Rinzai left Issan. Gyosan went with him to see him off, and said, “If later on you go north, there will be a place for you.” Rinzai said, “How should that happen?” Gyosan said, “Just go there. Later there will be someone to help you, elder brother. That someone will have a head but no tail, a beginning but no end.” When Rinzai later went to the prefecture of Chin, Fuke was already there and helped the master when he started teaching. But soon after the master had settled in there, Fuke cast off his body and vanished.
Gyosan compared the true-Self to a place by saying, ‘If later on you go north, there will be a place for you’. In fact, the place is free from directions although he said that Rinzai should go north. Then, Gyosan revealed the true-Self by describing what it is like with the words ‘That someone will have a head but no tail, a beginning but no end’.
Fuke symbolises the true-Self because wherever we may go, it is always there although it never moves at all, and because whatever we may do, we cannot avoid depending on its power. We should not be deluded by the words ‘But soon after Rinzai had settled in there, Fuke cast off his body and vanished’. This means that when you have grasped Rinzai’s teaching, that is, you have attained enlightenment, you will not be deluded by the illusion of Fuke.
(It may be a historical fact that Fuke helped Rinzai, but people who practise Zen meditation should see things from the perspective of Zen.)
Student: “What is the true-Self?”
Master: “It is good but not worth trying to be with.”
Student: “Where is it?”
Master: “You cannot escape it.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway