January 17, 2012, 2:40 am ~ by in news
The linage of this monastery is of the Rinzai school. We all come here to clarify our true nature but it is also important for us to know what this wind of the house of Rinzai is all about, or else our practice will be very shallow. Bodhidharma went from India into China and up to the Sixth Patriarch Buddhism developed in China. Bodhidharma was from India and he had a philosophical approach to the truth and he realized that the base for this study was not bringing any real experience. It was just an intellectual approach and society was divided between those who had knowledge and those who didn´t. Bodhidharma said it is precisely Knowledge that divides us, without any real experience all that knowledge was absolutely useless. Scholars were confusing more society than helping it. The Buddha said everything is Buddha Nature, so Bodhidharma wanted to correct the teaching. this was his great wish. Bodhidharma still had this very philosophical approach at the very base of his own training, but by the time Zen reached the Sixth Patriarch it had boiled down to realize wisdom on daily life or else it was just conceptual. Especially the Sixth Patriarch stressed that the experience in daily life was most important. And at that time Zen spread in China far and wide, to realize one´s own true nature, to become enlightened, those words of Bodhidharma were used everywhere. While we are awake or while we are asleep to concentrate on that point. We have the Head Monk´s poem:"Or body is the Bodhi Tree and our mind a mirror bright carefully we wipe it hour by hour and let no dust alight". At that time it was the Sixth Patriarch that took this direct experience one step higher by giving the poem: "There is no Bodhi tree nor stand of a mirror bright, since all is void, where can dust alight?" It doesn´t mean there is something conceptual to be understood, it is not about nihilism either, but the direct true experience. In this way the Rinzai Zen lineage was formed.
Rinzai dates of birth are not known, and this was most common on that era. We know he died on¡¡ Jan 10, 866 perhaps at around the age of 72 or 73. In all Japanese monasteries on January 10th a ceremony is held to commemorate MasterRinzai. In China there was a huge transition from the Tang to the Sung Dynasty. It was usually according to the New emperors wishes that the culture was based more on Confucianism or in Buddhism. So whenever there was a change of Dynasty, China had a cultural revolution.In this new Dynasty they burned all Buddha figures and temples, but it is in this era that zen flourished the most. And it it because it was not relying on any of this things. It was just about that true experience. This is how zen was also special because they were not only using Buddhist sutras, they were also using any inspiring words from taoism, confucianism, from any religion they could be used. Zen does not depend on the monasteries, so the more they burned down, more monks would come forth.
Record of Pilgrimage and the actual teaching or records, conform the two part Records of Rinzai text. Zen is using words to enlighten the other person, for that, words are needed. They need to be used in purity and directness. Like when a monk first arrives to a monastery the first question would be: Where do you come from? If they answered they came from another teacher, then they would ask What is your teacher saying these days? And that is a way to check on the state of mind of the monk. to see whether the monk realized what was being taught there. To check the state of mind of the other person we do need words. Like simply saying "Say it" but what should I say? but just by asking this question that you can pierce through that conceptual filter so that he experience can be grasped right away. In the Rinzai school checking the state of mind is what is most important And that is why there are all these koans and the sutras are not considered the most important. Zen is only about that direct experience right now. Zen masters have said it in different ways: Unmon is saying "every day is a good day" The Sixth Patriarch is saying "From the origin there is not one thing". Meaning, how can you express it in a way that you have not read it anywhere else? In this way zen is pointing to the experience only. Rinzai was a scholar of the Lotus Sutra, but he realized that just reading about it was not enough. The medicine was not working for him. The state of mind that is free and clear can only be realized when we see that the medicine is working well for us. Rinzai continued studying and polishing his state of mind under Master Obaku until Obaku died. Obaku Zenji had a huge state of mind, only in true experience. And Rinzai had a very hard time training with him, it was only until he was sent to another temple that he was able to have a direct experience. This difficulty in training is what is referred to in "pulling the tiger´s whiskers" and "If he didn´t go to Kanan he´d return to Kahoku" refers to the records of this pilgrimages.
Rinzai was living in a little temple by the river and his teaching was very strict. He was asking all his monks to throw all their life energy into it. His action was also totally free, moving freely between guest and host. He also came up with the three states and the three fundamentals. Taking the teaching of Buddhism from India to China but burning it all up, leaving all ideas behind. Coming up with The True person with No rank. In the last part of the preface, he talks about the last part of his life, a time of great war and political turmoil. But it was until 1120, exactly 224 after his death, that this text was compiled. While we are all sitting here, if we sit just for the sake of sitting no awakening can come forth of course. We all need this experience of our own truth and it is my hope that as we study Rinzai´s own path of awakening we can be inspired and reinvigorate our practice.