Afterwards, Issan asked Gyosan, “How do you understand what those two venerables were talking about?” Gyosan countered, “How do you understand it?” Issan said, “Only when rearing a child does one come to understand a father’s love.” Gyosan said, “Not at all.” Issan asked, “Then what?” Gyosan said, “It is like a thief ruining one’s home.”
Issan asked his disciple Gyosan to tell him his view regarding the dialogue between Obaku and Rinzai about the dialogue with the cook. Gyosan, conscious of his master’s intention, answered his question by posing another question in return because he also wondered what Issan’s answer was like. Issan answered, “Only when rearing a child does one come to understand a father’s love”, which means, “Only when a man gets enlightened and is in a position to teach his students, just as Obaku was, can he know the meaning of Obaku.” When Gyosan said, “Not at all” he didn’t contradict his master’s answer but meant, “I know what you mean, and I have another expression of what you mean.” So, Issan, sensing his intention, allowed him to give his own answer by saying, “Then what?” Gyosan highly acknowledged Rinzai by comparing him to a thief ruining one’s home. In the Zen community a thief symbolises an enlightened man, who is said to have stolen the whole universe. ‘Ruin one’s home’ implies to destroy one’s illusions. In short, Gyosan meant that Rinzai was a great master who tried his best to remove illusions from people.
Student: “What is Obaku’s love?”
Master: “A father’s love made Rinzai a thief.”
Student: “Did Rinzai ruin one’s home?”
Master: “You still have your home.”
The purpose of ruining one’s home is to make one a thief.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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