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HomeBuddhistAssembly Folks and Manifesting (or not): Two Slippery, Seamless Kōans for Advancing...

Assembly Folks and Manifesting (or not): Two Slippery, Seamless Kōans for Advancing Follow

Tiāntóng Rújìng’s (1163-1229)

Deep, Darkish, Nurturing Waters

This publish is about working towards after kenshō, and even after having accomplished many kōans post-kenshō. Following Rújìng (Dōgen’s instructor), I’ll share two of probably the most fascinating, complexly interrelated kōans in the entire enormous conventional assortment of fascinating kōans, splendid for the section of coaching often known as “advancing observe.” Rújìng says that these kōans check practitioners to their very limits.

Like every kōans, the 2 which might be the main target listed below are profoundly disruptive to the divided thoughts. Ryōun Yamada Rōshi writes about kōans typically, “No quantity of clarification will suffice to ‘cross’ a kōan. If one can grasp clearly and experientially the true self offered within the kōan then one can spontaneously manifest that true self. So how is that this finished? There is just one means. One should develop into that true self completely.” (1)

Nonetheless, in contrast to most writing these days, together with my very own current publish, Break By means of Mu, which might be directed towards the early levels of the trail, this publish is primarily for many who’ve moved into the deep, darkish, nurturing waters of the method, and maybe have accomplished a kōan curriculum (aka, kōan shitsunai) with a certified Zen instructor, even receiving so-called remaining authorization or inka shomei (印可証明, actually, “proof of the mark”). 

It’s a widespread false impression, that passing by mu (i.e., one’s preliminary kenshō), is the tip of the matter. In reality, it’s the starting of the method. Because the Sōtō grasp Dōgen Zenji places it in his Fukanzazengi:

“Suppose you’re assured in your understanding and wealthy in enlightenment, gaining the knowledge that is aware of at a look, attaining the best way and clarifying the thoughts, arousing an aspiration to achieve for the heavens. You might be taking part in within the entranceway however are nonetheless in need of the important path of emancipation.” (2)

Equally, the Rinzai grasp Tōrei Enji (1721–1792) lays out the matter of advancing observe:

“Such circumstances as Zhàozhōu’s canine have from the start offered the matter of advancing observe. That is no small matter, for when a trainee begins with sanzen on Zhàozhōu’s canine, and on reaching the gate, instantly attains, then coming into into true nature is provisionally potential by advantage of the key phrase. Nonetheless, they haven’t but come to know the profound that means…. As a result of the behavior of delusion goes deep, in terms of starting advancing observe in Zen, quite than finishing it, they provide up midway.” (3)

Don’t hand over midway!

Even after receiving dharma transmission and inka shomei, it’s critical to proceed the work. After finishing a kōan curriculum, I do know some practitioners who’ve gone again to the start and finished the entire thing once more. After which once more, even after having develop into totally licensed Zen lecturers. My means, although, has been to seek out kōans that I haven’t labored by within the kōan curriculum that tingle with gentle, and provides myself to them.

Meidō Moore Rōshi says it so nicely right here:

“The true expectation is that if somebody has acquired inka they’re sufficiently educated and stabilized of their post-kensho, advancing observe to largely self-guide. Their observe at that time is, in reality, meant to be fairly rigorous and represents an important crossroads. This doesn’t imply the particular person now not works with lecturers, or advantages from the steering of seniors. But it surely means they’ve left the nest, so to talk. One in every of my lecturers described this stage of coaching – after finishing koan observe, and even after receiving inka – as being like arriving on the fringe of a chasm. Somebody with enough capability can be in a position, after a lot battle, to leap over, just like the storied carp on the remaining waterfall, changing into an precise dragon. The principle level: inka shomei is greatest thought-about entry into a spot at which coaching deepens profoundly, and narrows precipitously, quite than as a fruits of something.” (4)

Observe particularly: “…deepens profoundly, and narrows precipitously….”

No matter lineage path you’re on, at this stage, advancing observe is like Wúmén’s remark to The No Gate Barrier, Case 44: Bājiāo’s Strolling Workers, “It helps you as you cross the water over the Damaged Bridge. It’s your companion, returning to the village, no moon.”

However, hey, in the event you haven’t handed by the mu barrier (provisionally), or accomplished a kōan curriculum, and but are curious concerning the kōan means of advancing observe, you’re very welcome to learn alongside. 

That mentioned, it took a pair months for me to translate these two kōans and stay with them so as to begin to actually admire them, so it’d take a bit of labor in your half as nicely. A fast scroll will most likely not do it. And but I can testify that the kōans you’re about to be launched to (in the end) are true bodymind blowers, like these fireworks that appear to linger within the darkness of the evening sky, after which sizzle alive.

That Rújìng pulled these needles out of the kōan haystack is enormously cool and speaks volumes about his radiant gentle and darkish subtlety. These kōans are, afterall, about assembly individuals and manifesting buddhadharma. Surprisingly, they aren’t part of any kōan curriculum that I do know of, though Dōgen did embrace them in his Three Hundred Kōan Shobogenzo. (5)

So let’s get to it

Within the part of “The Report of Rújìng, Whereas Abiding at Qingliang Temple within the Metropolis of Jiankang,” Rújìng presents this temporary instruction (6):

“Once more, from his seat, Sānshèng raised this, saying, ‘Meet individuals, then, in that case, manifest. Manifest, then, not for individuals.’

“Xīnghuà mentioned, ‘I meet individuals, then, not manifest. Manifest, then, in that case, for individuals.’

[Rújìng said,] “These two kōans check kesa-wearing monks to their restrict. It’s tough to repair your gaze on them. [So] repair your gaze on them!”

That’s it. There they’re. You might not be awestruck – but – so let’s work ’em, work ’em, work ’em. 

What’s happening right here

In considered one of my first conferences with Harada Tangen Rōshi, I requested him, “What’s the essence of your educating?” 

In his tough English, he mentioned, “To every, in accordance…,” as he trailed off, nodding his head knowingly. Don’t overlook the profound fact for advancing observe proper right here!

As for the above kōans, first, you’ll have observed that the interpretation is rougher than Tangen Rōshi’s English, and, frankly, obscure. Sorry about that. It’s the results of my making an attempt to stomp my toes in time with the construction and the phrase play that’s current within the authentic Chinese language.

Earlier than I say extra on that, although, let’s take a fast take a look at who Sānshèng and Xīnghuà have been. The Cáodòng/Sōtō grasp Rújìng’s two kōans for advancing observe contain two direct successors of Línjì/Rinzai – Sānshèng and Xīnghuà.

Who was Sānshèng? Línjì known as Sānshèng a blind donkey simply earlier than he died. Fairly a declare to fame! It was Sānshèng who went on to compile Línjì’s breying and made it into the Línjì lu (The Report of Linji; Japanese, Rinzai roku).

As well as, Sānshèng seems in a minimum of a pair essential circumstances in our kōan curriculum – Blue Cliff Report (J. Hekiganroku), Case 49 (”When a golden scaled fish has handed by the web, what does it use for meals?”) and some of the splendidly playful circumstances within the curriculum, Blue Cliff Report, Case 68 (Yangshan requested, “What’s your title?”).

And the way about Xīnghuà? He was junior to Sānshèng in Línjì’s neighborhood. It’s by Xīnghuà, although, that every one surviving Línjì lineages movement, and in our case, by Xūtáng, Daiō, Hakuin, Daiun Sogaku and to these of us who’re successors of the Harada-Yasutani line.

When it comes to different kōans that Xīnghuà seems in, see The Report of Going Straightforward (J. Shoyoroku), “Case 97: Emperor Guang’s Helmet.”

Taking part in awakening, awakening play

Now that you’ve got slightly sense of who’s concerned in these circumstances, I’m compelled to handle the fascinating course of behind what was mentioned, that’s, how what was mentioned was mentioned. Sānshèng’s utterance, you see, makes use of simply ten phrases, whereas Xīnghuà makes use of eleven – the identical ten phrases Sānshèng makes use of, however he begins with “I”, the eleventh phrase, for a complete of twenty-one phrases between the 2 kōans. That little “I,” by the best way, may be very important to the embodiment of those kōans. 

Of these twenty-one phrases, there are solely eight completely different phrases: “Particular person” (人), “then” (則), and “manifest” (出) are every used 4 occasions; “meet” (逢), “not” (不), “in that case” (便), and “for” (為) are used twice; and “I” (我) is used as soon as. 

Nonetheless with me? I’ll now current simply the kōan expressions in order to focus on them, this time including some bracketed phrases that can assist you make sense of those buggers:

Sānshèng: “Meet individuals, then, in that case, manifest [the buddhadharma] (i.e., the awake fact). Manifest[ing], then, [is] not for individuals.”

Xīnghuà: “I meet individuals, then, [but do] not manifest [the buddhadharma]. Manifest[ing], then, in that case, [is] for individuals.”

What does it imply that these two historic worthies spoke like this? 

There’s an intense degree of luminous play right here, each with the phrases and the that means. Sānshèng and Xīnghuà sport freely throughout the constraints of the world of phrases and sounds – and invite us to affix in, to roll round with them, in them, as them.

Observe that the construction and sound of those two kōans is inseparable from the that means, intention, and true nature, which is tantalizingly simply out of attain of the frontal lobe, whereas hopping alongside in wholehearted-one-doing vividness. 

Xīnghuà has a very good time, taking Sānshèng’s sparse expression, including solely the only phrase “I,” then shuffling the opposite phrases. In so doing, Xīnghuà demonstrates his unbelievable capability to mimic and create in simply eleven phrases, whereas on the similar time, actually placing himself into it. 

Really, I’ve been awestruck whereas playfully embodying these two kōans. 

Is the that means of those two kōans the identical or completely different?

On the one hand, Sānshèng says that when assembly individuals, manifest, categorical the buddhadharma, however not for them. 

Why not?

After we meet individuals, manifesting the buddhadharma is displaying that there isn’t any self and no different. The exercise of intimate compassion, of Kanzeon, is to be one with the cries of the world, and to reply as if reaching again in the dead of night, darkish, darkish for a pillow. When there’s solely such dynamic functioning, good and full missing nothing, how may manifesting be for somebody?

Xīnghuà then flips issues round.  “I,” he says, meet individuals however don’t manifest the buddhadharma, don’t present something in any respect. Who is that this “I”?

This type of unusual manifestation is hidden, personal, and even secret, solely recognized by these whose our bodies are attuned sufficient to sense it. It’s this non manifestation that’s most helpful – it’s the residing transmission of the One Faculty Zen.

However are Sānshèng and Xīnghuà’s expressions the identical or completely different? To assessment, one says to fulfill individuals and manifest, however not for individuals; the opposite says that he meets individuals, however doesn’t manifest, and that is for individuals.

So are they completely different? If you happen to assert that their expressions are completely different, then I’d say your clarification misses the novel intimacy that’s hopping alongside right here. 

So are they the identical? If you happen to say they’re the identical, then I’d marvel if in case you have actually met your self. 

If neither the identical nor completely different, expensive me, what may they be?

Let’s circle again to Ryōun Yamada Rōshi: “No quantity of clarification will suffice to ‘cross’ the kōan. If one can grasp clearly and experientially the true self offered within the kōan then one can spontaneously manifest that true self.”

Rújìng wraps it up by assembly us and manifesting the One Faculty Zen, asserting that this easy exercise of assembly individuals with none stink of Zen or lack thereof, any stink of the self or lack thereof, any stink of benefiting or lack thereof, exams us to our restrict (or lack thereof), and that it’s even tough to carry the difficulty steadily as we undergo this one nice life collectively. 

If you happen to take up these circumstances, I imagine that you simply’ll have a tough time digesting them completely, as a result of there isn’t any obvious finish to them. You might discover you’ve arrived on the fringe of a chasm that Meidō Rōshi mentions above. The development is sort of a virus that pervades consciousness and gives the premise for advancing observe, a most fantastic absorption-wisdom (samadhi-prajna). 

Wishing you nicely by all of it,


(1) Ryōun Yamada Rōshi, “Engaged on Kōans,” Kyosho: The Awakening Gong, #358, 4-5.

(2) Dōgen Zenji in Fukanzazengi, Common Suggestions for Zazen, Sōtō Textual content Mission model.

(3) The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen Faculty [Shūmon mujintō ron]
by Tōrei Enji; with commentary by Grasp Daibi of Unkan; translated by Yoko Okuda, 370-371. Modified.

(4) From a remark by Meidō Moore Rōshi on the Fb “Rinzai Zen Dialogue” on August 20, 2019.

(5) For fairly a unique translation, see Daido Loori and Kaz Tanahashi’s True Dharma Eye: Grasp Dogen’s Three Hundred Koans, #92.

(6) Because of Kōkyō Henkel for sharing this with me.

Dōshō Port started working towards Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches along with his spouse, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with the Vine of Obstacles: On-line Assist for Zen Coaching, an internet-based Zen neighborhood. Dōshō acquired 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 Traditional Koans, is now accessible (Shambhala). He’s additionally the writer of Maintain Me In Your Coronary heart a Whereas: The Haunting Zen of Dainin KatagiriClick on right here to assist the educating observe of Dōshō Rōshi at Patreon.


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