Rinzai 224

Later on, Issan asked Gyosan, “Did Rinzai show himself ungrateful to Obaku?” Gyosan said, “Not at all.” Issan said, “What do you mean?” Gyosan said, “One has to know the kindnesses one has received in order to be able to repay them.” Issan said, “Have there been similar precedents among the old masters?” Gyosan said, “Yes, there were. But it was long ago, and I do not want to talk about it.” Issan said, “This may be so, yet I would like to know. Just tell me.” Gyosan said, “It is just as the incident in the Ryogon Sutra when, at the assembly, Ananda made this Gatha of the Buddha, ‘This profound heart serves in a dusty temple. This is called requiting the Buddha’s kindness. How could it not be a case of requiting kindness?’” Issan said, “Just so, just so! Insight as deep as that of the master diminishes by half the master’s virtue; insight surpassing that of the master makes one worthy to receive the succession.”


Later on, Issan asked Gyosan if, during the conversation between Obaku and Rinzai, Rinzai had been ungrateful to Obaku. Gyosan answered that Rinzai had revealed the true-Self through seemingly impolite words, by saying that Rinzai had been wise enough to recognise Obaku’s kindnesses and repay them. Then, Issan asked Gyosan to test him further to see if he could present similar precedents from the old masters. Gyosan, initially refusing to tell similar precedents because doing so was at best merely playing with illusions, finally presented a similar precedent by quoting Ananda’s words from the Ryogon Sutra ‘This profound heart serves in a dusty temple. This is called requiting the Buddha’s kindness’. Ananda meant the true-Self by ‘this profound heart’ and form by ‘a dusty temple’, which implies that the true-Self is hidden in form. Whenever we see and hear things, being able to recognise the true-Self is no other than to requite the Buddha’s kindness. Then, Issan, very satisfied with Gyosan’s response, approved his enlightenment.

Student: “How can we see the profound heart when it serves in a dusty temple?”

Master: “Clean the dusty temple.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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