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Showing posts from June, 2011

Wang Yang-ming

Wang Yang-ming (王陽明)was born in the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Ch'eng Hua(1472, 明宪宗成化八年), in the ninth month and the thirtieth day, having been carried by his mother for fourteen months. His father’s mother, named Ts’en, in a dream saw a spiritman clothed in dark red silk decorated with precious stones, playing and drumming in the clouds as he brought the child. When she awoke the child was already crying. His grandfather accordingly called him Yün (雲cloud) and the neighbors called the place Auspicious Cloud Loft(瑞雲樓). Early life In the twelfth year of Ch’eng Hua, at the age of five, he was still unable to speak. A passing Buddhist priest beholding him said, "A good child, but unfortunately his name has been made known." Influenced thereby, his grandfather changed his name to Shou-jen(守仁), and forthwith he was able to speak. The boy often secretly repeated the contents of his grandfather s books. When his surprised grandfather asked him how this was possible

Zen Master Rinzai

Rinzai was born in Caozhou, and his master was Obaku, who was born in Fujian, in the Tang dynasty. Obaku taught wisdom with his fists. Once, Obaku happened to be in the chapel prostrating himself before an image of Buddha. The Emperor, who thought he had learnt the lesson of Zen idealism, said to him: “There is nothing to be got from Buddha, nothing from the Church, nothing from Man; for nothing exists. What do you mean by praying at your age? ” Obaku answered him: “I seek nothing of Buddha, the Church, or of Man. I am in the habit of praying.” The Emperor said: “What do you do it for?” Obaku lost patience and struck him with his fist. “You rude fellow,” cried the Emperor. “Since nothing exists, what difference does it make to you whether I am rude or polite?” and Obaku struck him again. The Emperor retreated hastily. Once the novice Rinzai came to Obaku and asked him what was the fundamental idea of Buddhism, Obaku hit him three times with his stick. Rinzai fled and presently m

Zen Master Baso

Baso was a Zen master of the ninth century. One day he was sitting with his feet across the garden-path. A monk came along with a wheel-barrow. "Tuck in your feet," said the monk. "What has been extended cannot be retracted," answered Baso. " What has been started cannot be stopped," cried the monk and pushed the barrow over Baso's feet. The master hobbled to the monastery and seizing an axe called out " Have any of you seen the rascal who hurt my feet? " The monk who had pushed the barrow then came out and stood "with craned head." The master laid down his axe. (The wheelbarrow is here a symbol of the Wheel of Life and Death.)

The Sixth Patriarch of Zen: Eno

The first Patriarch of Zen was Bodhidharma, who passed his mantle and alms bowl to the Second Zen Master Shen Guang(神光), then to Seng Can(僧璨)、Dao Xin (道信), Konin ( 弘忍), and then the to the Sixth Zen Master Eno(慧能)。 Eno lived in the seventh century A.D. He lost his parents when he was young and earned his living by gathering firewood. One day when he was in the marketplace he heard someone reading the Diamond Sutra. He asked where such books were to be had and was told “From Master Konin on the Yellow Plum-blossom Hill." Accordingly he went to Konin's Monastery in Anhui and presented himself before the Master. "Where do you come from?" "From the South." "Bah! In the South they have not Buddha in their souls." "North and South," replied Eno, “are human distinctions that Buddha knows nothing of." Konin accepted him as a lay-brother and put him to pound rice in the bakery. Konin was growing old and wished to choose his succes

Bodhidharma: The First Patriarch of the Zen

Once when Buddha was preaching, he plucked a flower and smiled. Among his thousands of  followers, only the disciple Kashyapa understood the significance of this act. Between him and the Buddha there passed a wordless communication of Absolute Truths. This communication was silently passed on by Kashyapa to his disciple, and so ultimately to Bodhidharma, who brought it to China. Bodhidharma was the younger son of an Southern Indian Prince. He arrived at Canton in the year 520 A.D. The reigning Emperor of China was a munificent patron of Buddhism. He had built monasteries, given alms, distributed scriptures, and defended the faith. Hearing that a Buddhist prince had arrived from India he summoned him at once to his Capital. The following conversation took place in the Palace at Nanking: Emperor: What are you, who have come before my Throne? Bodhidharma: I do not know. Emperor: You will be interested to hear that I have built many monasteries, distributed scriptures, given alm

How Tzu Lu met a recluse

Once when Tzu Lu was following the Master on a journey he happened to fall behind. Meeting an old man carrying a basket on his staff, Tzu Lu asked him, "Have you seen my Master, sir?" "You," said the old man, "whose four limbs know not toil, and who cannot distinguish the five grains, who may your Master be? " With that he planted his staff in the ground and commenced weeding. Tzu Lu joined his hands together in salutation and stood waiting. The old man kept Tzu Lu for the night, killed a fowl, prepared millet, and gave him to eat, introducing also his two sons. Next morning Tzu Lu went his way and reported his adventure; "He is a recluse," said the Master, and sent Tzu Lu back again to see him, but on his arrival the old man had gone. Whereupon Tzu Lu said to the sons: "It is not right to refuse to serve one's country. If the regulations between old and young in family life may not be set aside, how is it that he sets aside the