monks’ quarters. In the quarters was an oni. It brought fear and vexed the monks. There were many monks, all abandoned monks’ quarters. A traveling monk came. Rector showed him to empty quarters. And said these words. Within these quarters is an oni, spirits rejoice, vexing men. If you can live within here, go ahead! The guest monk himself had become very strong by observing precepts. Said: Little oni, what of it? I can subdue him. Saying so, he entered the monks’ quarters. Another visitor monk came seeking an abode. Rector also sent him to the monks’ quarters. Again said there is an oni men fear. This man again said, Little oni, what of it? I should subdue him. The first monk had closed door and wait for oni. At nighttime the second monk hit door, seek to enter. The first monk said, here is the oni! Not allow open door. The one who came later hit door quite strong. The monk within using strength prevented this. The one outside succeeded to enter door. The first monk hit the second, the second hit the first. At last dawn came. Really they were old fellow students. Already knew each other; they bowed in shame. Many people gathered around laughing, what strange ones! All beings are like this. Five skandhas are all void. No self, no person. Arguing over external forms creates poison and harms. Free yourself from earthly things. We are only bones and meat. No person, no self. Therefore, bodhisattvas say to all beings. You will not reach heavens by arguing. Human body desires unobtainable. How much more so for Buddha.


Here is a little summary I made of the non-canon texts in the Taisho Tripitaka:

2123: 20 volumes of non-sacred Buddhist texts. 7th century. Excerpted here.

2124: A memorization guide to various Buddhist numbers (five skandhas etc.). A sort of cheat sheet.

2125: Yijing’s journey to the West.

2126: Biographies of Song period monks.

2127: Name explanations.

2128-2129: How to read Buddhist names, in 100 volumes; supplement, 10 volumes.

2130: Sanskrit dictionary.

2131: Etymological dictionary of Pali names.

2132: Siddham dictionary.

2133-2136: Sanskrit dictionaries.

2137 金七十論: Sāṃkhya philosophy. 6th century translation of an otherwise unknown text called Suvarnasaptatisastra.

2138 勝宗十句義論: Vaiśeṣika philosophy. Translation of an otherwise unknown text called Dasapadartha-sastra.

2139 老子化胡經: Huahujing. An amusing work where Laozi appears to be the teacher of Buddha. Partial translation

2140: A Manichaean text; from the British Library.

2141a: “Compendium of the doctrines and styles of the teaching of Mani, the Buddha of light.”

2141b: A Nestorian Christian text.

2142: Sutra of Hearing the Messiah, Nestorian

2143: A Nestorian Christian text.

2144: A transcription of the Nestorian Stele.

Posted: November 20th, 2013 | Excerpts | 10 Comments »


  • X

    How was the state of Japanese monks in your eyes when you were in the temples?

  • http://twitter.com/ahm Avery

    I lived in several remarkable temples in the Kansai area. One was a strict Zen meditation-focused monastery, which attracted foreign monks. Most Zen temples, including the major ones, do not practice meditation at all. This one had an admirable dedication but little lay outreach; at most, it could be said to be training more thoughtful monks for future generations, but this sort of strictness might also be considered “shugyou”, or austerities, which is an end in itself and is not meant to inspire the intellect. Unlike Thai or Burmese Buddhism, I could not recommend Japanese Zen to people hoping for quiet study and contemplation.

    I also lived in a Shin Buddhist temple. This was akin to a small Catholic Worker house, and the energy needed to run it was derived entirely from a single, dedicated abbot. In a country where Buddhism is a “funeral religion”, Shin Buddhism seems to me to be the main alternative to Nichiren as a method of providing a transformative, traditional knowledge. I gained much respect for Shin during my study abroad, but I learned afterwards that, like Catholicism, it was ruptured by liberal-conservative strife in the 1960s. I decided to leave those religious issues to lifelong members of the religion.

  • X

    “which is an end in itself and is not meant to inspire the intellect.”

    What did you exactly mean by inspire the intellect, didn’t they meditate for achieving enlightenment?

    “Unlike Thai or Burmese Buddhism, I could not recommend Japanese Zen to people hoping for quiet study and contemplation.”

    What is the superiority of Thai and Burmese Buddhism?

    “Shin Buddhism seems to me to be the main alternative to Nichiren as a method of providing a transformative, traditional knowledge.”

    What did you exactly mean by “a transformative, traditional knowledge”? Why can’t Zen Buddhism provide it?

    “I gained much respect for Shin during my study abroad”

    Why?

    “but I learned afterwards that, like Catholicism, it was ruptured by liberal-conservative strife in the 1960s”

    Can you please say it detailedly, I mean Shin Buddhism.

    These are my personal questions, you can answer if you feel such dialog is interesting for you, otherwise you can just ignore me.

  • X

    “This one had an admirable dedication but little lay outreach”
    Can you please tell me its name?

  • http://twitter.com/ahm Avery

    Yes, it is called Hōkyō-ji 宝慶寺 in Fukui. It is not to be confused with another Hōkyō-ji in Kyoto written with different kanji. If you are a member of Soto Zen you can probably ask to train at this temple.

  • http://twitter.com/ahm Avery

    “What did you exactly mean by inspire the intellect, didn’t they meditate for achieving enlightenment?”

    No. Not in Japan, anyway. Over there, enlightenment is not seen as a reasonable goal these days.

    “What is the superiority of Thai and Burmese Buddhism?”

    Theravada Buddhism encourages meditation and sticks closely to monastic rules. Now, I am aware that this has its own problems, but if you want to “meditate to achieve enlightenment”, Theravada may be for you.

    “What did you exactly mean by ‘a transformative, traditional knowledge’? Why can’t Zen Buddhism provide it?”

    The Gornahoor thread this came out of was talking about a project of spiritual transformation that would affect more people than just monks. Zen Buddhism in Japan cannot provide that because it is a funeral religion, and to the extent that meditation is done at all, it is basically to give monks personal rigor. I am not qualified to judge whether one might “achieve enlightenment” by meditating in American Zen temples.

    “Why?”

    Um… that question needs a very long answer. I would have to explain to you the life of the founder Shinran and how he has inspired Japanese people. I probably can’t explain it as well as a good book. Here are some:

    http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/products/978-1-933316-21-5_Essential_Shinran.aspx?ID=159

    http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/products/0-941532-54-2_Living_in_Amidas_Universal_Vow.aspx?ID=113

    “Can you please say it detailedly, I mean Shin Buddhism.”

    Shin Buddhism has two branches, West and East (referring to two temples in Kyoto). As a result of doctrinal disputes and unscrupulous people, the Eastern branch has fragmented into four different organizations which has made it hard to serve parishioners effectively.

  • X

    Thanks for the answering.

    “Over there, enlightenment is not seen as a reasonable goal these days.”

    If they do not consider enlightenment as a reasonable goal what is the purpose of the existence of Zen Buddhism?

    “Theravada Buddhism encourages meditation and sticks closely to monastic rules.”

    So you mean that Japanese Buddhism doesn’t stick closely to monastic rules?

    “I am aware that this has its own problems”

    What are they?

    “it is basically to give monks personal rigor”

    How can it give monks personal rigor if they originally don’t want to achieve enlightenment at all?

    “Um… that question needs a very long answer.”

    No, I meant why you respect particularly Shin but not Zen?

    “the Eastern branch has fragmented into four different organizations which has made it hard to serve parishioners effectively”

    I meant can you please tell me how “it was ruptured by liberal-conservative strife in the 1960s”?

  • X

    I see, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/ahm Avery

    “If they do not consider enlightenment as a reasonable goal what is the purpose of the existence of Zen Buddhism?”

    As I said, it’s to perform funerals for families.

    “So you mean that Japanese Buddhism doesn’t stick closely to monastic rules?”

    Definitely not. First and foremost would be the rule against drinking alcohol — marrying and accepting money come close behind…

    “What are they?”

    I don’t think it would be doing justice to the Theravada community to describe the criticism of its doctrine in a few lines. You can read a full critique of Theravada here: http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/brokenbuddhanew.pdf

    “No, I meant why you respect particularly Shin but not Zen?”

    Because Shin puts more thought into becoming more than a funeral religion.

    ‘I meant can you please tell me how “it was ruptured by liberal-conservative strife in the 1960s”?’

    I think I answered that… I guess I don’t understand. There were a number of loud liberal voices asking for changes to practice and doctrine, etc.

  • X

    I see, thanks.