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Rinzai 28

Rinzai 28

The monk asked: “What is the second phrase?” The master said, “How should profound enlightenment permit Mujaku’s question? How should a skilful expedient forsake a person who has stopped discriminating?”

Commentary:
‘The second phrase’ may sound different from the first phrase, but it actually means the same, the true-Self. As I have said, if you can grasp any single word in your life, you get enlightened, so you can easily know what the second phrase means, if you can grasp the first phrase. ‘How should profound enlightenment permit Mujaku’s question?’ means ‘If you were enlightened, you wouldn’t ask such a foolish question as Mujaku asked, and you wouldn’t be deluded as Mujaku was deluded by the young monk in the following story.

Once Mujaku went to see Manjushri in Mt. Odae, which was well known for being Manjushri’s residence. Manjushri revealed himself in the form of a young monk to check Mujaku. Mujaku asked the young monk how many monks were practising there. The monk answered, ‘Three by three in the front and three by three in the back’, and then Mujaku, not grasping the answer, was at a loss. He was deluded by the illusions of numbers, ‘three by three in the front and three by three in the back’.

In other words, ‘How should profound enlightenment permit Mujaku’s question?’ means that if we are enlightened, we should not be deluded by the illusions of numbers such as ‘the first phrase’ and ‘the second phrase’ in the same way as Mujaku was deluded by the illusions of numbers, ‘three by three in the front and three by three in the back’.

Therefore, Master Rinzai added, “How should a skilful expedient forsake a person who has stopped discriminating?” This implies that an enlightened person, that is, a person who has stopped discriminating never fails to grasp the words ‘the first phrase’ and ‘the second phrase’ upon hearing them, a skilful expedient presented by Rinzai.

Student: “What is the second phrase?”
Master: “You already said it.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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