Mumonkan Case 9 - Not Attaining Buddhahood
A monk asked Koyo Seijo, "Daitsu Chisho Buddha sat in zazen on the bodhimanda for ten kalpas, but Buddhadharma did not manifest and he could not attain Buddhahood. How could this be?
Seijo said, "Your question expresses it perfectly."
The monk said, "But he sat in zazen on the bodhimanda, how could he not attain Buddhahood?"
Seijo said, "Because he could not attain Buddhahood."
The expression "Because he could not attain Buddhahood" is Buddhahood manifesting the Buddhadharma of Not-Attaining, and it is Not-Attaining manifesting the Buddhadharma of Buddhahood. When we meet this expression, we meet Daitsu Chisho Buddha, we meet a monk, we meet Seijo, we meet Not-Attaining, and we meet Buddhahood. This expression is a Dharma-Gate to all expressions of Buddhadharma and is a Dharma-Gate to all non-expressions of Buddhadharma. When one side is illumined, the other side is dark.
"Daitsu Chisho Buddha" is a human being. A human being is Buddha. "Buddha" is Real Existence. When one side of Daitsu Chisho Buddha is illumined there is sitting in zazen on the bodhimanda for ten kalpas, there is Buddhahood, there is Attaining Buddhahood, there is Not-Attaining Buddhahood. When the other side of Daitsu Chisho Buddha is illumined, there is no-Daitsu Chisho Buddha, there is no-sitting in zazen on the bodhimanda for ten kalpas, there is no-Buddhahood, there is no-Attaining Buddhahood, there is no-Not-Attaining Buddhahood. Because Buddhadharma transcends the illumined and the dark, there is Daitsu Chisho Buddha, sitting in zazen on the bodhimanda for ten kalpas, Buddhahood, Attaining Buddhahood, Not-Attaining Buddhahood, no-Daitsu Chisho Buddha, no-sitting in zazen on the bodhimanda for ten kalpas, no-Buddhahood, no-Attaining Buddhahood, no-Not-Attaining Buddhahood. Although Real Existence of Buddha is like this, it is simply "Three Pounds of Flax," "Rice Cake," and "A Dry Piece of Shit." In addition, there is Attaining Buddhahood as "What is Buddha?" And there is Not-Attaining Buddhahood as "You are Echo."
Some people comment about "not attaining Buddhahood," saying, "Buddha is Buddha from the beginning, so he cannot become Buddha," and they leave it there, as if that were the whole point. Actually, that is only a different way of saying, "He could not attain Buddhahood." In fact, the comment is based on a paraphrase of, "He could not attain Buddhahood" used by Rinzai. As a paraphrase, it is fine. However, it has nothing to do with the point of this expression. If that were the point, then the Buddhadharma would be nothing more than basic philosophy and the Wisdom of Buddhadharma could be arrived at through the reasoning intellect. The Buddhadharma is never like that. When wrong views are illumined, Buddhadharma is dark. Nevertheless, when Buddhadharma is illumined, wrong views are dark. Buddhadharma is Omnipresent, wrong views are Omnipresent.
Suigan once asked a question about the Real Existence of his eyebrows. Hofuku illumined one side of Suigan’s eyebrows, saying, "The robber has a fearful heart." Chokei illumined the other side of Suigan’s eyebrows, saying, "They’ve grown!" Yunmen transcended the illumined and the dark, saying, "Barrier!" We should take up these words and examine them closely regarding Daitsu Chisho Buddha’s not attaining Buddhahood. When they examined Suigan’s eyebrows, did the three worthies leave anything unexpressed? Like the monk’s question about Daitsu Chisho Buddha’s not attaining Buddhahood, Suigan’s question about the Real Existence of his eyebrows expresses it perfectly. "Look, do I still have my eyebrows?" This is how Suigan manifests the Buddhadharma of the Real Existence of eyebrows without falling into views of Attaining or Not-Attaining. It is even deadlier than the saying about the turtle-nosed snake on South Mountain.
Attaining Buddhahood does not mean, "attaining Buddhahood," it means attaining Buddhahood. Bodhidharma came to China to help people attain Buddhahood. At One Being-Time, a monk asked Joshu about Bodhidharma’s meaning, Joshu said, "Oak tree in the garden." The monk saw only that the Oak Tree In The Garden was an Outside Object. He did not see the Oak Tree In The Garden that was Never An Outside Object. The Oak Tree In The Garden that Joshu sees is not the same as the Oak Tree In The Garden that the monk sees. Nevertheless, when the Oak Tree In The Garden that the monk sees is illumined, the Oak Tree In The Garden that Joshu sees is dark.
Buddhahood and non-Buddhahood are Buddha, but Buddha is not Buddhahood or non-Buddhahood. When Buddhahood is illumined, non-Buddhahood is dark; when non-Buddhahood is illumined, Buddhahood is dark. The entire Universe is inside a single Atom, a single Atom is inside the entire Universe. When the entire Universe is illumined, a single Atom is dark, when a single Atom is illumined, the entire Universe is dark. When the Oak Tree In The Garden is illumined, the non-Oak Tree In The Garden is dark. Illumined does not mean present, dark does not mean absent; Illumined or dark, the Oak Tree In The Garden is Omnipresent, the non-Oak Tree In The Garden is Omnipresent, Buddhahood is Omnipresent, Attaining is Omnipresent, and Not-Attaining is Omnipresent. This is why Seijo said; "Your question expresses it perfectly."
As for sitting in zazen on the bodhimanda for ten kalpas and not attaining Buddhahood, what a truly wonderful expression! Unfortunately, there are quacksalvers, masquerading as Zen masters who go around saying, "Sitting in zazen is attaining Buddhahood, attaining Buddhahood is being enlightened, and not attaining Buddhahood is being deluded." This is because they cannot discern True Words and have never experienced True Zazen. Some of them may know that Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form. However, none of them have realized that Form is Form and Emptiness is Emptiness. If they did, they would know that sitting in zazen is Not-Attaining Buddhahood, attaining Buddhahood is being deluded, and Not-Attaining Buddhahood is being enlightened.
Sitting In Zazen On The Bodhimanda For Ten Kalpas is, Not-Attaining Buddhahood. Daitsu Chisho Buddha is, Not-Attaining Buddhahood. Thus, Not-Attaining Buddhahood is, Sitting In Zazen On The Bodhimanda For Ten Kalpas, and is, Daitsu Chisho Buddha.
The bodhimanda is not the place where Shakyamuni attained Buddhahood, not the place where Daitsu Chisho Buddha could not attain Buddhahood, it is Omnipresent. The bodhimanda is the entire Universe, the bodhimanda is inside a single Atom. The bodhimanda is Not-Attaining Buddhahood.
Ten kalpas are not, ten kalpas of the past, not ten kalpas of the present, not ten kalpas of the future; they are Omnipresence itself. The past, present, and future of the past, present, and future are nine kalpas and their nature of Omnipresence is a single kalpa, making ten kalpas altogether. Each of the ten kalpas is Not-Attaining Buddhahood.
The quacksalvers say sitting in zazen is attaining Buddhahood because they have given up hope of attaining Buddhahood themselves. Because they have never experienced the mind of an Old Grandmother, they call anguish "Buddhahood" and they call the Buddhadharma "Nothing Special." They have never realized that Buddhahood is joy, and the Buddhadharma is a priceless treasure. Leaving aside their ridiculous costumes, their words would be laughable if their effects were not so disastrous. Having scrounged a few charred relics from drugged or sleeping dragons, they show them around calling them the Black Dragon’s Pearl, beguiling students and driving them into barren climes. It is truly regrettable.
Fortunately, Seijo and this monk reveal a clear path for resolving doubts and discovering the Black Dragon’s true Pearl. By asking this question, the monk demonstrates his ability to discern sticking points. He was only able to ask this question because he had Genuine Aspiration. He does not waste time counting another’s treasure. He immediately rejects anything short of perfect lucidity.
Seijo’s reply comes directly from his Grandmotherly mind, "Your question expresses it perfectly." Only Seijo could say this. His words confirm the priceless quality of the Buddhadharma manifesting as Genuine Aspiration.
"Daitsu Chisho Buddha" is you. "Sat in zazen" is continually receiving, transmitting, deepening, and living in accord with Wisdom. "On the bodhimanda" is the spatial aspect of Omnipresence. "For ten kalpas" is the temporal aspect of Omnipresence. "But Buddhadharma did not manifest" is the Buddhadharma of no-Buddhadharma. "And he could not attain Buddhahood" illumines the truth of no-attainment. "How could this be?" is how to apply our dynamic cognitive powers in developing and deepening our Wisdom. "Your question expresses it perfectly" is great encouragement for refining Wisdom. "But he sat in zazen on the bodhimanda, how could he not attain Buddhahood?" is the perseverance of Genuine Aspiration. "Because he could not attain Buddhahood" is affirmation that the perseverance of Genuine Aspiration arrives at lucid clarity.