Zen

Rinzai 130

Venerable ones, the physical body made up of the Four Elements is impermanent. From spleen and stomach, liver and gall, down to head — body-hair, nails and teeth — they only show that everything is just empty form.

When you can bring your heart to rest, that is called the tree of enlightenment. When you cannot bring your heart to rest, that is called the tree of ignorance. Ignorance has no abode, neither does it have beginning nor end. If you cannot bring your heart to rest, you will climb up the tree of ignorance and enter the six ways and four modes of birth and wear horns and fur. If you can put your heart to rest, this is the realm of the Pure Land.

Commentary:

‘The physical body made up of the Four Elements is impermanent’ implies that as our physical body perishes sooner or later, irrespective of our will because it is no other than an illusion, we, instead of being attached to it, should try to attain enlightenment before encountering the last moment of our life. ‘When you can bring your heart to rest, that is called the tree of enlightenment’ means that when we stop discriminating and see things as they are, that is, when we are not deluded by illusions, we can attain enlightenment. Only when we can see everything as it is, or when we have attained enlightenment can we grasp the words ‘Ignorance has no abode, neither does it have beginning nor end’. In fact, realising the fact that ‘Ignorance has no abode, neither does it have beginning nor end’ is realising that illusions are no other than part of the true-Self, which is enlightenment.

However, unless you see things as they are by ceasing to discriminate, you cannot escape the ocean of illusions, which is referred to as ‘entering the six ways and four modes of birth and wear horns and fur’. This symbolises that we are caught in the trap of karma, or transmigration.

Student: “What is enlightenment?”

Master: “The physical body made up of the Four Elements.”

Student: “You said that it is impermanent and an illusion. Why do you answer contrary to your words?”

Master: “Because you have not brought your heart to rest.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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