January 2021 Online Sesshin, Day 3: Teachings and Life of Zen Master Hakuin
9:10PM Aug 4, 2021
Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede
This is the third day of this January 2021 Rohatsu seven day online sesshin. And we finished yesterday with a very short biography of Zen Master Hakuin from the book Wild Ivy, translated by Norman Waddell.
I ran across in another book by another book about Hakuin, translated by Norman Waddell. I found just a short, short sketch of Hakuin in his own words, of his path. And I thought I would just read as a way of reviewing. It's one paragraph, a way of reviewing, read that, because it's in his own words -- about everything else yesterday, or most everything, was summarized by the translator. This book by the way, now, is the Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin.
Here, here, are Hakuin's words. I left home to become a Buddhist monk when I was 14. I became discouraged before even a year was out. My head had been shaved smooth. I wore a black robe, but I hadn't seen any sign of a dharmas marvelous working. I happen to hear that the Lotus Sutra was the king of all Sutras, the Buddha had preached. It was supposed to contain the essential meaning of all the Buddhas, I got hold of a copy and read through. But when I had finished, I closed it with a heavy sigh. This I told myself is nothing but a collection of simple tales about cause and effect. True mentioned is made of there being only one absolute vehicle and of the changeless, unconditioned tranquility of all dharmas. But on the whole, it is what Lynne, she has rinzai dismissed as mere verbal prescriptions for relieving the world's ills. I'm not going to find what I'm looking for here. And then he relates how much later when, many years later, when he was 41, he had his file enlightenment experience, while reading the Lotus Sutra, he went back to it and read it in a whole different way. Now, before we go on to ha koans actual teachings. Well, this is a kind of a teaching. This is This is Chapter in the same book, The essential teachings of Zen Master Hakuin chapter called authentic Zen. And it's he, in his own vivid colorful, magnificently eloquent way, lays out the chronology of this. To this mind mind transmission starting with the Buddha. Here's what he writes. When a son of the Shakya clan, known later as the golden sage, went into the fastness of the snowy mountains long ago, to begin his first retreat, he cradled secretly in his arms, an ancient stringless loot. Say, use this loot to play the music of the spheres.
He strummed it with blind devotion for over six years. That's the his six years of severe asceticism. Until one morning, he saw a beam of light shining down from a bad star. Why bad I don't know. Then we're startled out of the senses. The loot, strings and all shattered into a million pieces and the words going beyond Music beyond sound beyond the distinction between sound and silence, seeing beyond all duality. Presently strange sounds began to issue from the surrounding heavens, marvelous tones rose from the bowels of the earth. From that moment, he found that whenever he so much as moved a finger sounds came forth that wrought successions of wondrous events, and lightning living beings of every kind.
It began in a Deer Park. That's where he gave his first for his first his first discourse, the Four Noble Truths. It began in Deer Park, where a strummed an old four strutted instrument, from which issued 12 elegant tones 12 powerful link of dependent co arising twelvefold chain of dependent co arising in mid career at Vulture Peak, he articulated the perfectly rounded notes of the one vehicle of ultra peak his tradition has at his where he conferred the Dharma, he named Maha kassapa as his Dharma heir, he held up a flower and Mahakashyapa alone smiled. And he said, You've got it, you've got my, you're my successor. At the end, he entered the grove of cranes. And from there the sad strains of his final song were heard.
This, looking at a footnote, this final song is that what the Buddha is said to have taught before entering the bottom before his his death. his repertoire reached a total of 5040 scrolls of marvelously wrought music. The sutras Of course, a person appeared who understood, he could grasp these notes of a touch of a single string. He was known as a great turtle. This is Mahakashyapa again, when his characters fractured, a sudden blossom burst of cracks and fissures. The melody was taken up on the strings of 28 mighty instruments, these are the 28 Indian ancestors who followed the Buddha. The sudden blossom burst of cracks and fissures, of course, is the great overturning of delusion, with his ma cash suppose enlightenment. The last of them, that is the last of these Indian ancestors was a divine blue eyed virtuoso virtuoso, with a purple beard. How wonderful he was, with one sweep of the lion strings, he swallowed up the voices of all the six schools. Eight times the Phoenix strings sang out eight times the divine loop passed in secret transmission. The source of it all was this man from a land of South India, who was born, the son of a king. For footnote here,
I think I covered all the footnotes. I mean, all these points that are in the footnote, just to go back here, where he said, with one, one sweep of the lion strings, he swallowed up the voices of all the six schools. In other words, all the six schools of Buddhism distilled into Bodhi Dharma is facing the wall for nine years. When he reached the forested peaks of the Bears Ears, he amused himself playing on a homeless iron flute. The sounds were magnificent. Here's hair again is where he's in. Mackay doing Zen. The sounds were magnificent, but he found they were unable to rend people to their deepest souls. So he parceled out his own skin, flesh, bone and marrow instead. This is many of you know this, this is the story of Bodhi Dharma is transmitting the Dharma to his four disciples. He asked each of them to express his or her attainment. And then the first one, he said, You have my skin to the next one. He said, You have my flesh. to the third one, you have my bones, and to Waco, who became a successor, he said, You have my marrow.
He continues in this imaginative rendering of our lineage. Seven Steps after him, the transmission stumbled, and a blind, lifeless, old nag was loosed upon the world. Here this is an allusion to Matsu. The baby The name is literally horse patriarch.
We known the sixth patriarch had predicted that project Tara had predicted project terror was one of the one of our ancestors, of course, is a woman had predicted that non whey would produce a spirited young horse who would travel the world into dust. And that, and that wasn't Komatsu, who is reported to have had 139 enlightened disciples. A blind lifeless, old nag was loosed upon the world. This is very much the, the rich style of Zen, of what Roshi Kapleau used to describe as praising by slander, of saying, saying something on the face of it appears critical disparaging, but really, is that from a Zen perspective, is a great tribute. Blind lifeless old mag. blind to discrimination to to blind to false sight. lifeless because he had died the great death. This old nag Matsu who was loosed upon the world. He reared up on his hind legs, plying the air and high spirits with his 360 joints lathered up, throwing deadly milk wildly in all directions and showers of blood and sweat. Steaming violently up through his 84,000 pours. He stomped the trillia cosmic universe into dust. He smashed the vaults of heaven into atoms with deafening nays striking such panic into millions of mounts numerose they topple over, each other, trying to escape, and he ravaged every land in the six directions, leaving them strewn behind in tiny pieces. You can't beat hacohen this land, this language of annihilation of destruction, of course, is pointing to what is beyond everything we can imagine. Everything we can see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think about beyond the world of phenomena. It's seeing that this world of appearances of form is without any real substance to it. destroying it in that sense seeing as it as never having been born in first place, never having had Any self substance to it?
At 4000 pores is just like became kind of a conventional way of referring to the human body the 360 joints.
These high koan continues, these sounds carried to the foot of Mount non Schwann, or a divine celestial drum took up the beat of its own accord. Chang Shah and Zhao Jo, let's Josue fell into harmony with the mysterious direct pointing and broke into powerful personal renditions of the secret melody. It reached an old ferryman at the Thai Ford, who liked to pass the time, tapping away on the sides of his boat. he rapped out rough barbaric tunes that drowned up the notes of more graceful singers. This here is referring to a young young Tao or gunvault. Remember from yesterday, the day before gantos gantos violent death at the hands of bandits and his tremendous cry, as he was being slaying at first was, was a great source of doubt to the young, immature hacohen. And later, he came to appreciate it.
He goes on the sternest, most trenchant notes that came from the homeless flute reached the Abbott's chambers at the kwangtung die one in Quang non province, where a poisoned drum was swung upside down. From that drum emerged sounds that drained men's souls and burst men's livers littering the landscape with the bodies of over 80 men, and striking who knows how many others deaf and mute
shout Song restrung the loop Deezer Matt various great masters restrung the lute and carried it up into the fastnesses of Mount tone. John Shen klaster to his bosom and entered mount Shweta Oh, that's such Oh, who's his commentaries commentaries in the blue Cliff record? From these pinnacles in emanated sounds that shook the whole world. Rawlings of an iron lion were hurt over the lands west of the river, they would have killed the spirit in a wooden man. veins of a straw dog filled the skies over Lake zoo. They would have started hard sweat on the flanks of a clay ox. Another true man emerged. He was a son of the tongue family of bah blah, blah blah, known as tongue Shawn, the old man of the Eastern Mountain. This is what he was one of the cofounders of the Soto school. He devoted himself as a young monk to austere religious discipline at broken head peak. Later he concealed his presence inside a clump of white cloud. One morning, he entered a rice hauling shed, tucked up his hemp robe and made a single circumambulation of the millstone. This is referring to the the sixth patriarch way known who, when he went to the temple of the fifth patriarch, he was consigned to the rice pounding area. The fifth patriarch reportedly saw that he was a great vessel the Dharma but wanted to test him and maybe spare him the envy of the other monks as a newcomer a 21 year old newcomer by sending them off to the rice pounding area. scholars say that, that Zen as we know But really, it was it was way known way knowing who's who's losing, who stamped it as we know it now it was different before when the thunder from this voiceless cloth drum rolled angrily out, snarling and snapping and fill the world with far reaching reverberations. You would have thought the thunder god himself had been hired to pound a poisoned drum. It rendered three Buddha's utterly senseless and it drained all the courage from a quiet man.
This is these are allusions to other great masters.
Little more here Dawei chanted his voice reached up and down the coats coasts of honey young. That way, I mentioned I think they wanted this machine. Dawei was the predecessor of Chinese predecessor of Hakuin, who is also credited at that time of having reformed the koan system and, and the sector of linji, the school of lunchy.
Hey, I think I'm going to stop here it goes on, he just is. You can imagine the inspiration he fell to, to write this kind of way.
Turning to the the introduction, to just give a little more that I would have said, would have written would have read yesterday had been more time a little bit more about Hakuin in his in his later years. It says Hakuin was not always the Flint eyed teacher striking terror into the hearts of Zen students. He was also a man of great warmth and kindness and humor, who shared the life of his fellow villagers, and was deeply sympathetic to their needs. When he was not engaged in training his regular students, he was trying to reach out through writing and painting to educate the farmers, fishermen and others of his native region and bring them closer to the truth of the Dharma. Hi koans biogro biographical records show that the pace of his teaching activity actually picked up over the final 25 years of his life. He lectured regularly at his home temple and others in the area. invitations came from other temples and lay groups around the country.
And I flagged here, her interesting, more more, filling out ha koans character here after all this writing, and there's just volumes of his writing. As he was in advanced age, it says here he called out in a loud voice for someone to bring him fire. This is this is a particular manuscript that he had finished and he apparently intended to burn.
We were greatly concerned for the safety of the manuscript. But John and co This is the words of submit These are in the words of some of his disciples. And John and co were two of them had the presence of mind to roll it up quickly and hide it in one of their robes. We brought the matter up again several times after that, when the chance presented itself, but now he just ignored us completely. Since then, three years have passed. And then these his disciples made a strong, strong case for having his manuscripts and letters and a lot of these are letters, having them published, which he was dead set against. He heard them out. And then he said, I'm well aware of all the you have said, but these Dharma words you keep referring to are just a lot of foolish twaddle. I spoke them without thinking on the spur of the moment, I was still half asleep. It contains lapses of memory, slips of the tongue, I can't allow something like that to be printed. People would just laugh at it. Maybe I can comply with your request later, after some wise and learned scholar has looked it over and corrected it. So then they those last words gave encouragement to these disciples. And they just took it upon themselves behind his back to have these manuscripts published in the Capitol. Then when they informed him that they were being published, it says here he was aghast. for several days he seemed to be in a state of shock. Then he told us he wanted someone to leave immediately for Kyoto, to have the printing stopped. After consulting among ourselves, we went to him and said, it would take days to reach Kyoto and even when we got there, it is a great metropolis. There are said to be over 100,000 houses, how could we possibly find the publisher and deliver your message? And then how koan side mournfully How Regrettable? A fool mistake I made several years ago, when we were staying at Lehmann ghen tacos house, I just wanted to put a stop to his whining. Now here I am biting my navel. It is those Dharma talks of mine that will make men know me. And those same Dharma talks that will make them condemn me.
And now after these kind of profit Tory sections of the book, I'll dive into with what time we have left into the first of my selections of his teachings. And this is from a chapter in the book that Victor haka hacker one titled, licking up Shi Kong's Fox slobber.
I was blown by the winds of karma to this broken down old temple at the beginning of the kyoho era. So, around 1720, I have remained here without disciples for the past 20 years. Remember, for many years where he was just in this small temple show injury, with I think we said yesterday 20, just 20 months. I've remained here without disciples for the past 20 years. In that time, I have been visited by students from all corners of a land, asking me to give them talks and lectures. Some of them brought me rosters bearing names of hundreds of students. Others submitted their requests and elaborate compositions that were 20 or 30 lines long. All together, this must have happened at least 30 times. I can't tell you how it has interfered with my sleep. fewer students burned with genuine zeal and determination. They made the rounds of Zen teachers asking them to intercede with me on their behalf. They went to lay followers complaining of my intransigence, that is of not wanting to take more students, I saw how strongly they were committed to achieving their goal. I wanted to do what I could to respond to their needs. But my temple is extremely poor. The kitchen shelves are bare, from the far north of the country to the far south. I don't suppose a single soul could be unaware of the poverty here at show in G.
At the same time, he writes, I'm deeply concerned about the sharp decline in Buddhist practice in recent years, and the sad decay of a dharma. The young generation of monks are a pack of misfits, irresponsible and ungovernable rascals. When they first come to me, I can't help loving them for their quiet, unassuming manner. My head bows before their sincere devotion and firm resolve. I think they are genuine monks determined to break through to enlightenment, their thoughts are fixed firmly on the great matter of birth and death. But before even a month is up, they turn from the exemplary norms and customs of the past as they would from dirt. Be time honored temple regulations mean no more to them in lumps of dry mud. They band together in groups and run roughshod through the temple, roaming the garden and corridors shouting out to one another and loud voices, loitering and passageways singing and humming. They pay no attention to what their superiors tell them. Senior priests and temple masters are powerless to restrain them. I, I pick this out as is more more account to give more texture and more humanity. To these, these monasteries, these temples that we we so often read about with but without such vivid and detailed descriptions, and realistic. This is this this kind of these words of Hakuin provide, even though he often exaggerates, but they do provide a more realistic picture of the way things really work. It's so easy for us to idealize things of the past. Ancient China, ancient Japan, ancient Korea, these monks, these monasteries full of all these great vessels of a Dharma striving day and night. We know from other sources that in China for sure, these big monasteries were full of all kinds of people who young men who went there to avoid paying taxes, who went there to escape the draft and who were taken by their parents when they were kids. And parents couldn't afford to raise them. And so you had quite a motley crew of people of all different levels of aspiration. And Hakuin makes brings this home very colourful. For example, He never shies away from details. They cut the bucket rope at the wall, they lift the temple Bell from its moorings and turn it upside down. They push over the big temple drum. Whenever they get the chance they sneak out the front gate. They slink furtively back in at night through openings they have burrowed in the temple wall. I have to stop I was I was at a temple briefly in Japan or rinzai temple where it was a very woebegone, very sad scene there were only in this quite large monastery there. Only About four or five monks and the the head monk there took some time for over the course of a few days to tell me what was going on he he told me of how to have those monks, they have a goal, quote, go over the monastery wall at night and then come back in. Drunk as skunks and and then he went on to tell me how he dealt with them, which involved he said at first first time they they did it and they got caught it was 10 blows. Second time it was 20 blows third time it was 30 blows and so forth. He said this with quite a bit of pride.
that's sure to take care of alcoholics. Just keep beating them.
They gather in front of the main hall capering about and singing shameless tunes, they pick up in town. Here let me make another point. It is, it is so distracting and even annoying when people at a training temple or center like ours. saying out loud thanks, if you if you have to have songs Ryan running through your mind. Yeah, that can't be helped but keep them to yourself.
They swarm over the hill and back of a temple like ants, disturbing others with their wild clapping and horsing around. They prop sharp sickles up in dark corridors where the unsuspecting will walk into them. They stack big water jars and passageways where people will be sure to knock them over. I hope this isn't giving anyone any ideas about pranks they can pull they crack the floor planks over the Privy latrine so that when men squatter men, they will tumble into the pit filth. They plague the kitchen monks by dousing the firewood with water, so it can't be used to light the ovens in the morning. They make the rounds of the local tea houses and wine shops gleefully abandon themselves to base amusements. I gotta say this strains credibility unless he's unless he's compiling incidents that have happened over centuries of time that have been passed down in the temple lore. This strains credibility.
They just says while there could be 1000 people inside the temple, devoting themselves to their training with untiring zeal, because they do not venture outside the gates for the entire retreat. No one knows of their illustrious achievements. The rowdy miscreants haunting the town streets, engrossed in these unsavory pastimes, may be no more than two or three a number. But since it all takes place in broad daylight for everyone to see, their sins become known to all. Aha, because of the mindless and irresponsible actions of a handful of monks 10s of 1000s of their fellows must share their notoriety. Jade's are cast into the furnace along with ordinary stones, gold and steel are melted into one common lump. Buddhist monks have come to be despised by good laymen and laywomen. Now they are as welcome as a ship covered pig or a mangy dog with running sores. People in the streets condemn them, even the masterless Samurai talk of their flagrant misdeeds. So you can see if even a quarter of this is was true. We can see what a what a need there was in these late 17 1700s for a reformer of the profound realization of Hakuin out of a reformer to take matters in hand and straighten things out there.
He acknowledges that they could do some good work. Here. Recently seven or eight of my trusted disciples, men with whom I have lived and practiced, combine their efforts in order to get the temple ready for this lecture meeting the big, big convocation that they needed to do a lot to get it ready. They hauled Earth cleared away rubble and stones they drew water, got the vegetable gardens up to pitch. they endured cold and hunger experienced full shares of pain and suffering. They started at dawn, their robes wet with dew. The stars were out when they returned. They worked on the monks quarters, the well, the cooking ovens, the privvy and bathhouse. 10,000 hardships untold difficulties, why you broke into a sweat just watching them, your eyes would swim, just hearing about their deeds. And when you think that monks at any other training Hall on the land do the same thing. A lecture meeting is certainly nothing to be undertaken lightly. But then, when all these preparations have been made, these misfits who have not even dirty their hands descend upon us, stirring up all kinds of trouble and totally disrupting the meeting. What on earth goes on in the minds of such men? I have always loved the monks of their type. They are Tiger fodder, no doubt about it. I hope one tears them into tiny shreds. For those of you who think Oh my Lord, how can a Zen deeply enlightened Zen master speak in such violent terms? Aren't we supposed to be peace loving people in the Dharma?
I hope one terrorism into tiny shreds the pernicious thieves. Even if you killed off seven or eight of them every day, you would still remain totally blameless. Why are we so infested with them? Because the ancestral gardens have been neglected that is the the teaching, they have run to seed. The verdant Dharma foliage has weathered and only a wasteland remains.
Nowadays, you find worthy senior priests monks, you find worthy senior monks fully qualified Zen teachers who are reluctant to take on the responsibility of training a large group of students, because it means they will have to deal with these troublemakers. I have to say if we had even one such person in training, I'd also be tempted to retire. They would rather retreat to some quiet spot where they can hide their tracks and conceal their light that's in quotation marks. He's He's clearly sneering at it and make themselves into winter fans and Straw Dogs. So even if there is a monk who has achieved a mastery of Zen through authentic practice, he will refuse to accept students no matter how fervently they beg him turning his back on their please. He is content to live a spare come, comfort less existence off by himself, heedless of the privation cold or hunger may bring. After a lifetime of such carefree idleness. He finally wastes away inside a small hermitage in some remote corner of the land. How keenly it struck home to me. It is monks like these who are to blame. They are the ones responsible for undermining the Dharma banners. It is they who are destroying the true style and practices of the school. I had always detested a monk who would refuse to respond to a student's need. But for a long time, I had just gone along without giving any more thought to the matter. Then recently, a group virtuous monks from various parts got together to do something about the problem with no small amount of embarrassment, and must report that they came to me. They took me to task for neglecting my teaching responsibilities. The keen and eager monks hungering for a teacher were greatly encouraged and emboldened by this turn of events. They may their descend upon me. Now they come at me from all quarters, like hordes of wasps rising from a broken nest, like mobs of ants swarming from an anthill to the attack. Some are like white cheeked infants seeking their mother's breast. Some are like black hearted ministers set on squeezing the populace dry. That sounds nuts. That hasn't changed in these past centuries. Black hearted ministers said on squeezing the populace dry. I can't come up with an excuse to turn them why I don't have the strength to keep pushing them off. I find myself pinched into a tight corner. all avenues of escape, cut off.
All right. We'll pick up there tomorrow and we'll stop now and recite the four vows