Followers of the Way, the true-Self is very difficult to realise, and the Buddha-Dharma is profound. But it is easy once you have understood it. Day by day I expound only this, but students do not grasp my meaning while walking on it tens of thousands of times. Students don’t realise this that is formless and shines clearly by itself, but cling to names and phrases and try to find the meaning of them. Until they are over fifty years old, they run about carrying their corpses. How would the day come about when they can get money for their worn-out straw sandals when they wander about carrying their belongings and bundles all around the world?
‘Students do not grasp my meaning while walking on it tens of thousands of times’ means that we don’t recognise the true-Self that is formless and shines clearly before us all the time that Rinzai points to, whilst we tread on, sit on and face it every day, because we cling to the names and words he uses for the purpose of showing us the true-Self. The names and words are to the true-Self as disposable dishes are to food. It is because we pay attention only to the shapes and colours of the disposable dishes without eating the food in them that we don’t get enlightened.
‘They run about carrying their corpses’ means that although the true-Self is always with us and we cannot escape from it even for a moment, we wander about in vain looking for it. ‘Wander about carrying their belongings and bundles all around the world’ means trying to figure out the true-Self through their knowledge. This is to follow the names and words here and there, that is, to be deluded by words. ‘How would the day come when they can get money for their worn-out straw sandals?’ implies that enlightenment, the fruit of effort, try as we may, never comes if we pursue it through knowledge.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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