Not What You Think It Is

Lately, I started reading a fascinating book about the life of Tetsugen Dōkō (鉄眼道光, 1630-1682), a monk of the Obaku Zen sect. He was known as a scholar and great propagator of Buddhist texts to lay-people in Japan.

One of his best known writings is a text called the Dharma Lesson in Japanese (鉄眼禅師仮名法語 , tetsugen zenji kana hōgo) which was written for a lay-devotee and is based on the Heart Sutra.

The part I wanted to share was this section:

Even though what we think of as painful or pleasant aren’t really pain and pleasure, because we are deluded, we end up thinking they are. The reason for this is that when a crow, a dog, or a fox sees a dead crow or horse rotting or a human corpse festering, they think it is a rare treat. First they enjoy looking at it, then their enjoyment increases as they smell it and grasp it. They think this is the greatest of pleasures. Seen from the human perspective, this seems immeasurably impure and repulsive. If we were forced by others to eat such putrid things, it would be incomparable suffering. What is worse than being forced to eat them is that crows devour such things greedily, and thing it is pleasant….

What human beings find pleasurable is similar. Because of foolish minds, we are consumed by wife and children, are deluded by wealth, eat fish and fowl, and take this to be pleasant. Viewed from the perspective of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, this looks even more wretched than the crows seem to us from our human vantage. Conjecturing from this, [we see that] what deluded people find pleasant actually brings pain; they only believe it is pleasure. (pg. 99)

Something to consider. 😉

P.S. a pretty interesting book overall. I hope to write more about it soon.

Edit: Fixed the quote. Somehow a large part of it was accidentally removed during editing. :p


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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