Thursday, July 21, 2011

Land of the Two Buddhas

I just watched The Land of the Disappearing Buddha, a documentary from '70s about Buddhism in Japan. It was a fascinating piece, featuring Zen master Omori Sogen, amongst other Buddhist figures. I think the video is part of a series, becasue when it began the narrator was in Sri Lanka, discussing Theravada Buddhism there.

He posed a fascinating question that kept gnawing at me as I watched the video. It's one that I've considered before, but not as articulately. The narrator asked, "If the Buddha from Sri Lanka met the Buddha from Japan, would they recognize one another?"

The standard answer, I suppose is yes, Zen or other forms of Mahayana Buddhism employ upaya, or skillful means, to teach the Dharma, in the same way as the Buddha himself did. Zen practice may appear different from Theravada Buddhism, but at their heart, they're the same.

Just as easily, I can imagine someone asserting the opposite--that Zen or Pure Land or Vajrayana are different. Personally, I dislike Buddhist hierarchies, but there are plenty of people who don't.

It's an interesting question, one that has surfaced many times during my practice.

Would these Buddhas recognize one another?

Tell me what you think.

Also, don't forget to watch the video; it's very well done.

Thanks to Rev. Yuanzhi Daoqing for sharing the video. I really enjoyed it.

1 comment: