34/24 Bukkyo



The Buddha’s Teaching

Butsu means Buddha or Buddhist, and kyo means teaching or teachings. Bukkyo is usually translated as Buddhism, but in this chapter Master Dogen emphasized the importance of the theoretical side of Buddhism. For this reason it is better here to translate bukkyo as “Buddha’s teaching” in order to distinguish between the peculiar usage of the word in this chapter and the usual usage. Some Buddhist sects, wanting to emphasize the value of practice in Buddhism, insist on the importance of a transmission which is beyond and separate from theoretical teachings. They say we need not rely on any verbal explanation of Buddhism. But Master Dogen saw that this theory itself was mistaken. Of course, practice is very important in Buddhism, but Master Dogen considered that both practice and theory are important. If we deny the importance of the theoretical side of Buddhism, we lose the method to transmit Buddhism to others. In this chapter Master Dogen explained the role of Buddhist theory and insisted that we should not forget the importance of theoretical Buddhist teachings.