How the sutra of the Resolution of the Brahma-king’s Doubt was put into the canon – Koan 65

No. 65. How the sutra of the Resolution of the Brahma-king’s Doubt was put into the canon

Atsushige, a warrior who was a student of the Shingon (mantra) sect, came to Joraku temple and asked priest Jikusen about the koans made from scriptures in the so-called nyorai Zen or Buddha Zen. The teacher said:

They are of many kinds. One of them is this: When the Buddha had just been born, he said, “Above heaven or under heaven, I alone am the world-honoured one.” Then when he completed the path, he declared: “Wonderful! All beings have innately the nature of the wisdom of the Buddha.”

Then, before his entry into Nirvana, there was an incident when he held up a flower in his fingers, and there was a smile (from Mahakasyapa alone of the spectators). In this last case, the meaning of Zen was being presented without any involvement with words at all.’

The warrior said: ‘The incident of the smile comes in the sutra called The Resolution of the Brahma-king’s Doubt. But that is not in the canon of authentic scriptures. Probably it was made up by some Zen man of the T’ang dynasty.’

The teacher cried, ‘Atsushige!’

Yes?’ he replied.

Who has made up this Yes?’ said the teacher.

Atsushige made a bow and went out. After three days he had a realization. He came back and said to the teacher: ‘The sutra of the Resolution of the Brahma-king’s Doubt has at last been put in the canon.’

TESTS

  1. Who is this Brahma-king? Say!

  2. How was the Brahma-king’s doubt really resolved? Say!

  3. What is this putting of the Brahma-king’s doubt into the canon?

This became a koan at the interviews of master Ryodo (Zen master Honkaku, the 35th teacher at Kenchoji).

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