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Buddhism

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

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

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

The Manliness Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai
Thirdly, both the Zen monk and the Samurai were distinguished...

Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

Zen And Idealism
Next Zen makes use of Idealism as explained by the Dharmalaks...

Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz Jun-shi
The weaknesses of Mencius's theory are fully exposed by anoth...

The Fourth Patriarch And The Emperor Tai Tsung Tai-so
The Third Patriarch was succeeded by Tao Sin (Do-shin), who ...

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

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

Idealism Is A Potent Medicine For Self-created Mental Disease
In so far as Buddhist idealism refers to the world of sense, ...

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

The Third Step In The Mental Training
To be the lord of mind is more essential to Enlightenment, wh...

Missionary Activity Of The Sixth Patriarch
As we have seen above, the Sixth Patriarch was a great genius...

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

Zazen Or The Sitting In Meditation
Habit comes out of practice, and forms character by degrees, ...

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

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied ...

The Next Step In The Mental Training
In the next place we have to strive to be the master of our b...

Pessimistic View Of The Ancient Hindus
In addition to this, the new theory of matter has entirely ov...




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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