44/49 Butsudo



The Buddhist Truth

Butsu means “Buddha” and do originally means “way,” but also “morals” and “the truth.” So butsudo means “the Buddha’s truth” or “the Buddhist truth.” The concept of “the Buddhist truth” is central to Master Dogen’s theory, and it is helpful to examine the meaning from each of the four phases of Buddhist philosophy. In the first (subjective) phase, the Buddhist truth is embodied in the Buddhist philosophical system. In the second (objective) phase, the Buddhist truth is the external world, or nature. In the third phase (based on action), the Buddhist truth is ethical or moral conduct in everyday life; that is, everyday life as we live it. In the ultimate phase, the Buddhist truth is ineffable, the complicated; the state in Zazen, or reality itself. In this chapter, however, Master Dogen does not try to explain these meanings of “the Buddhist truth”; he simply asserts that there is only one Buddhism — that which was established by Gautama Buddha. Based on his assertion, although there are several Buddhist sects, we do not need to use the titles that these sects have been given. Master Dogen insists that the title “the Buddha’s truth” or “Buddhism” is sufficient, and that it is wrong to use such titles as the Unmon Sect, the Hogen Sect, the Igyo Sect, the Rinzai Sect, and the Soto Sect. We usually think of Master Dogen as belonging to the Soto Sect, but he himself did not approve of the use of even the title “Soto Sect.”