THE THREE BASKETS
Master Tozan said, “The entire Tripitaka can be expressed in one character.”
Another Master, Hakuun, elaborated Tozan’s statement with a poem:
Each stroke is clear though hard to read,
Gautama failed to write it many times.
So why not give the task to Mr. Wang?
Perhaps he’ll do it, after all.
Tripitaka is a Sanskrit word meaning “three baskets” which refers to the complete texts of the original Buddhist writings. The three baskets are Sutra (words of the Buddha), Vinaya (rules and regulations governing monks), and Abhidharma (commentaries and treatises on the teachings). It is an adage, here repeated by Tozan, that the entire teachings can be expressed in one word. But truth, simple and concrete, is ever-changing according to the specific condition and specific time.
That which does not change is concept, and concepts are not living truths; they are lifeless statements, static thoughts. Thus, no matter how masterful the calligraphy or eloquence, even if rendered by the famous artist Mr. Wang or a modern-day Eckhart or a Deepak or a Shakespeare or a Spinoza, the truth cannot be written, read, or spoken—only lived.