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Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Discussion of Japanese Rinzai Zen (臨済宗) including Obaku Zen (黄檗宗).

Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby MattJ on Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:49 pm

You can purchase an e-book copy for $10 U.S. on Amazon or Google.
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Anders on Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:36 am

"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Meido on Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:42 am

"Retreat of silence" does not refer to a text, but to a particular type of post-kensho practice.

In regards to this, Torei in your quote mentions also the "the ancient worthies of the Soto sect" and their practice of having students "cultivate absorption in the relative and absolute for three years after seeing nature". In the Rinzai training he helped develop, there are similar, specific instructions transmitted privately regarding practice of the alternate samadhis of hen (translated by Cleary as "relative") and sho ("absolute"), and the jewel mirror samadhi (hokkyo zanmai).

The main point is that seeing nature is not itself sufficient without a subsequent practice of integration or embodiment. Torei maps that out for us because, as Cleary writes, persistence in practice is "meaningful only in the context of procedural efficiency."

To put it another way: just practicing a lot isn't sufficient. One must use appropriate practices, at the appropriate time, in an appropriate succession, and experiencing their fruition for oneself.

~ Meido
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:48 pm

Anirukta wrote:Regarding the "Undying Lamp of Zen The Testament of Zen Master Torei" transl. T. Clearly.


Cleary's book is good in the context of being accessible, affordable, and short. But he doesn't translate all the chapters and the translation is not as good as the translation in The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School with commentary by Daibi of Unkan and translated by Yoko Okuda.

Daibi's commentary is actually longer than the text by Torei, but it provides what amounts to a course on Buddhism as he explains what Torei refers to by name without explanation. Sometimes Daibi's commentary seems a little repetative by meerely stating Torei's words in a slightly different manner, but overall the book is pretty amazing for the student of Buddha Dharma. As Meido points out above, Torei's teaching on the meaning of "advanced training" after kensho is particularly important for Zen students.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:05 pm

Anirukta wrote:"There was also a famous teacher who wrote the words retreat of silence with instructions to keep to them for three years."


This is an example of my concerns about Cleary's translations. On that page he translates "koans" as "official decisions" instead of the usual "public cases."

Here, he is translating "retreat of silence" but though I haven't seen the original Japanese, I would suggest a more communicative translation would be "silent withdrawal." "Keeping to those words for three years" means to keep your experience to yourself and be silent about it for at least three years. That is like letting the wine age in the barrel before tapping it.

_/|\_
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Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Meido on Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:38 pm

Anirukta wrote:Thank you for the clarification. Can [should] a student, afterwards, reproduce the "seeing nature" moment at will?

If not, can a teacher usually do it at will, at any time?


A moment is not reproduced. I think it more useful to use terms like "recognizing".

To use an example: when you are introduced to someone for the first time, you then recognize that person's face. In a sustained conversation which follows, moment by moment this recognition is not absent. At no time do you doubt that that the person you see is the same one to whom you were introduced. In fact, familiarity increases.

However, this might not be the case if you are scattered, sleepy, drunk or distracted. You might be unable to have a conversation...or might even forget you had been introduced at all.

This points to the reasons why foundational practice is so important for most: it removes obstructions to the initial "introduction", and it creates the conditions by which an ongoing "conversation" - the sustained deepening of recognition - will be possible.

The issues of the progression of practice and the "continuation of correct consciousness" are discussed at length in Torei's writings. I second Gregory's recommendation of the Tuttle edition of the Inexhaustible Lamp. It's out of print and copies are expensive, but if you can get your hands on one you won't regret it. I'm hoping that someone will one day reissue it.

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby unsui on Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:34 am

Meido wrote:I second Gregory's recommendation of the Tuttle edition of the Inexhaustible Lamp. It's out of print and copies are expensive, but if you can get your hands on one you won't regret it. I'm hoping that someone will one day reissue it.

~ Meido

I third it --- and would love to take an initiative to re-issue it, if someone can point me in the right directions regarding "how."
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby MattJ on Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:52 pm

Meido,

If you don't mind my asking, that is a very strong recommendation for a book. What makes this book different, in your mind, from all the others?

Meido wrote: It's out of print and copies are expensive, but if you can get your hands on one you won't regret it. I'm hoping that someone will one day reissue it.

~ Meido
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Meido on Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:25 pm

MattJ wrote:If you don't mind my asking, that is a very strong recommendation for a book. What makes this book different, in your mind, from all the others?


Torei's work is essentially a comprehensive explanation of the entire path, from motivation and the beginning of practice, to seeing nature, to post-kensho practice and its fruition. Common misunderstandings, mistakes and pitfalls are clearly laid out. The roles of teacher and student are clearly explained. Comparison of the Zen approach with that of both exoteric and esoteric schools is made, and Zen as an expression of the One Vehicle by which the root of all Buddhist schools may be realized - and which therefore may integrate and freely use all approaches - is affirmed.

In Myokyo-ni's introduction to this edition, she describes it as "unique in that it sets out, step by step, what the training is about, why it is as it is, the logical necessity of its stages, and what goes wrong or goes awry if its sequence is not followed or is cut short." Daibi relates that Gasan, abbot of Tenryu-ji during the Meiji period, once asked his teacher "What books should I read for my instruction, from the very beginning of the practice of the Zen Way right through to when I finally settle the Great Matter?" The reply: "Make one book, Master Torei's The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp, your standard from beginning to end." These quotes sum it up.

Finally, the edition containing Daibi's running commentary (actually a teisho) on Torei's words serves to unpack the many allusions Torei makes. The result, as Gregory mentioned, is that the book essentially amounts to an entire course in Buddhism.

Not bad for one book. A person reading and working with this book over the years - no matter what school of Zen they practice within - would be able to avoid major pitfalls. They would also be able to see clearly what they haven't attained. What a wonderful thing!

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby MattJ on Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:13 pm

Thanks. I've gone ahead and purchased a copy --- I've never encountered such a strong recommendation.

:Namaste:

Meido wrote:Not bad for one book. A person reading and working with this book over the years - no matter what school of Zen they practice within - would be able to avoid major pitfalls. They would also be able to see clearly what they haven't attained. What a wonderful thing!

~ Meido
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:14 pm

Meido wrote: A person reading and working with this book over the years - no matter what school of Zen they practice within - would be able to avoid major pitfalls. They would also be able to see clearly what they haven't attained. What a wonderful thing!

~ Meido


Wonderful indeed! Well at least we can say they would have all the warning signs for avoiding all the major pitfalls. Since we are human, whether we pay attention to the warning signs to actually avoid the pitfalls is another matter. This reminds me of one of Baling's three turning phrases;

So what is the Way?
A clear-eyed person falls into a well.


_/|\_
Gregory
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Meido on Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:19 pm

Ha! Certainly those of us who are all wet could indeed benefit from Torei's kindness. I often remind myself that even someone like Daito could say, "For thirty years or so I, too, dwelled in the fox's cave, No wonder people still get bewitched."

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Zendudest on Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:41 pm

, to post-kensho practice and its fruition...


I might add here that there are many, many exhortations to continue wholeheartedly after the 'initial insight' and not to stagnate. The accounts of Hakuin's post-kensho efforts by Torei are particularly inspiring -- as are Hakuin's many writings.

Bryan
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Re: Torei's "The Undying Lamp of Zen"?

Postby Meido on Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:17 pm

I've just discovered that the Zen Centre of London, which holds the copyright for the translation of this text which Tuttle had put out, still sells their original edition: £15 plus shipping, and no problem to mail overseas. This is great news, since copies of the Tuttle edition are increasingly rare and expensive. It's also nice to support the Zen Centre: they are owed tremendous gratitude for making this important text available in the first place.

Here's a link to the Zen Centre's publications page, with order form:

http://www.rinzaizencentre.org.uk/books.php

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
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