The best Disciple makes the best Master

Transmission of the lamp: From heart to heart

Rinzai was planting a young pine tree one day when his Master, Obaku, came along.

“The monastery, is surrounded by wonderful trees. Why do you plant this pine tree?” Obaku asked.

“For two reasons,” Rinzai replied, “First, to beautify the monastery with this evergreen and; second, to establish a landmark for the future generations.” Rinzai then tamped the ground three times with his digging hoe to make the sapling more secure.

“I don’t like your self-assertion,” Obaku said sternly.

Rinzai ignored this remark, tamped the ground three times as before, and murmured, “All done.”

“You will cause my teaching to remain in the world,” Obaku concluded.

Delight of the Perfect Guru

Whatever one does should be done with deep confidence. The teacher, Obaku, knew that Rinzai, then a young but promising Zen student, had attained the essence of Zen and was planting a unique “Rinzai’s Zen” at the monastery, but he wanted to test it all the same.

Rinzai was later to become the greatest Zen Master through whose goodness and wisdom Zen has seen the light of day in this 21st century. Usually, the persons who become great Teachers, Gurus or Teachers gain that awareness from an early age since that flame of enlightened is not cultivated and nurtured in a single life only. Hence any skilled Master or enlightened one is able to see through the minds of his followers. Yet the aim of enlightenment is to help in the development other beings spiritually.

Even when Obaku criticized him, young Rinzai was completely unmoved. Obaku, finally, expresses his delight. When one attains enlightenment, the manifestations may be different but the essence is the same. The perfect Master, like Rinzai himself in his latter career, tames the restless mind of the seeker, stills the mind of the tamed student of enlightenment, while he liberates the stilled mind of beings respectively. Skillful means is the exemplar of the greatest Masters or Gurus that have ever lived in the history of mankind.

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