Followers of the Way, the leaver-of-home must study the Way. I myself was formerly interested in the Hinayana and diligently studied the Sutras and Treatises. Then I realised that they were only drugs suitable for appeasing the ills of the world, only relative theories. At one stroke I threw them away, set myself to learn the Way, started Zen training and met great teachers. Only then did my eye of the Way begin to see clearly, and I was able to understand all the old masters and to know the false from the true. Man born of woman does not naturally know this. But after long and painful practise, one morning it is realised in one’s own body.
This part shows that Master Rinzai was once interested in seeking enlightenment through studying the Sutras and Treatises. After realising that such a method, just leading him to accumulate superficial understanding and knowledge of enlightenment, is far from leading to enlightenment, Rinzai started Zen practice and received good teachings from great masters. Through such processes he attained enlightenment, the eye of the Way and could both understand the old masters and distinguish Emptiness from forms, that is, the Buddha from illusions. ‘Man born of woman does not naturally know this’ means that man born of woman, the unenlightened man who is still subject to life and death, cannot know the Way, the Buddha. So, ancient masters would say that we should know the man who was not born of woman, the true-Self. ‘One morning it is realised in one’s own body’ implies that we encounter enlightenment all of a sudden, at an unexpected moment.
Student: “Who is the man who was not born of woman?”
Master: “He is standing naked before you.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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