Buddhist wisdom for all

I'm finally reading the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters (四十二章經), which I had not noticed in my local library before now because they inexplicably file it with the books on traditional Japanese theater.

Actually, I do have a possible explanation: they have the 1994 reprint of the 1936 Iwanami Bunko version, edited by Tokunō Fumi 得能文 (1866-1945). Note the 能 in the name; it's the same character as the one used to write "Noh," as in the theatrical tradition.

Anyway, as Wikipedia explains in uncharacteristically entertaining fashion, S42C (in theaters this summer) has in Northeast Asia at least traditionally been considered a highly significant document of early Buddhist thought, "[b]ut maybe it is only a Chinese Buddhist text, disguised as Indian and souped-up by Zen masters." Oh, those scoff-Law, hot-rodding Zen masters! It's a mostly straightforward text full of great metaphors, like this one:


The Buddha said, "So, sex and money. Folks will not let them go. Shit is like a knife with honey on it. It wouldn't even be a satisfying meal, but a kid will still get his tongue cut up trying to lick it off."

Some of the stuff in here is positively Borscht Belt:


The Buddha said, "Getting tied down to a wife and kids and home, it's worse than being in prison. At least when you're in prison they let you out one day."

Unfortunately, being Buddha, he good not in good conscience urge his readers to "try the veal," and announcing that he would be there all week would undermine his message of impermanence.

Speaking of which, some of those chapters are just crying out for a good, egregiously free-wheeling hypermodernization.


Buddha said, "Contemplate heaven and earth. Be mindful of impermanence. Look down. Back up. You are now contemplating the world, mindful of impermanence. Now contemplate spiritual awakening. What's that in your self? Back at me, I have it — it's Bodhisattva-nature. Look again — it is now wisdom. I'm on the Way."

Anything is possible when your man has vowed to liberate all sentient beings.

Popularity factor: 4


Thanks for the this morning. The interpretations are a real laugh!

Leonardo Boiko:

Perhaps they thought it was a letter on how to profit from Nō.


If they'd thought that, they'd have filed it under Fiction, Medieval Fantasy. Heyooooo!


Best OSM parody ever... or really, the OSM commercial was the best S42C parody ever... I think I just blew my mind.

Comment season is closed.