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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 95

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 95

    No hitting, I promise, but before I spank you, please now go on to Case 95 - Rinzai's One Stroke.

    This is page 302 in the PDF link, if you need:

    https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/equanimity.pdf

    There is a lot of slapping and hitting in this Koan. I always feel the need to explain this away, especially to modern folks, in our age beyond corporal punishment in schools (I remember when the principal in my elementary school used his big wooden paddle on many a tush , the sound much worse than the actual sting), with our image of Buddhism as purely non-violent. While there are always sadists and bullies who, unfortunately, pop up in ANY group of people (whether a school, a workplace or ... yes ... a Buddhist monastery: ), and while monasteries in Japan, China and elsewhere can be flooded with the "boot camp/samurai" mentality, with hazing and physicality as a way to challenge selfishness and the little self ... we rightly frown on violence in physical training today. (I sometimes chuckle when my own students have criticized my scattered harsh words in encouraging our priest training practices in our Sangha, both my words and our training methods a shadow of the fierceness and physical demands that one will find in many an Asian or even western Zen monastery. )

    However, I believe that the "blows" in this Koan are very different from anything truly violent, cruel or abusive. They are probably not even real "blows." Of course, a monk would never actually hit a Buddha, one of the gravest of grave Precept violations. Rather, the symbolic references in the Preface to the Assembly probably mean something like "leap beyond small mental ideas of 'right and wrong, good and evil, ideas of Buddha and Devil' and even the paper principles of our teachings ... to find something very Right and Good (capitalized) about reality." This is --not-- a hitting done in anger or without being aware of morality.

    In the Main Case, the temple steward returns from selling the monastery's rice surplus in the local market. Rinzai then turns it into a teaching opportunity, by drawing the sign for "the one" in Chinese ...


    ... and asking something like whether "emptiness" or "oneness" or the "wholeness" of all reality is something that can be bought and sold, i.e., just an idea that the monk carries around like he carried around that rice? The steward shouted some yell (actually "Kaatzu!," a guttural shout beyond words), usually a good response in the Zen tradition to show that the steward is not caught by mere words and ideas about "oneness," but actually leaps beyond that and knows the "True Wholeness" felt down in the guts! Rinzai may have then given him that "love tap" to shock him into realizing that, even then, getting caught in this "True Wholeness" is not a complete understanding, for one must then come back to this world of broken pieces that sometimes hits us hard in life, as divided as all those separate grains of rice.

    The temple cook (Tenzo) then appears, the fellow whose job it is to cook all the grains of rice into porridge and such. The Tenzo then gives a try at expressing this unexpressable "wholeness, which is yet all the broken pieces of the world" by a silent bow. Rinzai gives him a "friendly wake-up call" too, probably with much the same meaning. It may be something like saying, "don't have an idea of wholeness, don't have an idea of not having an idea ... in fact, don't have an idea of not having an idea of not having an idea of not having an idea of not having an idea of wholeness etc etc etc etc ad infinitum ... but truly be and breathe wholeness, even in this broken world." Something like that.

    The Appreciatory Verse expresses, well, appreciation for Rinzai! The line about "autumn fur" probably means something like that his stick has a discerning eye that can get past even the thinnest surface veneer that someone has covering themself (because animal fur is typically thinnest in the shedding season of autumn). The "fox and rabbit" are typically symbols of "fakers" (e.g., a "cunning fox," or the rabbit who tried to outwit the tortoise), and they are swept away by his act. His strikes are like lightning which turns fish into dragons, a traditional symbol of folks becoming enlightened.

    His stick is like the "sword of Manjushri" which actually cuts all things, not into two, but into one ... beyond one ... thus leaping through and beyond the dichotomy of "life and death." The lines about "heaven ...snow ... hair blown sword" likely refer to some old, then well known Chinese Zen poems and stories, meaning something like that this "sword" is incredibly fine, like a sword blade as fine as the finest hair, able to "unslice" through even the wholeness of the sky, the wholeness of an unblemished field of pristine snow. This sword "evenly performs the decree" (something like, "fairly hands out justice") by distinguishing even the small subtle differences (maybe referring to the subtle veneer that was creating obfuscation in the monks' responses, maybe referring to somehow uniting the "wholeness" with all the variety of differences in this world).

    The last line means that the monks, or any of us, should thoroughly welcome the "ouch" of being slapped awake by Rinzai here.

    Now, please slap ME for 'splaining the above!

    QUESTION: Is reality a wholeness? Not a wholeness? Both? Neither? Something else? Without just shouting "MU!" (that would be taking the easy way out), please answer.

    Then, what do you think that my response to you will be?


    Some lovely slapping of the self by the self, making beautiful music ...



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-03-2022 at 12:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Short answer is “yes”.

    Longer answer: Reality is exists as both the absolute and relative but my relative reality is also part of the absolute reality and so effectively: Tairin’s relative reality is not apart from the wholeness of the absolute reality.

    Not two.

    Zenny answer: Is reality a wholeness? Not a wholeness? Mu

    I await your blows.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  3. #3
    The mind discerns meanings, both apparent and obscure.
    Is it fair for the tenzo to receive a blow? What is 'fair'?

    Missing the point, you can't turn back administrator - slap!
    Throw yourself against the blade of the hair-blown sword!


    Gassho, Tokan

    Satlah)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by leon View Post
    The mind discerns meanings, both apparent and obscure.
    Is it fair for the tenzo to receive a blow? What is 'fair'?

    Missing the point, you can't turn back administrator - slap!
    Throw yourself against the blade of the hair-blown sword!


    Gassho, Tokan

    Satlah)
    No slap, but I will pinch your cheek.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Reality can sometimes be wholeness when I meditate, and is often not wholeness when I am not meditating. But reality is neither one nor the other when I just stop analysing and be present.

    Gassho
    Paul
    Sat today LAH

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulinLondon View Post
    Reality can sometimes be wholeness when I meditate, and is often not wholeness when I am not meditating. But reality is neither one nor the other when I just stop analysing and be present.

    Gassho
    Paul
    Sat today LAH
    RInzai would probably hit you. I like you, so I will strike lightly.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    I thought a good way to start answering this would be to try and define what wholeness is.
    And so I started with what I could think of as its opposite.
    (fair warning, I am no scholar and this took maybe an hour of just diggin through the internet. Further study encouraged :P )

    Śūnyatā is made up of two parts;
    śūnya, or empty, void, nothing
    and the suffix -tā, or -ness.

    Now here's where I thought it got funny (read: interesting)
    śūnya comes from the word śvi.
    And śvi means several things, including: to grow, increase, swell, prosper, thrive, etc.

    I just thought it was interesting (and fairly zenny) that as we become more in touch with emptiness we become more whole. We grow as we begin to include ourselves in the wholeness of the universe around us.
    Emptiness isn't about giving up, it is about gaining.
    Because once I give up myself, I really can finally, truly identify with everything else.

    So is reality wholeness?
    Reality is what you make of it.
    So don't hold back.

    Sorry for so many words.

    Gassho,
    Nengyoku
    Sat
    Thank you for being the warmth in my world.

  8. #8


    Thanks Nengyoku, Tokan (satlah)

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Nengyoku View Post
    I thought a good way to start answering this would be to try and define what wholeness is.
    And so I started with what I could think of as its opposite.
    (fair warning, I am no scholar and this took maybe an hour of just diggin through the internet. Further study encouraged :P )

    Śūnyatā is made up of two parts;
    śūnya, or empty, void, nothing
    and the suffix -tā, or -ness.

    Now here's where I thought it got funny (read: interesting)
    śūnya comes from the word śvi.
    And śvi means several things, including: to grow, increase, swell, prosper, thrive, etc.

    I just thought it was interesting (and fairly zenny) that as we become more in touch with emptiness we become more whole. We grow as we begin to include ourselves in the wholeness of the universe around us.
    Emptiness isn't about giving up, it is about gaining.
    Because once I give up myself, I really can finally, truly identify with everything else.

    So is reality wholeness?
    Reality is what you make of it.
    So don't hold back.

    Sorry for so many words.

    Gassho,
    Nengyoku
    Sat
    Lovely answer!

    One whole slap!

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** Seriously for those with trigger issues around any physical violence, this is all metaphorical, no body is to actually be hit.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    I would say the wholeness is reality, but within it there are many realities, and pointing at one is also pointing at the whole.

    Gassho,
    Gareth

    Sat today, Lah

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by bad_buddha_007 View Post
    I would say the wholeness is reality, but within it there are many realities, and pointing at one is also pointing at the whole.

    Gassho,
    Gareth

    Sat today, Lah
    I will poke you with my pointy finger, right in the whole.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    If I may make a feeble attempt to channel Dogen here...

    Reality is perfect unbroken wholeness. Reality is broken. Broken reality is whole and wholeness is broken. Wholeness is neither broken nor unbroken, all perfect flowing in and out of broken and unbrokenness.

    You can't hit me from all the way over in Japan!

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

  13. #13
    Reality is perfect unbroken wholeness. Reality is broken. Broken reality is whole and wholeness is broken. Wholeness is neither broken nor unbroken, all perfect flowing in and out of broken and unbrokenness.
    I will spare you a hit.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    I think of reality as beyond all concepts of wholeness. In fact, I think wholeness itself is beyond wholeness.

    My guess as to your response: /slap!\
    Last edited by Aimeebeing; 08-10-2022 at 11:03 PM.
    Aimee B.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimeebeing View Post
    I think of reality as beyond all concepts of wholeness. In fact, I think wholeness itself is beyond wholeness.

    My guess as to your response: /slap!\
    And yet, would that "beyond wholeness" not include all concepts too??

    (Slapping myself)
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Once you say "reality", you've already cut it up.

    sat&lah

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenku View Post
    Once you say "reality", you've already cut it up.

    sat&lah
    And if you don't say "reality," you have already cut it up too??
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    And if you don't say "reality," you have already cut it up too??
    I will say yes, it is cut but each piece is the whole, but then I regret my previous answer.



    sat&lah

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenku View Post
    I will say yes, it is cut but each piece is the whole, but then I regret my previous answer.



    sat&lah
    We are getting too analytical and intellectual about this now ..

    Cut the hole, cut the whole, whole the hole, one whole cut.

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    tsukupng.png
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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