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The Resemblance Of The Zen Monk To The Samurai
Let us point out in brief the similarities between Zen and Ja...

The Awakening Of The Innermost Wisdom
Having set ourselves free from the misconception of Self, nex...

The Buddha Of Mercy
Milton says: Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt; Surp...

Do Thy Best And Leave The Rest To Providence
There is another point of view which enables us to enjoy life...

Everything Is Living According To Zen
Everything alive has a strong innate tendency to preserve its...

Where Does The Root Of The Illusion Lie?
Now let us examine where illusion lies hidden from the view o...

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
[FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to ha...

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral
By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be g...

The Beatitude Of Zen
We are far from denying, as already shown in the foregoing ch...

Where Then Does The Error Lie?
Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible proposit...

The Fifth And The Sixth Patriarchs
Tao Sin transmitted the Law to Hung Jan (Ko-nin), who being e...

The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...

Change As Seen By Zen
Zen, like Hinayanism, does not deny the doctrine of Transienc...

The Social State Of Japan When Zen Was Established By Ei-sai And Do-gen
Now we have to observe the condition of the country when Zen ...

Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...

Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...

The Eternal Life As Taught By Professor Munsterberg
Some philosophical pessimists undervalue life simply because ...

Decline Of Zen
The blooming prosperity of Zen was over towards the end of th...

Universal Life Is Universal Spirit
These considerations naturally lead us to see that Universal ...

The Method Of Instruction Adopted By Zen Masters

Thus far we have described the doctrine of Zen inculcated by both
Chinese and Japanese masters, and in this chapter we propose to
sketch the practice of mental training and the method of practising
Dhyana or Meditation. Zen teachers never instruct their pupils by
means of explanation or argument, but urge them to solve by
themselves through the practice of Meditation such problems as--'What
is Buddha?' What is self?' 'What is the spirit of Bodhidharma?'
'What is life and death?' 'What is the real nature of mind?' and so
on. Ten Shwai (To-sotsu), for instance, was wont to put three
questions[FN#229] to the following effect: (1) Your study and
discipline aim at the understanding of the real nature of mind.
Where does the real nature of mind exist? (2) When you understand
the real nature of mind, you are free from birth and death. How can
you be saved when you are at the verge of death? (3) When you are
free from birth and death, you know where you go after death. Where
do you go when your body is reduced to elements? The pupils are not
requested to express their solution of these problems in the form of
a theory or an argument, but to show how they have grasped the
profound meaning implied in these problems, how they have established
their conviction, and how they can carry out what they grasped in
their daily life.

[FN#229] The famous three difficult questions, known as the Three
Gates of Teu Shwai (To Sotsu San Kwan), who died in 1091. See Mu Mon
Kwan, xlvii.

A Chinese Zen master[FN#230] tells us that the method of instruction
adopted by Zen may aptly be compared with that of an old burglar who
taught his son the art of burglary. The burglar one evening said to
his little son, whom he desired to instruct in the secret of his
trade: Would you not, my dear boy, be a great burglar like myself?
Yes, father, replied the promising young man. Come with me,
then. I will teach you the art. So saying, the man went out,
followed by his son. Finding a rich mansion in a certain village,
the veteran burglar made a hole in the wall that surrounded it.
Through that hole they crept into the yard, and opening a window with
complete ease broke into the house, where they found a huge box
firmly locked up as if its contents were very valuable articles. The
old man clapped his hands at the lock, which, strange to tell,
unfastened itself. Then he removed the cover and told his son to get
into it and pick up treasures as fast as he could. No sooner had the
boy entered the box than the father replaced the cover and locked it
up. He then exclaimed at the top of his voice: Thief! thief! thief!
thief! Thus, having aroused the inmates, he went out without taking
anything. All the house was in utter confusion for a while; but
finding nothing stolen, they went to bed again. The boy sat holding
his breath a short while; but making up his mind to get out of his
narrow prison, began to scratch the bottom of the box with his
finger-nails. The servant of the house, listening to the noise,
supposed it to be a mouse gnawing at the inside of the box; so she
came out, lamp in hand, and unlocked it. On removing the cover, she
was greatly surprised to find the boy instead of a little mouse, and
gave alarm. In the meantime the boy got out of the box and went down
into the yard, hotly pursued by the people. He ran as fast as
possible toward the well, picked up a large stone, threw it down into
it, and hid himself among the bushes. The pursuers, thinking the
thief fell into the well, assembled around it, and were looking into
it, while the boy crept out unnoticed through the hole and went home
in safety. Thus the burglar taught his son how to rid himself of
overwhelming difficulties by his own efforts; so also Zen teachers
teach their pupils how to overcome difficulties that beset them on
all sides and work out salvation by themselves.

[FN#230] Wu Tsu (Go So), the teacher of Yuen Wu (En Go).

Next: The First Step In The Mental Training

Previous: Do Thy Best And Leave The Rest To Providence

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