Sayings of Lin-chi
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Sayings of Lin-chi, Part I
People who study Buddhism in the present day should for now
seek truly accurate vision and understanding. Then life and
death will not influence you, and you will be free to leave or to
stay. You do not need to seek the extraordinary, for the
extraordinary will come of itself.
The worthies of old all had means of emancipating people. What
I teach people just requires you not to take on the confusions of
others. If you need to act, then act, without any further hesitation
When students today do not realize this, where is the problem?
The problem is in not spontaneously trusting. If you do not trust
yourself completely, you will then hurriedly go along with
whatever happens in all situations; as you are caused to
undergo changes by those myriad situations, you cannot be
If you were able to put a stop to the mentality in which every
thought is running after something, then you would be no
different from a Zen master or a Buddha. Do you want to know
what a Zen master or a Buddha is? Simply that which is
immediately present, listening to the Teaching. It is just because
students do not trust completely that they seek outwardly. Even if
they get something by seeking, it is all literary excellence; they
never attain the living meaning of the masters.
Make no mistake about it; if you do not find it now, you will repeat
the same routines for myriad eons, a thousand times over again,
following and picking up on objects that attract you.
We are no different from Shakyamuni Buddha. Today, in your
various activities, what do you lack? The spiritual light coursing
through your six senses has never been interrupted. If you can
see in this way, you will simply be free of burdens all your life.
The world is unstable, like a house on fire. This is not a place
where you stay long. The haunt of impermanence comes upon
you in a flash, no matter whether you are rich or poor, old or
young. If you want to be no different from a Zen master or a
Buddha, just do not seek outwardly.
Do not allow any more interruptions at any time, and everything
that you see is It. Just because feelings arise, knowledge is
blocked. That is why you keep repeating the same routines in the
world and suffer a variety of miseries.
The reality of mind has no form but pervades the ten directions.
In the eyes it is called seeing, in the ears it is called hearing, in
the nose it smells, in the mouth it speaks, in the hand it grips, in
the feet it steps. Basically it is a single spiritual light; seeing
thus, you are liberated wherever you are.
What do I mean when I say this? It is just because you are
unable to stop the mentality of seeking that you get hooked on
useless actions and states of other people who lived a long time
ago. If you take my view, you will sit at the head of the
embodiments of Buddha.
You have these obstacles only because you have not realized
the emptiness of the eons. Genuine Wayfarers are never like
this; they just dissolve their history according to conditions,
dressing according to circumstances, acting when they need to
act, and sitting when they need to sit, without any idea of seeking
the fruits of buddhahood.
Time is to be valued! Don't stop with learning Zen or Tao on the
surface as something outside yourself, learning to recognize
terms and slogan, seeking "buddhahood," seeking "mastery,"
seeking "teachers," considering them conceptually. Make no
mistake about it; turn your attention back upon yourself and
from The Five Houses of Zen, Lin-chi (d. 867)
Translated by Thomas Cleary (1997)
It is our tendency as students to make exotic teachings more
appealing; more difficult to understand teachers, profound; and
our own confusion a sign that we are still far from it. And yet as
Lin-chi states above, "in your various activities, what do you
lack?" Practice, meditation allows us to enter fully into the
Present. The ability to let the thoughts and feelings arise and
then continue on gives us the experience of spaciousness, a
time of not being pushed and pulled by ourselves or others, an
opening where something new can arise.
The kensei comes to see that his light and the vision of the
sages is essentially one and the same. The way of action
emerging from stillness is the non-action of the sages.
Light of the Kensei
Yours along the Way,