Zen

Rinzai 208

The master left Daigu and returned to Obaku who, seeing him come, remarked, “When will there be an end to the comings and goings of this fellow?” Rinzai said, “It is only because of your grandmotherly kindness.” Then, after the usual courtesies, he stood to attend to Obaku. The latter asked where he had come from and the master replied, “The other day you were kind enough to send me to Daigu for an interview.” Obaku asked, “What did Daigu say?” Rinzai then related what had happened, whereupon Obaku said, “How can I wait for this fellow to come here and give him a harsh blow?” Rinzai said, “You don’t have to wait for him to come. Give it to him right now!” and punched Obaku accordingly, who said, “This madman who comes here to stroke the tiger’s whiskers.” Rinzai gave a Katsu and Obaku called, “Attendant, bring this madman into the monks’ quarters.”

Commentary:

With the words ‘When will there be an end to the comings and goings of this fellow?’ Obaku was testing the result of Rinzai’s trip to Daigu. Although their literal meaning is ‘If you spend time coming and going only following words, when can you finish your practice?’, Obaku was asking Rinzai if he knew that these words were the function of the true-Self. Rinzai, aware of Obaku’s intention, didn’t hesitate to respond by saying, “It is only because of your grandmotherly kindness.” Rinzai not only expressed his gratitude to Obaku but also revealed the true-Self. With the phrase ‘How can I wait for this fellow to come here and give him a harsh blow?’ it may appear as if Obaku blamed and found fault with Daigu, but Obaku was testing Rinzai’s enlightenment. He was asking Rinzai if he knew that this fellow, seemingly referring to Daigu, was the true-Self because everything is the true-Self. Conscious of Obaku’s intention, Rinzai said, “You don’t have to wait for him to come. Give it to him right now!” because he knew that Obaku meant the true-Self by ‘this fellow’ and so revealed the true-Self by punching him. Rinzai showed that his hitting Obaku was not different from Obaku’s hitting Daigu when everything is one as the true-Self. Obaku approved Rinzai’s enlightenment by saying, “This madman who comes here to stroke the tiger’s whiskers.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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