Bukko’s Age – Koan 38

UPriest Mugaku (later called Bukko Kokushi) was fifty-six when he came to Kamakura and founded Enkakuji. With his white hair and old face, he looked like one who had passed the seventieth year.

The saint Jonen heard it said that the old priest was only in his fifties, and hesitantly asked him how old he was.

The teacher replied, ‘The same as Amida.’

The saint said, ‘Why, how old is Amida?’

The teacher said, ‘Amida is the same age as the saint before me. If the saint knows the origin of the true life of himself, he will realize the Buddha’s age, and will know how many years is this old monk.’


(1) Setting aside the teacher’s age, setting aside the Buddha’s age, at this instant what is the origin of your own true life?

(2) Amida Buddha is called the Tathagata of eternal ages. How about you?

(3) Forget for a little the teacher’s age – do you know the age of this old monk before you?

This incident began to be used in the interviews given by Butsuju (literally ‘Buddha-age’), the 21st teacher at Enkakuji.


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