The Ancestral Master’s Intention in Coming from the West
So means “ancestor” or “patriarch” and shi means “master”; thus soshi means “ancestral masters,” or “the ancestral Master.” The word sometimes, as in this case, indicates Master Bodhidharma. Sai means “west” and rai means “come.” I (pronounced not as in white but as in green) means “intention” or “aim.” So Soshi-sairai-no-i means Master Bodhidharma’s intention in coming from the west. It is said that in the sixth century Master Bodhidharma went from India (the west) to China (the east) to spread Buddhism, and that this event marked the transmission of true Buddhism to China. Master Bodhidharma was then called the first Patriarch in China and so Chinese Buddhists thought it very important to discuss Master Bodhidharma’s intention in coming from the west. In this chapter, Master Dogen picks up a famous discussion between Master Kyogen Chikan and his disciple to explain the real meaning of Master Bodhidharma’s intention in coming from the west.