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Buddhism

The Application Of The Law Of Causation To Morals
Although it may be needless to state here the law of causatio...

Epicureanism And Life
There are a good many people always buoyant in spirit and mir...

The Method Of Instruction Adopted By Zen Masters
Thus far we have described the doctrine of Zen inculcated by ...

All The Worlds In Ten Directions Are Buddha's Holy Land
We are to resume this problem in the following chapter. Suff...

Man Is Neither Good-natured Nor Bad-natured According To Su Shi
(So-shoku). The difficulty may be avoided by a theory given ...

Bodhidharma's Disciples And The Transmission Of The Law
For details, see Chwen Tang Luh and Den Ka Roku, by Kei Z...

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

Three Important Elements Of Zen
To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred year...

The Ten Pictures Of The Cowherd
The pictures were drawn by Kwoh Ngan (Kaku-an), a Chinese...

The Honest Poverty Of The Zen Monk And The Samurai
Secondly, the so-called honest poverty is a characteristic of...

Buddha Dwelling In The Individual Mind
Enlightened Consciousness in the individual mind acquires for...

The Absolute And Reality Are But An Abstraction
A grain of sand you, trample upon has a deeper significance t...

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

Great Men And Nature
All great men, whether they be poets or scientists or religio...

The Establishment Of The Rin Zai School Of Zen In Japan
The Lin Tsi school was started by Nan Yoh, a prominent d...

Zen And Nirvana
The beatitude of Zen is Nirvana, not in the Hinayanistic sens...

The Mystery Of Life
Thus far we have pointed out the inevitable conflictions in l...

The Sermon Of The Inanimate
The Scripture of Zen is written with facts simple and familia...

A Sutra Equal In Size To The Whole World
The holy writ that Zen masters admire is not one of parchment...

The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality
Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the nam...




Zen Is Iconoclastic








For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of Buddha
seemed too crude to be accepted unhesitatingly and the doctrine too
much irrelevant with and uncongenial to actual life. Since Zen
denounced, as we have seen in the previous chapter, the scriptural
authority, it is quite reasonable to have given up this view of
Buddha inculcated in the Mahayana sutras, and to set at naught those
statues and images of supernatural beings kept in veneration by the
orthodox Buddhists. Tan Hia (Tan-ka), a noted Chinese Zen master,
was found warming himself on a cold morning by the fire made of a
wooden statue of Buddha. On another occasion he was found mounting
astride the statue of a saint. Chao Chen (Jo-shu) one day happened
to find Wang Yuen (Bun-yen) worshipping the Buddha in the temple, and
forthwith struck him with his staff. "Is there not anything good in
the worshipping of the Buddha?" protested Wang Yuen. Then the master
said: "Nothing is better than anything good." These examples
fully illustrate Zen's attitude towards the objects of Buddhist
worship. Zen is not, nevertheless, iconoclastic in the commonly
accepted sense of the term, nor is it idolatrous, as Christian
missionaries are apt to suppose.


Zen-rin-rui-shu.


Zen is more iconoclastic than any of the Christian or the Mohammedan
denominations in the sense that it opposes the acceptance of the
petrified idea of Deity, so conventional and formal that it carries
no inner conviction of the believers. Faith dies out whenever one
comes to stick to one's fixed and immutable idea of Deity, and to
deceive oneself, taking bigotry for genuine faith. Faith must be
living and growing, and the living and growing faith should assume no
fixed form. It might seem for a superficial observer to take a fixed
form, as a running river appears constant, though it goes through
ceaseless changes. The dead faith, immutable and conventional, makes
its embracer appear religious and respectable, while it arrests his
spiritual growth. It might give its owner comfort and pride, yet it
at bottom proves to be fetters to his moral uplifting. It is on this
account that Zen declares: "Buddha is nothing but spiritual chain or
moral fetters," and, "If you remember even a name of Buddha, it would
deprive you of purity of heart." The conventional or orthodox idea
of Buddha or Deity might seem smooth and fair, like a gold chain,
being polished and hammered through generations by religious
goldsmiths; but it has too much fixity and frigidity to be worn by us.

"Strike off thy fetters, bonds that bind thee down
Of shining gold or darker, baser ore;

Know slave is slave caressed or whipped, not free;
For fetters tho' of gold, are not less strong to bind."

--The Song of the Sannyasin.






Next: Buddha Is Unnamable

Previous: The Ancient Buddhist Pantheon



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