Rinzai 184

There was an old monk who came to consult Rinzai. Instead of going through the usual formalities, he at once asked, “Should I bow, or not?” Rinzai gave a Katsu. The old monk bowed. Rinzai said, “A petty thief!” The old monk left shouting, “Robber, robber.” Rinzai remarked, “Better not say there is no work.”


The old monk tested whether Rinzai would be deluded by words through presenting the alternative of a bowing or not bowing. The old monk meant, “Can you recognise the true-Self I am showing to you now without being fooled by my words?” Rinzai, seeing through the tricky question, responded in no time by giving a Katsu, which means, “Of course, I know the true-Self you are revealing to me. This is the very true-Self you are asking of me.” Then, the old monk admitted that he couldn’t deceive Rinzai by offering a bow. Rinzai also approved the old monk’s enlightenment by calling him a petty thief. The old monk praised Rinzai as a great master by addressing him as a robber. Rinzai’s remark ‘Better not to say that there is no work’ means that the short dialogue and acts traded between the old monk and him were not a wordplay but showed the core of Buddhism.

Student: “What is the work?”

Master: “There is no work.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

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