Stories of the Zen Masters
THE STORY OF THE BUDDHA'S ENLIGHTENMENT
In this article we look at the story of the Buddha as a living symbol, a story that speaks to lives being lived now; charting the way for those who follow those teachings first delivered 2,500 years ago.
Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said, 'Behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying, "Decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence!"'
The Story of Vasubandhu
Vasubandhu was one of the major teachers in the Zen Lineage after Sakyamuni Buddha, and was sometimes referred to as a second Buddha. In the Zen Lineage his teacher was Jayata and his main Dharma heir was Manorhita.
Teachings of the Yogacara school
The founding of this school is attributed to Asanga and his half-brother Vasubandhu, however there is a third personage involved.
The story goes that Asanga would, in his meditation practice, visit the Tusita heaven to consult with the Buddha-to-come Maitreya.
Vasubandhu - a bibliography
Vasubandhu in holographic light
In a short entry, it is impossible to tackle the immense complexity of thought presented by Vasubandhu, 4th- 5th century C.E., considered to be the 21st patriarch in the transmission of the Buddha dharma. Therefore, following a brief introduction, this entry will only try to illuminate one aspect of Vasubandhu’s thought. Readers seeking a more comprehensive introduction should see the associated bibliography.
The Story of Bodhidharma
Modern scholarship places Bodhidharma as living during the 5th century C.E. His origins are disputed.
Bodhidharma is credited with being the founder of the Chan/Zen School; yet little is known about him.
Extracts from The Two Entrances: A Semon attributed to Bodhidharma with commentary.
The manuscript of this sermon was found amongst the documents in the Dunhuang caves and was attributed to Bodhidharma.
The manuscript itself was written complied and added to by individuals and groups who looked to Bodhidharma as their guide and inspiration. This ‘adding to’ a text by those who follow in the footsteps of a patriarch was a common enough practice. It was justified by the understanding that having walked the way it was possible to elaborate a teaching in accordance with the spirit of the founder.
The Story of Master Rinzai Gigen / Lin chi
Although Zen masters such as Obaku (Huang Po) and his student Rinzai constantly berate monks for studying the canonical sutras and writings they clearly display a deep knowledge and profound reading of these works. It is clear that while they saw these texts as a necessary step along the Buddha’s path, they were equally clear that no amount of study would ever bring the kind of insight they taught to be at the heart of Zen Buddhism.
You can find extracts from 'The Record of Rinzai' here.
The Story of Hui Neng/Eno Daikan
The Sixth Chinese patriarch is called Hui Neng in Chinese and Eno Daikan in Japanese. He lived 638-713 C.E. originating from Southern China and lived through the ‘flowering’ of Zen during the Tang dynasty.
THE STORY OF DAIYU MYOKYO ZENJI
Daiyu Myokyo or Myokyo-ni was the Austrian born nun who with Christmas Humphreys is co-founder of the Zen Centre in London.
She spent 12 years training in Daitoku-ji in Kyoto under Zen masters Sesso & Sojun. Having received inka (permission to teach), she returned to London and began a teaching career spanning 35 years until her death in 2007.
A consumate story-teller a collection of personal anecdotes used to illustrate the Dharma and aspects of Zen training can be found in the article below.
THE STORY OF MASTER JOSHU
A monk was saying farewell to Master Joshu, who asked him: “Where are you going?” The monk said: “all over the place, to learn Buddhism.” Master Joshu, holding up his fly-whisk, said: ‘Do not stay where the Buddha is! And pass quickly through a place where there is no Buddha!. Do not make a mistake and bring up Buddhism to anyone for three thousand miles.”
THE STORY OF SANAKAVASA
Sanakavasa, also known as Shanavasa was a disciple to Ananda and is the Third Indian Patriarch in the Chan/Zen School. His life and deeds are recounted in the Records of the Transmission of the Lamp.
DAITO KOKUSHI'S SERMON ON THE ORIGINAL FACE
The body is a house, and it must have a master. It is the master of the house who is known as the original face.
PILGRIMMAGE TO FORTY-SIX TEMPLES: DAITOKUJI
“Passing through the gateway to the temple grounds, there is a large Central Gate to the right. It had recently been repaired; painted a brilliant vermillion, it seemed to soar into the sky.
MASTER TOREI ON DAITO KOKUSHI
The sword of Shiya is so sharp that it cuts through a hair blown across it. Twenty years of honing it!
MASTER DAITO AND THE WATER MELON SELLER
When the Emperor wanted to catch himself a Zen Master he had to employ a ruse to trap his prize
FINAL WORDS OF THE ZEN MASTERS
When Dokuon was very sick, Tekisui came to ask after him. Entering the sickroom, he announced himself and then straddled Dokuon. With his face almost touching Dokuon's he said