Do you want to know the Buddha? None other than he who here in your presence is now listening to the Dharma. Just because you lack self-reliance, you turn to the outside and run about seeking. Even if you find something there, it is only words and letters and never the living spirit of the patriarchs. Do not be deceived. Venerable Zen students, if you do not meet Him at this very moment, you will circulate in the Three Worlds for ten thousand Kalpas and a thousand births. And, pursuing agreeable situations, you will be reborn in the wombs of asses and cows.
Master Rinzai is saying that the Buddha is none other than he who is listening to his Dharma talk. In other words, it is the Buddha that is controlling your body to read this writing now. ‘Turn to the outside and run about seeking’ means to look for something else, following words and forsaking him who is listening to Rinzai’s Dharma talk. ‘Even if you find something there, it is only words and letters and never the living spirit of the patriarchs’ means that if you, not knowing that he who is listening to Rinzai’s Dharma talk is the Buddha, try to find something or someone else by following words, you will get at most some knowledge about the Buddha but not the core of the Patriarchs’ teachings.
Rinzai is showing compassion one more time by revealing the Buddha by saying, ‘If you do not meet Him at this very moment’, which means, ‘If you, not recognising the Buddha that you and I are revealing now, follow my words’.
‘Circulate in the Three Worlds for ten thousand Kalpas and a thousand births’ means to struggle in the ocean of illusions, or the ocean of causation and reincarnation. And, ‘pursuing agreeable situations, you will be reborn in the wombs of asses and cows’ means that if you go after agreeable situations and avoid offensive situations, say, if you are deluded by the illusions of ‘agreeable’ and ‘offensive’, that is, if you fail to stop discriminating, you cannot escape from the suffering of reincarnation.
Simon: “Rinzai told his students to see the Buddha at this very moment. How can I see Him at this very moment?”
Boo Ahm: “Thank you for showing Him to me.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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