A scripture teacher came to see Rinzai. After exchanging pleasantries, Rinzai asked him, “What Sutras and Treatises do you lecture on?” The scripture teacher answered, “I have roughly learned the Treatise of The Hundred Dharmas.” Rinzai said, “One has mastered the Three Vehicles and the Twelve Divisions of the Teachings and the other has not; are they the same or do they differ?” The scripture teacher said, “For the one who has mastered, they are the same; for the one who has not, they differ.” Rakuho, who was standing behind Rinzai as his attendant, said to the scripture teacher, “What place is this to speak of sameness and difference here?” Rinzai turned around and said to the attendant, “And how do you understand it?” The attendant gave a Katsu. Rinzai went with the scripture teacher to see him off. On returning, he asked the attendant, “Did you do a Katsu at me a little earlier?” The attendant said, “Yes” — then the master hit him.
Bodhidharma said that if we couldn’t see the true-Self, we couldn’t escape from the reincarnation of birth and death and the suffering of the three worlds even though we could explain all the Sutras. For the same reason, Rinzai asked, “One has mastered the Three Vehicles and the Twelve Divisions of the Teachings and the other has not; are they the same or do they differ?” just to see whether or not the scripture teacher could see the true-Self. Unfortunately, the scripture teacher, failing to grasp Rinzai’s point, followed his words. The scripture teacher’s answer showed that he couldn’t recognise the true-Self hidden in words.
Then, Rakuho, sensing Rinzai’s meaning, lost no time in saying to the scripture teacher, “What place is this to speak of sameness and difference here?” Rinzai asked the attendant how he understood it to see if he really knew the point, and the attendant properly responded by giving a Katsu. After seeing off the scripture teacher, Rinzai tested his attendant again with the question ‘Did you do a Katsu at me a little earlier?’. This was a very tricky question although it appeared to be very commonplace, with which Rinzai took Rakuho by surprise. The attendant didn’t hesitate to respond by answering, “Yes”, by which he didn’t mean to affirm the question but just revealed the true-Self. Rinzai approved by hitting him.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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