The Story of Sessen Doji

Our Buddha wisdom comes from the teachings, our practice and personal realizations. As well as from the many stories shared in discovering our Buddha nature.  The story of Sessen Doji, is found in the Nirvana Sutra, which was a compilation of stories told after the Buddha’s passing into Nirvana.  In this wonderful dynamic of faith, this seeker of the Way is said to actually be Shakyamuni in a previous lifetime. Sessen living in the high Snow Mountains, was practicing austerities fasting, meditating, listening for the voice within, communing with nature, staying away from the noise of the city, in pursuit of wisdom and enlightenment.

In this story, the entity of Taishaku, one of two main gods protecting mother earth, originally the god of Thunder, decided to test Sessen Doji’s faith. He appeared before him in the form of a demon and recited half a verse from a Buddhist teaching: “All is changeable, nothing is constant. This is the law of birth and death.”  Immediately Sessen Doji was able to ascertain that this was a partial truth which he was seeking. He pleaded with the demon to tell him the rest of the wisdom verse. The demon agreed but demanded the boys own life in payment.  Already understanding the temporary nature  of this life he consented and the demon taught him the latter half of the verse: “Extinguishing the cycle of birth and death, One enters the joy of nirvana.”

Sesson was so taken with this ultimate truth he began writing this message on rocks and trees wanting to leave this message as a vision for others. [what we would call Graffitti today ] Then, without doubt, he leap into the demons large mouth.  At that moment the demon turned back into the his true energy form as Taiskau and praised Sesson Doji for his faith, trust and seeking mind.  We may not have such profound faith or trust to leap openly into the demons that challenge us,  yet one day at a time with our practice we do become stronger in our World of Realizations.

Let’s say you are looking for a better career, you do all the things necessary, you take the necessary training, you get the job, you are excited this is looking good.  Only to be laid off two months later because someone buys out the company and lays you off.  As Buddhist’s we understand the temporary nature of life. We give thanks for the experience and begin seeking our next employment adventure. We do not blame or judge, we know, because we are wise in understanding the temporary nature of life.  So our suffering is minimal, for we know from the teachings, practice and personal realizations, that we simply move on perhaps to an even better new job.  The message in the story of Sessen Doji, is to have faith without doubt. To seek sincerely with a smile on our face at all the challenges that come to us, no matter how small or large. As we know the Buddhist philosophy teaches that All answers are possible, all questions answered on the pathway to wisdom and enlightenment, just as we are.  You are wonderful and unique. In this story we are reminded that we can ascend our doubts and challenges through the Law of attraction and the ability to believe every day is a miracle of life.

Living in the moment of today, we can truly understand,  “All is changeable, nothing is constant. The second part of the verse may take us a little longer to appreciate and understand, in the meantime, through our faith, practice and study as we work toward  lives of indestructible happiness and joy. How wonderful !

Thus It Has Been Shared, respectfully, Kanji Henry, Buddha Dharma Teacher


The Story of Sessen Doji