White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 128: If They Should Meet a Buddha

Dharma Talk Presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, March 3rd, 2012

You stepped through whatever entanglements and obstructions might have arisen
on the way to arriving at that seat. 

You felt the breath,

you felt the whole bodymind,

you practised.

You opened the front door

you walked in

walked up the stairs

feeling the breath
in every moment

feeling the whole bodymind

in every moment


here you are listening to some old boring monk
going on and on


"I don't know, it's all so confusing,
there are so many words, so many different names,
oh my goodness, and I have so much to do!" 

So, alright, I'll try not to go on and on too long,

and in fact since maybe this verse— 
and I'll read the verse: 

If they should meet a Buddha,
"May all beings

Become All-Pervasive Richness,
Dignified and adorned with all." 

And in the text we see that beside "All-Pervasive Richness" there is a '24'.
When we look down at the bottom of the page it says:
"Fugen (Samantabhadra)".
"Fugen" is Japanese for "Samantabhadra", which is in Sanskrit. 

"Samantabhadra", who was a Bodhisattva, 
"Fugen", who was the same Bodhisattva,

(and just a sidebar:
 along with "Monju", "Manjusri,"
was the name of one of the two fast breeder nuclear reactors in Fukui province in Japan.
Buddhists got upset that these Bodhisattvas were disrespected but that's a little sidebar...) 

And what does Fugen mean?
What does Samantabhadra mean?

Universally good, universal goodness, virtue and worthiness, symbolizes diligent practice. 

Another sidebar:
(in Shingon,
Fugen presides over a memorial service held on the 28th day after death and Samantabhadra—
one who is all-pervading good, same as Fugen,
one whose beneficence is everywhere—
is one of the most important Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism.
He is also the protector of all those who teach the Dharma and
is regarded as the embodiment of the wisdom of non-discrimination, essential sameness.) 

Samantabhadra is often depicted with Shakyamuni and Manjusri.
Samantabhadra is sometimes pictured on a six-tusked elephant,
represents the power of wisdom to overcome all obstructions.
The six tusks represent overcoming attachment to the six senses. 

So, Samantabhadra is representative of what we can all aspire to,
which is essential goodness,

which comes about through practice

which enhances the capacity to see situations with clarity
and to make decisions and choices
and take actions that

are actually useful. 

Now, it can be kind of fun to look at situations in day to day life,
situations that one comes across in the news,

situations that present themselves and say: 

What would be different
if these situations were handled by people who practised?|
What difference could it make to all beings? 

I will leave it to your imagination,

I don't want to coerce you

into thinking in a certain way

about anything other than practice,

but I encourage looking at possibilities
because you might find that encouraging as well 
and you might see more and more clearly

the benefit that can accrue through practising that essential clarity that is

present when each moment is


And how does that unobstruction occur? 

It's a process,
practice is a process,
just like your life is
a process. 

So you put this process called the bodymind down on a zafu
in front of a wall

and at the moment of noticing anything

(you don't need to go even as far as judging...) 

If you start to judge good or bad,
"should I practise here or not?"
Then at THAT moment,

because you're seeing that little tyrant,

coming in,

wanting to make choices. 

It sounds good, the story sounds good

but you go:

"wait a minute... I don't need to discriminate between this and that.
There is this essential sameness of dharma." 

Any time you notice anything,

any dharma, 
that's a moment of clarity.

Feel the breath,

sit up straight,

practise that moment. 

Now, Samantabhadra is also associated with actions, what you do.
In the last chapter of the Avatamsaka sutra,
and bear in mind, the verses are from the Avatamsaka sutra, Chapter 11,
but in the last chapter,
the Buddha states that Samantabhadra bodhisattva
made ten great vows in order to practise thoroughly as a Buddha. 

The first one:

To pay homage and respect to all Buddhas.


To praise all the Buddhas.


To make abundant offerings, to give generously.

To repent misdeeds and evil karma.

Number five:

To rejoice in the merits of others.


To request the Buddhas to continue teaching.


To request the Buddhas to remain in the world.


To follow the Teachings of the Buddhas at all times.

To accommodate and benefit all living beings.


To transfer all merits and virtues to benefit all beings. 

So Fugen or Samantabhadra was an "all beings" kind of guy or gal.
So not just one, not just someone who is high up in the hierarchy,
you figure you'll get something back,
but to take that urge to benefit and to apply it to all beings... 

what a different world it would be. 

Every evening during sesshin or O-sesshin, at 8:42pm,
we chant The Vow of Samantabhadra.
So those of you who chant and have chanted the vow of Samantabhadra,
please join in.
We will chant it as we do it during the closing during sesshin and O-sesshin,
and sometimes it gets chanted on Wednesday morning.
But The Vow of Samantabhadra is something that I enjoy a lot.
I hope you do as well. 

[O-sensei chants the title:]

The Vow of Samantabhadra

[O-sensei and students chant:] 

Then Samantabhadra, being in Vast Openness,

set forth an elucidation of eons and of the

movements of times as the points of inexpressible

Fields of Awakening and of worlds one after the other in the form of this Vow: 


To those Lions amongst the people who throughout

the three times have come into this world of ten directions,
to all of these without exception,

I offer body, speech, and mind. 


Through the virtue of the vow of acting as All-Pervasive Richness,
in the presence of those who are the Outshining,

I prostrate before them all,

bowing with bodies as many as the atoms of all their Fields. 

On a single particle are seated as many Awakened Ones as there are particles,
surrounded by the children of the Lineage.

Thus I see that the Total Field of All Possibilities

is filled entirely with the Outshining. 

With inexhaustible oceans of praises,

with every sound in the ocean of sounds,
proclaiming the virtues of all the Outshining,
I praise those who have Gone Into Joy. 


Rare flowers and garlands,

instruments of music, scented oils, fine parasols,
the best of lights and most excellent incense,
with these I make offerings to the Outshining. 

Elegant robes and superb scents,

incense powder as high as Mount Meru,

all of the best and most distinguished splendour,
I use to make offerings to all those who Outshine. 

Offerings both vast and supreme

I visualize for each of the Outshining Ones.

I, through the power of faith in the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness,
honour and make offerings to all the Outshining. 


All wrong actions from beginningless time,
stemming from passion, aggression, and ignorance,
arising through body, speech, and mind,

I now repent having committed. 


Whatever merits all the Outshining,
all the children of the Lineage, all solitary and noble practitioners of past and present,

and all worldly ones may have throughout these ten directions

I rejoice in them all. 


All you who are Radiance in all worlds in all directions,

you who have Awakened as Awareness and realized unobstructedness, I ask you, who have set forth the Path,
to turn the supreme Wheel of the Teachings. 


Those who might wish to pass into the Traceless,
with palm to palm, I beseech you to yet remain,
for eons as many as the atoms of all the Fields,
for the joy and benefit of all beings. 

Whatever small virtue I may have gathered,

through these prostrations, offerings,

repentance and rejoicing, requesting and beseeching,
I dedicate it all into Awakening. 

May the primordial Awakened Ones

and those who dwell now in all worlds in all directions
be honoured and those yet to come

fulfill their vows and Awake as Awareness. 

May whatever Fields there are in all directions

be excellent and completely clear.

May they be pervaded by the Outshining

and the children of the Lineage, beneath the tree of enlightenment. 

May all sentient beings there are in all directions
be of good health and joy.

May the aim of all those in the Round of Being
be aligned with virtue and their wishes fulfilled. 

As I live my life in the practice of realization,

may the memory of all lives in all states be clear;
in every lifetime, through birth and death,

may I always go forth into homelessness. 


Practising as have all those who Outshine,
fulfilling the practice of All-Pervasive Richness,
may all activities be unobstructed purity,
always free of stain. 

In the languages of shining beings and naga dragons,

of demons and of humans,

whatever forms of communication there are amongst all beings,
in all of these may I unfold the Teachings of Reality. 

May those who practise radical truth
never stray from Awakened Intelligence.
May all obstructions and signs

be completely extinguished. 

I will move through the paths of the Fields

free from cause and effect, afflictions, and distortions,
like a lotus flowering above the water,

like the sun and moon moving unhindered by the sky. 

Extinguishing the misery of all contracted realms,
bringing all beings into joyfulness,

I will act always for the liberation of all beings
throughout all regions and ranges of all Fields. 

According with the ways of all beings

while acting only to fulfill the practice of realization,
may all my activities throughout all eons

be the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness. 

May I always be in the company of those

who are practising the practice together with me.
Through embodiment, meanings, and knowings,
may I live as the only aspiration which is true. 

Those who have benefited me,

who teach me the practice of All-Pervasive Richness,

may I always be together with them

and may none of my actions be out of alignment with them. 

May I see the Awakened Ones face to face,

together with all those who are children of the Lineage.
May I always offer them everything

throughout all times, without fail. 

Maintaining the Teachings of Reality of the Outshining,
shining forth the practice of realization,

fully purifying all activities into All-Pervasive Richness,
let me live as this throughout all my lives. 

As I move through all realms of Being,

may I learn inexhaustible virtue and intelligence, 
may I be an unending treasury of radical insight and
skillful means, of the harmonies and of freedom. 

In a single point are Fields as infinite as the particles of all Space.
In those Fields are seated those beyond reference point,

the Awakened Ones and the children of the Lineage.

Through practice of All-Pervasive Richness may I come to know them all. 

In the space of the width of a hair,

in every region without exception,

may I understand the oceans of Awakened Ones and oceans of worlds
through my practice which pervades all times. 

May I always understand the pure speech of the Outshining Ones,
and how they adapt the Teachings of Truth

to what seems to be true to the various beings,

and so in a single sound set forth an ocean of tones. 

Into the infinite voices

of all the Outshining Ones throughout all times,
may I penetrate through the power of Knowing,
circulating as the Wheel of the Teachings. 

May I enter the gates of all eons

in a single instant of time,

through entering through the moment

which sets forth the measure of past, present, and future. 

In this single instant

I see all the Awakened Ones of all times.
Through the freedom of illusion-like presencing
may I penetrate their infinite sphere. 

I will presence within a single point

all Fields displayed throughout all times.
Thus I will understand the vast array

of Fields of Awakening in all directions. 

I will come into the presence of all those Pathfinders
who have and will show the worlds to be Radiance,
and learn their Teachings

before they become Traceless. 


Through the swift power of subtle perception,
the force of the Vast Path, the universal gate,
the power of the practice of all virtues,

the power of all-embracing warmth; 

Through the power of completely pure Richness,
the force of unobstructed Knowing,

the power of insight, skillful means, and of practice,
may all the forces of Awakening gather. 

Thus the momentum of tendency is purified.
The power of defilements is cleared away.
The strength of distortion is broken.

This is the fulfillment of the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness. 

Oceans of Realms are purified.

Oceans of beings are liberated.

Oceans of points of experience are seen through.
Oceans of realization are plumbed to their depths. 

Oceans of activities are purified.

Oceans of vows are accomplished.

Oceans of Awakened Ones are honoured.

May I practise without ceasing for oceans of times. 

May I completely accomplish all the aspirations
of all Awakened Ones of all times.
May my practice of the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness unfold as Awakened Awareness. 


I dedicate all activities

that they might be the same as all those who practise
as All-Pervasive Richness,

foremost of the children of the Outshining. 

Through stainlessness of embodiment, meanings, and knowings,
through acting as stainlessness in the stainlessness of all realms,
may my practice be no other

than All-Pervasive Richness. 

May I fulfill what Manjusri has vowed

and practise universal Pervasion of Richness.
Tirelessly, throughout each moment to arise
may I accomplish this. 

May my practice be without an edge

and there be no limit to virtues.

Exerting limitless practice let my understanding
be the inconceivable magic of Reality. 

As far as Space itself extends,

as long as all beings exist,

as long as the momentum of compression continues,
as long as this may my vow endure. 

One might offer to the Awakened Ones of All Fields
the ten directions filled with precious jewels 
and offer happiness to humans and shining ones
for as long as time lasts at all... 

But whoever has even a moment

of recognizing their own capacities to open to Openness
through hearing this supreme vow

will have received the greater merit. 

Whoever sets forth this Vow of All-Pervasive Richness
will abandon the paths of contraction

and not follow along with those who live in compression
but will come to face Infinite Radiance. 

They will gain that which is great:

the ability to live in truth and use their birth as a human
to quickly unfold themselves

into All-Pervasive Richness. 

Those who have committed even the five worst crimes
under the influence of confusion,

can immediately dissolve them

through the presentation of the practice of Richness. 

Endowed with insight, distinction, nobility,

a member of the family of the Awakened Ones,
one will be immune to delusion and limited views
and be honoured throughout the three worlds. 

One will move quickly to the seat of Awakened Awareness
and abide there for the benefit of beings.

Awakening as Awareness, turning the Wheel of the Teachings,
the array of distortions will be overcome. 

Whoever will maintain, communicate, or recite

this Vow of the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness

without any doubt are attended to by the Awakened Ones
and the fruit of this shall be Complete and Utter Awakening. 

What Manjusri has realized

and what Samantabhadra has realized,

I who follow their paths will realize

and thus I dedicate everything to this virtue. 

All those who are the Outshining of the three times
have proclaimed that this is the best dedication.
And so I too dedicate all my virtues

into the supreme Activity of Richness. 

At the moment of death

may I release all obstructions

and see Infinite Radiance face to face
and dwell in Sukhavati, the Field of Bliss. 

May I there embody my vows

and accomplish them fully.

As long as there are worlds

I will work for the benefit of beings. 

In that Field of Bliss,

I will arise as a flowering forth

and face to face with Infinite Radiance 
my own unfolding as Awakened Awareness will be set forth. 

Receiving this glimpse of my own unfolding in that place
I will set forth as infinite forms in all directions.

As the Activity of Awakening

I will benefit all beings. 

Whatever merit I might have through chanting
this Vow of the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness
may all beings' vows of virtue

be accomplished right now. 

Through the infinite merit realized through

the Vow of the Activity of All-Pervasive Richness,
may all beings drowning in the torrent of obstruction
enter into the higher orders of Infinite Radiance. 

[Strikes on gong as Sensei and students bow to end the chant.]

Now wasn't that fun? 

And just picture this:

You've been sitting zazen,

you've been doing kinhin,

you've been doing oryoki,

you've been practising since,


all the time,


each moment of those

24 hours...

but long days, long nights, and then:

The Vow of Samantabhadra at the end of the day! 

So, by practising when you're chanting that,
the tendency to want to fall into complaint about the knees
can sometimes be opened permanently,
so even though the knees may, oh get "tetchy" from time to time later on,
it really doesn't bother you much. 

So, thank you again,
and the verse once more from Every Breath You Take:

If they should meet a Buddha...

So listen, how are you going to tell who is a Buddha and who isn't a Buddha?

[students laugh]

How are you going to tell because there are all sorts of stories
of these characters getting up to all sorts of things,
so what can you do?

What can you do?

You can't really pick them out,

so I guess you'll just have to take the wisest possible action in any given situation

and act as if all beings are that. 

If they should meet a Buddha,
"May all beings

Become All-Pervasive Richness,
Dignified and adorned with all." 

Thank you for listening.