The Matter of the Ascendant State of Buddha
Butsu means “buddha,” kojo means “ascend,” or “be beyond,” and ji means “matter,” so butsu-kojo-no-ji means “the matter beyond buddha” or “the matter of the ascendant state of buddha.” These words describe a buddha continuing Buddhist practice after attaining the truth. Attainment of the truth is the practitioner’s recognition that he or she has been buddha since the eternal past. Therefore even though buddhas have attained the truth, they do not distinctly change their thought, their physical condition, their life, and their practice of Zazen, after having attained the truth. They just continue with their lives, practicing Zazen each day. Buddhas like this are called “beyond buddha” or “ascendant buddhas” because they are buddhas who do not look like buddhas, and who continue the same usual Buddhist life as the life which they had before their enlightenment. Master Dogen revered these ascendant buddhas very much. Ascendant buddhas like these are actual buddhas, and we cannot find buddhas other than they in this world. So in this chapter, Master Dogen explained the matter of ascendant buddhas, quoting the words of many masters.