Teisho by Roshi Philip Kapleau, December 1979 Sesshin, Day 7: Hekiganroku #38, "Fuketsu and the Dharma Seal"
2:03PM Aug 17, 2022
This is the seventh and last day of this December Rohatusu 1979 sesshin. Today we will work on koan from the Blue Rock Records number 38 Fuketsu and the Dharma Seal.
The case reads, "At the government headquarters in Ling-Chou, Fuketsu took the high seat and said, 'The Dharma seal of the patriarchs functions like the iron ox. When the seal is removed, an impression is left. When left there, the impression is ruined. But if you wish neither of them, should you or should you not press the seal down'. At this time a senior monk, Rohi came forward and said,
I have the function of the iron ox. I asked you not to impress the seal. For kids who said accustomed to scouring the oceans, fishing for whales. I regret to find instead of frog crawling in the muddy sand
released stood there thinking for kids who gave a shout and said, Why don't you go on with what you were going to say? Row he hesitated, where upon forget so hit him with his whisk and said Do you still remember the words try to quote him as well he was about to open his mouth for cat so hit him again with his whisk. The governor said the Buddha's law and the kings law are the same for cats us said why do you say that? The governor said when punishment is called for it should not be neglected. Otherwise one invites trouble
for Ketsu descended from the seat cancer was quite a well known cause cancer was a Japanese pronunciation that was Chinese name
is dates are 896 to 973. And he was in the line of Lin-chi or Rinzai. This this governor was a follower of for katsu. And he often asked him to lecture to himself and to his officials. Now it says that we might point out that at this time, this being the apogee of, of Zen in China, many high government officials were practicing Zen and of course, there were many outstanding masters and who had as disciples of these officials and not only under the officials themselves, but also their those working under them also would take instruction. Perhaps one day we will see that same thing in this country and other countries in the west. It says he took the high seat. In Zen, it was customary that when a master gave a gave a teisho he would either sit this way facing the Buddha
or else he would sit right in front of the Buddha. If he sat in front of the Buddha looking out
usually this would be taken to understand that he was in the place he was taking the place of the Buddha. If one is facing toward the Buddha, then usually it is taken that one is offering up to the Buddha, the Dharma as the master understands it, and in effect, asking for the Buddha's approval or criticism
Are these high seats are very interesting affairs. We saw them in Japan, some of them were quite, quite beautiful, re imposing kinds of seats, some of them very plain, probably dependent upon the master and upon the temple, if it was a very temple had many, many lavish things, was probably a very ornate, almost like a throne, the master was a ticket in Zen a simple person, then it would be a simple kind of seat. But being higher high seat does not mean that this is not putting the master in the position of being higher than the than the assembly, the people who are listening, but rather just as the in one sense, the Buddha stands above all of us in another sense, and this is why is usually put on an altar. And of course, this means that our true nature is Central is the best part of us. So to say. It's all of us that's important.
And he said he took the high seat and he said the Dharma seal of the patriarchs functions like the iron ox. The iron ox was a huge dam which had been built some told some 4000 years ago by legendary Emperor you to stem the waters of the Yellow River which were constantly over flooding and causing tremendous loss of life and damage. And it was so large that the head was in one province and the the tail was in another. Other translators or other commentators interpret the island arcs to to be that, that is historically that it wasn't like a dam but rather it was a deity that had been built. And the deity It was hoped would stem the waters of the Yellow River. Very likely the first interpretation is is the better one. And because this iron ox it got the name iron ox, this dam because it had four legs, and so people naturally call it the iron ox.
Here the iron ox stands for to mind unshakeable immovable. When the seal is removed, an impression is left. Before we get to that, the and the domicile of the patriarchs
said to be the seal. The domicile Of course, this doesn't mean a physical thing which was bought by Bodhidharma Bodhidharma. sanctioned, he called to become his Dharma Heir. Well. He placed upon him so to say the Dharma seal will say a little more. We'll say more a little later about the physical aspects of a domicile or the so called Inca show me.
The seal is removed an impression is left. Mind in its normal functioning. Leaves leaves traces the way most people live they are leaving traces unlike a child, which goes from one activity to another
without leaving any traces it gets it gets heard it cries. Next minute it's laughing and the next minute it's jumping around and it's a wonderful thing to see the way children play together.
Nothing clings to them. With grown ups on the other hand, it is different When we're criticized, usually we resent it. We're praised, we tend to wallow in the praise, tell other people about it or keep telling ourselves about it.
Zen person has to develop this quality of on the one hand if one is in a teaching position or a parent and criticizing to make it clean on any leftovers, or when praising to make it clean, usually in Zen people do not praise and find the Masters again and again saying in various kinds of ways, because the Chinese have this wonderful indirect style, talk about not praising people and to their faces, in our culture, this is considered to be a quite a proper thing. Very few, very few people stop to realize how this tends to build up
ego but praise and blame, but it has to be given to be done cleanly and sharply.
And then the same way in, in living our life, to go from one thing to the next. Many cons which illustrate this and make us try to live in this kind of way.
Same with awakening. We come to awakening. We got to get rid of it. We cling to our awakening. And it is bad. We mess things up the more we the more we cherish our awakening the less it operates in our life. Dogan then Mr. Erdogan has a line passage where he
talks about how fish go through the water. And birds go through the air without leaving any traces. It's not easy to go through life this kind of way.
But when we see somebody who does things in a very clean, precise kind of way, not mechanically, not in a not in a harsh, jerky kind of way, something very beautiful about a clean action.
And there's something very beautiful about a person who has come to awakening. He's got vivid and operates in the same kind of way and functions in his daily life.
When we say that children move about this way, and that Zen is Zen training develops his quality, we are not we are not saying goes that well in the sense we are we saying that the developed Zen person is very childlike. In that respect, the difference of course is that there is the capacity to have reflection in the adult which there isn't in the child but if you wish neither of them should do or should you not press the seal down
we can take this also as meaning, subjectivity and objectivity. When one is in the sense that one is fully fully one with what is doing, there is no objective awareness.
So long as there is an object standing against us and we are aware of it then we are in duality.
How do you get beyond subjectivity and objectivity? How do you get beyond having awakening and getting rid of awakening? This is Zen training. In Zen, there is what is called Inka Shomi which is a paper usually calligraphic, calligraphic rather testament of one's teacher, saying with with 10 show one's first enlightenment, one gets
a piece of calligraphy. Later when one has finished the cons and the teacher is satisfied that a disciple can teach, one gets another kind of paper also calligraphy at its best, perhaps, the system was a kind of a guarantee to the public, of a teacher's authenticity, because always depend, everything depends on the teacher himself. Just how authentic the teacher is. Otherwise is, is calligraphy doesn't mean very much. It's a good deal perhaps like going to what kind of a school to get a diploma from graduate from, say medicine and small college in Podunk. It's it's quite different from getting a getting a diploma from the Harvard Medical School.
We purposely picked Harvard Of course. Speaking about medical doctors one goes into the office of particularly a specialist, one sees a wall all kinds of deployments, all of which are intended, of course, to impress the patient.
And, of course, the more diplomas the more the doctor can charge. is an interesting is an interesting little story where this man from the country and his wife went to sent by a doctor to a specialist. And when they got in the office, while they were waiting in the waiting room, he saw all of these about 15 diplomas. And he said to his wife, come on, let's get out.
And she said, she said, why. And he said, This man must be awful stupid to have to go to so many schools and auditing.
One of the best doctors we ever met was a man didn't even have a diploma in his office. Develop the kind of sensitivity that one needs real, to do real healing has nothing to do with getting a diploma.
We once were told by a doctor that we respected very much that that when a doctor orders lots of tests, the more diplomas The doctor has, apparently the more tests that he feels confident of order ordering on a patient that a real first class doctor gets very little or very few very few tests, as his own intuition, his own sensitivity, which he's able to, to diagnose, or as a man that doesn't have this kind of thing needs all kinds of tests. In the same way with a teacher, especially in Japan today, this is the system has declined drastically, that is to say, the genuineness after having been in Japan, Buddhism, having been in Japan for some 900 years. It's become rigid and petrified. There are all kinds of fraudulent practices that are going on. Some respects it's a good day, like the Middle Ages, just before Luther are the kinds of abuses that Luther tried to overcome, where people were buying penances or indulgences, whatever it was, and the priests were growing fat on the money that They were making isn't perhaps that kind of thing. But certainly people that get to go through the whole koan system in no time at all, a teacher practically gives them every call on without demanding any kind of help from the student. When we were when we were in Japan, the second professor, he was a Fulbright Scholar came over. He was very much interested in practicing Zen we became acquainted and and he was told to go see a certain retired Roshi in Kyoto. And he was taken there by a Zen priest, man who had a temper with a family and spoke good English. He acted as this man's as this professors, interpreter. And they used to go to this retired law, she's quarters. And they went through, I was living at that time with this fellow and he told me this, when he would come back, he would go three times a week, to the door she's place. And he was given, given the answers the whole Mumonkan. This took about a month and about two months. And he said to me, that is the this was professor. He's I don't know what I'm doing here. He said, The Roshi did however, say to him at the end, he said, You must understand that you are not enlightened. Well, this, the professor, why did you give me Tell me all of these answers. While he said you're a foreigner, you don't speak Japanese. And he said, I wanted you to know, because this was the only way that you could get it. I wanted you to know what the Mumonkan was about. At least he had the good grace to tell him that he was not enlightened. Well, this had just the opposite effect. The span became a professor became very disgusted. And he quit. In the short time after that, he quit Zen. He was also by the way, paying the interpreter. Fee, each time that he went to see the door, she very likely that all she didn't get any part of this hobby was taken care of by the temple. But certainly the interpreter was paid a very good, very good fee. And this is one case. Many other cases where people are passed with practically no effort at all, even in the monasteries, people are known normally one is supposed to spend three months, another three years in the Zen temples, three years, it's considered to be that length of time that one stays in a before one is qualified to take over a temple one at least needs this basic kind of training. Well, there are very few monks these days that will stay three years and they have lots of ways of getting out of it, which paying money is one of them well, so that whereas the the idea of giving English shown it was intended to protect the public,
in the end, it becomes almost worthless, particularly these days, this is not to say that there are not not fine teachers in Japan. There are and of course, they don't do this kind of thing, but there are so many of the other kind that one just cannot rely upon these kinds of things. There are teachers also who who have English only from three or four masters. They One wonders how they were able so quickly to get to all of the koans and here to the same kind of
system is operating. This does not mean that this does not mean that the koan working on koans has no validity.
But one must be careful about about titles and about English show me diplomas.
Well, now let's continue here. Then the case continues. At this time, a senior monk Roshi came forward and said
I have the function of the iron ox I asked you not to impress the seal I have the function of the iron ox. What does he mean by that?
Don't we all have the function of the iron ox? I don't need your seal could he possibly mean something else? There is there is in, in Zen as most of you know, what is called in Japanese Bucha Zen. This is a Zen that is
what the simplest of Zen how does the Roshi calls Zen without content is to say the belief that enlightenment is unnecessary, since we are all inherently enlightened.
Why is it necessary to to? To go through all of the painful training to become what you've always been? What is why does one need any kind of sanction?
for the teacher to say that you're enlightened, isn't enlightened and self validating and then forgets it says accustomed to scouring the oceans fishing for whales, I regret to find instead of frog crawling in the muddy sand the speed with which the Masters could bring out these kind of suggests that studying poetry was part of Zen training but at the same time, we have to be grateful to the masters for this for this type of speech, which is so which was peculiar to the Chinese in ancient China, otherwise it would be impossible to have to work on cons. If a spade if everything for spade was called a spade, much less a dam or shovel.
You just couldn't have any Dharma dialogues in other words, if the master said I'm used to having somebody that's got deep enlightenment come and speak to me somebody like you just got a mere whisper. This is an unnerving experience
you can see you can see it's a completely different effect. Accustomed to scouring the oceans fishing for whales, I regret to find instead of frog crawling in the muddy sand Why does Why does forgets to say this? What does he see here? Is he is he? Why is he putting down this monk? Has this monk anything on the ball or hasn't D? And well, we stood there thinking, cancer, gave a shout and said, Why don't you go on with what you're going to say? In Zen the live remark is very much is very much esteemed. Well it's interesting how words take on different meanings originally, live remark meant to make a lively an appropriate retaught then later on again, it took just the opposite meaning and a live remark meant a an intellectual remark and the dead remark meant a one that went beyond intellectuality but let's take the Sydney the meaning the original meaning of
the quick response now what is what is forgets trying to do here
is he tried to put him in his place or was he trying to give him a place for we hesitated or Bonnie hit him forget to hit him with his whisk. You hesitates is lost. Or, as some weird said he who hesitates is bossed and this is what this is what's happening.
He hesitated and gets a hit him. What does that hit with the whisk, indicating? Do you remember the words try to quote him? And then as well he was about to open his mind forget to hit him again. We see here that the masters are relentless. They are cruel only to be kind. Somebody else one hit would have been enough. Come on now where's the answer? Give me the answer man. Forget that keeps hitting him is he trying to get some kind of an answer out of him? Does he sends it low, his mind is ripe for something much deeper? Or is he saying in effect? And our Dominus which is in Japanese means, you know good. The governor said the Buddha's law and the kings law are the same for cats who said why do you say that? The government said when punishment is called for it should not be neglected otherwise one invites trouble. Cats are descended from the seat. What is the Buddha's law? And what is the king's law? Buddha's law, the law of causation. Nothing can happen in this world without causation. Every effect has an antecedent cause the effect becomes In turn, the cause of other effects and so on. There's no punishment. If there is punishment, we're being punished by our own karma, which is to say, we're punishing ourselves for the for the painful deeds that we did painful things we did to ourselves and to others.
In the sense, we can say Doom, in the sense every aggressor becomes the victim of his own aggression. Kings law will be the Ordinary, ordinary law. Well, things perhaps is different from ordinary law. But as he says here, when punishment is called for it should not be neglected. Of course, this is not this is not wrong. There's a time and a place for everything. If we, if we punish or praise, not punish our child, perhaps criticize at the wrong time. And at the wrong place. It's worse than having said nothing, it's worse than having said anything at all. Much better would be to say nothing is very important, this is very much part of Zen training to find the right time, for whatever one says and does we must understand that the Zen that the koans do not deal did not deal with the so called ethical aspect, they go right to the basis in which in which ethics and morality is grounded, namely to mind all of the cons are intended to wake us up to this mind and this mind is functioning then ethical behavior flows from it as a matter of course, on the other hand, if you start from the ethical behavior, then one is always uncertain. One can never be sure of what is right and what is wrong. CATSA descends from the seat What more can I say? He's probably implying.
Now, there is a there is a a introduction to this to this case is there is to all of them. And it reads as follows. The introduction is not the koan itself was was compiled by set Joe and the compiler of the introductions is Ingo, these are two different Chinese masters. And then goes introduction is when one adopts the gradual method. Though it is not normal, one can nevertheless be on the right road Good. And in the busiest marketplace, when we'll be able to enjoy unhindered movement. This term gradual and abrupt is used in many senses in Zen training. We got a hint of that in in reading from the Han SHAN Or post Shan Few days ago the gradual method or what post Shan called the, the whoo understanding, were one through, through training through work on the koans. And of course, Zen achieving Samadhi like conditions Samadhi conditions, one not only builds up an understanding which is different from what might be called intellectual understanding. And one develops, one develops a and working on the koans even though one is not, is not have what may be called a a thoroughgoing by any means, just just a glimpse into one's to mind, one can still nevertheless, particularly if one practices does Zen regularly, one develops a great deal of strength and insight. So, that one is able to function to function in many situations, on a level which is considerably higher and better than someone who has not had any Zen training. Nevertheless, this is still different from somebody that has a genuine awakening, full blown awakening that that awakening removes all doubt in the other in the first one is faced with a real well, tough traumatic situation. One could still be thrown, although again, not perhaps quite the same way as one that doesn't have at least the Geordie key which comes from Zen.
But one can never be absolutely sure. On a still well can be shaken in certain circumstances. Then Then, in go goes on to say when one adopts the sudden method, one leaves behind no trace. And even the 1000 Buddhas cannot spy one out.
It's of course it's talking about full enlightenment, or at least a full blown full blown may not necessarily because the term full enlightenment is at best an ambiguous term actually, there's no such thing as a full enlightenment. There's no end as Dogon is Dogon says there's no beginning to practice an end to enlightenment, there's no beginning to enlightenment and then to practice. But these terms are used a tentatively arbitrarily provisionally even the 1000 Buddhas can not spy one out. This is another way of saying that one moves like an ordinary man. You remember in the three pillars of Zen, in the think it's the fourth, third or the fourth picture the ox herding of the ox herding pictures, where the comment there is made that of the Zen master before he reached us doing the door in a darling. He was doing Zen very odd, arduously day and night. And the birds used to bring him sort of offerings which they would drop at his doorstep. But then when he became fully enlightened, they no longer did that. There's a footnote, where it is said that in Zen, as long as there are any marks of saintliness, about a person, as long as you can say that this person is a highly developed person, this person is a is a saint or whatever. That person's realization. Realization, of course means more than just enlightenment it means integrating into his daily life is still deficient. That's why And then there's no such thing as saints. It is only when you can't say anything about such a person. It's just like the sun you'd like to be in it. You don't know why, what can you say about the sun. In the same way, with such a person. Even the Buddhists can't spy without such a pretense by out such a person in say, he is a highly developed person. Then, we have it now how about when one uses neither the gradual, nor the sudden method, a word of sufficient to the wise, as a flick of the whip is to a fine horse. taking such a course, who can be the master
one who is able to respond in every situation has no use for terms like sudden and gradual. There's no intentionality.
He moves things like a fine horse moves. The slightest response, there's movement. Again, as we said, it's a beautiful thing to see such a highly developed person. And speaking of such persons, we'd say highly developed, and no words to describe them really
is always been the object of Zen training, at least in Japan to develop a kind of inward toughness, a strength. And this means persistence, being able to move through all kinds of things in a flexible kind of way, not giving up when the going gets rough, a sense in that sense, one is the master of every situation. One is thoroughly responsive, and yet at the same time, to develop, to exhibit or manifest a humility, a self-effacement, the seamless like to self excluding qualities. But in reality, they are not a person who is his own man, as the saying goes, who knows where he stands as absolute confidence. And yet, there's nothing of the braggart, there's no over no pride, no overweening self assurance. There is a there is this quality of self effacement. It's a beautiful combination. And it must be said for Zen, for the state of Japanese Zen, that it has produced over the years, many such people, and even when this person was in Japan, one could see a few such people. But today, Sangha know she told our pilgrims when they visited him, the sun is setting on Japanese Buddhism. And it's rising on Buddhism in the West. This puts a great responsibility on all of us. Not to not to be swayed by so much negativity that we may see or hear about. In Japanese Buddhism, our problem is developed in the West, a pure
Buddhism. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for Buddhism really to take off, particularly in the Zen sect, during the persecutions of during the persecutions of Buddhism in China
1840 in other times 940 Always the Zen sect came out the best because at least in those days, it was of all of the Buddhist sects. It was the purest in the sense that the monks could live simply, they simply went off to the mountains. He had a strong practice. And when the difficult times blew over, new king came in, he was favorable to Buddhism. He returned to the cities and wherever they were, and continue to practice in their own
simple way. Because simple here does mean simple minded Of course. Many years before real masters developed in the West, but they will come. It's up to us to lay the proper foundation in the way each one of us lives his life from day to day. We'll stop here and say