At the High Seat, a monk asked: “What is the essence of Buddhism?”
The master raised his fly-whisk.
The monk gave a Katsu. The master hit him.
The monk asked Rinzai what the true-Self is, since the essence of Buddhism is to realise the true-Self. The master answered the monk’s question just by raising his fly-whisk. You should not think that he raised his fly-whisk. If raising a fly-whisk were an answer, who couldn’t raise it? On reading or hearing this phrase, you should feel as if it sounded like thunder and as if the whole universe collapsed down if you are a good practitioner. One step further, you should be able to make your own answer.
The monk, grasping what the master meant, responded to the master’s answer by giving a Katsu. The master, sensing that the monk got his intention, approved him by hitting him.
Student: “People often raise things in their lives: old men raise their walking sticks, we raise forks, or knives at meal time, we raise and wave something at someone a little away to say hello, good-by and so on. What is the difference between Rinzai’s raising his fly-whisk and ordinary people’s raising their things?”
Master: “Seeing ordinary people’s raising as the same as the Rinzai’s raising is seeing the treasure, and seeing Rinzai’s raising as the same as ordinary people’s raising is seeing the storehouse.
Student: “How do the enlightened see?”
Master: “In both ways at the same time.”
Student: “What would you have done when Rinzai raised his fly-whisk if you had been the monk’s shoes?”
Master: “I’d have taken it away from him and broken it into two pieces.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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