ZEN IS NOT DEAD – a discourse

To transcend ordinary logic (unabridged)

Ruskin asked Rinzai (866 A.D., China), a renown Zen Master, “What is the gist of the Zen path of Enlightenment?”

Rinzai leaped from his seat, seized Ruskin, cuffed him, and thrust him away. Ruskin stood, rooted to the spot, unable to move.

A monk who witnessed this scene reprimanded Ruskin, saying, “You are supposed to bow after receiving instruction.”

As Ruskin bowed, he was enlightened.

In this Zen koan, Ruskin was an old student who was well informed. He comes to see Rinzai to test him. Rinzai, like any other enlightened person would, intuitively knew Ruskin was neither Sincere nor Humble.

But eventually, not through the scene that followed but, rather, after seeing the fetters of his own mind, became humble and bowed. He realized that mere knowledge is not Zen.

Hence, true enlightenment has little to do with intellectual knowledge or words or mere speech. It is something more than that – something based on a solid Inner Experience and flowering.

The beauty of Zen

Rinzai has a reputation of being extremely fierce and direct. When he really lashes out, it is to break down attachments to any ideal, and he is addressing seasoned monks. His seeming contradiction is another teaching device to rout the student from any complacency. In his teaching methods, he speaks for himself, clearly and decisively.

Understand, that sometimes some lessons in Zen might seem obscure in the beginning. These are best understood when worked upon in meditation, and insight into them is tested by the Zen Master (not any different from my role Here Now). Such good stories are training subjects rather than teaching materials, which means the lesson is beyond the words themselves.

Zen is refreshingly direct and down-to-earth, entirely commonsensical. As a training vehicle it its a path for anyone because there has or still, an essence in every culture and tradition since it seeks to reveal the one’s true nature to them. But it is a path that demands a good deal of contemplation and integrating Zen in all activities, however mundane, without which one’s sight will not become clear, with a mind pellucid as crystal.

Perfect student morphs into perfect teacher

At one instance Rinzai said:

I myself was formerly interested in the religions and studied the holy scriptures and the commandments and precepts thoroughly. Then I realized that they were only drugs suitable for appeasing the ills of the world, only relative theories.

At one stroke I threw them away, set myself to learn the Way, started Zen training and met great Teachers. Only then did my eye of the Way begin to see clearly, and I was able to understand all the old Masters and to Know the false from the true. Man born of woman does not naturally know this. But after long and painful practice of insight and contemplation, one morning it is realized in one’s own Self. I have no Teaching to give to men. I only cure ‘diseases’ and undo ‘knots’. Followers of the Way who come from everywhere in the world, try not to depend on anything. I only want to ponder this matter with you.

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