The Birth of the Buddha – Koan 39

Ishida Yamato-no-kami entered upon the Way at Enkakuji, where he had the Zen interviews with Ikka, who was the 124th teacher there. One day he asked the teacher, ‘In the scriptures which I have been reading since I began here, there are various different teachings about the day of the Buddha’s birth. Which day of which month is the right one?’

The teacher said, ‘Don’t talk about different teachings. When you see the nature to be Buddha, that is the birth of the World-honoured One.’


(1) If you say, See the nature to be Buddha, immediately a snake with two heads appears. Are the nature and the Buddha the same or different? If the same, why does it have to tell you to see the nature to be Buddha? If there is a difference, say wherein it is, that seeing the nature is something separate from being Buddha.

(2) What is that you recognize when you talk about the nature being Buddha? Say!

This became a Kamakura koan in the interviews of Gyokkei, the 131st teacher at Enkakuji.




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