March 25, 2017

Regarding joriki (samadhi power)

From An Introduction to Zen Training [Sanzen Nyumon] by Omori Sogen Roshi, translated by Dogen Hosokawa Roshi. Calligraphy: "Zen joriki" by Tenzan Toyoda Rokoji (with thanks to Jim Mills).

If we treat things as they should be without being upset by our surroundings and without letting our minds be dispersed by them under any circumstances, we may be called masters wherever we may be. This operating power of our minds is called joriki. It is, in short, the operation of no-self. Master Sogaku writes about it as follows, "The right mind operates at each time and in each place to make you take the right attitude and act properly without deviating from the Way."

Master Yamada Mumon, in his lecture on Zazen-gi, explained the operation of the power of samadhi by telling the following anecdote about Master Toko Shin'etsu (Tung-kao Hsin-yueh), who came to Japan from China in the Ming dynasty.
There was a Lord [daimyo] who learned Zen from Toko Shin'etsu. One New Year's Day, when the Master visited [this] Lord Mitsukuni to exchange New Year's greetings with him, Lord Mitsukuni said, "It is New Year's Day today. Please let me present you with a cup of sake (rice wine)." So saying, Lord Mitsukuni took out a large cup and had one of his servants fill it with sake to the brim [and handed it to the Master]. Just then, "Bang!" rang out from the adjoining room. A gun had been purposely loaded beforehand with a blank cartridge and then fired. The Zen Master, without showing the slightest dismay, drank up the sake from the cup in calm silence. Lord Mitsukuni acted embarrassed and apologized, "It is customary to fire a gun in a warrior's house. Please excuse me." 
The Master returned the cup to Lord Mitsukuni in silent acknowledgement of his apology. When the servant filled Lord Mitsukuni's cup with sake, the Zen Master suddenly gave one loud shout, "Katz!" Taken by surprise, Lord Mitsukuni spilled his sake in spite of himself. The Zen Master said in apparent seriousness, "It is customary for Zen men to give a single shout of 'Katz!' Please excuse me."
After relating the preceding anecdote, Master Mumon said, "The power of such a Zen master is called joriki." It was this power that Master Toko Shin'etsu displayed automatically and without any preparation beforehand. It was the same as the spontaneous action of his selfless self. In other words, it must have been the very power of the one who was the master of everything wherever he might be.

This joriki which anchors itself in samadhi and which thoroughly identifies itself with all matters of daily living, is, needless to say, a precious thing that comes from sitting hard in the midst of quiet. Once that state is achieved, it is protected like carrying a baby. One must not forget that its working is the result of hard training in everything one does. Therefore, the attitude that one takes when standing up after sitting in meditation is very important - one must maintain the intensity of concentration that was achieved during meditation.


Bob H. said...

Excellent introduction. But it pales to the experience if building and maintaining joriki through your own intense zen practice. It's like reading a book about swimming: you can read over and over, but when you at last dive in, only then will you gain an inkling into swimming. And, after gaining intimacy with swimming over the months and years, you realize for yourself that it has virtually no real connection to what you've been reading....

Meido said...

Anything to get them to jump :)