A verse in praise says:
He enabled the Buddhadharma to long abide
With his rigorous pure practices.
When the Buddha twirled a flower, he smiled,
And thus received the mind-transmission.
As the first Patriarch,
He guides the Worthy Ones of later times.
He awaits Maitreya’s advent
As instructed by the World-honored One.
He enabled the Buddhadharma to long abide / With his rigorous pure practices. If the Proper Dharma is to stay long in the world, there must be some people who cultivate the
dhutangas or ascetic practices. If no one cultivates them, then the Proper Dharma will fade away. Rigorous pure practices refer to the
dhutangas. When the Buddha twirled a flower, he, Kashyapa,
smiled, / And thus received the mind-transmission. He received this mind-to-mind transmission of the Dharma.
As the first Patriarch, / He guides the Worthy Ones of later times. He did not forget about saving future living beings even when he became the first Patriarch.
He awaits Maitreya’s advent / As instructed by the World-honored One. He sits there (in
samadhi), waiting for Maitreya Buddha to come to the world, so he can hand Shakyamuni Buddha’s golden kashaya robe over to Maitreya. This was the Buddha’s wish as well as his instruction to Kashyapa.
Another verse says:
Reborn as Laozi, he appeared in China.
Those with whom he had affinities, he taught to reach the Other Shore
His ascetic practices perpetuated the Proper Dharma.
With pure practices perfected, he subdued all demons.
His compilation of the Tripitaka accrued vast merit.
Through cultivating the six paramitas, he perfected wisdom.
Always rousing his spirits with unflagging vigor and courage,
He advanced day and night without slacking off.
Reborn as Laozi, he appeared in China. Venerable Mahakashyapa was not only a patriarch but also a forerunner in Buddhism. He came to China knowing there were many Chinese people who had the potential to accept the Mahayana teachings. However, if no one came to pave the road to make them more accessible, it would be difficult for people to accept Buddhism. Therefore, Patriarch Mahakashyapa made a vow and was reborn as Laozi in China to teach Taoism, dispensing the teaching according to people’s potentials so they could start from the simple and reach the profound.
Those with whom he had affinities, he taught to reach the Other Shore: He taught and liberated beings on a vast scale.
His ascetic practices perpetuated the Proper Dharma. As long as there are people who practice the
dhutangas, the Proper Dharma will stay in the world for a long time.
With pure practices perfected, he subdued all demons. He was foremost in pure conduct. Why was he able to subdue all demons? It was because he had cultivated all pure conduct to perfection.
His compilation of the Tripitaka accrued vast merit. His merit is so limitless that no one can fully describe it.
Through cultivating the six paramitas, he perfected wisdom. Although he was a Bhikshu, he also practiced the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattva Path: giving, observing the precepts, patience, vigor, dhyana, and wisdom.
Always rousing his spirits with unflagging vigor and courage. He was vigorous all the time.
He advanced day and night without slacking off. He was unlike us who focus on the “food practice”, the “clothes practice”, the “sleep practice”—-these things are always on our minds. If we can apply the effort we use in these areas to practicing the
dhutangas, we will also be like the Patriarch, Venerable Kashyapa. What a pity that we attend to the trifles and neglect the fundamentals. We forget the true and focus on the false.