This is the first in a series of talks looking at different Buddhist teachings from a Zen perspective. I thought I’d start with the first sermon the Buddha gave, on the Four Noble Truths, look at what he said, and also the Zen attitude to this.
The Sandokai is the work of Master Sekito Kisen (in Chinese: Shítóu Xīqiān) who was born in in southern China in 700 AD and died in 790 AD. This was an era in which Zen grew in popularity and began to emerge as a distinct school with many strong, dynamic personalities like Bodhidharma and Eno.
Buddha said “Even if you have committed errors, if for just one single moment you sincerely venerate the kesa, you can become Buddha”. Before we put the kesa on for the first time in the day we place it on our head, making it physically higher than ourselves, and chant this sutra:
The four great vows of the Boddhisattva are a commitment to practise with compassion, awareness and determination.
This little verse was in the newsletter a while ago as part of the Ghohatsu Nenju – Formal Meal Verses. It is chanted at the end of the meal by the Ino. I have also heard it chanted in the dojo at the end of a teaching or a mondo or a short zazen. I think it is a beautiful verse in both English and Sino-Japanese.