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A, B, and C Worlds
June 27, 1987 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Transcribed by Kikan Michael Howard
This transcript is still in rough draft form.
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… in Shobogenzo Genjokoan. “When all things are buddha-dharma, then there is delusion and enlightenment, there is cultivation of practice, there is birth, there is death, there are buddhas, there are sentient beings.” And next he says, “When myriad dharmas are not self, there is no delusion, no enlightenment, no buddhas, no sentient beings, no birth, no death.” Next he says, “Because the Buddha Way originally sprung forth from abundance and paucity, there is birth and death, delusion and enlightenment, sentient beings and buddhas.”
Three sentences here. First one … according to my term, first sentence mentions “A” world. A world, B world, C world; the first sentence is A world. That is, as Dogen Zenji mentioned, “When all things are buddha-dharma, then there is delusion and enlightenment, there is cultivation of practice, there is birth, there is death, there are buddhas, there are sentient beings.” So, put simply, in our common sense, the seen(?) world, that is “A” world; mundane world.
Then, second, is “B” world. Dogen mentions, “When myriad dharmas are all not self, there is no delusion, no enlightenment, no buddhas, no sentient beings, no birth, no death.” B world is spiritual world, simply speaking.
So, there are two worlds we are always confronted with: “A” world, mundane world, and “B” world, spiritual world. In terms of spiritual world, B world, mundane world (A world) is something impure. So very naturally, in the spiritual world, (there is) no mundane world; so no birth, no death. According to Nagarjuna, this is called “entrance”(?), he said.
Is that clear? “A” world, “B” world. So very naturally, everyone see two worlds in their lives: mundane world as “A”, and spiritual world as “B”, which is pure.
So in the spiritual world, there are lots of terms: buddhas, and enlightenment, and god, and godhead, and… well, we try to use a lot of terms to explain pure spiritual world, which is quite different from mundane world as “A”. So very naturally, we are always see(ing) the two things separately. That makes you confused. Very confused. So always, we have to seek a play(?), see some game. This way, that way, this way, that way; always.
But Buddhism mentions, as you know pretty well, the world, or human life, or myriad, myriad things, or every single thing, are produced by the truth of inderdependent co-origination. In other words, there is nothing which is produced by its own, what you say, own being, own nature, own substance. In other words, according to the senses, the table exists because by its nature, by its own energy, by its own substance. Okay? But in philosophy we say, the earth, and water and fire, the four elements; the world is produced by the five elements, then, the table has five elements. That is its own energy and power or substance to produce itself. That is very common.
But Buddhism mentions about the teaching of the truth of interdependent co-origination, which means that there is nothing which every single being is produced by its own energy or nature or substance, but by myriad, myriad conditions, going and coming together. Going and coming at super-speed. So we don’t know! Table doesn’t have its own nature, its own power. Even a seed, a pumpkin seed or poppy seed, doesn’t have its own nature to produce. But seed grows by… well, its own power, but on the other hand, lots of energies around.
So, Buddhism insists(?), always something appears, something is produced by myriad, myriad conditioned elements. So from this point, in the truth of interdependent co-origination, there is nothing particular you can pin down. This is substance, or this is cause by which it is produced. Nothing. Because, always interdependent. So, there is nothing to separate. If you separate, there is the “A” world and “B” world; and then you can separate it; and then you can go to the A, you can leave the A, and go the B; always. In the truth of interdependent co-origination, there is no reason to separate everything. Always there is, as it is. What is just as it is, beyond your speculation, before you poke your head into it. Because everything is constantly interconnected, interpenetrated. This is the world you can see: the winter, and spring, summer, you can see through.
So, usually, “A” world is always something separate from the “B” world; “I don’t want”. So if we see the Spring, you love it, because you don’t like Winter. So, always separations. That is human speculation, so-called “A” world. And then, you want to go to the “B” world, so-called spiritual world. That is always some confusion there; cause of confusion, always. But Buddhism always mentions “A” world and “B” world come together, interdependant, interconnected, interpenetrated constantly, and produce something. This is the total picture of Winter. So what is Winter, beyond your speculation?
So that’s why first one says, Dogen Zenji mentions, “When all things are Buddha Dharma.” So all things are not all things you can see. All things are already all things seen from the truth of interdependence co-origination. So that is called buddha-dharma. It’s big word (world?); the biggest scale of the word “dharma,” the world you can see. That is (what) we call buddha-dharma. That’s why here it says, “When all things are buddha-dharma, then there is delusion and enlightenment, there is cultivation of the practice, there is birth, there is death, there are buddhas, there are sentient beings.”
So, a little bit different than I mentioned; I explained simply. Not “A” world; “A” world is “A” world, but “A” world is not “A” world in usual sense; but “A” world, interconnected, interpenetrated with “B” world, that is total picture of the “A” world. So, what is the “A” world? We can say “B” world. But same applies to the “B” world. What is the “B” world? Should you escape from “A” world and then you can get the “B” world? No; because “B” world is “B” world interpenetrated, interconnected with the “A” world; then this is the “B” world. So, what is the “B” world? We don’t know how to put the name on it.
That is a total picture of the “B” world, so-called spiritual world. And then, where do you live? Where do you live… What is the true reality you live every day? You live in the A world? You live in the B world? Yes or no?
So yes or no means completely there is nothing to pin down. So that is the total picture of the mundane world, total picture of the B world as a spiritual world that you are seeking for. But true things is completely, what would you say… it is something produced by A world and B world. That is called C world, I say.
So C world is the world where you live now. So what is the C world? C world is named by something? A or B? No. Even “C”, we cannot say “C”. But temporarily, I say “C”: C world.
The “C” world is true reality you live. We live there, actually, but usually we don’t see it. We obviously ignore it, and attach to A or B. That’s why your life is going far from true reality you live day to day. That’s why you create big gap. So, very confused.
That’s why, next, Dogen Zenji mentions, “Because the Buddha Way originally sprung forth from abundance and paucity” - Is that clear? This translation, I don’t know, do you understand or not. Because, Buddha Way means true reality. True reality; practically, or truly, you live there. Which is bigger scale of the world than you have thought. That is the Buddha Way. So, “the Buddha Way originally sprung forth from abundance and paucity”. So abundance and paucity means: table exists? Yes, it is being. But on the other hand, table is no being.
So what is the true reality of the table? Beyond being or not being, abundance or paucity? This is the total picture of table’s existence.
So that is first, Dogen Zenji mentions, “the Buddha Way originally sprung forth from abundance and paucity”. And then next he says, “there is birth and death, delusion and enlightenment, sentient beings and buddhas.” This is very important: we exist. I am thinking, therefor I exist, you can say. But equally, thinking, or my five skandhas, and … with you, all sentient beings, exist. That existence - my life and your life - is completely beyond your speculation or evaluation. So your life should be viewed in terms of emptiness, so called “no birth”? Yes or no? And your life is seen from mundane view? Yes or no?
In the Madhyamaka, Nāgārjuna mentions constantly, try(ing) to correct peoples’ misunderstanding of Buddha’s teaching, emphasizing constantly (the) true meaning of emptiness. So finally, everything is based on emptiness. Emptiness means the truth. But I don’t think this is really true. So, still people don’t understand it, because we return ignoring mundane world. So very naturally in the history, (???) consciousness develops. Conscious psychological world is developed. At that time, in the Buddhist psychology, I think, of course, the reality is beyond abundance and paucity, because it is based on emptiness. And the question comes up: the world that out there you see, is what? It should be negated? It should be affirmed? No. Whichever you say, no.
So beyond your “yes” or “no”: yes. That is called, what would you say, “C” world, according to my term, and in Buddhism we say pure dharmadhātu - what would you say - nisāna(?) in Sanskrit. Dhātu is, that is a vein of ore. So dharma world, we say in English, dharma world. In Sanskrit, we say dharmadhātu. So dharma is the truth, and also phenomena, all beings, you can see form of all things; and also teaching. So we call dharma, including three of them. So dharmadhātu means… something is mined from interdependence and interpenetration of myriad, myriad dharmas; myriad conditioned elements. And then, that is so-called dharmadhātu. So dharmadhātu is dharma world; buddha-dharma, we say. So, buddha’s world. And nishanda(?) means “throwing into” or “necessary result”.
So, the dharma, or the truth, it means. Nishanda(?), throwing into or necessary result, means that the truth is mined from there, the real reality beyond “A” and “B” world. And, throws into the worldly affair. And, this is necessary result of dharmadhātu. So dharmadhātu - in other words truth, or whatever you say - absolute truth, absolute reality, whatever. It’s not something separate from you.
If what the absolute god, buddha, or whatever, true reality is, (if) it’s something separate from you, it is nothing but conceptions. Which is pretty cold. It doesn’t make sense.
So, if it is separate from us, what are you seeking for? So even though you see the truth separate from your life, it doesn’t make sense for us. So I think truth is always throwing into the worldly affairs, and that is necessary result of the truth or dharma. That is called nishanda(?). So buddha’s teaching, or the teaching of the human life or human world, is dharmadhātu nishanda. In other words: you are C world, beyond A or B. This is your reality.
So that’s why Dogen Zenji mentions that your world should be completely accepted, beyond A world, or B world. Beyond your speculation, beyond germination of your thought. Anyway, completely accept. This is our practice. But it’s very difficult. Accepting means, your world, your life is nothing separate. Your world is completely something in the same warm ground. You don’t believe this, because from your birth, we have been always educated by separations.
You know, one of the primitive peoples has a certain custom to hold the baby right after birth, in a particular bag, in front of her. And they are very proud of themselves if this bag is kept in purity, constantly. Nothing is contaminated or dirty by baby’s pee, etc., if this mother always keeps this bag clear and clean. Can you believe this one? Well, how do you know? How do you know the time and occasion when the baby wants to have a pee? Because baby doesn’t say anything. But if she is always carried in bag, just like kangaroo, baby’s life and mother’s life is exactly one. So if baby feels nature, naturally she understands it.
The famous Zen Master (???) in Japan always mentions about mothers’ breast milk. If the baby cries, that is the time when the mothers’ breast is filled with milk. So very naturally, mother knows. And also, mother knows what’s going on with the baby when he cries, what kind of cry he or she has. Through the type of cry, mother knows whether baby is sick, or baby is sleepy, or baby feels hungry; she knows. The primitive people always carry the babies with her bodies, always. And then, you can know it. Intellectually, we don’t believe it, but actually we do. Baby remembers the situation of the mothers womb after the baby’s birth. That’s why we throw the babies into the pool, let them swim. Do you know this one? Because babies remember. Maybe babies don’t say anything, but in the beginning of the birth, I think everything is one. But right after, we always educate human beings: separately. So very naturally, we put the diaper. And then we feel comfortable. And also, mothers and parents always going to see the movie, and put the babies in somebody else. And mothers and fathers want to work, and go camping, so they try to get a baby sitter. That’s comfortable for us. But that is, I don’t know if it is really true or not. That is a big question. For adult, it’s comfortable, because we want to satisfy our own desire. But we don’t think about baby’s real nature. Baby’s real nature is exactly one. So why don’t you take care of the babies always? Then, even though baby doesn’t know, I think there is communication there. Do you understand this one? This is education.
Or for instance, if you don’t believe me: why do you talk to the baby? In English, or Japanese, for children. My son, when he came to San Francisco, he understood the English. He picked up English very quickly. And then later, Tomoe asked him, how do you know the English? He said, for children, it doesn’t matter, English or Japanese. Completely beyond. Children always jump into the situation with the body. Body means body and mind.
In other words, I always say, put your sock - your body and mind should be sock in the river. And then, at that time, you can learn. But modern civilization is completely opposite. First, scoop the water into your head, which seems to be bamboo basket. How can you keep your knowledge, learning, maturities? It’s impossible; it’s very difficult. I don’t mean you should ignore. But little bit quicker(?) way we follow.
So … why do you talk to the babies, in English or Japanese? Or why do you talk to the dog or cat in English, or in Japanese? Dog doesn’t care whatever kind of language you use. There is no guarantee how much baby understands your language. But you constantly talk; and then, baby understands. How? I don’t know. You don’t know either.
But constantly, you don’t know, beyond good or bad, beyond being or not being. Beyond abundance or paucity - you always do it. There is a language, there is a baby’s life, there is a monk’s life. And then, whole thing’s coming up. And then finally, you can say, this is education and this is language. But we don’t do it.
And then lately, we say, let’s teach English for the baby. And then – [he chuckles] – we always set up a schedule, set up a frame, so-called “English Education”; training. And then we put the baby into the frame of training, just like training horses and cows. And always give language, and then, if baby doesn’t understand, you’re mad at it. Something like this.
Same applies to your training. If you always train or practice in terms of A world and B world separately, you always put yourself in certain frame of practice. Because, it is already pretty conceptual; so-called “I am bad”. Which belongs in A world. So I want to be “good boy,” which should belong to the B world. So you train. That is just like a punishment.
So finally, you always depend on something, some frame of training or practice, and expecting something. At that time, you cannot stand up, true reality, which is beyond abundance and paucity. No. If you cannot stand up there, you never accept training or practice based on compassion or kindness; no. You should deal with practice and training as compassion; otherwise, you cannot maintain practice for long.
So, this is … that’s why we say pure dharmadhatu nishanda(?). The world of worldly affairs is not merely secular world, separate from the truth. Truth is not merely truth, separate from secular world. The world is world interpenetrated by the truth. So world exists, in the realm of beyond abundance and paucity, being or not-being, or thinking or not-thinking. This is the total picture of your life and everything. So you should totally accept.
That means, your life and your world is bathed in, and held, in the warm light of dharmadhatu: big world; Buddha’s world; universe, or truth.
The entrance(?) of the truth itself, or emptiness itself, truth by itself manifested in our world, means to throw a light upon the world and save it. Therefore, secularization of the emptiness or truth, is what is called compassion or upaya. Upaya means extend effort(?). Upaya means to go near to, or to reach.
I think the… in terms of “C” world, Dogen Zenji mentions “the Buddha Way originally sprung forth from abundance and paucity.” Your world is bathed in the warm light of huge expanse of being, existence. Beyond purity or not purity. In other words, your life is embraced with really great, warm arm of the mother. So, we should completely accept. But beyond you want to accept (or) you don’t accept, you are already embraced by huge, warm arms of mother. This is earth, universe. That is called buddha land, buddha.
From this point, that is, I think, practically… maybe someday I mentioned, all life should be built up on the foundation of nothingness. In other words, pivot of nothingness is a place where there is no space, no chance to poke your head into it. And then how can you build your life there? That question … or, how can you transmit the dharma, if there is no space, no time for you to poke your head? But that is big question, and also that is a very interesting point, practice-wise. That is why Buddhism mentions always.
But practically speaking, for instance, if you want to master downhill skiing, and whatever… you can see the future visions of skiing (skiers), or rock mountaineers; you can see the future vision. But if you see the future vision, very naturally we try to have lots of expectations from that future vision.
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