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Reward for the Outdated Buddha Rújìng and His Dying Poem


Tiāntóng Rújìng

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One helluva trainer

That is the final put up on this sub-series on Tiāntóng Rújìng (1163-1228), the final Chinese language trainer within the Cáodòng/Sōtō lineage of Eihei Dōgen (1200-1253), and almost the top of this sequence on the good lecturers surrounding Dōgen (no less than for some time). Subsequent up, “Seven Stumbles, Eight Blunders: The Lifetime of Tetsu Gikai,” which needs to be cooked via and able to serve up subsequent week.

My process on this autopsy put up on Rújìng, although, is to supply a couple of abstract observations, borrow a bit from Steven Heine, after which current Rújìng’s dying poem with a couple of explanatory feedback.

One of the crucial hanging factors

about Rújìng’s instructing is how the tone is so totally different than his most well-known successor, Dōgen (extra about Rújìng’s different successors right here).

Rújìng, you see, is as vigorous and direct as Dōgen is cultivated and delicate. For instance, when he grew to become abbot of Qingliang Temple, one of the largest and prestigious monasteries in China, the next is recorded:

“Pointing to the Buddha Corridor, he opened the corridor and noticed the Buddha: ‘A toxic thorn within the eye – ouch! – pull it out and throw it away. Do prostrations, burn incense, overturn all the things and put it down bluntly.’”

After which later,

“Sitting within the Abbot’s quarters: ‘Pluck out Bodhidharma’s eye, make it a mud ball to hit folks with.” Elevating his voice he mentioned, “Look! The ocean dries out all over the underside. The waves strike excessive into the sky.’” (1)

Even in these two brief passages, Rújìng’s intense vividness is palpable. And I hope you’ll be capable of style a few of Rújìng’s dynamic spirit in his dying poem beneath. As you’ll have heard, it has been mentioned that the Cáodòng/Sōtō is characterised by being exact and intimate (細密), whereas the Línjì/Rinzai line is characterised by being painful and fast (痛快).

Rújìng’s instructing, nevertheless, a Cáodòng/Sōtō trainer, appears extra in step with the painful and fast than the exact and intimate. Certainly, variations between Zen lecturers, particularly within the classical interval, appear to be extra about their specific personalities, slightly than what lineage they occur to signify. And as was famous in an earlier put up, Rújìng’s college students didn’t even know his lineage till he about to die. 

But, regardless of Rújìng and Dōgen having totally different personalities and instructing tone, at coronary heart there’s a continuity of important message from all of the buddha ancestors via Rújìng and Dōgen to us – awaken with this nice life right here and now, reside congruently with awakening, supply the nice and cozy hand of nice compassion to all residing beings, and share the dharma with the subsequent technology.

The Buddhist scholar, Steven Heine,

summarizes how Dōgen sang the outdated man’s praises:

When he wrote the Treasury chapter “Sustained Exertion,” Dōgen praised Rújìng’s personal loyal dedication to zazen from the time of his entrance into the Buddhist neighborhood on the age of 19 to his Tiantong abbacy forty-five years later.

Dōgen wrote, “All through China, solely my late grasp demonstrated true dedication. Monks far and huge had been alike in praising Rújìng for practising simply to follow, but he didn’t reward all monks far and huge as a result of they had been usually cussed or egocentric.”

Additionally, Rújìng didn’t compromise his values by associating with the imperial household, and he usually turned down beneficiant choices from lay followers in the event that they had been unable to precise the that means of the dharma. Stalwart meditators flocked to his temple from all elements of the nation, and he enthusiastically accommodated monks arriving from Korea and Japan. Rújìng additionally made room within the coaching space for irregular practitioners, comparable to Daoists and shamans, to line up behind the feminine clerics as a part of a hierarchical system that acknowledged the precedence of male monastics. (2)

In Dōgen’s eye, then, Rújìng was a grasp of zazen who taught by instance, whereas additionally demonstrating a heat inclusivity to these on the periphery of the male-dominated, elite monastic system.

And, then, he died.

However earlier than loss of life, he wrote a dying poem (辞世, císhì, Japanese, jisei). There’s a lengthy, well-established custom for Zen masters to put in writing such a poem. Actually, the characters imply “phrases for the world,” or as a binomial, “dying.” And Rújìng wrote fairly a doozy.

Phrases for the World – Rújìng’s Dying Poem

Sixty-six years
committing crimes that
fill the heavens
leaping! falling alive
into Yellow Springs
look! in accordance with
life-death has nothing
to do with it
whole-body stupa
my native monastery (3)

Let’s take a fast take a look at Rújìng’s phrases for the world.

First, what about these crimes?

What crimes may a man commit who rigorously upheld each the monastic and bodhisattva precepts, sitting zazen evening and day for many of his life? Properly, one level is that we’re all on this mess collectively and there’s nowhere to cover our culpability. One other is the well-known injunction – “open your mouth, one mistake; shut your mouth, one other mistake.”

“Yellow Springs” (黃泉, aka, dark realms) refers back to the postmortem course of and the underworld of the spirits of the lifeless – a Chinese language Buddhist hell, “… usually depicted as a subterranean maze with varied ranges and chambers, to which souls are taken after loss of life to atone for the crimes they dedicated once they had been alive.”

What is a good sage like Rújìng doing descending into hell slightly than ascending into heavenly bliss?

In The Report of Empty Corridor, Case 38: Baoying’s “Instantly Getting into Hell” has this: “A monk requested the solemn Venerable Baoying, ‘All of the sages have handed via to what place?’

Ying mentioned, ‘Not going as much as god realms. Instantly coming into hell.’”

So too goes outdated Rújìng.

As for “…in accordance with life-death has nothing to do with it,” once more, Rújìng’s vigorous spirit is on show. “It” should imply liberation. “Passively going alongside gained’t do,” shouts the person leaping into hell.

“Entire-body stupa,” factors in and out to the ten-direction world because the memorial of his one life-death. 

And, lastly, as for “…my native monastery,” this could possibly be translated in varied methods. The characters, 本山, actually imply “supply mountain.” For a monk, they will consult with the top temple of their order, or to the monk’s native monastery. It’s this final that means that appears to suit greatest with the context of Rújìng’s poem.

Now that he’s lifeless, the entire world is his follow house.

One helluva trainer.


(1) Chan Instructor Rujing’s Report, Taisho Tripitaka 2002a, 如淨和尚語錄卷上, trans. Yashu Zhang and Kokyo Henkel.

(2) Steven Heine, Dogen: Japan’s Authentic Zen Grasp, 82.

(3) In my above translation, following the free spirit of Rújìng, I don’t observe the road construction of the Rújìng’s poem.


Dōshō Port started practising Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches together with his spouse, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with the Vine of Obstacles: On-line Assist for Zen Coaching, an internet-based Zen neighborhood. Dōshō obtained dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi within the Harada-Yasutani lineage. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Report of Empty Corridor: One Hundred Basic Koans, is now out there (Shambhala). He’s additionally the creator of Hold Me In Your Coronary heart a Whereas: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri. Click on right here to help the instructing follow of Dōshō Rōshi at Patreon.




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