Followers of the Way, right now realise the four shapeless boundaries and don’t be entangled in them.
One asked,“What are these four boundaries?”
The master said,“A moment of doubt in your heart is your being obstructed by earth; a moment of desire in your heart is your drowning in water; a moment of anger in your heart is your burning in fire; a moment of joy in your heart is your being carried away by the wind. If you can realise this, you will no longer be at the mercy of circumstance but will make use of circumstances wherever you are — rise in the east and set in the west, appear in the south and vanish in the north, rise in the middle and disappear at the circumference, appear at the circumference and vanish in the centre. Then you will walk on water as if it were land and on land as if it were water.”
Earth, water, fire and wind are said to be the four elements which our physical body is composed of in Buddhism. Master Rinzai compared them to our typical illusions; doubt, desire, anger and joy, which are thought to lead people to suffering. If you realise that they are all illusions by seeing them as they are, you will be above being deluded by them. Rather, you will be able to take advantage of them as you please. ‘Rise in the east and set in the west, appear in the south and vanish in the north, rise in the middle and disappear at the circumference, appear at the circumference and vanish in the centre. Then you will walk on water as if it were land and on land as if it were water’ are the metaphors that show how free we are to see things in both ways; with land implying Emptiness and water implying forms, when we are free from being deluded by illusions. Similar phrases are found in the Bible as well: Matthew 14:25 “Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the water.” Matthew 14:29 “So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus.” Here, walking on the water implies not sinking in the ocean of illusions.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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