Buddhism Scripture Is No More Than Waste Paper
Zen is not based on any particular sutra, either of
There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral
By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be g...
Change As Seen By Zen
Zen, like Hinayanism, does not deny the doctrine of Transienc...
Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...
The Application Of The Law Of Causation To Morals
Although it may be needless to state here the law of causatio...
The Creative Force Of Nature And Humanity
The innate tendency of self-preservation, which manifests its...
A Sutra Equal In Size To The Whole World
The holy writ that Zen masters admire is not one of parchment...
Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied ...
The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...
The Bad Are The Good In The Egg
This is not only the case with a robber or a murderer, but al...
No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen
Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with t...
The Parable Of The Monk And The Stupid Woman
The confused or unenlightened may be compared with a monk and...
Three Important Elements Of Zen
To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred year...
The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...
The World Is In The Making
Our assertion is far from assuming that life is now complete,...
Zen Is Not Nihilistic
Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at t...
The Four Alternatives And The Five Categories
There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious an...
Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...
In addition to these considerations, which mainly depend on i...
Nature Favours Nothing In Particular
There is another point of view of life, which gave the presen...
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 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