There are many names for the bodhisattva according to the dimension in which the word is used. One of the names is tathagata. Tathagata comes from the root tathata. Tathata means suchness, thisness; everything is here and everything is now. There is no past and there is no future; and in your suchness, in your nature, you are already enlightened. Tathagat means one who conceives every being as enlightened: a few are aware of it, a few are not, a few want to play the games of life a little more. A few are attached to their teddy bears, but sooner or later one gets rid of the teddy bear. A tathagata’s approach is to make you aware that what you are clinging to is just dream stuff. If you want to cling you can cling, but remember, there is nothing to cling to.
I told you the Jaina proverb that the thirsty will come to the well, but the well is not supposed to run after thirsty people. Gautam Buddha’s statement parallel to it is, “If the mountain cannot come to me, I will go to the mountain! Obviously it is difficult for the mountain to come to me, but that does not mean that the mountain has to miss me. I will go.”
This small anecdote is concerned with Buddha’s words, and for centuries – twenty-five centuries – his words have been discussed by great masters. Such beauty has blossomed in those words, such rainbows have come out of those words. Gautam Buddha in this sense is very rare. No other person in the whole of history has been commented on by so many and has been showered with so many new meanings. He is certainly alone.
Chokei, another bodhisattva,
…one day said, “Even if you say that the arhats still have three poisons…”
He is not saying they have, he is saying, “Even if you say that the arhats have still the three poisons…” of covetousness, anger, folly; still…
“…you should not say that the Tathagata has two languages.”
It has been argued again and again between masters. For the contemporary world these beautiful statements, commentaries, have lost their meaning. But unless they are revived, something in you will remain missing. They are so essential to human spirit and its growth.
He is saying that a tathagata cannot be said to have two languages. There have been masters who have said that a tathagata has two languages. So first you have to understand…otherwise, Chokei will not be understood.
Those who have said a tathagata has two languages have their own meaning. A tathagata has to speak with those who do not know and a tathagata has also to speak to those who know. Obviously he needs two languages. When you are with one who knows, you use one language, and when you are with someone who does not know, you have to use a different language.
But Chokei says, “You can say if you want, that the arhatas still have three poisons – which is impossible, because an arhata becomes an arhata by overcoming those three poisons.” You can say that – Chokei allows it – but you cannot say about the Buddha, about the Tathagata, that he has two languages: “I do not say that the Tathagata has no language, but that he does not have two languages.”
Chokei is saying something immensely important. On the one hand he says,