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Zen is beyond scriptures
March 14th, 2015

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Zen is beyond scriptures… and beyond what naïve students believe "beyond scriptures" means.

   Linji joined a summer practice at the monastery of Huangbo after it had already begun. He went to greet Huangbo and saw him reading a sūtra.
   Linji said « I thought you were a true person, but I see that you are just an old master who is counting black beans, after all. » Línjì stayed for a few more days and then went to take his leave from Huangbo.

   Huangbo said « You were late coming into the summer training period and now you are leaving early. »
   Linji said « I just came here to bow to you. »
   Huangbo hit him and drove him out.

   After walking a few miles, Línjì began to have doubts about the matter. He then returned and completed the training period.
— case 178 of the True Dharma Eye

   Freedom is not found in throwing scriptures in the shredder. There are certainly times when this is appropriate, but what about the other times? Sometimes, scriptures and precepts and rules and instructions are the appropriate tools for the situation at hand: freedom is found in responsibility, not in pretending that causal tendencies won't unfold or that restraint from impulses is a hindrance.
   Sporting a major attitude is just manifesting a delusion of grandeur. We're all unique… but is it relevant?

   Capping verse of Dogen:
   When the light has not yet penetrated fully,
      distant objects may appear close,
      close objects may appear distant.
   Yet, how many are there
      who are able to regain their way?

#Zen   #Buddhism   #Dharma  
Translation by John Daido Loori (
Illustration (detail from painting by Sengai): master Línjì (Jap.: Rinzai) "mentoring" his disciples.