Apr 9, 2021

Book Extracts: ‘Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp' Torei Enji Zenji, comments Daibi Zenji pub. The Zen Centre London 1989’

Book Extracts

The sword of Shiya is so sharp that it cuts through a hair blown across it. Twenty years of honing it! The arm that cuts down Buddhas and patriarchs. Kanzan snatched that sword.

The Justice Card from Tarot de Marseille by Alexandro Jodorowsky (Author), Philippe Camoin  (Author)

TOREI 34: The sword of Shiya is so sharp that it cuts through a hair blown across it. Twenty years of honing it! The arm that cuts down Buddhas and patriarchs. Kanzan snatched that sword.

Daibi Comment: Shiya is another name for Maurasakino in Kyoto where Daitoku-ji stands, and there refers to National Teacher Daito. The name Daito was bestowed on the teacher by the retired Emperor Hanazono. Daito’s Buddhist name was Shuho and his family name Myocho. He was born in the province of Han, and started his training under National Teacher Bukkoku, and continued under Daio, from whom he inherited the Dharma. While training under Master Daio, from whom he inherited the Dharma and working on the Koan of ‘Suigan’s Ending the Summer Retreat’,[1] he had Great Satori at Ummon’s ‘Kan’ [ed. ‘barrier’], upon which he presented the two following matching verses (to his teacher),

‘Having passed through the cloud-barrier,

The living Way opens out freely, south, north, east, west.

Resting in the evening and roaming in the morning,

There is neither host nor guest.

Step for step, the pure breeze blows.’

‘Having penetrated through the cloud-barrier,

The familiar way is at an end.

The blue sky and the sining sun are the home ground.

At the state where the energy freely flows with all changes, 

The golden monk (Kasyapa), folds his hands and returns!’

On reading these poems, Daio at once took up his brush and wrote (in the margin), ‘You have already cast off the bright and joined the dark. [2] I am not your equal. Now that my line has reached you, I can take my leave. But before you show these lines, you must mature for twenty years.’

Thus the master, having completed the formal part of practice, diligently continued for twenty years, maturing the holy heart. His biography states that he returned to a temple called Ungo-ji, but it must have been at that time that he was seen among the beggars under the Fifth Bridge in Kyoto.

In the first year of the reign of Kareki (1326), Daito moved to a hermitage in Shiya, the later Daitoku-ji of which he is the founder. One of the his heirs was Kanzan. On his death bed, at the age of fifty-six, he brushed his farewell poem,

‘Having cut off Buddhas and patriarchs,

The sword is always kept honed

Sharp enough to cut through a hair blown across it.

Where the Wheel of free energy turns,

The Void gnashes its teeth.’

Torei’s reference to the ‘arm that cuts down Buddhas and patriarchs’ is from this poem. This great sword of Daito’s was taken up by his illustrious heir Kanzan. Daito is said to have had fifteen heirs, but particularly distinguished among them were Tetto Giko who succeeded him as second patriarch of Daitoku-ji and Kanzan Egan who became the founder of Myoshin-ji.

[1]: At the end of the Summer Retreat, Master Suigan addressed his monks, ;For the whole summer have I been talking to you. Look whether I have any eyebrows left!” (Whether I have been talking at random, beyond my ken.) To this, Hofuku replied ‘Robber!’ Chokei said, ‘You have still got them’. Ummon said ‘Kan’. (This ‘Kan’ of Ummon’s has no explanation and is to be ‘seen into’ in the interview room….)

[2]: White -inexperienced, unskilled. Black - expert.

Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp Torei Enji Zenji, comments Daibi Zenji pub. The Zen Centre London 1989


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