This is October 9 2022 and before we get to the koan I'll be commenting on today, just a little something that has come up in the three weeks since I gave the teisho where I talked about my departure this year. I've learned with from, mostly from seeing people in dokusan who had who had questions, or concerns, I've learned that a lot of a lot of people didn't hear that teisho.
Makes me wonder how many teishos anyone hears who's not in the room when they're given. But I just want to encourage people. I mean, I don't know how eager I'd be to hear my own TV shows. But But aside from that, that every once in a while, there can be some little nugget that can help you in your practice. But in particular, this one of I think, is September 18, I think, yeah, September 18, about three weeks ago, I really go talk at some length about all the different aspects of my this being my last full year here in Rochester, and, and, of course, the koan. I comment on there is about Dharma transmission about a new teacher. And so it's, it's right in the middle of everything that's going on now. So yeah, give it a shot. If you have nothing better to do maybe if you're in heavy traffic, and you don't know. But today, I'm going to take up a koan that involves Lin-chi, the great Lin-chi Rinzai. And this is number 13. In the show oil, Roku, it's the book of serenity, sometimes translated as the look of equanimity. And here's how it goes. When Lin Jie was about to die. He entrusted son shung, with his Dharma line, saying, after my passing, do not destroy my treasury of the eye of the Dharma. Some Chung asked, how would I dare destroy your treasury of the eye of the Dharma? Then Lin-chi If someone asks you about it, how will you respond? So I'm Chung Samsung shouted. And then Lynn, she ends by saying, Who would have known that my treasury or the I have a Dharma would perish in this blind donkey.
I do have some some information here about Lin-chi. There's not a lot actually. He was born in around the year 800, which would explain why there's not a lot of biographical information but less than other masters of his stature. I'm reading now from a book called Get the official title, the record of Linji. Record is a term that often in Zen refers to the teachings of Lin-chi and also the life. But this is a monumental book, thick for 500 pages. The record of Lin-chi and it was it's drawn from the historical records, but the translation and commentary are by Ruth fuller Sasaki. She was one of the pioneers of Zen Zen books. And it's edited by Thomas youhow Kirschner who, I know that Johnson Sensei and Chris met him in when they were in Japan.
I'm just going to kind of get to the gist of this his biography for the first few years after he joined Huang Bose assembly, so Odin is Japanese name obaku. After he joined the Great One Bose assembly Lin-chi seems to have attracted little attention, which is surprising given what kind of fire breather he became after his enlightenment. During this time, therefore, we may imagine him devoting himself diligently and wholeheartedly to meditation and other such activities as we're participated in by the students surrounding Hongbo by the way, is so commonly the case before Lin-chi ever found his way to the great long bowl. He achieved some mastery in the vinyasa school that's the, the Buddhist precepts, monastic precepts, and also in sutra study. So this was step three.
This period of set of preparation specifically states lasted three years and was brought to a close by Lynch's great enlightenment. And according to the records, at the suggestion of a head monk of one Bose temple, there again that importance of the Hedmark Lin-chi Three times question Huang bow on the cardinal meaning of the Buddha Dharma, and three times he was struck by him. Lin Jia, rather than taking a burn to this and suing Lin-chi for physical abuse. He apologized for his inability to grasp the meaning of the Masters blows, and Lin-chi prepared to leave the temple he must have been discouraged. But then then, one ball urged him to visit a monk named Daiyu, who he said would explain everything to him. So Lin-chi went to see Daiyu and after they had an exchange of a few words, he attained enlightenment. And they went back to long bow, and he recounted what had taken place. The author here Ruth fuller Sasaki says in a spirited encounter with a Master Lin-chi slapped one bows face. And then the master said You lunatic coming back here and pulling the Tigers whiskers. To which Lin-chi responded with a roaring shout, which from that time on was associated with his name and style of Zen. After after this, he resumed his place and Longbows assembly.
Little more than here
this is yeah, this is just a different version. But it's also interesting Lin-chi went to visit this Daiyu who lived in a hermitage not far away. And then in that first meeting, Lin-chi attempted to impress the old mock by discoursing all night on various Buddhist sutras and doctrines. Again, his a well versed, he was in the sutras at dawn Daiyu, who had listened in silence throughout the night. That's pretty amazing. berated the young monk and pushed him out the door. Everyone has his limits. When Lin-chi returned and reported to Huang Bo, on his visit, he was reprimanded for not having made better use of the opportunity. He then set off to visit die you again so going back to die you again he was scolded and driven out of the door, but this time he returned. Lin-chi returned to Longbow convinced that he had achieved understanding. Some 10 days later, he went once more to see value. And he this time he was anticipating the old monks efforts to drive them away by knocking him down and beating him. Wait. Yeah, hit that Lin-chi knocked him down and beat him and then die you acknowledge Lin-chi as his disciple, no one needs to take this kind of behavior as literally but it may have been
at about the age of 40, after some 10 or 12 years after his enlightenment, he left and set out on a pilgrimage
I'm just going to leave it at that we have too much other material here
imagine that this was this was more than this is some 1200 years ago how, how many of us will anyone ever hear about and 1200 years?
So back to the koan when Lin-chi was about to die
he entrusted son Sean with his Dharma line. Samsung appears in a koan in the Blue Cliff Record, where he storms in to see sepal the great sepal and he said the golden carp has escaped from the net, what will it feed on? And Seppo responded? Well, when you're out of the net, I'll let you know. Good comeback but not good enough for for some Shawn. He said, Well, this master of 1200 monks can come up with a better reply than that. And to which Seppo responded, my duties as Abbot are many uncomplicated and don't think that he's apologizing for his response. It's one of the points of the koan. So he's about to die, and he gives Dharma transmission to the song Shang, and then said after my passing, do not destroy my treasury of the eye of the Dharma. Another translation has it, my true do not destroy my true dharma i. The, the editor of the book I was just reading from the record of Lin-chi said that this true dharma AI is just a way of referring to the basic principles of the Dharma, the Buddhism. It can be taken in a more narrow sense of Lin-chi, saying, Don't destroy my teaching my teaching instead of via Dharma, my teaching. Because the Dharma is means both in a way it means the bigger the bigger meaning of dharma is the truth. The way the law, ultimate reality, that's dharma. Then they the narrower understanding of is the team teaching my teaching? So, which did Lin-chi mean him? And which How did Which way did you sunshine, take it?
In any case, Sunshine replies, how would I dare destroy your treasury of the eye of the Dharma
Heir at some important, very important point of the koan.
How could I destroy the Dharma when the when the when destruction itself is the Dharma? There's nothing nothing outside the Dharma
endings of any kind def retirement it's all the Dharma
Heir this koan as I delve into it again, this this investor day to day four came to see that it's really all about destruction and creation and I fished out this article from quite a while ago in 1988. By a Philip Novak Phil Novak was the co author of a wonderful introduction to Buddhism in general. It's just called Buddhism. It's Philip Novak and Houston Smith. Thank you, Houston Smith. If anyone wants to be pointed to a very nice clear, simple introduction to, to, to Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Tera Vaada Buddhism, this is this is a really good one called Buddhism. But here this was before I'm sure this was before that book came out. And this Philip Novak is a PhD is at the time in 1988, was Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Dominican College in San Rafael, California. In this this article was delivered at a conference can be seen by a Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar, Padma serie de Silva. But I turned to this because he hasn't an eloquence and certainly a hand written in the written language that we can only have to admire and in a scholar, and so to make it easier on those of you listening to teisho, I'm just going to read some of this, he says, he talks first about the biggest central feature is of Zen practice is dis identifying with a self it's quite a task, especially today in contemporary United States, where identity is the obsession of so many people, whether it's racial identity, sexual identity, national identity, tribal identity. And then, then, he goes on to say
we are all aware that Buddhist practice is a means to eradicate false views of the nature of the self. And as such, it is primarily a destructive Opus. It destroys the hindrances, it dissolves the three poisons. It reveals the non self characteristic of reality
so this is this is a key aspect of especially in Zen. We were often quoted Zen saying it's a practice of daily losing.
It's a practice of, of deconstructing this illusory self that we claim to it's.
The when, when the Lin-chi here as it is here, says do not destroy my treasury of the eye of the Dharma. He couldn't have said that seriously, because he knows, he knows that no one Sanjiang or even himself could possibly destroy it. That there's no there's nobody there to effect such an act of destruction. It's no self. It's way beyond what anyone could do
I remember taking heart at this one, when Roshi left me in charge of the center and to remind myself that I am not going to destroy the Dharma maybe the center but not Dharma Heir. So, so this is a challenge. So test by Lin-chi. Of course throwing that out, he knows, he knows he can't do such a thing. Lin-chi is hardly worried about it
and then then Novak goes on, but the hunger for identity does not vanish overnight. Nor does one go from being bound up in identity clinging to being free of such a clinging in a day. The Buddhist path is a developmental one. And I want to suggest that Buddhism must offer interim identities to the aspirant so that as old in authentic self images fall away, more authentic ones take their place, as progress is made toward final liberation. So we can pose the question Okay, who, who, who am I? Who am I? Who was I'd say, Who was I? Before I was a man who was I? Before I was Caucasian? Who was I? Before my parents gave birth to me, this is the identity that is a no identity that is true Self that is no self that is the focus of Zen practice, to see through all these, what what he calls these these provisional, this interim identities, that psychologically can be useful to to work through? Yes, yes, it can be this tribal identities to identify with a group with a country with a with a race, with a gender and so forth. But let us never forget that the work the real work, the essential work of Zen practice is to see through all that. And yet, as Novak I think very wisely notes, we need to have something in the meantime, before we have thoroughly seen this True Self that is no self we can use as a kind of skillful means these other things.
He goes on Buddhist practice, I am suggesting has a constructive aspect that satisfies the human hunger for identity, even while the causes of that hunger are being gradually eroded.
Back to the destructive, deconstructive nature of Zen practice. We're going to skip forward to son Chung's response when Lindsay pushes back. Son Chang says How would I dare destroy your treasure the other Dharma Heir and Lin-chi. must have felt that okay, that's pretty good response. But let's, let's see how far it goes. And so he says, If someone asks you about it, how will you respond? In other words, okay, what more have you got for me? What do you mean by that? To which sunshine shouted and I'm, I'm going to come out on a limb here and suggest that he shouted quats Doesn't say that, but we know he didn't shout, Hey, how's it going? Maybe he did but based on our tradition in other koans where this quats comes up, I'm guessing it was quats now what is quats? It's a became a kind of a convention. In Zen stories, dialogues koans, of sort of conveying a sweeping away of everything, whoosh. nuking everything. This in one, one utter and sunshine goes right to the, the essence of Zen practice the essence being the realm of no thingness nothing left. The old saying in Zen kill the Buddha, even the Buddha can be attacked, kill enlightenment, that can become an attachment
every step of the way, the ego can can utilize something or other to that we can to get us to to grasp at something new.
Even not even even even especially attainment. Having come to awakening, koan after koan, after koan, and joins us to discard what we think we have attained. Let's see if we could attain anything really. When when they went from the very beginning, all beings or Buddha when the very beginning, we have everything we could possibly need, we are holding complete, endowed with wisdom and compassion.
In a colonic number 22, in the mumble Cana, a Nanda who still had yet to come to any awakening, even though he was, you know, BFFs with the Buddha, he said, came to the Buddha. And he said, what, what what? Is there anything else what, what more? Can I do something like that. It's not the exact words and the Buddha The Buddha said Nanda Nanda said yes, yes. This is the according to Zen lore, which I wouldn't try to push on a historian according to Zen lore. This was the occasion of Amanda's enlightenment. Oh, excuse me, a Nanda went to Mahakashyapa. The Buddha had already died. Mahakashyapa went to Mahakashyapa and Mahakashyapa said, Ananda, and at that another came to awakening, according to the story. And then Mahakashyapa said, Now knock down the flagpole with the monastery gate. Destruction, deconstruction, negating.
This is what a teacher's is doing a dog sound all the time with people who present their understanding of a con. That's it. Not yet.
wringing people out not yet. And it's what we do. Especially people working on a koan. It's what what is done with the questioning, the questioning is an empty thing. This is This is commonly in Zen texts referred to as the great doubt the wondering, because if we're, if we are to the degree that we are really questioning or wondering, then we are free of anything. We're we're losing that wonderful. Losing When we're letting go we're allowing dissolution to happen dissolving of our attachments
Lin-chi himself was famously said when he's talking about killing, killing, killing Kill, kill mother and father can sound so cold and remorseless and so? Forbidding these this kind of words but but the point is that it's a natural part of the Dharma life is the destruction side the dying the ending
it's even embodied in the bodhisattva mon juicery this delusion cutting sword which bacillary Japanese Zen master bacillary put very very simply Cut Cut Cut cut cut identity cut opinions cut views starting with an all of those they all having communist thoughts
it's thoughts that kill us in a very real sense it's thoughts that leave us only half alive
Mu the word Mu commonly translated is no or not the one I prefers I ran across was is the Mu means it's not what you think
there's even a dog at Buddha nature it's not what you think whatever you're thinking, it's not at
all Chinese masterfile in saying it does not come from thought
the Buddha himself not this not that.
Questioning or doubt it's making bad se doubt. Is it just the the flip side of faith and that's the other side of all this is the the constructive, the affirmative, the creative side of Zen practice a little more of a filled Novak. While I read this, I am suggesting Buddhism Buddhist practice has a constructive aspect that satisfies the human hunger for identity. And that just identity but our Hume our humaneness we too to just teach emptiness no thing that's killing is that can't be the whole picture. And no no one no Zen teacher whatever claim that it is.
Earlier in the article I didn't read this he talked about there's there's he said that and identity is sought not only in self assertive modes, but this is this is my race or gender or tribe, but also in self subordinative ones. And by that he means we we learn to link ourselves to structures of power and significance outside ourselves in whose larger life and identity we can share. Cultural idols my dad he says he means conditioned realities to which we look for unconditioned meaning, cultural idols provide temporary refuge for the significant seeking self. We want to share of the immortality and secure identity, they seem to promise. He goes on implicit in the Buddhist aspirants embrace of the path, as that alone which may be able to satisfy her heart's longing is the understanding of the unsatisfactoriness in authenticity, and insufficiency of many of these cultural idols. Basically everything we're surrounded with, on the internet and not on the internet, but this does not mean that as soon as one has dharmic intent, that one is suddenly free of the deeply ingrained reflex to create idols, to link oneself to superior powers in one's quest for identity. Nor does but but nor does Buddha Buddhism wish it so. Behold, it two offers refuge for the significant seeking self, three of them, in fact, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. What a rich field in which to assume a new identity. The aspirants very will is fueled by images of personal greatness and nobility. I want to be an enlightened one, I want to join the holy company of our hearts enlightened ones. I want to be a bodhisattva and give my life for the liberation of all sentient beings. It is precisely such notions that form the nucleus of a general intentionality that will continue to exert a positive, constructive influence in the aspirants life. For by weaning oneself away from the individualistic identity images afforded by culture, toward more archetypal and transpersonal ones, the Buddhist taps rich sources of psychic energy and inspiration. Buddhism understands that the ongoing health of the personality depends upon sufficient self esteem, the wearing of robes, the chanting of sutras, the taking of vows, wonderful rupiah, all of it will pay him in skillful means, as old images of who one is fall away, these new identities sustain one a bodhisattva is a nice thing to be. So, as for the these, these constructive, creative, affirmative, aspirational aspects of Zen practice, in in contrast to the all of the destruction and purging and so forth, we have, he mentions the four the three treasures, Buddha Dharma and Sangha. These, these are the, arguably the three most important of the 16 precepts that we take at Jukai which is coming up next month Jukai, taking the precepts, the big ones are the three treasures. But then the four vows, which we do every single day here and this Zendo at least once a day, all beings without number I vow to liberate.
This here is, is the other side of sometimes in a sutra you hear the Buddha saying there are no there are no beings to liberate. No that's the emptiness side. That's half the one side of the coin the other is, we need to reach out and serve and help respond to those in need all beings would, without lip number we vow to liberate endless blind patches I vow to uproot. Or see through great way of Buddha I vow to attain Buddhas and bodhisattvas so we have figures Buddhas and bodhisattvas pictures to that we can find resonance with it with our own Buddha and bodhisattva nature. Faith This is the this is the faith side of the coin. There's the Dow emptying, emptying, cutting, killing, and there's the faith, the the affirming
and then also the 10 paramitas. Usually, when we talk about the paramitas, or perfections, we talk about the six paramitas. There. Well, let me just run through these. There are 10 the fuller thing. But the first six You will of course, I'll remember the first one is Donna are giving us pretty positive pretty Affirmative. Sheila is morality, the precepts because Shanti is patience or forbearance. All things to aspire to varia or zeal. Deanna is meditation prajna is wisdom. And then the other four, I think are even more clearly, well, maybe not. But they're also very positive. So Paya he mentioned upaya means literally mean suited to the place or situation skillful means adapting one's understanding of the Dharma to help others. There's the arising of bodhichitta, that aspiration to come to awakening for the sake of all beings. That's the eighth. The ninth is it's called Bala. I never heard of it before Bala paramita. Its spiritual power, spiritual or moral power or force. This this is I think, what they're talking about in Chinese texts, where the translation says virtue. Even in our own English dictionary, this is the second definition that we associated with being good. But the second definition of virtue is effective moral power, or force. And then the 10th of the 10 power meters or perfections is generally translated as knowledge, it's jnana.
And then there's the Noble Eightfold Path, talk about positive aspirational things, right understanding right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration, notice that mindfulness is just one of eight. You would think from reading magazines and articles and everywhere that mindfulness is the the ultimate of the Dharma, Buddha's teaching. It's one of eight. The one after it, is I think, Zen puts just as much emphasis on maybe not more, but just as much concentration. We need both. Zen meditation is sort of the, the fusing of mindfulness and concentration. In trying to concentrate single mindedly on the breath, or the koan. We have to be mindful when the when the mind is wandered, we have to notice in other words, So mindfulness is right there. Very, very much required for Zen meditation. But beyond that concentration, seeing through seeing into seeing through.
There's a great other koan. This isn't the last one and the Mumonkan. Were this, this, this interplay and this simultaneous interaction of the of the destroying or the negative, deconstructing with the positive the affirmative. Yin and Yang, really what we're talking about is yin and yang, very much more common kind of way of referring to it. Were in the commentary, I won't go through the whole thing just in the commentary. Move on says one goes to the bottom of the deep sea and raises a cloud of sand and dust. The other goes to the top of a towering mountain and raises foaming waves that touch the sky. The one holds the other. Let's go There it is holding the positive. The other lets go and the cutting the losing the emptying. And each using only one hand sustains the Dharma. It's like two children who come running from opposite directions and crash into each other
so this quats demolish it, demolish all thoughts, views, opinions, identities, demolish the very idea of the Dharma as something that could be destroyed. All ideas, concepts, attachments, catchments, above all, never forget, attachments means, above all, to our thoughts, our mental attachments, People so often I just say this over and over, because often, beginners especially say, Oh, if I have to give up all my attachments, Okay, I gotta give up coffee, I gotta give this I gotta give up that start with the thoughts. That's theirs, when you're done with that. Do what you want.
Or in my case, movies.
And then Lin-chi,
who would have known that my treasury of the eye of the Dharma would perish in this blind donkey.
And if you think
that's he's expressing disappointment, or disapproval, think again. Or don't think at all, blind. This blind, it's used. It's in various ways in Zen and different a different koans. Blind of course, can be just diluted. In in Buddhism, it can mean the blindness of a heretic, who has got the wrong views like the idea of a permanent self atman it can also mean the blindness after awakening the blindness of the the attachment to equality, the equality side of the coin, or the no thing this side of the coin, this is this is people who have had some degree of awakening and they flout the precepts. After all, the precepts are empty, everything's empty. Why not do we want that's a kind of blindness. And then there's the blindness, the highest one from Zen perspective, I got this from Roshi and Doug Sangha is the blindness of full enlightenment. It's beyond one sidedness of the quality kind of blindness.
the blindness of, of meat really another way to Saturday's meats empty. They know it's a bit of a leap from blind to empty, but there's a koan and a Blue Cliff Record, where the the to the master and a mocker talking about whether the monks teacher had an open eye. And then they talked about giver and receiver and his teacher and student and half ago says, giver and receiver are both blind. One way to understand that is that the teacher is positive blind to this and in a good sense, developed sense and the student is and then, in the other sense, diluted, but then there's this other one, they're both empty, devoid of any abiding self. Which always remember you know, these words they can trip us up it gets can sound pretty bleak, the negative side of things. But but really, there's it's only through dying through endings through changes. It's only through changes, flux that the new can arise that rebirth can happen through death. Now it's easily said the practice it's through practice that week. have to really take that into our bodies who really assimilate that and and know it with a capital K and instead of just intellectually Alright, cameras that will step and recite the for virus you