Even now once again I cannot help but be amazed at the wonder of the world Shakyamuni discovered. There is no doubt that it is the greatest and most praiseworthy discovery in the history of the human race. To put succinctly the world that Shakyamuni discovered is to use the very words that the discoverer himself left for us: “Above heaven and below heaven, I alone am the Honoured One.” These words are often misunderstood as meaning that in the whole world only I myself am the greatest and most worthy being. But that is not their meaning at all. This is a misunderstanding that arises from not being able to see that world that Shakyamuni discovered.
These words are words that convey the discovery of the fact that all people, each and every person, “is in the whole universe the only one, the only existence.” They are the words that convey the very fact that everyone, without exception “is the only one existing in the whole universe”, or – in other words – that “each and every one is the whole universe itself.” The wonder and awe of this fact is expressed in the
words, “I alone am the Honoured One.”
But this world that Shakyamuni discovered cannot be grasped by concepts, ideas, reasoning, or the intellect. It is a world that can only be discovered through having the same kind of experience as Shakyamuni had. And this kind of experience which is the same as Shakyamuni had can only be achieved through zazen. In other words the world that Shakyamuni discovered is the world that Zen has discovered.
It can be said that the koans which we work on are messages sent from the world the patriarchs discovered through having the same type of experience as Shakyamuni had. Those messages can only be received when once one has experientially, at least with a glimpse, seen that world. Many patriarchs are sending us messages from that world in
words close to the expression, “Above heaven and below heaven, I alone am the Honoured One.” For example, Master Gensha, Dharma successor of Master Seppo, has conveyed this world in the beautiful expression, “The whole world in ten directions is a single, clear pearl.” However, the words that most pointedly yet clearly express this world are those of Master Chosa, Dharma successor to Master Nansen: “The world
in ten directions is my whole body.” Even for those who distort the meaning of “Above heaven and below heaven, I alone am the Honoured One” these words of Master Chosa cannot be misunderstood. The fact that “the whole universe as it is is totally me myself” is so clearly expressed that it cannot be misunderstood. As this world that has been discovered gradually manifests itself more and more, one is overwhelmed by wonder
The Heart Sutra is often proposed as conveying precisely the world Shakyamuni discovered, but even the whole of that sutra cannot equal the clarity and depth of “Above heaven and below heaven, I alone am the Honoured One” or “The world in ten directions is my whole body.” Why is that so? I want to leave the answer to another time.
All aspects of the world that encompasses our life such as politics, economics, society, science, technology, health, religion, culture, and so on, are in rapid transition. We even do not need the daily newspaper and television to make us aware of this. IOT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence), Big Data, robots, and other cutting edge technology key words are revolutionizing our daily life with a speed beyond imagination and norm. In the midst of this fast-paced revolutionary change how are we to live? Only the world discovered in Zen can give the right answer to this question. It is my earnest wish that as many people as possible, or all of humanity in the end, can share this world Zen has discovered