The Thirty-seven Auxiliary Bodhi Methods
Sanjushichi means “thirty-seven.” Bon means “kinds.” Bodai represents the Sanskrit bodhi, which means “the truth.” Bunbo means “auxiliary methods.” So Sanjushichibon Bodai Bunbo means “the thirty-seven kinds of auxiliary methods [for realizing] the truth.” Generally speaking, Buddhist study is divided into Hinayana Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. And the thirty-seven methods are usually said to belong to Hinayana Buddhism, because they are discussed in the Abhidharma-mahavibhasa-sastra, which is a fundamental sutra of Hinayana Buddhism. In Japan, and especially among Mahayana Buddhist masters, it was very rare for Buddhist monks to discuss these teachings. But Master Dogen has his own view of Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism. According to him, there is only one Buddhism, which Gautama Buddha taught. So although there are distinctions between Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism, the distinctions are due to the different ages in which the two kinds of Buddhism were taught. Therefore Master Dogen does not like to discriminate between the two Buddhist streams. In this chapter Master Dogen explains the thirty-seven methods as Buddhist practice which is not divided into Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism, and which is based on practicing Zazen.