Friday, August 15, 2008

Chicken Foot Mountain

So to advance the story line a little, as it were, and to wrap up some loose ends, recall that when Shakyamuni Buddha twirled a flower in front of the assembly, only the old ascetic Mahakasyapa understood. Mahakasyapa smiled, and the Buddha announced, "I have the true Dharma eye treasury, wondrous mind of nirvana, which I bequeath to Mahakasyapa. Spread it through the future, never letting it be cut off." He also entrusted to Mahakasyapa his golden embroidered winter robe. Having thus received transmission of the true Dharma eye treasury, Mahakasyapa became the first Indian patriarch of Zen.

Mahakasyapa's understanding was profound, and there were even those who maintained that Mahakasyapa was actually Buddha's teacher, not the other way around. Upon hearing this, Mahakasyapa humbly bowed before the Buddha, and confirmed that Shakyamuni was the teacher and Mahakasyapa his disciple.

Mahakasyapa practiced and eventually passed away on Kukkutupada (Chicken Foot Mountain) in the Himalaya. There are those who say that he is still waiting in a cave on Chicken Foot Mountain for Maitreya to appear in this world as the next Buddha, at which time Mahakasyapa will present Shakyamuni's robe to the future Maitreya Buddha.

According to legend, seven Buddhas have so far appeared in the world. The seven Buddhas include three Buddhas of the Age of Adornment and four Buddhas of the Age of Wisdom. Shakyamuni was the seventh Buddha, the fourth in the Age of Wisdom, and the appearance in the future of Maitreya will mark the eighth Buddha.

One day, while still in this mortal coil, Mahakasyapa asked the Venerable Ananda, "What single verse gave rise to awakening and all the teachings of the Buddhas?"

Ananda said, "Not performing any evil, respectfully practicing all good, purifying one's own mind, this is the teaching of all Buddhas."

Mahakasyapa agreed. Remember him as the one who smiled.

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