The Truth of the Self Through the Generations of Our Lineage

The Truth of the Self Through the Generations of Our Lineage October 2, 2018
Photo by John Hagen

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE finished a three-day weekend sesshin at the Nebraska Zen Center on Sunday. The theme for dharma talks was the Zen lineage, especially Daiō, the 13th Century monk who transmitted the Rinzai lineage to Japan. On Saturday, I presented an entanglement of great teachers in our Sōtō and Rinzai lines all commenting on the same phrase (see below), based on The Complete Poison Blossoms in a Thicket of Thorn #110 and Dogen’s Extensive Record #179. In order for the different translations to stay consistent, some modifications were necessary.

NATIONAL teacher DAIŌ ascended the high seat and said, There is a Zen saying, [in the Heroic March Sutra]: “When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, the great void in all ten directions disappears without a trace.”

Zen master Wu-tsu said, “When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, they bump into the great void in all ten directions.”

Tiantong Rujing was not like this. He said, “When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, a practitioner breaks their rice bowl.”

Daiō was not like that. What he said, “When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, the great void in all ten directions exists in the tip of a single strand of hair. Tell me, do these venerable old teachers say the same thing as I do, or not? I want one of you in the assembly to explain.”

Dōgen said: “I, Eihei, have a saying that is not like theirs. When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, the great void in the ten directions returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the great void.”

Later, Hakuin commented, “I would not say that. I would say: When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, the great void in all ten directions breaks into laughter. Can you tell me where the difference between these teachers lies? I want one of you in the assembly to explain.”

Even later, Tōrei commented: “I wouldn’t say it that way, either. I’d say: When a single person returns to the source by awakening to the truth of the self, the great void in all ten directions snorts like thunder through its nose. Tell me, are these venerable old teachers saying the same thing, or something different? I want one of you in the assembly to explain.”

You can hear some background, brief explanations of these comments, and my own low-brow offering here.


Dōshō Port began practicing Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches at the Nebraska Zen Center with his wife, Tetsugan Zummach Osho. Dōshō also teaches with the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training, an internet-based Zen community. Dōshō received dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He is the author of Keep Me In Your Heart a While: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri.

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