Zen

Rinzai 153

Those who cannot distinguish good from bad produce the meaning of the Sutras based on their knowledge. This is like keeping a clod of dung in their mouths, spitting it out and feeding it to others and is as if the laity transmit secrets in a whisper. They are but vulgar tongue twisters who spend their whole lives for nothing and yet claim that they are monks and nuns. But when others ask them about the Buddha-Dharma, they shut up and have nothing to say. Their eyes are black chimneys, and their lips are shut up as if they were barred with rafters. That breed, at the coming of Maitreya, will be expelled to another world and will suffer the torments of hell.

Commentary:

As mentioned earlier, the core of Buddhism is not to pile up our knowledge or intellectual understanding but to take a clear look at the true-Self that the Sutras point to. All scriptures and phrases, however plausible and meaningful they may appear, are no more than just wrapping papers with explanation about the contents, the true-Self. Mistaking the wrapping papers for the contents and eating them is more harmful than helpful to us. The more we eat them the more we are harmed. Transmitting them to others is no better than feeding a clod of dung that one has kept in one’s mouth to them. ‘Their eyes are black chimneys, and their lips are shut up as if they were barred with rafters’ means that old monastics who have pursued enlightenment in this way, don’t have the eye of wisdom to see the true-Self and cannot even open their mouths when asked about the true-Self. Fearing that this should happen, an ancient master compared him who sought enlightenment through knowledge to him who tried to tie up a fierce tiger with a wet paper streamer. That’s why Rinzai said that those who seek in this way, even at the coming of Maitreya, would be expelled to another world and would suffer the torments of hell.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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