Wednesday, 5 April 2017


102. The koan story of the Buddha's transmission of his Dharma to Mahakashyapa has two parts. The first part presents us with the picture of a silent heart-mind to heart-mind transmission. In the second part the Buddha speaks to the assembled monks and tells them what has just transpired. In doing this he reminds them that as the Buddha he possesses 'the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of the Formless, and the Subtle Dharma Gate'. He then adds that what he has as the Buddha is 'independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine'. And just so that they don't miss the point of what took place in the in-between of the held-up-flower and Mahakashyapa's broad smile, he says explicitly that 'this [my Dharma] I have entrusted to Mahakashyapa'.
     The Buddha's words are for the benefit of all those who remained (and remain) in dumb, uncomprehending silence at his presentation of the flower. The Buddha's grandmotherly approach here has earned for him a sarcastic comment from the 13th century master Mumon Ekai, who writes: 'Golden-faced Gautama really disregarded his listeners. He made the good look bad and sold dog's meat labeled as mutton'. 

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