Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": CONTEMPT FOR THE SCRIPTURES


There are Zen masters of a certain type who join in a chorus to deny that the sutras contain the true teaching of the Buddha. 'Only in the personal transmission from one patriarch to another is the essential truth conveyed; only in the transmission of the patriarchs can the exquisite and profound secrets of Buddha be found.' Such statements represent the height of folly, they are the words of madmen. In the genuine tradition of the patriarchs there is nothing secret or special, not even a single word or phrase, at variance with the Buddhist sutras. Both the sutras and the transmission of the patriarchs alike represent the genuine tradition deriving from Shakyamuni Buddha. The only difference between them is that the patriarchs' transmission is a direct one from person to person. Who dares, then, to ignore the Buddha's sutras? Who can refuse to study them, who can refuse to recite them? Wisely it has been said of old, 'It is you who get lost in the sutras, not the sutras that lead you astray.' Among our worthy predecessors there were many who studied the Scriptures. Therefore these loose tongued individuals should be told, 'To discard the sutras of the Buddha, as you say, is to reject the mind of the Buddha, to reject the body of the Buddha. To reject the mind and body of the Buddha is to reject the children [followers] of the Buddha. To reject children of the Buddha is to reject the teaching of the Buddha. And if the teaching of the Buddha itself is to be rejected, why should not the teaching of the patriarchs be rejected? And when you have abandoned the teaching of the Buddha and the patriarchs, what will be left except a lot of baldheaded monks? Then you will certainly deserve to be chastised by the rod. Not only would you deserve to be enslaved by the rulers of the world, but to be cast into Hell for punishment.'


From Eto, Shuso to shite no Dogen Zenji, P. 246, translated by Wm. Theodore de Bary, in De Bary (ed.), Sources of Japanese Tradition, op, Cit., Pp. 255-6

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