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Buddhism

Shakya Muni And The Prodigal Son
A great trouble with us is that we do not believe in half the...

Thing-in-itself Means Thing-knowerless
How, then, did philosophers come to consider reality to be un...

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

Wang Yang Ming O-yo-mei And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

The Breathing Exercise Of The Yogi
Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somew...

The Introduction Of The So-to School Of Zen
This school was started by Tsing-Yuen (Sei-gen), an emine...

Life Consists In Conflict
Life consists in conflict. So long as man remains a social a...

An Illusion Concerning Appearance And Reality
To get Enlightened we must next dispel an illusion respecting...

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

Nature Favours Nothing In Particular
There is another point of view of life, which gave the presen...

Enlightenment Implies An Insight Into The Nature Of Self
We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without sa...

Buddha-nature Is The Common Source Of Morals
Furthermore, Buddha-nature or real self, being the seat of lo...

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

Nature And Her Lesson
Nature offers us nectar and ambrosia every day, and everywher...

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

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

Hinayanism And Its Doctrine
The doctrine of Transience was the first entrance gate of Hin...

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

No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen
Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with t...

Nature Is The Mother Of All Things
Furthermore, man has come into existence out of Nature. He i...




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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