Zen

Rinzai 124

Of those followers of the Way who come to me from everywhere to learn the Way, there is none who does not depend on things. Whatever they bring before me, I beat it down at once. If it is in the hands, I beat it in the hands; if it comes from the mouth, I beat it there; if through the eyes, I beat it in the eyes. Up until now there has not been one who could stand alone. All fall into the traps of the old masters. I have no Dharma to give to men. I only cure diseases and undo knots.

Commentary:

‘There is none who does not depend on things’ and ‘there has not been one who could stand alone’ mean that there is none who is not deluded by illusions, that is, there is none who can truly see things as they are. ‘Whatever they bring before me, I beat it down at once’ implies that whatever question they bring to Rinzai, he, seeing through it, immediately makes a correct response. ‘If it is in the hands, I beat it in the hands; if it comes from the mouth, I beat it there; if through the eyes, I beat it in the eyes’ implies that he can cope with any question freely; if they ask the question with hands, he responds by using his hands, if they ask the question with mouth, he answers with his mouth and so on. ‘All fall into the traps of the old masters’ means that all, fooled by words, are struggling to understand old masters’ talks, or koans through knowledge. ‘I have no Dharma to give to men. I only cure diseases and undo knots’ means that Dharma can be neither given nor taken away since everything, including us, is all part of it. Rinzai’s job is to cure us of the eye disease which prevents us from seeing things as they are and to set us free from illusions, or karmas.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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