Followers of the Way, do not grasp hold of what I am saying. Why not? My words have no fixed foundation; they are, as it were, pictures provisionally painted as makeshifts in space. This is the same as the metaphor that words colour the appearance of the true-Self and are only designs of an instant in space, like images painted in colour, or other teaching devices. Followers of the Way, do not take the Buddha for the supreme aim. I myself see him as a privy hole, and the Bodhisattvas and Arhats are things that bind men like a pillory and chains. This is why Manjushri grasped the sword to kill Gautama, and Angulimala took the knife to assassinate the Buddha.
When we read or listen to masters’ talks, the last thing that we should do is to accept them literally, as merely intellectual understanding whilst clinging to words. In fact, they are doing two things at once; explaining or describing the true-Self and revealing the true-Self in person. Whatever they say is just an expedient to reveal the true-Self in person. This is why Rinzai advised his students not to grasp hold of what he was saying.
People, however, pay all their attention only to the explanation or description in the way they are accustomed to, overlooking the true-Self they reveal. In order to rid us of this bad habit Rinzai said, “I myself see him as a privy hole, and the Bodhisattvas and Arhats are things that bind men like a pillory and chains”. ‘Manjushri grasped the sword to kill Gautama, and Angulimala took the knife to assassinate the Buddha’ was mentioned to show how hard they tried to put into practice the teaching that we should kill the Buddha when we meet him and not be deluded by the illusion of him.
Student: “Why should we kill the Buddha that we respect and are so anxious to see?”
Master: “Because that is the way we can see him.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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