Baso’s Sun-faced Buddhas, Moon-faced Buddhas
(MODEL SUBJECT #3)
Introduction by Shaw
The principal character in this Model Subject is Baso Doitsu (Matsu Tao-I, 704-788 AD), the chief disciple of Nangaku Ejo one of the disciples of the Chinese Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng.
Introductory word by Engo
Introducing he said: On gesture, one posture. One word, one verse! Now, if one plans such an approach (in teaching disciples) that is like gouging out wounds in good meat, making holes and cavities in it. The Great Activity is before us, manifest. There are no regulations in it.
If you plan to make known to men that there is an Absolute, throughout the whole heaven and the whole earth, the search for it will not succeed. Supposing one does attain, and what if one does not attain? - an extremely small matter. Supposing one does not attain, what if one does attain? – an extremely critical matter. And if you don’t pass along either of these roads, what is the right thing to do?
I tentatively put the matter before you. Ponder it.
Main subject by Setcho
Attention! Baso the great teacher was unwell. The temple’s chief accountant visited him. “Sir, during these recent days, how is your health?” The great teacher said: “Sun-faced Buddhas, Moon-faced Buddhas.” 1
Baso replied: When we think about our human lives, there are as you know, people who live long, like those “Sun-faced Buddhas” and there are people whose lives are short, like those “Moon-faced Buddhas.” It’s useless to worry.
Commentary by Roshi
Although you are looking forward to the bliss of teaching, you do not know that you are always in the midst of the teaching. So your practice does not accord with your teacher’s.
Once you realize Buddha Nature within and without, there is no special way to follow for a student or any specific suggestion to give for a teacher. When there is a problem there is the way to go.
Negative and positive methods, or the First Principle and the Second Principle, are nothing but the Great Activities of such a character. The Buddha Nature is quite personal to you and essential to all existence.
1. The references are to a book called the Sutsu-Moyoho (A Scripture of the Names of Buddha). The scripture is in twelve volumes and contains the names of 11,093 Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The “Sun-faced Buddhas” lives were for 1800 years. The “Moon-faced Buddha’s” lives were for one day and one night.