Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quotes for Linji's Memorial Day

Zen master Línjì Yìxuán (臨濟義玄; W–G: Lin-chi I-hsüan, J: Rinzai Gigen) died in 866 CE and January 10th is the traditional memorial day for this great teacher.

Here are some excerpts from the Record of Linji. One of the central images that Linji uses is "solitary brightness" (孤明); it is used to describe our Buddha nature in a personal and intimate way to prevent the externalization or objectification of our true suchness, that is to avoid dividing our true suchness into internal and external or subject and object. Another such technique the master used to turn students from objectification is the well known Linji admonition to "kill the Buddha."

The translation is mine.

Said on ascending the hall, "Upon the ball of red flesh there is a singular true person without rank. It perpetually goes in and goes out of the gates of the faces of you people of various classes. To those who have not yet borne witness, observe, observe.”
At the time there was a monk who came forward and asked, "So what is the true person without rank?”
The master descended from the meditation dais, grabbed and stopped him, and said, “Speak! Speak!”
As that monk was deciding what to discuss, the master opened his hold and said, “What a dry shit-stick is the true person without rank.” Then he returned to the Ten-foot Square (i.e., the abbot’s room).

"Greatly Virtuous Ones, your ancestors knew that the fundamental person who receives and plays with light and shadow is the root source of all the Buddhas and every place is a lodging place for Wanderers in the Way to return to. Indeed your physical body (rupakaya) of the Four Great Elements cannot listen to the Dharma and understand and explain the Dharma. The spleen, stomach, liver, or gall bladder cannot listen to the Dharma and understand and explain the Dharma. Empty space cannot listen to the Dharma and understand and explain the Dharma. Indeed, what listens to the Dharma and understands and explains the Dharma? Indeed before your eyes, all the way through to the bottom, is the solitary brightness that never has one particular piece of form. Indeed, this is the one who listens to the Dharma and understands and explains the Dharma."

"Wanderers in the Way, as it is now, the solitary brightness before the eyes goes all the way through the earth to the one who is listening. This person in every place is not hindered and moves unobstructed through the ten directions and three realms by oneself. When one enters every situation the differences are not able to turn around or change one. The one realm that consists of the inner space thoroughly enters the Dharma Realm. Running into Buddhas, one talks to Buddhas; running into ancestors, one talks to ancestors; running into hungry ghosts, one talks to hungry ghosts. Turning towards every place, hiking the lands of the nation teaching and converting the many beings, yet one is not once separate for a single thought moment (ksana). In accord with the place, the clear and clean light penetrates the ten directions, and the 10,000 things (dharmas) are One Suchness."

"Wanderers in the Way, true love is a great difficulty; the Buddha Dharma is a deep mystery. If you are able to understand, you are capable in every situation. This mountain monk, in the past, for today, and in the future speaks to lay it bare. Those who study, after all, are not at the meaning. 1,000 times, 10,000 times, the bottom of the feet step to ford across the blackness that darkens situations. Without one particular piece of form, all the way through is solitary brightness. When the faith of students is inadequate, then they turn to the names and phrases of superior beings to understand. The years mount up to half a hundred, and they only manage to draw near to home carrying a dead corpse from shelter to shelter traveling under heaven. Depend on it; there is a day that demands the money for their straw sandals."

"Wanderers in the Way, as you long to obtain the Dharma of Suchness, only do not give birth to doubts. By the standard of expansion, it pervades the entire Dharma Realm (Dharmadhatu). By the standard of contraction, a strand of hair cannot stand. All the way through the solitary brightness has never in the past lacked a little. The eye does not see it; the ear does not hear it. What object can be aroused? A man of old said, “The standard of saying it resembles a singular object is not on the mark.” You should only look into your own home (family, lineage). What more is there? Speech also is without end. Each touches power by oneself. Cherish it."

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