Topics Worth Investigating

  1. The Zen Master Bankei said:

    Learn to abide in the Unborn for thirty days, and from there on, even if you don't want to—whether you like it or not—you'll just naturally have to abide in the Unborn.… That way you'll be living buddhas here today, won't you?[1]

    Explain Master Bankei's instruction in terms of the realm of the "Immutable."

  2. Explain Buddha's doctrine of the "Middle Path" between the two extremes of pleasure and self-mortification. How does the Buddha's Middle Path compare with Confucius' Doctrine of the Mean?

    While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of Equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of Harmony. This Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this Harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.

    Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.[2]

  3. Explain Buddha's conception of holiness. What forms the consciousness of the Arhat? Why does the holy person seem to have no hindrances?

  4. In the Apology, Socrates states when he has been sentenced to death:

    …we are quite mistaken in supposing death to be an evil.…

    Death is one of two things. Either it is annihilation, and the dead have no consciousness of anything, or, as we are told, it is really a change—a migration of the soul from this place to another. Now if there is no consciousness but only a dreamless sleep, death must be a marvelous gain.[3]

    Contrast Socrates' notion of "annihilation" with Buddha's notion of extinction or Nirvana.



Peter Haskel. Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei New York: Grove Press, 1984, 19.


Confucius. Doctrine of the Mean. 500 BC. Translated by James Legge.


Socrates' Defense (Apology). Translated by Hugh Tredennick. In Plato: The Collected Dialogues. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969, 25.