The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter One: Prologue


The Founding Master continued, “The doctrines and institutions of Buddhism of the past were organized mainly in terms of monastic orders, which were not well suited to people living in the secular world. Adherents leading secular lives were guests rather than hosts, and except for lay persons who were particularly adept spiritually or who had accomplished a particularly important work, it was difficult for almost everyone else to become a part of the Buddha’s direct lineage or recognized as a Buddhist patriarch like the monks who trained by leav-ing the world behind. Furthermore, while religions are concerned with people, Buddhist temples are located in the mountains where there aren’t many people. How can people who are busy with their secular lives make time to leave the secular world and visit Buddhist temples to receive the teaching? Also, since the Buddhist scriptures are full of language and terminology difficult for ordinary people either to learn or to understand, you could hardly teach them to a wide group encompassing the learned and ignorant, men and women, young and old. As for sustaining life, the Buddhist monks have abnegated all occupations of scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants and relied only on contributions from buddha offerings, almsgiving, and donations. How can this type of life be practiced by everyone? Marriage, too, was strictly prohibited for those training by leaving the world behind. Rules of propriety governing secular life were also not articulated, but only those for formal buddha offerings. How can we consider their lives to be well-rounded? Therefore, we will be concerned only with the rank of practice and work without discriminating between laity and clergy in terms of guests or hosts. Nor will we discriminate between them in the matter of the Buddhist lineage. We will designate places for practice wherever adherents reside, and make our doctrines accessible to all classes of people by choosing only the most essential points from existing sūtras and using simple language. For the life of the ordained, we will allow them to choose an occupation as their personal situations require, and will also leave to them the decision whether to marry or not. Let us formulate rules of propriety in terms mainly of practical buddha offerings that are more appropriate and beneficial to life in the secular world, rather than observe all the complicated rituals of formal buddha offerings. Even the ordained, except in special sit-uations, should in their youth learn to read and in their prime of life engage in study of the Way and endeavor to deliver others. In their old age they should retire to a place of quiet leisure and natural beauty, be rid of all attachments and cravings of the secular world, and further reflect upon the great matter of birth and death, making rounds in spring and autumn to different temples in cities and villages to exert themselves in the work of edification, and returning in summer and winter to a life mainly devoted to spiritual cultivation. Our aim is thus to pro-vide for a flawless life as long as we may live and to make the organization that is in charge of this doctrine and these institutions impeccable by bringing it into accord with the current time and human needs.”