Transmission of the Lamp

13. Kabimora

One day Anabotei was speaking about the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE, saying, “Mountains, rivers and the great earth all arise in accordance with IT; the three forms of clarity and the six spiritual powers manifest themselves by proceeding from IT.” Kabimora, upon hearing this, awoke to the TRUTH.

Kabimora (S. Kapimala, ‘He Who Is as the Bodily Excretions of a Monkey’) was from Patna, the City of Flowers; at first he was a non-Buddhist with three thousand followers and was well versed in non-Buddhist teachings and doctrines. Anabotei was in Patna, turning the marvellous Wheel of the Law, when an old man, who was standing right in front of Anabotei’s seat, suddenly fell to the ground. Anabotei said to the assembly, “This is no common, ordinary person for there is certainly something different about him.” No sooner had he finished speaking than the old man disappeared from sight and, in the twinkling of an eye, a radiant, golden-hued person sprang up from the ground only to change again, now becoming a young girl. Pointing her right hand at Anabotei, she recited a verse to the assembly,

“I prostrate myself before this saintly elder
Who surely has received the Tathagata’s approval;
He must now, in this very place,
Proclaim the foremost TRUTH.”

Having finished her recital, she disappeared from sight. Anabotei said, “The daemon is about to come forth again to test his powers against mine.” A moment later, a violent wind, with heavy rains, arose and the heavens and earth were thick with their darkness. Anabotei said, “This is indeed a sign that the daemon has come. I certainly should suppress him.” Accordingly he pointed to the sky and a huge golden dragon appeared displaying such awesome powers that it set the mountains to trembling. Anabotei solemnly sat in samadhi and, by and by, the daemon’s activities died out.

A week later a tiny bug, no larger than a mite on a mosquito’s eyelash, appeared and hid itself beneath Anabotei’s seat. Anabotei caught it in his hand and, pointing to it, said to the assembly, “This is what a daemon changes himself into when he wants to hear, and thus steal, my Teaching.” He let the creature go so that it might depart but the daemon was unable to move. Anabotei spoke to it, saying, “If you take refuge in the Three Treasures, you will obtain spiritual powers.” The daemon resumed his original shape and, bowing before Anabotei, was contrite. Anabotei asked him his name and how many followers he had. The daemon replied “My name is Kabimora and I have three thousand followers.” Anabotei said, “What change can you bring about when you employ your powers to the fullest?” Kabimora answered, “It is a very small matter for me to change the vast ocean into what I will.” Anabotei said, “Can you change the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE?” Kabimora replied “What do you mean by the ‘Ocean of Buddha Nature’? I am not yet familiar with that term.” Anabotei then expounded on the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE for his benefit, saying, “Moun- tains, rivers and the great earth all arise in accordance with IT; the three forms of clarity and the six spiritual powers manifest themselves by proceeding from IT.” Kabimora, upon hearing this, awoke to the TRUTH.

Truly, from the time when the old man fell to the ground up to the moment when he became a tiny bug, the daemon’s display of his daemonic powers was truly measureless; he even said that transforming the vast ocean was extremely easy to do. Even though, by manifesting his daemonic powers again and again, he could change an ocean into mountains and mountains into an ocean, he still had no knowledge of even the term ‘Ocean of Buddha Nature’, much less could he change IT! Furthermore, in that he had no inkling of THAT which mountains, rivers and the great earth really were, Anabotei explained to him that these were transformations of the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE and that IT was also the three forms of clarity and the six spiritual powers.

SAMADHI takes countless forms, such as the samadhis mentioned in the Shurangama Scripture and the Shurangama Samadhi Scripture, as well as those that give rise to the six spiritual powers, such as the ‘divine eye’ of clairvoyance and the ‘divine ear’ of clairaudience; these samadhis have neither beginning nor end; the world is full of them and is, in fact, them themselves. When IT raises up mountains, rivers and the great earth, SAMADHI changes ITSELF into earth, air, fire and water and transforms ITSELF into mountains, rivers and vegetation. IT also changes ITSELF into skin, flesh, bones and marrow and transforms ITSELF into a body with a head and four limbs; there has not yet been even a single action or a single phenomenon that comes from elsewhere. Throughout the twenty-four hours of the day no effort that is made is cast aside as useless and none of the features in one’s personal appearance, which have come into existence over untold births and deaths, is to no purpose. There is no limit to what our eyes may see or our ears hear and, no doubt, even the wisdom of a Buddha may be incapable of measuring the extent of such seeing and hearing for how can they fail to be transformations created by the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE?

All things, even all the dust motes, are boundless, in no way reducible to number or extent; they are the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE which is why they are as they are. To see your present body is to see ORIGINAL NATURE; to know ORIGINAL NATURE is to attest to your body since body and ORIGINAL NATURE are truly not two separate things. How can you distinguish between BUDDHA NATURE and characteristics? Kabimora, whilst within non-Buddhist ways, revealed daemonic powers of transformation none of which were apart from his BUDDHA NATURE, nevertheless, he did not personally know that IT was what Anabotei called the ‘OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE’; he had doubts about himself and mistrusted others as a result. Since he did not understand the true nature of what exists, he had no awareness of THAT which is fundamental to existence and used all his powers to play games. When his daemonic powers were finally exhausted, he found it nigh on impossible to create his transformations; he then renounced his willfulness and took refuge in another, putting an end to his competitiveness by giving expression to the TRUTH.

Even though you intellectually grasp what is meant by ‘mountains, rivers and the great earth’, do not get vainly bound up in sounds, colours and forms. Even though you have clarified what your own ORIGINAL NATURE is, do not confine yourself in learned knowledge; learned knowledge is nothing but a face or two of the Buddhas and Ancestors, just as walls, cliffs, tiles and pebbles are. ORIGINAL NATURE has nothing to do with knowledge learned from seeing and hearing; IT is not connected with either movement or stillness however, from the perspective of the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE, of necessity, movement and stillness, coming and going, are never excluded from IT; skin, flesh, bones and marrow are made manifest at the appropriate time. To speak from the standpoint of THAT which is the FUNDAMENTAL, whether IT manifests as seeing and hearing or as sound, colour and form, such phenomena do not arise from anything other than IT, therefore, when we strike empty space, reverberations are created and all sounds are thus made manifest. When you transform empty space, all things are made manifest and thus are forms differentiated. Do not think that empty space is devoid of forms or sounds. Once you have reached this stage and are probing deeply into the matter, you will not consider IT as ‘emptiness’ or as ‘existence’ nor will you regard IT as something invisible or visible or as something that is ‘self’ or ‘other’. What is it that you call ‘other’? What is it that you consider to be ‘I’? IT is as the absence of every single thing within empty space; IT resembles all the waves appearing on the great ocean; this has never changed from the past to the present. How can coming and going possibly be paths that diverge on their own?

When IT makes ITSELF visible, not a single speck of any- thing has been added and, when IT has concealed ITSELF, not a single hair is lost. When the mass of elements are combined, they become these bodies of ours; when phenomena are utterly destroyed, we speak of them as the ‘WHOLE OF ORIGINAL NATURE’. Do not seek outside yourself to clarify what the ‘Way’ is or to confirm ORIGINAL NATURE. Quite simply, when the breath and light of one’s own FUNDAMENTAL GROUND manifests itself, others may call it the face of a ‘human’, a ‘daemon’ or a ‘beast’. Seppá (C. Hsu ̈eh-feng) said, “If we wish to comprehend this matter, it is as if there were an ancient mirror inside us. When those who are foreign come, they are reflected in it; when our own come, they are reflected in it.” All are fantasy figures within SAMADHI, going on without beginning or end, therefore, when mountains, rivers and the great earth arise, they all appear in accordance with IT; when the three forms of clarity and the six spiritual powers are manifested, they also proceed from IT. Do not view a single inch of the great earth as lying outside your own ORIGINAL NATURE; do not add even a single drop of river water from outside the OCEAN OF BUDDHA NATURE.

This morning I again wish to append my humble words in response to this story. Do you want to hear them? (Some time passed before Keizan spoke.)

Upon the vast expanse of water
the billowing waves are set free to dash up and meet the sky;
Always immaculate
is the water of this OCEAN!
How can IT ever possibly change?

(from The DENKOROKU: The Record of the Transmission of the Light by Zen Master Keizan Jokin. Translated by Reverend Hubert Nearman, Shasta Abbey Press, 2001.)