1640s?: Butsu-gen / Hotoke-goto(ba)
Anonymous - Mid- to Late 17th century?
Apart from paragraphs I-2 and III-16, still pending while awaiting clarifications,
the translation of this marvellous text has now been completed, as of April 30, 2015.
I have copied/digitalized this quite mysterious document from pages 427-428 in Nakatsuka Chikuzen's (中塚竹禅,
1887-1944) 'Kinko-ryū shakuhachi shikan', Nihon Ongaku-sha, Tōkyō, 1979,
wondering whether the title should perhaps rather be pronounced Butsu-gon?
Nakatsuka had nothing to state regarding any possible authorship and dating of the text which he described as being printed as the first chapter of twenty-nine
in a small 50 page soft-cover pamphlet made of quarter-sized Minō
[美濃] paper with neither a title page nor a list of contents.
After a preliminary investigation of the subject matter and style of the text, I believe that it may well be quite old, and - possibly -
rather closely related to both the Kaidō honsoku and Isshi Bunshu's Letter to Sandō Mugetsu which are both dating from the second quarter of the 17th century.
That is so, indeed, in terms of actual, inherent subject matter.
Nakatsuka explains in his short introduction on p. 426, that the original text may have been incomplete (missing or incorrect kanji, f.i.),
and he added punctuation to facilitate the reading of the reprint.
He also notes that the text contains "many difficult Buddhist terms" and recommends that the document should be studied
by people who are attracted towards matters of value.
Any feedback regarding the translation and interpretation of this fascinating text is most welcome!
HOTOKE-GOTO(BA) - "Buddhist Statement(s)"
"As for the shakuhachi, in general, there are traditions in three countries:
In India it has 7 joints [or, nodes], in China [it has] 5 joints, in Japan [it has] 3 joints."
Pending final translation - possibly, one or more kanji may be missing.
However, these are the apparent "elements" of the text:
"Affairs/business + oral tradition + has it (that) - Komusō + measure + matter + catalogue/inventory - (that is the) True Nature of the Shakuhachi."
"As for that shakuhachi, it is Music which Explains the Promotion of Truth and The Forgetting of One's Destiny, within 'Mu',
無中, [= "No-one-ness"]."
"How about Malice, stop The Evil of Mankind, affecting [?] the Buddha is a wicked idea, and so and so on ... " [?]
"The rounded shape of the shakuhachi symbolizes the Omnipresence of the Buddhist Universe."
"The upper opening represents the Diamond Heaven
[i.e.: Kongō-ten - the one of the two principal mandalas of Tibetan Tantrism & Japanese Shingon Buddhism]."
"The lower opening represents the Womb Realm
[i.e.: Taizō-kai - the other of the two principal mandalas of Tibetan Tantrism & Japanese Shingon Buddhism]."
A quite probable and meaningful translation:
"As for the removing [or, "passing through"] of the basic node(s) [i.e.: inner membrane(s)] - Right and Wrong are but "two faces of the same coin" -
the shakuhachi with no inner divisions [or, "compartments"] carries The Meaning of the Un-obtainability of The Three Existences."
"The four fingerholes on the front express the Four Seasons:
Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, as well as The Four Elements of Wood, Water, Fire and the Wind.
Furthermore, including the single hole on the back which represents the Void [lit.: the 'Sky'],
altogether [the five holes] signify The Five Forms [or, 'Elements'] of Soil, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void."
"Therefore, the voice [or, sound] of the 5 (musical) tones and the 5 (musical) scales represent The Doctrine of the Dainichi Nyorai Buddha's 5 Wisdoms."
"When one holds the shakuhachi and blows air into it, that corresponds to the Golden Breeze of One's Original Being."
"And, when the blowing stops, that is the Playing of Eternal Words and Current Ease."
"Also, when one seizes to blow, then - in one breath - that is The Conclusion of Destiny." [?]
"Furthermore when blowing in front of the Buddha, the Buddhist Way contains Consciousness [Vijnana],
and one blows [shakuhachi] for the Attainment of Buddhahood for all plants, all lands,
and the whole creation [or, all things in Nature]."
"Then, when playing in front of educated persons, that is to play for The Increased Wish for Enlightenment."
"When playing in front of ordinary people, that is to play for A Decrease in Human Mediocrity."
"Consequently, in persons who listen to this shakuhachi, it will reduce the Karma of Action, Speech and Thought,
remove the Evil Passions of (opposite) Darkness and Ignorance [Avidya], and bring about Impartiality and (Buddhist) Grace."
In general, there are shakuhachi traditions [lit.: inheritances] in 3 countries.
In India, Mujōe [?] Bodhisattva played a shakuhachi with 7 nodes; that expressed The Seven Buddhas."
"In China, because Abbot Fuke played The Shakuhachi of The Five Wisdoms [of both Dainichi Nyorai Buddha and Amithaba Buddha] with five nodes, therefore
that expresses The Five Seasons [Spring, Summer, Mid-Summer, Autumn and Winter].
"The particular shakuhachi [of Japan] has 3 nodes; consequently, the 3 nodes represent the 3 Bodies of a Buddha [Kāya]."
"In the village of Uji in the Kyōto Vicinity of Japan [Gokinai] [there is, or was] a precious piece of paper ["a document"] about the origin of the
Accordingly, it is written like this [in a paragraph]:"
Comment, T.O.: This may very well be a reference to the 'Kaidō honsoku' of 1628?
"The holes on the front symbolize The Four Seasons [lit.: Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter],
and The Four Elements [Soil, Water, Fire & Wind].
"The hole on the back symbolizes The Concept of Non-Substantiality [Jap.: Kū: The Void - lit.: the Sky]."
"While striving steadfast towards spiritual purification Beyond Life and Death, the itinerant [Zen?] monk
is blowing the shakuhachi on his (predescribed) path towards the attainment of Bodhisattvahood."
"Moving freely in every direction, Fuke Zenji often went into town and proclaimed, while waving his hand bell,
'Bright comes; Bright hits;
Dark comes; Dark hits;
Four Corners Eight Directions come; Whirlwind hits;
Non-Dual Non-Substantiality come; Scythe hits.'"
"Being a person who watched The Peak of the Chinese Trumpet Vine Mountain over the clouds, Fuke was the first founder of the Buddha Hall."
"The shakuhachi is the principal of the (wandering) monk's [Shramana] 48 Dharma implements."
This is a somewhat mysterious sentence with several variables:
"Although [the tightness of?] a certain waistband [san-jaku] obeys one's mood,
therefore [or, still?], it is irrational to 'obtain' the 'length of an inch'
and the 'shortness of a foot'."
"That one shakuhachi is the Secret Way of all Non-dual [lit.: Empty] Phenomena."
"The upper and lower openings are Heaven and Earth, respectively."
"Furthermore, in actual fact the pair of the Diamond and Womb Realms reside in the Inner Murkiness."
"The five soundholes are the Void, Wind, Fire, Water and Soil, and the Void is equivalent with the Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue and Body."[?]
"Land and fish all return to the Void, amidst Emptiness [Non-duality] that is the Nose, Ear, Tongue and Body."[?]
"The name(s) add to the protection of the Five Tathāgatas [Jap.: Go-nyorai, of Tantric Shingon Buddhism],
blowing it [the shakuhachi] removes Wrong Ideas, and eliminates Evil Morals and Conduct."
"At that time one rises to ecstacy and descends from the Gold Wheel [Jap.: konrin - Heaven] to the Water's Edge [Jap.: mizugiwa - Earth]."
"[In] everything, this penetrates [or, clears] the Voice of Exquisite Music."
"This is also similar to the Intense Absorption in Meditative Concentration
and the Mountain Asceticism [of the yamabushi/Shugendō], respectively [zentei sammai]."
"Zazen, that is also the Comfort of the Buddhist Teaching [an-raku no hōmon]."
"One bow, a 'litter' of many arrows, thast is the Intense Absorption in Meditative Concentration
(as well as Mountain Asceticism)."
"'Moving' is 'Zen', 'Sitting' is 'Zen'; Speech or Silence, Quarrel or Rest,
safely blow the shakuhachi (!)."
"Heaven and Earth have the same root.
"Zen master Fuke's Zen Buddhist monks, all over Japan,
those who are blowing the shakuhachi, freely in all directions,
here and there, everywhere,
at check points and guard houses,
in the countryside, and in the towns:
the practice of straight-forward asceticism
[lit.: one-way traffic street shugyō]."
"This extraordinary philosophy [lit.: thought, opinion] has (both) Time and Space."
"As it is being stated in the above text,
because of the approval by the Tōshū-gu
[the mausoleum of the 1st Tokugawa Shōgun Ieyasu],
his monogram [alt.: emblem, signature] has been applied."