July 1, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

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Katagiri Roshi completely explains the Twelve-Linked Chain of Causation… presumably, but the audio is lost. However, there is substantial review of the topic in the talks following this one.


(Archive Issue: The online audio is only about five minutes long and is from the end of the talk. Apparently the first side of the tape was blank.)

(Transcriber’s Note: In the following talks, Katagiri Roshi occasionally refers to “twelve-chain causation”. It seems most likely that he meant “twelve-link causation”, since there are twelve links but not twelve chains, so far as is mentioned in the talks. So where twelve-chain causation appears, I have replaced it with twelve-link causation, or the fuller version, The Twelve-Linked Chain of Causation. The original title of this talk, “Twelve Chains of Causation,” has also been changed, since it appears to be an error. Katagiri Roshi also interchangeably uses the terms twelvefold chain of causation, twelvefold causation, and twelve causations.)

Listen to this talk on mnzencenter.org

start of audio

Katagiri Roshi: … the words come up.

And then, now everyone can […] look at this form of a circle. And then how do they agree with this existence of a form of circle coming from a movement? How? Just the words. Without words, we cannot get agreement. Don’t you think so?

So what is agreement? “Oh yes, it is the form of a circle” – this is nothing but the agreement consisting of the words. [Or,] “Katagiri, you’re bad boy.” “Yes.” How can you agree? This agreement is just words.

But this agreement is also important for us, okay? Don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean you should ignore agreement. Agreement is important, but you should know what [is the] component factor of agreement. Agreement is also that you accept your life completely with total agreement. Even though you like or you dislike, you accept already. So, you should know what [is] the component factor of agreement.

Your body and your mind is what? Just the words. We accept through what words? The five skandhas. And karma. And cetanā, mind. That is Buddhist psychology, which is called Abhidharma. *[He chuckles.] It’s huge. It takes ten years to master it. If you don’t believe it, I will show it, I will explain it. [He laughs.] But if you want to study it, you should go to San Francisco Zen Center; they teach the Abhidharma. Huge. But interesting, very interesting!

Question: Are there any stories in the Abhidharma about the beginning of time and space, and ignorance?

Katagiri: The beginning of time and space… [He laughs.] It’s already ignorance. [Laughter.]

The beginning of time and space is already ignorance, coming from your consciousness, don’t you think so? If you say before, already there is after, don’t you think? So already you think something – “time and space” – in the dualistic sense: before and after, separated. But what is before? What is after? That is a very interesting, huge, system: [unintelligible] and theology.

What is the first beginning of the world? Who created it? That’s interesting. [He chuckles.] Buddha did it? Or before Shakyamuni Buddha, who are his teachers? Do you know that? Always we research, poke… investigate. So Buddha says, “Oh yes, I [had teachers].” Buddha [is] very straightforward: [thousands of years] before Buddha Shakyamuni was born in this world, already thousands of buddhas existed. […] Three thousand years ago, before Buddha was born, [there’s] already [a] buddha. And then he communicated with him and practiced under him, and then he became a buddha. And then in the future, how can the Buddha transmit his teachings, when Buddhism is completely destroyed? That is Maitreya Buddha. So that is really Buddhology: systemized, before and after. But, it’s important.

So before time and space is completely no sense of [ignorance]. This is [unintelligible] of the Buddhas. That is the truth – regardless of whether the Buddha was born in this world, or he describes those forms, or not. Anyway, this is before time and space arises.

end of audio

This talk was transcribed by Kikan Michael Howard. Audio recordings of Katagiri Roshi are being used with permission of Minnesota Zen Meditation Center.

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