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Q. Why did Tokusan burn his commentaries on the Sutras?

Q. Why did Tokusan burn his commentaries on the Sutras?

A. One-night Tokusan went to Ryutan to ask for his teaching. After Tokusan’s many questions, Ryutan said to Tokusan, “It is late. Why don’t you retire?” So Tokusan bowed, lifted the screen and was ready to go out, observing, “It is very dark outside.” Ryutan lit a candle and offered it to Tokusan. Just as Tokusan received it, Ryutan blew it out. At that moment the mind of Tokusan was opened. “What have you realised?” asked Ryutan to Tokusan, who replied, “From now on I will not doubt what all old masters said.”

The next day Ryutan ascended the rostrum and declared to the monks, “Among you there is one monk whose teeth are like the sword tree, his mouth is like the blood bowl. Strike him with a stick, he won’t turn his head to look at you. Some day he will climb the highest peaks and carry out my teaching there.”

On that day, in front of the lecture hall, Tokusan burned to ashes his commentaries on the Sutras and declared, “In comparison to this awareness, all the most profound teachings are like a single hair in vast space. However deep the complicated knowledge of the world, compared to this enlightenment it is like one drop of water in the ocean.” Then he left the monastery.

Student: “When Tokusan was asked what he had realised by Ryutan, he said to Ryutan, ‘From now on I will not doubt what all old masters said’. What did he mean by this?”
Master: “He showed his own Sutra to Ryutan.”
Student: “Tokusan said that he would not doubt what all old masters had said. Why did Tokusan burn his commentaries on the Sutras even though the commentaries were also what masters had said?”
Master: “He was showing what he had realised, after realising at long last what masters had said.”

Commentary:
Don’t blame Tokusan for having burnt his commentaries on the Sutras.
He was showing off his own Sutra which he had found after losing it for a long time.
Don’t think that the Sutras are what Buddha said.
He said that he had said nothing.

©Boo Ahm
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway http://ow.ly/i/zYhCr

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