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Zen And Supernatural Power
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No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen








Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with the
primitive faith of Hinayanism, and are inclined to call Mahayanism, a
later developed faith, a degenerated one. If the primitive faith be
called the genuine, as these scholars think, and the later developed
faith be the degenerated one, then the child should be called the
genuine man and the grown-up people be the degenerated ones;
similarly, the primitive society must be the genuine and the modern
civilization be the degenerated one. So also the earliest writings
of the Old Testament should be genuine and the four Gospels be
degenerated. Beyond all doubt Zen belongs to Mahayanism, yet this
does not imply that it depends on the scriptural authority of that
school, because it does not trouble itself about the Canon whether it
be Hinayana or Mahayana, or whether it was directly spoken by Shakya
Muni or written by some later Buddhists. Zen is completely free from
the fetters of old dogmas, dead creeds, and conventions of
stereotyped past, that check the development of a religious faith and
prevent the discovery of a new truth. Zen needs no Inquisition. It
never compelled nor will compel the compromise of a Galileo or a
Descartes. No excommunication of a Spinoza or the burning of a Bruno
is possible for Zen.

On a certain occasion Yoh Shan (Yaku-san) did not preach the doctrine
for a long while, and was requested to give a sermon by his assistant
teacher, saying: Would your reverence preach the Dharma to your
pupils, who long thirst after your merciful instruction? Then ring
the bell, replied Yoh Shan. The bell rang, and all the monks
assembled in the Hall eager to bear the sermon. Yoh Shan went up to
the pulpit and descended immediately without saying a word. You,
reverend sir, asked the assistant, promised to deliver a sermon a
little while ago. Why do you not preach? Sutras are taught by the
Sutra teachers, said the master; Castras are taught by the Castra
teachers. No wonder that I say nothing.[FN#110] This little
episode will show you that Zen is no fixed doctrine embodied in a
Sutra or a Castra, but a conviction or realization within us.


[FN#110] Zen-rin-rui-shu and E-gen.


To quote another example, an officer offered to Tung Shan (To-zan)
plenty of alms, and requested him to recite the sacred Canon. Tung
Shan, rising from his chair, made a bow respectfully to the officer,
who did the same to the teacher. Then Tung Shan went round the
chair, taking the officer with him, and making a bow again to the
officer, asked: Do you see what I mean? No, sir, replied the
other. I have been reciting the sacred Canon, why do you not
see?[FN#111] Thus Zen does not regard Scriptures in black and white
as its Canon, for it takes to-days and tomorrows of this actual life
as its inspired pages.


[FN#111] Zen-rin-rui-sha and To-zan-roku.






Next: The Usual Explanation Of The Canon

Previous: Scripture Is No More Than Waste Paper



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