Monday, July 11, 2022
HomeZenPunning, Toileting, and Purifying: the Awakening of Rújìng

Punning, Toileting, and Purifying: the Awakening of Rújìng

Tiāntóng Rújìng

Exploding myths

An earlier model of this submit has been up awhile at my Patreon web page, and I’m now posting publicly. Click on right here to study extra about Patreon and to help my instructing observe.

“Punning…” is a part of a collection through which I’m highlighting the backgrounds and teachings of a number of ancestors within the Cáodòng/Sōtō lineage earlier than and after Dōgen. I’m doing this as a way to explode the parable about Dōgen, present in a lot of Sōtō Zen, that Dōgen and his crew had been “simply sitters” who weren’t into awakening and didn’t use kōans for something however mental off gassing. The reality is au contraire.

Granted, my efforts are much less like dynamite and extra just like the sluggish drip of the kitchen faucet. In any case, you may marvel, why do I care?

Denying the ability of kōan and diminishing the importance of kenshō discourages individuals from doing the work essential to awaken into one of the crucial fantastic and significant experiences of this human life. It additionally diminishes the ability and chance for practising awakening, liberating residing beings.

In the meantime, Dōgen noticed himself as instructing throughout the context of buddhas and ancestors, not as a rogue monk making shit up. How do we all know this? For one factor, in his Shobogenzo and Eihei koroku Dōgen makes use of the phrase “buddhas and ancestors” about 150 instances, typically starting Shobogenzo fascicles with some reference to buddhas and ancestors, setting what he’s about to say within the context of, sure, buddhas and ancestors.

Oh, by the best way, Dōgen makes use of shikantaza 9 instances in Shobogenzo and Eiheikoroku, however not as a method – as a key phrase. So no less than by phrase depend, buddhas and ancestors had been 16.66 instances extra necessary to Dōgen than shikantaza.

So on this collection, you’ll discover current posts on Koun Ejō and Keizan Jōkin. Earlier than attending to Tetsu Gikai, the third technology in Japan, I’ll first supply a number of posts concerning the Chinese language grasp, Tiāntóng Rújìng (天童如淨; Heavenly Youngster Pure Suchness; J. Tendō Nyojō; 1163–1228). This submit is about Rújìng’s awakening expertise together with his instructor, Xuědòu Zhìjiàn (雪竇智鑑; Snow Hermitage Knowledge Mirror; J. Setchō Chikan; 1105–1192). (1)

One College Zen

Rújìng turned a monk at an early age and travelled broadly, tirelessly searching for the good fact of the buddhadharma. Within the Denkōroku (伝光録, Document of the Transmission of Illumination), Keizan Jokin (瑩山紹瑾, Lustrous Mountain Bequeathing Jewels, 1268–1325) says that “From the age of 19 he [Rújìng] deserted the examine of teachings and sought instruction from holders of the ancestral seat.”(2)

In so doing, Rújìng skilled with academics within the Chán lineages nonetheless energetic in China – the Línjì, Cáodòng, and doubtless additionally the Yúnmén academics. Later in life, Rújìng himself turned a famend instructor, main a number of of the premier Chán monasteries. Throughout his set up ceremonies, he defied the custom of providing incense and dedicating it to his transmission instructor, that’s, indicating from whom he had obtained transmission, and in so doing, figuring out which lineage he represented. In different phrases, he didn’t reveal his lineage publicly till near his loss of life.

Simply earlier than his loss of life, Rújìng shared that Xuědòu Zhìjiàn, a Cáodòng lineage grasp, was the instructor from whom he’d obtained transmission and whose lineage he transmitted. Presumably, then, the younger Dōgen additionally wouldn’t have identified the lineage through which he was present process coaching.

Provided that whereas Rújìng was instructing nobody knew what lineage he represented, college students would have chosen him as their instructor solely realizing that he taught from the ancestral seat as a Chán grasp (in any other case Rújìng couldn’t have grow to be the abbot of any of the a number of giant state-sponsored monastery he taught at). Apparently and importantly, college students additionally couldn’t discern his lineage affiliation based mostly on his observe or instructing.

Rújìng’s wholehearted observe and vigorous instructing represented the One College Zen, as I believe you’ll see when you stick to this collection. Rújìng’s One College Zen was clearly the supply for the way Dōgen focussed solely on the buddhadharma, not even pledging allegiance to “Zen.”

That is the very important spirit of Zen, free from the political and ideological shackles of our Japanese lineage’s current historical past, and focussed simply on the buddhadharma (whereas holding our personal lineage ancestry near our hearts), that I put ahead and name “One College Zen.”

A punny and shitty satori

Now let’s get to Rújìng’s awakening (悟, “satori,” is used within the Denkoroku).

After Rújìng had skilled for some time with Xuědòu, and possibly after an preliminary awakening (see beneath), Rújìng got here to Xuědòu with what may appear to be an uncommon request. Rújìng, you see, requested to be promoted to Rest room Supervisor. Despite the fact that I used to be nicknamed “Golden Samu Quantity One Shit Carrying Monk,” at Bukkokuji (true story), I by no means requested to be the Rest room Supervisor. How about you?

In a word to his Denkoroku translation, Bodiford explains, “This was a place of some significance within the paperwork of huge Buddhist monasteries in Tune China, the place the variety of residents might attain one or two thousand. The primary obligation of the supervisor was to supervise the emptying of bathroom pots and the routine cleansing of the services.”

Patti Smith wouldn’t be shocked. She sings (nicely, these lyrics are in a tune however she speaks them),

“The transformation of waste is probably the oldest preoccupation of man/man being the chosen alloy, he have to be reconnected through shit, in any respect value/inherent inside us is the dream of the duty of the alchemist/to create from the clay of man/and recreate from excretion of man pure after which tender after which golden.”(3)

The transformation of waste, certainly. Pure, tender, golden.

When Rújìng requested to be the Rest room Supervisor, Xuědòu mentioned that if he might reply one query, he’d make that appointment. Now that may appear shitty, however not but punny, so dangle on and I’ll get to the punny half.

Xuědòu’s one query was, “Like how will you purify that which has by no means been defiled?”

In Chinese language, when Xuědòu mentioned, “Like how will you purify…,” the phrases he spoke would have been “Rúhé jìng dé.” You’ll discover that there’s a “Rú” 如 and a “jìng” 淨 in that phrase. Sure, the pronunciation (and characters) for Rújìng’s title, which could possibly be translated as “Like Clear,” or “Like Purity.”

And though the framing here’s a normal query, it might additionally understood as a private query, “How has Rújìng by no means been defiled?” And/or as an announcement: “Like purity (Rújìng) has by no means been defiled.”

All of it will get right down to “present me that which has by no means been defiled.”

Past the pun, one undoubtedly wants to enter the shit to appreciate that one. I’m afraid, although, that explaining the pun took the enjoyable out of it for ya! Sorry about that. If it did, although, there’s nonetheless Patti’s unintentional commentary. Xuědòu knew that Rújìng “…have to be reconnected through shit, in any respect prices.”

And so he was. The story has it that Rújìng met together with his instructor repeatedly, attempting to reply this query, however when requested, “Like how will you purify that which has by no means been defiled?” he had no phrases. This went on for greater than a yr, then instantly he clearly did satori, and mentioned, “Hit undefiled place!”

In Denkoroku, Keizan says that “… Earlier than he was accomplished uttering that [“Hit undefiled place!”], Xuedou hit him. The Grasp [Rújìng], sweat pouring, made prostrations. Xuedou thereupon gave his approval.”

This awakening story could be very very similar to that of Rújìng’s youthful up to date Xūtáng Zhìyú (虚堂智愚, 1185–1269) together with his Línjì lineage grasp, Yùnān Pǔyán (運庵普巖, 1156–1226). Though there’s no pun or Patti Smith tune that goes with Xūtáng’s satori. There’s a e book, although: The Document of Empty Corridor.

Rújìng’s awakening lit up the home of One College Zen.

A Controversy about Rújìng’s satori

As famous above, this account of Rújìng’s awakening happens within the Japanese Sōtō grasp Keizan’s Denkōroku.

Bodiford notes, that it “… has no precedent in extant Chinese language sources. Nonetheless, there are a number of Chinese language data that give a wholly completely different account. For instance, the biography of ‘Chan Grasp Changweng Rujing of Tiantong in Mingzhou’ says: [Rujing] sought instruction from Zhijian at [Mount] Xuedou and gained perception whereas considering the phrases ‘cypress within the backyard.’ This different account agrees with the Denkōroku, nevertheless, that Rujing’s awakening got here by means of the observe of “considering” (C. kan 看; J. kan) the “phrases” (C. hua 話; J. wa) of a kōan: ‘Zhaozhou’s cypress within the backyard.’”

The biography of Rújìng’s that has him awakening by means of considering “Zhàozhōu’s Cypress within the Backyard” is “5 Lamps Merged on the Supply” – suppose “One College Zen.”

To complicate issues additional, “The Document of Rújìng,” has Rújìng realizing nice awakening by means of the kōan, “The World Honored One’s Secret Saying.” See Ruijing and Six Intimate Dharma Heirs for extra.

As for the controversy about Rújìng’s awakening, it isn’t about whether or not Rújìng had a definitive awakening or not, or whether or not it got here from considering phrases (看話, J. kanwa) of a kōan or not, however which kōan phrases he was considering. By the way, all three variations agree that his awakening got here with the Cáodòng grasp, Xuědòu Zhìjiàn.

How do I clarify these three completely different awakening tales?

Scratching my head, I provide you with just a few potentialities. First, as a result of awakening is commonly not one and accomplished, it’s attainable that Rújìng had an early awakening whereas considering the phrases of “The World Honored One’s Secret Saying” one other with “Zhàozhōu’s Cypress within the Backyard” after which a later awakening with “Like how will you purify that which has by no means been defiled?” Or another order.

This chance depends on Keizan gaining access to details about Rújìng’s awakening by means of means aside from extant Chinese language sources. For instance, Keizan might have discovered about Rújìng’s awakening from Chinese language sources not accessible right now (Keizan blocked the textual content as if he was quoting sources the identical method he did for different ancestors) and/or verbally by means of Dōgen, Ejō, or Jakuen (a Chinese language monk and scholar of Rújìng who adopted Dōgen again to Japan and later was certainly one of Keizan’s academics).

Provided that the amount of “The Document of Rújìng” the place “The World Honored One’s Secret Saying” model comes up is attributed to Dōgen himself, that may lend this model some credence, though not essentially as Rújìng’s solely awakening.

On the similar time, it’s notable {that a} up to date of Rújìng, Cáodòng grasp Shèngmò (勝默, n.d.), additionally used the “Zhàozhōu’s Cypress within the Backyard”  as a breakthrough kōan. In his The Document of Going Straightforward (從容錄, Cóngróng lù; J. Shōyōroku), Cáodòng grasp Wànsōng (萬松, 1166–1246) notes that his former instructor “… Shengmo had individuals go by means of this case first, cleaning prior information.” Which may lend credence to the “Zhàozhōu’s Cypress within the Backyard” model, however, once more, not essentially as Rújìng’s solely awakening.

One other chance is that the storytellers of the varied awakening experiences acquired confused and whose awakening went with which instructor acquired tangled.

In any case, it’s all a narrative.

So extra One College Zen.


Rújìng woke up by means of considering the phrases of a punny, private, and impromptu kōan given to him by Xuědòu Zhìjiàn. Not less than, that’s one model of his awakening. In any case, Rújìng’s course of is very similar to that of a lot of those that’ve woke up, no less than in the course of the previous fifteen hundred years. Rújìng’s instructing had it’s personal explicit taste, however not a taste that may align it with anyone lineage or one other.

Certainly, Rújìng went to appreciable lengths to cover his lineage affiliation till the tip of his life, an effort that was apparently profitable. In thirteenth Century Chán/Zen, there actually wasn’t a lot (if any) distinction between what turned Japanese Sōtō and Rinzai. Each lineages pressured awakening, as any college throughout the framework of Mahayana Buddhism would do. Each used kōan to catalyze awakening. In any case, kōan introspection is the most effective thought because the Buddha’s time, so why not embrace the koan methodology? Variations in strategy to kōan depended extra on a selected instructor’s proclivities and creativity and far much less on the instructor’s lineage.

I’ll quickly be advancing a principle for why Cáodòng/Sōtō and Línjì/Rinzai lineages had been a lot alike within the thirteenth century, however in the meantime, I’ll simply say this: Rújìng was one fantastic instance of One College Zen.

Lastly, the story that Dōgen inherited a model of Zen that used a particular meditation approach, shikantaza, that sitting itself was awakening, that his lineage rejected kōan work, that this particular transmission denied the significance of private awakening, and as a substitute pressured authentic awakening is one massive fantasy. The supply of this fantasy goes again solely about 150 years or so to those that rebranded Sōtō Zen to adjust to the Meiji authorities and to compete with Christianity. See The Showa Dispute about True Religion for extra.

This fantasy is killing Sōtō Zen in Japan and it’ll kill Sōtō Zen within the international tradition – if it stays because the dominant narrative. See The Finish of Zen in Japan? for extra.

(1) This was not Xuedou Chongxian (雪竇重顯, 980–1052), the Yunmen lineage grasp who compiled the instances and wrote verses for what turned The Blue Cliff Document.

(2) For all references on this submit to Denkoroku, see Document of the Transmission of Illumination, by Keizan Jokin, trans. William Bodiford. I’ve retranslated the primary case, although, in order that it extra clearly performs with the pun:

The Fiftieth Ancestor, Tiāntóng [Rú] Jìng Oshō consulted Xuědòu. Dòu requested Jìng, “Like how will you purify that which has by no means been defiled?” The grasp handed by means of multiple yr, then instantly clearly woke up (悟, satori), and mentioned, “Hit undefiled place!”

(3) See

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 group. 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 Document of Empty Corridor: One Hundred Traditional Koans, is now accessible (Shambhala). He’s additionally the writer of Hold Me In Your Coronary heart a Whereas: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri.


Most Popular

Recent Comments