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天童如净 Tiantong Rujing (1163–1228)
(Rōmaji:) Tendō Nyōjo
Rujing & Dōgen
Tiāntóng Rújìng (天童如淨; Japanese: Tendō Nyōjo) was a Caodong Buddhist monk living in Qìngdé Temple (慶徳寺; Japanese: Keitoku-ji) on Tiāntóng Mountain (天童山; Japanese: Tendouzan) in Yinzhou District, Ningbo. He taught and gave dharma transmission to Sōtō Zen founder Dōgen as well as early Sōtō monk Jakuen (寂円 Jìyuán).
His teacher was Xuedou Zhijian (雪竇智鑑, 1105–1192), who was the sixteenth-generation dharma descendant of Huineng.
He is traditionally the originator of the terms shikantaza and shinjin-datsuraku ("casting off of body and mind").
Tendō Nyojō (天童如淨)
C. Tiantong Rujing. 1163-1228. A Chinese monk, dharma heir to Sokuan Chikan 足庵智鑑 in the Soto lineage, and abbot of the Keitoku (C. Jingde) Monastery on Tendō (C. Tiantong) Mountain when Dōgen was in training there. Rujing had six dharma heirs, one of whom was Dōgen.
by Andy Ferguson
In: Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings , Wisdom Publications, 2011, pp. 492-493.
TIANTONG RUJING (1163–1228) was a disciple and Dharma heir of Zu’an Zhijian. Rujing came from the city of Weijiang in ancient Mingzhou (near modern Ningbo City in Zhejiang Province). During his life he lived at a succession of famous temples including Qingliang Temple at Nanjing and Jingzi Temple on the south edge of West Lake in Hangzhou. He eventually resided at Tiantong, where he taught and transmitted the Buddhadharma to the famous Japanese monk Eihei Dogen. The Record of Rujing reveals Dogen’s teacher to be among the most poetically expressive of all the Zen ancients. He effused his Dharma talks with wonderful natural allusions and poetry of the highest order. The following passages are from The Record of Rujing.
Once, when sitting in his abbot’s quarters, Zen master Tiantong Rujing said, “Gouge out Bodhidharma’s eyeball and use it like a mud ball to hit people!”
Then he yelled, “Look! The ocean has dried up and the ocean floor is cracked! The billowing waves are striking the heavens!”
Rujing addressed the monks, saying, “This morning is the first day of spring. The poetry of the pomegranate blossoms enters its samadhi. How can such words be expressed?”
Rujing lifted his whisk and said, “Witness a single red speck of the myriad karmic streams! The spring colors that move us need not be many.”241
Rujing entered the hall and said, “The willows are adorned with waistbands, and plum blossoms fall onto your sleeves. You catch a glimpse of the orioles. Dance like the great wind!”
Then Rujing said, “Whose realm is this? At the foot of the Jingzi Temple gate—the heads of tuber plants appear.”
Zen worthies from all directions assembled at Qingliang Temple [a temple in Nanjing City where Tiantong then resided as abbot].
Tiantong addressed them, saying, “The great way has no gate! It jumps off the heads of you Zen worthies who have assembled from every direction. Emptiness is without a path. It goes in and out of the nostrils of the host of Qingliang Temple. Attendees here today are the thieving descendants of the Tathagata—the calamitous offspring of Linji!
“Aiyee! Everyone is dancing crazily in the spring wind. The apricot blossoms have fallen and the red petals are scattered on the breeze!”
Zen master Tiantong Rujing entered the hall. Striking the ground with his staff he said, “This is the realm of vertical precipice.”
Striking the floor again he said, “Deep, profound, remote, and distant. No one can reach it.”
He struck again and said, “But supposing you could reach this place, what would it be like? Aieee! I smile and point to the place where apes call. There is yet another realm where the numinous traces may be found.”
Tiantong addressed the monks, saying, “Thoughts in the mind are confused and scattered. How can they be controlled? In the story about Zhaozhou and whether or not a dog has buddha nature, there is an iron broom named ‘Wu.’ If you use it to sweep thoughts, they just become more numerous. Then you frantically sweep harder, trying to get rid of even more thoughts. Day and night you sweep with all your might, furiously working away. All of a sudden, the broom breaks into vast emptiness, and you instantly penetrate the myriad differences and thousand variations of the universe.”
Tiantong addressed the monks, saying, “The clouds mindlessly drift past the mountain cliffs. Four years ago, or just yesterday, is today. In due course, water returns to its source. Four years hence, or just today, is yesterday.”
Tiantong then raised his whisk and moved it in a great circle, saying, “If I must present this to you here, then I say that every year is a good year. Every day is a good day. So tell me, how can this be verified? Where clouds and water meet they laugh ‘Ha, Ha!’ Their laughter spontaneously fills the wind and sunlight.”
Ju-ching's death poem
In: DOC: The Zen Poetry of Dogen. Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace
by Steven Heine
Tuttle Shokai Ltd., Charles E Tuttle. 1997
For sixty-six years
Committing terrible sins against heaven,
Now leaping beyond,
While still alive, plunging into the Yellow Springs;
Amazing! I used to believe that
Life and death were unrelated.
Sayings of Master Rujing of Tiantong
Translated by Thomas Cleary
In: Timeless Spring, A Soto Zen Anthology,
Weatherhill / Wheelwright Press, Tokyo - New York, 1980,
pp. 25-26, 91-94.
Rujing (1163-1228), a contemporary of Wansong Xingxiu
萬松行秀 (1166-1246), was another famous chan master
who served as teaching abbot of several of the public monasteries,
but it was not known who his ehan teacher was until at
the end of his life he revealed that he had acknowledgement
of the transmission from Xuedou Zhijian 雪竇智鑑 (1105-1192),
a descendant of Danxia Zichun 丹霞子淳 (1064-1117).
Rujing's practice was just sitting; he lived in a monastery
from the age of nineteen, gave up the study of scriptures,
never returned to his native place, never spoke to the vil-
lagers, not even to people next to him in the monk's hall,
didn't go to any of the various halls and rooms but just sat
in the monks' meditation hall, vowing to wear out a dia-
mond seat. He said, "No more need to burn incense, make
prostrations, invoke buddhas, perform repentence cere-
monies, or read scriptures - just sit and liberate mind and
Rujing lived from 1163 to 1228 and served as abbot and teachmg
master at several large public monasteries; it was at TIantong in
eastern China that Dogen met Rujing. who was to become the
final human teacher and greatest spiritual benefactor of young
Dogen. Rujing was descended from the great Cao Dong masters
Furong Daokai 芙蓉道楷 (1042-1118)) and Danxia; it was he who
taught Dogen the technique of 'just sitting', which he used to
practice together with the community in the great meditation halls.
The following talk about sitting meditation is taken from the Hokyoki,
Dogen's record of private talks with Rujing; the general talk and the
eulogies are from records of Rujing's sayings compiled by other disciples.
Although saints and self-enlightened sages do not become
attached to their experience in sitting meditation, they lack
great compassion; therefore they are not the same as the
buddhas and patriarchs, who considered great compassion
foremost and sat in meditation with the vow to save all
sentient beings. The outsiders in India also sat in medita-
tion, but they always had three problems; attachment to
the experience, false views, and conceit-therefore it is
always different from the sitting meditation of the bud-
dhas and patriarchs.
Buddhist disciples also had sitting meditation, but their
compassion was weak; they did not penetrate the real
character of all things with incisive knowledge-only im-
proving themselves, they cut off the lineage of buddhas;
therefore theirs is always different from the sitting medita-
tion of buddhas and patriarchs.
What I mean to say is that buddhas and patriarchs, frorr
their very first inspiration, sit in meditation with the vow
to gather together all the qualities of buddhahood; there
fore in their sitting meditation they do not forget sentient
beings, do not forsake sentient beings - they always have
loving thoughts even for insects, and vow to rescue them.
Whatever virtures they have, they dedicate to all; therefore
the buddhas and patriarchs are always in the world of de-
sire practicing meditation and working on the way. In the
world of desire only this world provides the best situation;
cultivating all virtues life after life, one attains to gentility
and ease of mind.
Kaaa! People, this shout, though before the ancient bud-
dhas, has already missed the point; how much the more so
to come here today and shout wildly - what kind of fart-
ing this would be. If there is someone who can come forth
boldly to smash this shitty mouth, knock out my teeth and
stuff them in a shit hole, you can avoid seeing me fooling
people with a lot of confusion.
But even this is still raising your fist behind someone's
back, raising your voice to stop an echo; yet we set up
many gates, to open up a single road - isn't there anyone
who will come forth?
(A long silence) If there is no one, then I will use a shout
for the moment to pile up confusion and fool you people.
Kaaa! Here there is host and guest, illumination and func-
tion; do you know where it ultimately ends up? If you
realize where it ends up, you know where it arises; if you
know where it arises, you know where it passes away. If
you know where it passes away, you then realize that birth
and death both pass away, and ultimate peace appears, in
everyday life, appearing in six places. In the eye it is called
seeing; you must strip off your eyes till you see nothing at
all - then afterwards there is nothing you don't see; only
then can it be called seeing.
In the ear it is called hearing; you must block your ears
shut till you hear nothing at all - then afterwards there is
nothing you don't hear; only then can it be called hearing.
In the nose it is called smelling; you must smash off
your nostrils till fragrance and stench are not distinguished
- afterwards there is nothing you can't distinguish; only
then can it be called smelling.
In the tongue it talks; you must pluck out your tongue,
so heaven and earth are wrapped up in silence - after-
wards it is effulgent and unbroken; only then can it be
In the body it is called person; you must slough off the
gross elements and not depend on anything - afterwards
you manifest form in accordance with kind (of being); only
then can it be called person.
In the mind it is called consciousness; you must cut off
forever all clinging to objects, so that the three incalculable
aeons are empty - afterwards origin and decease do not
stop - only this can be called consciousness.
Appearing as above in these six places, without any gap,
this is what is meant by there being host and guest, il-
lumination and function, as I said before - host and guest
interchange, illumination and function merge. From the
buddhas of the past, present, and future and the six gen-
erations of ancestral teachers above to the animals of vari-
ous species, plants, trees, and insects below, all are this
one shout - none is left out. Then you see that 'before the
appearance of the ancient buddhas' is right now, and right
now is 'before the appearance of the ancient buddhas.'
They are not two, do not have two separate conditions,
because they are not distinct; they are continuous.
According to what I am saying, what is there to shout
about or talk about? Basically there is not so much -
everyone should get a beating. What mistake is there?
What is not mistaken? There are even Linji's four shouts;
no harm to move the shoulders while walking - I'll pierce
nostrils one by one for you. Bah! 'One shout is like the
jewel sword of the diamond king' - a toilet sweeper. 'One
shout is like a lion crouching on the ground ' - a rat in its
nest. 'One shout is like a probing pole, shadowing grass'
- a fellow fishing for clams. 'One shout does not function
as a shout' - a ghost in front of a skull. Tonight is clear
and cool; I call this medicine for a dead horse - even if
you can bring this shout to life, how can you avoid the
sound of farting?
Even so, tell me, where does it come from, 'before the
ancient buddhas appeared?' Can you be sure? If you can
get it for sure, then nothing's wrong with wild shouting -
you'll avoid seeking it folding your hands at the corner of
a rope seat. If you are not yet thus, though, beware of
misusing your fists and feet. Bah!
VERSE ON LINJI
Making an empty fist,
Threatening the world to death;
Such an ancestral teacher -
An animal, an ass.
VERSE ON AN ANCIENT SAYING
Yunmen said, "The world is so wide - why put on a
seven-strip robe at the sound of a bell?"
At the sound of the bell I put on a dense web;*
The inconceivable function's miraculous powers
Produce a variety of effects.
The thief is a member of the family;
It is necessary to sweep away the tracks -
Only the great peace with no signs
Is really safe and harmonious.
* 'Dense web' also alludes to the multitude of appearances of the
phenomenal world. This reading is hardly concealed in the phonetic
transcription for the Sanskrit word for 'upper robe' - i. e . the 7-strip.
SETTING FIRE TO ELDER YI'S BIER
'All things return to one' - living is like wearing your
shirt; 'where does the one return?' - dying is like taking
off your pants. When life and death are sloughed off and
do not concern you at all, the spiritual light of the one
path always stands out unique. Ah, the swift flames in the
wind flare up - all atoms in all worlds do not interchange.
SETTING FIRE TO A DOCTOR'S BIER
The mortal diseases of humans you can heal, but when
you die, who can bring you back to life? I have a simple
method, a handful of fire; I will burn for y ou the medicine
gourd. Someone answers, "I'm alive, revived" - tell me,
how do you prove it? (describing a circle with the fire-
brand) Ah, the original face has no birth or death; spring
is in the plum flowers, entering a painted picture.