‘The World-Honoured One has been born!’ – Koan 401 min read

Uesugi Masayoshi entered training at Meigetsuin, and the teacher set him the koan of the birth of the Buddha. A little after one year, Masayoshi had a realization during the Rohatsu training week, and shouted, ‘The World-honoured Buddha is born!’ Then he took a few steps forward and cried loudly, ‘In heaven above and earth below I alone am the honoured one!’

The teacher said, ‘Tradition tells:

that the World-honoured One was twelve months
in the womb,
that he was born from the right side of his mother,
that he took seven steps and then uttered his great
cry.

 How did you come out? Say, say! If you cannot say, it is no Buddha that has been born but a fox-spirit making a false appearance.’

Masayoshi said:
‘I entered my home and conformed to it,
I followed the karma and conformed to it,
I trod on the head of Vairochana.’
The teacher: ‘What is this treading?’
Masayoshi: ‘The holiest One is not in the first six
steps.’

 TESTS

(1) What was the World-honoured One doing in the twelve months in the womb? Say!

(2) Why was the World-honoured One born from the right side? Say!

(3) A baby might take just one or two steps, or it might take eight or nine steps. Why is it taught that there were just the seven steps? Say! (To solve the third question, you have to understand what Masayoshi said.)

This was first used as a koan in the interviews of Daien, the 166th teacher at Enkakuji.

 T.P.L