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The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

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The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby jundo on Sun May 14, 2017 3:28 am

Hi,

Most Zen folks do not realize that the actual Master Linji Yixuan (Master Rinzai, 臨濟義玄, died 866) probably practiced a kind of non-seeking meditation seemingly closer in attitude to "Just Sitting" non-seeking, non-gaining "Shikantaza" than the Koan Introspection Zazen which is now associated with the "Rinzai School" of Zen. Of course, to say that Linji practiced "Shikantaza" would be ridiculous! Shikantaza as we know did not exist at the time. However, Koan Introspection Zazen also did not exist at the time. Koan Introspection Zazen was developed by a monk in the Rinzai Lineage named Dahui (Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲) in the 12th Century, and further developed by others later including in Japan by Master Hakuin in the 18th Century, many many centuries after Rinzai lived.

Please heed that I do not mean that Koan Introspection is bad, or less than Shikantaza/Silent Illumination, in any way whatsoever for those called to that Path. Quite the contrary! I simply make the point that it was a later historical development, and that Master Rinzai himself, in his writings, seemed to express many non-gaining, "Shikantaza-ish" views about Practice and Zazen. We do not know exactly what form of meditation Master Rinzai practiced, and the evidence is thin that it was Silent Illumination. But it is unlikely to have been Koan Introspection as we now know it, which did not exist at the time ... and most of the Koan stories themselves (many about Rinzai himself!) were not created as Koan stories until the Song Dynasty. There is no doubt that Silent Illumination and the like is an older tradition in the Zen/Chan world than Kanna (Koan Introspection) Zazen, but that does not mean that Rinzai sat "Silent Illumination". Again, no statement is being made by me that (1) one is better than the other, for a later innovation can even be an improvement sometimes, or (2) that Silent Illumination was not also an innovation. (It does not take much deep familiarity with Buddhist, and even Chan history, to know that many forms of meditation were practiced in China before and after the advent of both flavors of Zazen. http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-2036-9780824810887.aspx).

I simply make the point that so many of the Linji quotes below seem like dandy "don't seek, don't stop the thoughts, don't doubt, Just Sitting" instructions!

Anyway, here are the "Shikantaza-ish" quotes from the Record of Linji, and please judge for yourself:

----



“In my view there is no Buddha, no sentient beings, no past, no present. Anything attained was already attained—no time is needed. There is nothing to practice, nothing to realize, nothing to gain, nothing to lose. Throughout all time there is no other dharma than this. ‘If one claims there’s a dharma
surpassing this, I say that it’s like a dream, like a phantasm.’ This is all I have to teach.

“Outside mind there’s no dharma, nor is there anything to be gained within it. What are you seeking? Everywhere you say, ‘There’s something to practice, something to obtain.’ Make no mistake! Even if there were something to be gained by practice, it would be nothing but birth-and-death karma."

“Bring to rest the thoughts of the ceaselessly seeking mind, and you will not differ from the patriarch-buddha. Do you want to know the patriarch-buddha? He is none other than you who stand before me listening to my discourse. But because you students lack faith in yourselves, you run around seeking something outside. Even if, through your seeking, you did find something, that something would be nothing more than fancy descriptions in written words; never would you gain the mind of the living patriarch.

“If you wish to diff er in no way from the patriarch-buddha, just don’t seek outside. The pure light in a single thought of yours—this is the dharmakāya buddha within your own house. The nondiscriminating light in a single thought of yours—this is the saṃbhogakāya buddha within your own house. The nondiff erentiating light in a single thought of yours—this is the nirmāṇakāya buddha within your own house. Th is threefold body is you, listening to my discourse right now before my very eyes. It is precisely because you don’t run around seeking outside that you have such meritorious activities.

“A true follower of the Way is never like this; conforming with circumstances as they are he exhausts his past karma; accepting things as they are he puts on his clothes; when he wants to walk he walks, when he wants to sit he sits; he never has a single thought of seeking buddhahood.

“Virtuous monks, time is precious. And yet, hurrying hither and thither, you try to learn meditation, to study the Way, to accept names, to accept phrases, to seek buddha, to seek a patriarch, to seek a good teacher, to think and speculate.
“Make no mistake, followers of the Way! Aft er all, you have a father and a mother—what more do you seek? Turn your own light inward upon yourselves!
A man of old said, Yajñadatta [thought he had] lost his head,
But when his seeking mind came to rest, he was at ease.
“Virtuous monks, just be ordinary. Don’t put on airs.

“One thought of doubt, and instantly the demon [māra] enters your mind. Even a bodhisattva, when in doubt, is taken advantage of by the demon of birth-and-death. Just desist from thinking, and never seek outside. If something should come, illumine it. Have faith in your activity revealed now—there isn’t a thing to do. [Jundo Note: An interesting quote for a man often associated with recommending 'Great Balls of Doubt'}

“There are a bunch of blind shavepates who, having stuff ed themselves with food, sit down to meditate and practice contemplation. Arresting the flow of thought they don’t let it rise; they hate noise and seek stillness. This is the method of the heretics. A patriarch said, ‘If you stop the mind to look
at stillness, arouse the mind to illumine outside, control the mind to clarify inside, concentrate the mind to enter samādhi—all such [practices] as these are artificial striving.’ [Jundo Note: This and several other quotes on not trying to still the flow of thoughts]

“Blind fools! Wastefully squandering the alms given them by believers everywhere and saying, ‘I am a renouncer of home,’ all the while holding such views as these! I say to you there is no buddha, no dharma, nothing to practice, nothing to enlighten to. Just what are you seeking in the highways and byways? Blind men! You’re putting a head on top of the one you already have. What do you yourselves lack? Followers of the Way, your own present activities do not diff er from those of the patriarch-buddhas. You just don’t believe this and keep on seeking outside. Make no mistake! Outside there is no dharma; inside, there is nothing to be obtained. Better than grasp at the words from my mouth, take it easy and do nothing.

The master said, “It is because you cannot stop your mind which runs on seeking everywhere that a patriarch said, ‘Bah, superior men! Searching for your heads with your heads!’ When at these words you turn your own light in upon yourselves and never seek elsewhere, then you’ll know that your body and mind are not different from those of the patriarch-buddhas and on the instant have nothing to do—this is called ‘obtaining the dharma.’

There are many more ...
http://info.stiltij.nl/publiek/meditati ... sasaki.pdf

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday
Last edited by jundo on Sun May 14, 2017 4:25 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun May 14, 2017 3:53 am

I "agree with Linji".

I think that, as an awakened person as he was, there were many natural ways in which to rest the fallen-away body-mind.

To take on a way, and call that "meditation" is the way of an unawakened person (but a necessary discipline to develop, to enable the more natural ways which are to follow).

Methods are expedient means, and I accept their necessity. I also accept the freedom that Linji had as an awakened person, and the freedom we all have, when, as awakened people ourselves, we are also free.

I don't reject methods and practice. But we probably all come to find out when an artifice is unnecessary weight -- and, as artificial -- is a distraction or screen in the way of the natural. And, moreover, there are times when an artifice cannot even be picked up: it is impossible. It is (then) impossible to fiddle with, or to want to fiddle with, artifices, and apply names to them like "meditation", or "practice". So says Lin-Chi, too. At those times, only the natural persists, and this is simply the spontaneously natural and unfettered functioning of our original and actual nature.

--Joe
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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby bokki on Sun May 14, 2017 9:36 pm

rev j
again and again
how many more times
ill answer this crap when i have a few minutes to spare
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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun May 14, 2017 9:38 pm

No worries, no hurry.

--Joe
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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby organizational on Sun May 14, 2017 11:36 pm

i want to drink and go to a swimmingpool

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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby jundo on Mon May 15, 2017 3:47 am

desert_woodworker wrote:I "agree with Linji".

I think that, as an awakened person as he was, there were many natural ways in which to rest the fallen-away body-mind.

To take on a way, and call that "meditation" is the way of an unawakened person (but a necessary discipline to develop, to enable the more natural ways which are to follow).

Methods are expedient means, and I accept their necessity. I also accept the freedom that Linji had as an awakened person, and the freedom we all have, when, as awakened people ourselves, we are also free.

I don't reject methods and practice. But we probably all come to find out when an artifice is unnecessary weight -- and, as artificial -- is a distraction or screen in the way of the natural. And, moreover, there are times when an artifice cannot even be picked up: it is impossible. It is (then) impossible to fiddle with, or to want to fiddle with, artifices, and apply names to them like "meditation", or "practice". So says Lin-Chi, too. At those times, only the natural persists, and this is simply the spontaneously natural and unfettered functioning of our original and actual nature.

--Joe


Hi Joe,

Yes, he was an "awakened person" perhaps, but many of the quotes are directed as advice to ordinary priests and lay people on "how to" Zen Practice.

It is also unclear if he even "sat" Zazen or felt it necessary! Some of the old folks back in the day may have felt that even sitting at all was not necessary. The Record of Rinzai, at least, is a bit ambiguous on the topic (while it is clear that he did seated Zazen at some point in his own Training, it is ambiguous as to whether he finally decided that it is not necessary). However, I feel that there are enough passages in the Record to support that he did so ... For example:

“But if you try to get understanding by hurrying down this byway and that, you’ll still be in the round of samsara after three asakhyeya kalpas. Better take your ease sitting cross-legged on a meditation platform in the monastery.


There is also a lot of evidence that it was just expected that meditation be conducted in any major monastery, and it would have been quite the social scandal if Rinzai or any Abbot of a national monastery had not been performing the standard rituals and practices, including meditation.

In any case, these quotes show the great unity of our Way(s), and there is truly neither "Rinzai" nor "Soto." Master Rinzai did not sit "Koan Introspection Zazen", because it did not exist at the time. Master Rinzai did not sit "Shikantaza" because it did not exist at the time, and he may not have sat "Silent Illumination" because there is little evidence to go on and that way also may not have been so at the time. However, in any case, there is much here that resonates with Shikantaza practice just as it may resonate with Koan Introspection.

Soto People, including me, dance with Koans just as Rinzai folks dance with Koans (in fact, the only people who may not have actually "danced with Koans" were the people who are in the Koans such as Master Rinzai, because Koan culture did not exist as such in the age of Master Rinzai, and most of the Koans were creations of the Song. The "Golden Age of Zen" is largely a literary creation of authors during the Song Dynasty. The creation and gradual embellishment of so many of the major Koans as literature is now well demonstrated. They are not historical records, and it is unlikely that they are verbatim transcripts of taped meetings. :PP: ). In any case, now and for a thousand years, we cherish Koans. Dogen cherished Koans as much as Dahui or Hakuin, even if the approachless approach to the Koans was a little different for each.

I simply make the point that so many of the Linji quotes above seem like dandy "don't seek, don't stop the thoughts, don't doubt, Just Sitting" instructions! I could cut and paste them and use them as descriptions of Shikantaza to present to my own students.

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon May 15, 2017 1:30 pm

Good morning, Jundo, et al.,

Another aphoristic line that comes to mind is from Ma-Tsu:

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Ch'an of Tathagata."

--Joe

p.s. (Jundo, I hope
you're feeling better,
or are all healed!).
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Re: The Shikantaza Teachings of ... Master Rinzai!

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon May 15, 2017 2:06 pm

Jundo,

Thank you for your rich reply.

To comment in turn on just a few points:

jundo wrote:Yes, he was an "awakened person" perhaps, but many of the quotes are directed as advice to ordinary priests and lay people on "how to" Zen Practice.

Indeed, yes. And as a teacher, his giving advice like that was of course a large part of his function within the institution (as well as his natural function as someone who is awake). And as a novice monk, and beyond, I assume he participated in deep training in the traditional ways, himself (but I note that you say this is unclear, or ambiguous). I also accept (with gratitude) the traditional ways (of practice, and teaching), and myself have written above,

    " 'meditation' is the way of an unawakened person (but a necessary discipline to develop, to enable the more natural ways which are to follow)".
Granted, awakening is often (or sometimes... ) said not to occur within a period of seated meditation, but always (usually... ) due to some other influence which shatters one's samadhi, or tears it down the middle before one's open eyes, revealing utter clarity everywhere. This can happen even when one is up and around; walking, or working. Let's see, on this point, there's the nice awakening-gatha of Shiang-Yan, who was cutting weeds or sweeping when a stone or piece of tile was sent flying to hit against a bamboo with a sound:

    "A single 'tock' -- all prior knowledge forgotten
    This is not the result of practice --
    Daily activities proclaim the Ancient Way.
    No more falling into passive stillness.
    Wherever I go I leave no trace;
    In all situations my actions are free.
    Everywhere masters of the Way
    Speak of this as the highest function."

jundo wrote:There is also a lot of evidence that it was just expected that meditation be conducted in any major monastery, and it would have been quite the social scandal if Rinzai or any Abbot of a national monastery had not been performing the standard rituals and practices, including meditation.

Of that I have no doubt, either. ;)

jundo wrote:In any case, these quotes show the great unity of our Way(s), and there is truly neither "Rinzai" nor "Soto."

I hope that's right. Anyway, I feel it is, as I've experienced a nice harmony of the traditions in my two main teachers' "style", both of whom were heir to both Rinzai and Soto lines: Ch'an Master Ven. Sheng Yen; and Patrick Hawk, Roshi (both now deceased).

jundo wrote:Dogen cherished Koans as much as Dahui or Hakuin, even if the approachless approach to the Koans was a little different for each.

My friend, the late John Daido Loori Roshi, brought out his nice translation of Dogen's 300 koans collected in China, quite a blockbuster of translation and commentary in 2005, THE TRUE DHARMA EYE. Yes, I think it surprised a lot of people (in the West) that Dogen had had (such!) a connection with koans.

Regards,

and wishes for your health,

--Joe
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