I read the book ‘Old Path, White Clouds’. It was a thick, fat book. Written by Thich Nhat Hanh, it gives a different perspective about Buddhism. It is quite different from Nicherin Buddhism and also the regular teachings and life of Buddha we knew about! It is surprising how the words of a person can be interpreted in so many different ways.
Aren’t these gurus trying to interpret the teachings from their own narrow perspective and thus trying to prove their own stance about life, death and other aspects, which are not in our own control.
Zen Buddhism talks about mindfulness, so the whole book concentrated on or rather is written from the perspective of mindfulness – mindful eating, walking, talking, etc. Nicherin Buddhism is based on cause and effect and thus every teaching of Buddha is interpreted to bring home this thought. Nicherin Buddhism never mentions mindfulness, on the other hand Zen emphasises mostly on this concept. Sometimes it is hard to believe that we are talking about the same person and the same source who showed the way to the masses then, and continues to do so in the present day.
Even the life history of Buddha we read over the years, is different from the one mentioned in this book. I agree that since there are not many written, authentic accounts so the people have filled in the gaps on their own.
The most common story I remember about Buddha was the one in which a lady whose son dies comes running to Buddha asking him to make a miracle happened and revive her son. Budha calmly replies, “get me a mustard seed from the house where there has been no death and I shall revive the life into your son.” The mother knocks on numerous doors but she is unable to get a mustard seed because every household had encountered death. One might say that the this incident is not mention in the book because it has no written account but I feel it has not been written about because the author has dealt about the philosophies in a very different manner.
Lately I have started feeling that these masters have associated themselves to Buddhism because they lacked ‘universal identity’. It would have taken ages to propagate their so-called own religion, so they clung on to the famous, neutral philosophy of Buddhism that had a universal appeal. The percepts, the theories and traditions are different in each sect but they continue to propagate them in the tutelage of Buddhism.