October 28, 2007

Obaku, Teacher of Rinzai

Obaku Kiun

The Buddhism Study Group that meets at Daiyuzenji in Chicago has begun study of its new text for the fall: The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, On the Transmission of Mind (P`Ei Hsiu, Huang Po, John Blofeld. 1959, Grove Press.)

Huángbò Xīyùn (黄檗希運; Japanese: Ōbaku Kiun)was born in Fujian, China in the Tang Dynasty, and died in 850. His teacher was Baizhang Huaihai (720-840, famous as the originator of the Zen monastic code) and he was the primary teacher of Linji Yixuan (Rinzai Gigen).

An excerpt from Huang Po book:

The Master said: All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measure, names, traces and comparisons. It is that which you see before you - begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error. It is like the boundless void which cannot be fathomed or measured. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to seek for the Buddha and using mind to grasp Mind. Even though they do their utmost for a full aeon, they will not be able to attain it. They do not know that, if they put a stop to conceptual thought and forget their anxiety, the Buddha will appear before them, for this Mind is the Buddha and the Buddha is all living beings. It is not the less for being manifested in ordinary beings, nor is it greater for being manifest in the Buddhas.

Q: From all you have just said, Mind is the Buddha; but it is not clear as to what sort of mind is meant by this “Mind which is the Buddha.”

A: How many minds have you got?
Q: But is the Buddha the ordinary mind or the Enlightened mind?
A: Where on earth do you keep your “ordinary mind” and your “Enlightened mind?”
Q: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is stated that there are both. Why does Your Reverence deny it?
A: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is clearly explained that the ordinary and Enlightened minds are illusions. You don’t understand. All this clinging to the idea of things existing is to mistake vacuity for the truth. How can such conceptions not be illusory? Being illusory, they hide Mind from you. If you would only rid yourselves of the concepts of ordinary and Enlightened, you would find that there is no other Buddha than the Buddha in your own Mind. When Bodhidharma came from the West, he just pointed out that the substance of which all men are composed is the Buddha. You people go on misunderstanding; you hold to concepts such as “ordinary” and “Enlightened,” directing your thoughts outwards where they gallop about like horses! All this amounts to beclouding your own minds! So I tell you Mind is the Buddha. As soon as thought or sensation arises, you fall into dualism. Beginningless time and the present moment are the same. There is no this and no that. To understand this truth is called complete and unexcelled Enlightenment.
Q: Upon what Doctrine (Dharma-principles) does Your Reverence base these words?
A: Why seek a doctrine? As soon as you have a doctrine, you fall into dualistic thought.
Q: Just now you said that the beginningless past and the present are the same. What do you mean by that?
A: It is just because of your SEEKING that you make a difference between them. If you were to stop seeking, how could there be any difference between them?
Q: If they are not different, why do you employ separate terms for them?
A: If you hadn’t mentioned ordinary and Enlightened, who would have bothered to say such things? Just as those categories have no real existence, so Mind is not really “mind.” And, as both Mind and those categories are really illusions, wherever can you hope to find anything?


jin said...

Answer a question with a question.

How many minds have you got? I wish I knew. But of all the things I've lost so far, my mind I miss the most. I think.

I wonder if this conversation would sound any different, if it was about two zen people asking each other about what's for dinner.
Think Abbott and Costello.

A.So whats for dinner?

b. Whats dinner?

A.You know what dinner is?

b. What is dinner?

A. What isn't dinner?

b. What's for dinner?

A. What isn't for dinner?

and it just goes on and on....

Meido said...

The food is getting cold.