Jun 4, 2021

The Record of Rinzai

Book Extracts

A collection of stories and teachings by Rinzai Gigen, the father of Rinzai Zen, this record captures the essence of Zen training and practice.

Painting of Master Rinzai


By 曾我蛇足 Soga Jasoku (fl. c. 1300) - http://www.dabase.org/linchi.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3276946

Rinzai Gigen, father of the line or school of Rinzai Zen, died January 10th 866 A.D. His date of birth is unknown, but it is generally taken that his teaching career was not much longer than a decade.

Rinzais Recordwas written by his disciples. It contains his teachings, episodes from his training, and from his teaching career.

13a. Followers of the Way, the Buddha-Dharma needs no skilled application.

Just be your ordinary selves with nothing further to seek, relieving nature, wearing robes and eating. “When tired I sleep. Fools laugh at me, the wise understand.” 

An old master said: “Turning to the outside and applying oneself (to it) is a stubborn fool’s errand.” 

If you master any situation you are in, wherever you stand, all becomes true; you can no longer be driven around by circumstance. Even if in your former unregenerate days you had committed the Five Heinous Crimes, they turn into the ocean of deliverance.

But students nowadays do not know the Dharma. 

They are like goats, nuzzling and nibbling at everything they come across. They cannot distinguish the servant from the master, nor the guest from the host.

They enter religion with a wild heart, shouting noisily. One cannot call them true leavers of home (traditionally men had to leave their home life when becoming a monk); they are just ordinary laymen.

A man who has left home should know how to see clearly and calmly, should know Buddha from Mara, the true from the false, the worldly from the sacred. If he has got this knowledge, he can truly be called a leaver of home. 

If he does not know Buddha from Mara, then in effect he leaves on home only to enter another, and is what is called a karma-producing living being. He cannot yet be called a true leaver of home.

For if Buddha and Mara happen to appear in one form, he could not differentiate them. 

Yet, as the gander king knows how to drink only the milk from a mixture of milk and water, so does the clear eye (know how to differentiate). 

Followers of the Way, just beat up both Buddha and Mara. For if you love the sacred and hate the worldly, you go on floating and sinking in the ocean of birth and death.


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