The Undying Lamp of Zen: The Testament of Zen Master Torei

The Undying Lamp of Zen : The Testament of Zen Master Torei
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Tolerate people and don't become angry. Pray and pledge to the buddhas and spirits morning and night; progress dili- gently without forgetting thought after thought. If you have free time, sit in meditation. When you hear the true teaching, consciously break through illusion.

These are the practices of the six transcendences of bodhisattvas. Although their fundamental natures are the same, buddhas turn inward while sentient beings run out- ward-from this moment of error, they have divided into sentient beings of nine realms; hell beings, hungry ghosts, antigods, humans, and deities, the six disposi- tions, and disciples, those enlightened by conditions, and bodhisattvas, the three vehicles.

This is the mean- ing of different paths. If you return to the source, these are of the same substance as the buddhas; is this not to be hoped for? Third, the sense of urgency means that if you want to realize the same nature of all buddhas, first you must clearly understand the root of ignorance. This is done by questioning your own fundamental nature. How to do this? Seeing colors with the eyes, hearing sounds with the ears, feeling cool and hot with the body, discerning pleasant and unpleasant in the mind. This is called seeing, hearing, awareness, knowing; these are the seeds of practice.

Ordinary people get confused by form when they see it, get confused by sound when they hear, get confused by cold and hot when they feel, get confused by pleasant and unpleasant when they cognize; this is what I call "sentient beings turning outward. As for the practice of bodhisattvas, when they see forms, they question what it is that sees; when they hear, they question what hears; when they feel, they question what feels; when they cognize, they question what cognizes.

This is what I call the "buddhas turning inward.

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Always make great vows to the buddhas, pray to the spirit luminaries and make pledges to the ancestral teachers; in this way fulfill the great matter once and sport in the ocean of vows to help self and others. When you get up in the morning, no matter how hurried you are, first arouse this one thought; try this meditation work in seeing and hearing, and after that go about your business. When you eat, make this thought first and try this meditation.

When you go to the toilet, make this thought first and try this meditation. When the day is over and you are going to bed, first sit awhile in bed with this thought foremost; try this meditation before lying down to sleep. This is the practice of the true and straight road of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. Disturbed by the fact that you have lost the original nature which is of the same substance as all the buddhas and come to wander through the six disposi- tions and four kinds of birth, turn to your fundamental nature and urge on your meditational efforts.

This is called "the sense of urgency. Fourth, the meaning of progressive practice means that as you urge on your meditation on the fundamental as just described, you should progress moment after moment, practicing in everything. Summoning forth the state of correct mindfulness in meditation, when you walk you practice while walking, when you rest you practice while resting; when speaking with people you practice while speaking, and when silent and quiet urge on your correct mindfulness all the more.

When seeing things, doubt the seer; when hearing things doubt the hearer; when things are busy and it' seasy to get distracted, doubt that which is distracted; when you question what it is that gets distracted, then even when distracted you do not lose the right mindfulness of your meditation effort. When sick, you should use your misery as a seed of meditation effort.

Anyway, even when things are busy, this, too, should be a way of progressing in meditation; if things are quiet all the time, there won't be energy in your meditation.

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This is a complete explanation of Zen practice written by one of the most eminent masters of pre-modern Japan. The author, Torei Enji (–), was best. Editorial Reviews. Review. “An indispensible aid to the practice of Rinzai Zen and an accessible entree to the Zen experience in general. Torei is a compelling .

With- out energy in meditation, there is no empowerment. When quelling disturbance in the country, when everything is at stake and in the midst of the danger of battle you fight back and forth without fear, that is when you win victory. The Dharma battle of meditation work is also like this; when distracted by various things and disturbed by various thoughts, that is a good time to decide victory or defeat.

In this frame of mind, without laziness, you should progress. When things are quiet, this is really a matter of practicing military arts inside the castle; so understanding, you should cultivate practice with utmost sincerity. When things are busy, this is the time to decide victory or defeat on the field of battle; so understanding, you should concentrate your effort on directing meditation. Even if you don't attain power, in doing this, in both cases you will be people prepared for the straight and true road of the buddhas and bodhisattvas.

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For example, someone in the prime of life is able to walk miles a day, whereas someone who is weak can walk only a short way. In going to a distant country, the strong one may easily get there in a few days, while the weak one may take a few weeks Whether one has sharp or dull faculties or disposition is like this, too; it is the same as being sickly and having a hard time getting there or being strong and going with ease-depending on whether people are sharp or dull, whether their faculties are strong or weak, there will be differences in how quickly or slowly they become enlightened and find the way.

Should we not take this opportunity? I hope that whether you are smart or stupid, noble or mean, you will make prepara- tions for journey on the way by this direct practice. There is another meaning within this progressive practice; when effort is pure and ripe, without thinking of it or considering it, you will find empowerment. Even though you get power, you shouldn't be lazy about cultivating practice. If you concentrate energy, em- powerment comes of itself, so there are great and small empowerments; lesser enlightenment, after all, turns out to be a hindrance to great enlightenment.

If you give up lesser enlightenments and don't cling to them, great enlightenment will surely be realized. If you grasp little enlightenment and don't relinquish it, great enlighten- ment will surely be ignored. This is like someone so greedy for a little profit that he doesn't get a big profit; if he doesn't cling greedily to a little profit, great profit will eventually be realized; if he accumulates small profits, eventually it will amount to great profit.

If you cling to a lesser benefit and do not progress, spending your whole life within the limits of only a small realization, you can't reach the realm of great freedom and great liberation. Unless you arrive at great enlightenment and find the path of great freedom, fact and principle do not harmonize, so you enter into outside paths with false views.

This is dreadful. Once you have some small enlightenment, if you use this as a seed to progress further and further, the great reward of all the buddhas will be revealed. You pass naturally through the barrier locks of the ancestral teachers, fact and principle truly accord, with action and understand- ing not different, you reach the sphere of great libera- tion and great independence.

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This is called "the essen- tial secret of progressive practice. Exhausting the inner principles of all things, perfect- ing all virtues of the way as a benefactor of all sentient beings everywhere, explaining the truth, teaching and influencing according to potential and situation yet without anything lacking, one arrives together with others at the shore of four qualities self, purity, bliss, eternity of great nirvana.

With this great practice and great vow, make self-help and helping others your task in every life in every world, never turning back for all time. In the meantime, though you may make mistakes and regress, if your legs are weak and the road slippery, you fall and you'll die there if you don't get up; yet if you keep getting up when you fall and keep going on, eventually you'll get there.

When it says in the scrip- tures that when we commit a fault we should repent right away before the buddhas, and again proceed on the path, this is what it means. Fifth, the. This is called fulfilling buddhahood. This is what is referred to in the Zen schools as seeing real nature and fulfilling buddhahood. When the first thought goes wrong and instead of turning inward to the basic mind it ranges outward to myriad objects, floating and sinking in the six paths of hells, hungry ghosts, animals, antigods, humans, and gods, lives apart, generation after generation, revolving in these routines for a thousand lives over myriad eons, like the wheel of a cart.

We have experienced the same pains and troubles countless times; if the bones of every life were piled up, they would be higher than a mountain, and if their pus and blood were stored, they would be more than the waters of the ocean; so the realized one has explained. Now, having a human body, so difficult to get, and having encountered the teaching of enlightenment, which is especially hard to encounter, and therein to have heard the inconceivable true teaching of the great vehicle, is the greatest fortune anyone can have.

If you mistakenly ignore this, it would be the greatest wrong you can do. It is said that once you lose the human form, it is as hard to get it again as to drop a thread from the highest heaven to thread a needle at the bottom of the ocean with it. Also, the routines of transmigrations in the six ways of life are not only a matter of other lives; even in one day there is floating and sinking.

Those whose minds are upright and actions not evil are humans; when they get angry at opposition, they are antigods. If they cling to things they like, they are hungry ghosts. When their minds are stifled by worry and longing, they are animals.

The Undying Lamp of Zen (The Testament of Zen Master Torei)

When their longings are deep and their greedy attachments are strong and the flames of their rage never die down as they pain people and harm beings, they are hell fiends. This is called losing the human form and creating the seeds of the three mires. Then, again, sometimes the mind is still. There is no anxiety, and the heart is clear throughout.

Then it is said that even though the body is in the human realm, the mind roams in heaven. Working Application 81 8. Learning from a Teacher 87 9. Maturation 93 Circulation 99 Appendix: On Practice References Because of the circumstances of its composition, it is an exceptionally explicit statement of Zen Buddhist doctrine and practice. Torei became a monk at an early age and studied Zen under the guidance of several teachers, including Kogetsu — , a distinguished master of the Rinzai sect of Zen. Torei first met Kogetsu when he was only five years old, but the personality of this master already inspired his interest in Zen even at this early age.

Ordained at the age of nine, Torei went traveling for study when he was eighteen. After some experience of Zen, on the advice of Kogetsu he called on the redoubtable Hakuin — , a towering figure who revitalized Rinzai Zen, particularly the study of the Zen koan. As he himself explains in his own preface,.

Insisting on the experience of enlightenment, and then even more on progressive practice after enlightenment, Torei provides accessible methods for both parts of the process. Torei also reconciles Buddhism with the other religions and philosophies of his culture—another Ekayana practice—in this case Shinto, Confucianism, and Taoism. As it was intended to be a final testament, The Undying Lamp of Zen represents a range of principles and practices rarely found assembled in one place, from the most elementary to the most advanced.

It is an indispensable aid to the practice of Rinzai Zen, while also providing tested traditional techniques for public access to Zen experience. The founding of the Japanese Zen lineage to which Hakuin and Torei refer their spiritual heritage is traced back to Daio 1. Shumon mujinito ron. Shumon is a word traditionally used for Zen schools; it derives from a term in the Lankavatara-sutra, one of the scriptural sources of Zen, distinguishing two forms of communication and understanding: through the source shu and through explanation setsu.

This changed with the emergence of Master Gudo — as the teacher of the emperor. This was Munan —76 , who would become the spiritual grandfather of Hakuin and the ancestor of modern Rinzai Zen. Munan left a relatively rich record in simple vernacular, providing explicit instructions in the essential processes of Zen. The pivotal issues that preoccupied Hakuin and Torei in their efforts to revitalize Zen can already be seen in the work of Munan.

He was a layman for most of his life, and when he left home and became a monk, even though he was a recognized successor of a national teacher a title for teachers of emperors , he had nothing to do with monastic careerism but lived a life of simple austerity, sustained by richness of spirituality. This is a common characteristic of Rinzai Zen, but the emphasis becomes particularly marked under certain historical conditions, and also particular psychological conditions, even to the point where satori may be taken to be an end, rather than a means.

In response to this trend, Munan also stressed the pitfalls in overestimating satori, and the consequent importance of maturation and development in the aftermath of the awakening experience. According to Munan: Satori is the eye of Buddha, the marrow of Buddha, direct enlightenment and great comfort; everything seems fine. But as wonderful as it is, satori is a great enemy of Buddha;.

When detached from all things by satori, if there is any knowing subject at all, in a state where one is unconstrained by anything, one will act willfully, even killing parents and rulers. Thus the enemy of Buddha is satori. One must purge oneself of faults day and night. It is imperative to cultivate conduct according to the teaching to complete the path. This is why it is considered comparatively easy to awaken to the Way, while practicing it in action is most difficult. The analogy of satori to a diamond sword highlights the role of enlightenment as a means of human liberation and development rather than the end thereof, while at the same time underscoring the importance of a means that is really effective, thus.

This mutual reinforcement of satori and character development is concisely illustrated in one of the recorded conversations of Munan, wherein someone asked him about the deterioration of Buddhism. To call yourself a renunciant because you shave your head disgraces the very name. This is a serious matter. What a real renunciant seeks is this: Our bodies have eighty-four thousand ills, the chief among them being sexual desire, desire for gain, birth and death, jealousy and envy, and reputation and advantage.

Normally these are hard to control. The boy became absorbed in wondering about this bodhisattva within, even to the point of distraction. This went on for several years, until he became so absorbed in this introspection that he forgot himself while climbing a ladder one day, fell off, and was knocked unconscious on hitting the ground. He then experienced satori the moment he regained. For another three years he sought out Buddhist teachers to gain perspective on his experience. Then he met Zen Master Munan when he traveled to the capital with his father at the age of nineteen. After a severe apprenticeship with Munan and acknowledgment as his spiritual successor, Etan took on no monastic office but remained a recluse all his life.

In Buddhist Sino-Japanese, shoju is really a technical term, a translation of the Sanskrit samadhi, concentration or absorption. According to a commemorative poem attributed to him, nonetheless, it was not until he was more than fifty years old that he finally attained unbroken continuity. People in Zen schools start out with admirable will and respectable conduct, but when they come to have a roof over their heads and cold and warmth are up to them, fame and profit are sweet as sugar while focus on Zen is bitter as yellow plum. Growing slacker and more negligent with the passing days and months, they wind up becoming a bunch of maggots.

Facing old age will be a bellyful of sadness. Looking for those who are capable of starting and who also complete the end, you can count them on your fingers. I happen to be one of them. Abbacy is indeed something to be careful about and wary of. Recently I have heard you retired. The more you understand, the more you study.

The more you realize, the more you take up. This is called the unfinished case.

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Whether walking, sitting, standing, or lying down, earnestly keep it carefully—where do you lose it, where do you not lose it? Now you are letting a defeated general expound military matters. It seems somewhat shameful. Nevertheless, the overturned car ahead may be a safeguard for the cars behind. Persistence thus becomes meaningful only in the context of procedural efficiency. Torei explains this principle of timing in Zen practice with the analogy of the four seasons in an interesting letter to a layman who has already realized satori: Overall, in practice timing is of prime importance.

It is like plowing in spring, weeding in summer, harvesting in autumn, and conserving in winter. Your spring plowing work is done, and your seedlings of seeing nature have grown healthy. From now the summer season is most important, just transplanting to the fields of totality, and weeding. Everything else should be deferred to autumn and winter. Other than this, the ancient examples, official decisions [koan], and so on, should by all means be put off for now. One of the ancients was even made to sleep for three days and three nights because when the joy of empowerment is extreme, it then damages your faculties for the Way.

There was also a famous teacher who wrote the words retreat of silence with instructions to keep to them for three years. The ancient worthies of the Soto sect of Zen would have students cultivate absorption in the relative and absolute for three years after seeing nature. Absorption in the relative and absolute is what I call summer practice.

In sum, the ancient worthies, each in their own way, calmly cultivated practice gradually, from the fundamental. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth. Read the full text of DGA's dissertation, a cultural history of mindfulness, here. There are a few basic concepts and practices that are favoured in Chan, but nothing exclusive, unique or definitive.

Even more, there are different trends that can all be categorised under Chan. It is a common practice to distinguish Chan from Jiao, i. What is transmitted is the buddha-mind, enlightenment itself, and not specific teachings, methods or anything like that.

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Some misunderstand this as a rejection of scriptures, or that this is some hidden transmission between master and student. But that is not the case. Still, it explains the nature of this tradition. That's why there are no manuals like the Visuddhimagga or the Mohezhiguan in Chan. It's not about stages, practices, doctrines or methods. It also does not reject them, but uses freely whatever is required. That's how it can encompass the whole Mahayana without being bound by specific texts. Chan is the essence of all the teachings of the Buddha, so whatever manual you pick it eventually leads to Chan.

Or you can just directly enter the gateless gate yourself, and that is the ultimate Chan way.