The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi (Rinzai)




Contents

Determination
The Father/The Way Independent of All That Is
The Father/The Way Fundamentally Void
Mind Has No Fixed Form
Mind - Obscurations
Mind Movement in the Mind Blocks Enlightenment
Mind Still the Mind
Names and Words
Nothing No Dependence
Nothing No Seeking
Nothing No Differentiation
The Self
Turn Inwards
Bibliography

Determination

Where the student is exerting all his strength, not a breath of air can pass, and the whole thing may be over as swiftly as a flash of lightning or a spark from a flint. If the student so much as bats an eye, the whole relationship could be spoiled. Apply the mind and at once there's differentiation; rouse a thought and at once there's error. The person who can understand this never ceases to be right before my eyes. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 58.)

Followers of the Way, if you want to be constantly in accord with the Dharma, you'll have to begin by learning to be first-rate fellows. Be weak-kneed and wishy-washy and you'll never get there. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 41.)

The Father/The Way Independent of All That is

Things like the twelve divisions of the scriptures all speak of surface or external matters. But students don't realize this and immediately form their understanding on the basis of such surface and external words and phrases. All this is just depending on something and whoever does that falls into the realm of cause and effect and hasn't yet escaped the threefold world of birth and death. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 36.)

The buddhas are born from the realm that leans on nothing. If you can waken to this leaning on nothing, then there will be no Buddha to get hold of. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 36.)

Matter Fundamentally Void

Get a hold of this thing and use it, but don't fix a label to it. This I call the Dark Meaning. When you can see it like this, you won't be averse to anything. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 55.)

Followers of the Way, now is the time to understand [that] the four types of environment [earth, fire, air, and water] are without characteristics. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 37.)

All things in the phenomenal world are empty of characteristics. When conditions change, they come into existence; when there is no change, they do not exist. The threefold world is nothing but mind; the ten thousand phenomena are nothing but consciousness. These 'dreams, phantasms, empty flowers - why trouble yourself trying to grasp them?' (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 50.)

Buddha, patriarchs -- these are just laudatory words and phrases. Do you want to know what the threefold world is? It is nothing other than the mind-ground that you who are now listening to the Dharma are standing on. When you have a moment of greed in your mind, that is the world of desire. When you have a moment of anger in your mind, that is the world of form. When you have a moment of ignorance in your mind, that is the world of formlessness. These are the pieces of furniture in your house. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 54.)

Mind Has No Fixed Form

Followers of the Way, this thing called mind has no fixed form; it penetrates all the ten directions. In the eye we call it sight, in the ear we call it hearing; in the nose it detects odors, in the mouth it speaks discourses; in the hand it grasps, in the feet it runs along. Basically it is a single bright essence, but it divides itself into these six functions. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 25.)

Mind Obscurations

If your mind entertains a moment of doubt, it becomes obstructed by the element earth. If your mind entertains a moment of craving, it becomes drowned in the element water. If your mind entertains a moment of anger, it is seared by the element fire. If your mind entertains a moment of delight, it is tossed about by the element air. If you can understand that this is so, however, you will not be swayed by the environment but can utilize the elements wherever you may be. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 38.)

Mind Movement in the Mind Blocks Enlightenment

When feelings arise, wisdom is blocked; when thoughts waver, reality departs. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 25.)

Mind Still the mind

Followers of the Way, if you want to attain Buddhahood, don't chase around after the ten thousand things. If only the mind does not arise, then the ten thousand things will be blameless. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 72.)

Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it. If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 52.)

Things already underway, don't go with them. Things not yet under way, don't let them get under way. That's better for you than ten years traveling around on pilgrimages. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 53.)

When your mind has learned to cease its momentary seeking, this is dubbed the state of the bodhi tree. But while your mind is incapable of ceasing, this is dubbed the tree of ignorance. Ignorance has no fixed abode, ignorance has no beginning or end. As long as your mind is unable to cease its moment-by-moment activity, then you are up in the tree of ignorance. But if you can learn to cease, then you'll be in the world of the clean pure body. If not one thought arises, you'll be up in the bodhi tree, through your transcendental powers taking different forms in the threefold world, assuming any bodily shape you please, feasting on Dharma joy and meditation delight, illuminating things for yourself with the light of your own body. (Lin-chi, ZTML, 54-5.)

Names and Words

The threefold world does not announce, 'I am the threefold world.' Rather it's you, followers of the Way, who do so, this person here in front of my eyes who in marvellous fashion shines his torch on the ten thousand things and sizes up the world - it's he who assigns names to the threefold world. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 54.)

The ultimate principles that make up the Way are not something to be thrashed out in contentious debate, clanging and banging to beat down the unbelievers. This thing handed down by the buddhas and the patriarchs has no special meaning. If it were put in the form of verbal teachings, it would sink to the level of the teaching categories. But the teaching of the sudden and immediate enlightenment is not like that. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 78.)

Nothing No Dependence

You followers of the Way from here and there, try coming to me without depending on anything. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 53.)

Nothing No seeking

Seek the Buddha and you'll lose the Buddha. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 76.) The more you search the farther away you get, the harder you hunt the wider astray you go. This is what I call the secret of the matter. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 36.)

Outside the mind there is no Dharma, and even inside the mind it can't be grasped. So what is there to seek for? (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 43.)

The way I see it, there's no call for anything special. Just act ordinary, put on your clothes, eat your rice, pass the time doing nothing. You who come from here and there, you all have a mind to do something. You search for Buddha, search for the Dharma, search for emancipation, search for a way to get out of the threefold world. Idiots, trying to get out of the threefold world! Where will you go? (Lin-chi, ZTML, 53-4.)

You can't seem to stop your mind from racing around everywhere seeking something. That's why the patriarch said, 'Hopeless fellows -- using their heads to look for their heads!' You must right now turn your light around and shine it on yourselves, not go seeking somewhere else. Then you will understand that in body and mind you are no different from the patriarchs and buddhas, and that there is nothing to do. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 68.)

Followers of the Way, even if you can understand a hundred sutras and treatises, you're not as good as one plain monk who does nothing. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 76.)

When you get hungry, eat your rice;
When you get sleepy, close your eyes.
Fools may laugh at me,
But wise men will know what I mean. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 77.)

Followers of the Way, don't search for anything in written words. Better to realize that at every moment all is conditioned and without true birth. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 77.)

Nothing No Differentiation

While your mind moment by moment never differentiates, it may be called the living patriarch. If the mind differentiates, its nature and manifestations become separated from one another. As long as it does not differentiate, its nature and manifestations do not become separated. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 45.)

The Self

The clean pure light in a moment of your mind -- that is the Essence-body of the Buddha lodged in you. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 24.)

Right now, all this dashing and searching you're doing -- do you know what it is you're looking for? It is vibrantly alive, yet has no root or stem. You can't gather it up, you can't scatter it to the winds. The more you search for it the farther away it gets. But don't search for it and it's right before your eyes, its miraculous sound always in your ears. But if you don't have faith, you'll spend your hundred years in wasted labor. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 58.)

'Spread it out and it fills the whole Dharma-realm, gather it up and it's tinier than a thread of hair.' Its lone brightness gleaming forth, it has never lacked anything. 'The eye doesn't see it, the ear doesn't hear it.' What shall we call this thing? You'll just have to see it for yourselves. What other way is there? (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 79.)

Turn Inwards

If you want to be no different from the patriarchs and the buddhas, then never look for something outside yourselves. And simply because you do not rush around seeking anything outside yourselves, you can command these fine faculties. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 24.)

Fellow believers, I tell you there is no Dharma to be found outside. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 57.)

Followers of the Way, don't take the Buddha to be some sort of ultimate goal. In my view he's more like the hole in a privy. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 76.)

People who try to do something about what is outside themselves are nothing but blockheads. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 31.)

Things like the twelve divisions of the scriptures all speak of surface or external matters. But students don't realize this and immediately form their understanding on the basis of such surface and external words and phrases. All this is just depending on something and whoever does that falls into the realm of cause and effect and hasn't yet escaped the threefold world of birth and death. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 36.)

The buddhas are born from the realm that leans on nothing. If you can waken to this leaning on nothing, then there will be no Buddha to get hold of. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 36.)

You can't seem to stop your mind from racing around everywhere seeking something. That's why the patriarch said, 'Hopeless fellows -- using their heads to look for their heads!' You must right now turn your light around and shine it on yourselves, not go seeking somewhere else. Then you will understand that in body and mind you are no different from the patriarchs and buddhas, and that there is nothing to do. (Lin-Chi, ZTML, 68.)

Seeking outside for some Buddha possessing form
This hardly becomes you!
If you wish to know your original mind,
Don't try to join with it, don't try to depart from it.
(Lin-Chi, ZTML, 62.)

Bibliography

ZTML: Lin-Chi [Rinzai], The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi. Trans. Burton Watson. Boston and London: Shamballa, 1993.

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