What is Transmitted: (5) A Set or Style of Teaching?

Perhaps Zen transmission has to do with the content or method of instruction…

While one might think that, since the word Dharma is often defined as “the Buddhist teachings,” that “transmission of the Dharma” meets the passing along of a set of scriptures. But this has never been true, even from the beginning.

According to the old stories, Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciple Ananda, who apparently had a great memory, was able to remember every talk the Buddha gave word for word and so preserve the teachings. But Ananda was not the one who received “Dharma transmission” from Shakyamuni. The next successor in the lineage was Mahakashyapa, who smiled when the Buddha held up a flower. Mutual recognition (see Part (2)) occurred between Shakyamuni and Mahakashyapa, and it was Mahakashyapa who led the community after Shakyamuni’s death.

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