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東嶺圓慈・東嶺円慈・東嶺延慈 Tōrei Enji (1721–1792)

Tōrei Enji (1721-1792) was born into the Nakamura family, the proprietors of a pharmacy located in the station town of Obata (present Gokasho), on the eastern shores of Lake Biwa in present-day Shiga Prefecture. At the age of nine he went to the nearby temple Daitoku-ji, where he studied under the priest Ryōzan Erin. He received the name Etan, which was later changed to Dōka. From the age of seventeen he went to Daikō-ji, located in present-day Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, to train under the important Zen master Kogetsu Zensai (1667-1751) and his successor Suigan Jūshin (1683-1773). From the age of twenty-three he trained under Hakuin at Shōin-ji in Hara, receiving inka at the age of twenty-nine. At thirty-five he received priestly rank at Myōshin-ji and was first referred to as Tōrei. In addition to serving as abbot of Ryūtaku-ji in Mishima (in present-day Shizuoka Prefecture), he restored the temples Muryō-ji in Shizuoka and Shidō-an in Tokyo. He later resided at Zuizen-ji, near present-day Nagoya, and Reisen-ji near his birthplace. Throughout his life Tōrei retained an interest in Shinto and Confucianism as well as Buddhism, stressing the ultimate unity of these three teachings. His posthumous title was Butsugo Shinshō.
“Did Tōrei become what he was because of Hakuin, or did Hakuin become what he was because of Tōrei?” That such a question is often asked testifies to the importance of the role of Tōrei Enji (1721-1792) in ensuring the continuation of Hakuin Zen. Tōrei was instrumental in spreading the teachings and methods of his teacher not only in the Rinzai Zen world but also among lay Zen practicers. He and Suiō Genro (1717-1789), another great disciple of Hakuin, were together known as the “two divine legs [eminent students] of Hakuin.”
Zen insight was not the only legacy these disciples received from their master, however. Both followed Hakuin in becoming accomplished painters and calligraphers who left numerous examples of their artistic talents. Tōrei, in particular, produced strikingly original works that continue to impress people even today. Much of their appeal lies in the interesting contrast between the subtlety of Tōrei's Zen and the boldness of his artistic style, which, though influenced by that of Hakuin, surpasses it in force.

Tōrei Enji 東嶺圓慈・東嶺円慈・東嶺延慈 (1721–1792) received the posthumous imperial title of Butsugo–shinshō Zenji 佛護神照禪師・仏護神照禅師. After having followed

Régi hold fűrészáru szobor
Kogetsu Zenzai 古月禪材・古月禅材 (1667–1751),

Tōrei became the disciple of Hakuin Ekaku 白隱慧鶴・白隠慧鶴 (1686-1769), one of the major figures in the Rinzai revival of the eighteenth century. Many of Tōrei's works remain unpublished, even in Japan. His scholarly interests and the breadth of his knowledge, including Shinto, was unprecedented.

For further information about Tōrei, see:



Tōrei Enji—Shūmon mujintō ron
The Inexhaustible Lamp of Faith Faith and Awakening in the Japanese Rinzai Tradition
by Erez Hekigan Joskovich
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 42/2: 319–338 © 2015 Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture


PDF: The Biography of Shidō Munan Zenji
(Kaisan Shidō Munan Anju Zenji anroku)
Compiled by Fufu-anju Enji (Tōrei Enji, 1721-1792)
With an Introduction by Kobori Sōhaku
Trans. by Kobori Sōhaku & Norman A. Waddell
The Eastern Buddhist, New Series. 1970, NS03-1, pp. 122-138.


The discourse on the Inexhaustible lamp of the Zen school
by Zen Master Tōrei Enji; with commentary by Master Daibi* of Unkan; translated by Yoko Okuda**
Boston : C.E. Tuttle Co., 1996. 560 p.

*Shaku Taibi 釈大眉 (1882-?); Unkan 雲關
**Okuda Yōko 奥田陽子

"Based on the teachings of the great Zen Master Hakuin Zenji, The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School is an essential guide to Rinzai Zen training. It was written by Torei Enji Zenji (1720-1792), Hakuin's dharma successor. In this book, Master Torei begins by providing a concise history of the Rinzai school and lineage. He then details all the important aspects of Zen practice, most notably great faith, great doubt, and great determination. He also provides explanations of koan study and zazen (meditation) as a means of attaining true satori (enlightenment.). This edition includes extensive commentary by Master Daibi, providing both essential background information and clarification of several Buddhist concepts unfamiliar to the general reader. The result is an invaluable record of traditional Zen training."





“Vers la redécouverte de Tōrei” [Towards the Rediscovery of Tōrei],
Les Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, no. 7, 1993–94, Special Issue on Chan and Zen Buddhism, pp. 319–52 (in French).

Traité sur l'Inépuisable Lampe du Zen: Tōrei (1721–1792) et sa vision de l'éveil [Treatise on the Inexhaustible Lamp of Zen: Tōrei and his Vision of Awakening], 2 vols.
Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques vol. XXVIII. Brussels (Bruxelles) 1997: Institut Belge des Hautes Études Chinoises.

“Emerging from Non-Duality : Kōan Practice in the Rinzai Tradition since Hakuin.”
In The Kōan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright. Oxford and New York, 2000, pp. 244–79.

“Imagining Indian Zen: Tōrei's Commentary on the Ta-mo-to-lo ch'an ching and the Rediscovery of Early Meditation Techniques during the Tokugawa Era.”
In: Zen Classics: Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright. Oxford and New York, 2006, pp. 215–246.

“Beyond Awareness: Tōrei Enji's Understanding of Realization in the Treatise on the Inexhaustible Lamp of Zen, Chapter 6.”
In: Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings, edited by William Edelglass, and Jay L. Garfield. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 159–170.

Filial Piety with a Zen Twist: Universalism and Particularism Surrounding the Sutra on the Difficulty of Reciprocating the Kindness of Parents
Journal of Religion in Japan, 2013. 2 (1): 35–62.

This article examines the Sutra on the Difficulty of Reciprocating the Kindness of Parents (Fùmǔ ēn nánbào jīng 父母恩難報經, T 16 no. 684) and its reinterpretation by the Japanese Rinzai Zen monk Tōrei Enji 東嶺圓慈 (1721–1792). In the context of the Tokugawa period (1600–1867) where filial piety was upheld as one of the pillars of morality and Neo-confucian orthodoxy, Tōrei's commentary of this sutra skillfully combined the particularist understanding of filiality as limited to one's relatives with its broader construal as a universal attitude of reverence directed toward all sentient beings. The father is envisioned as the wisdom and the excellence of the Buddha, the mother as the compassionate vows of the Bodhisattva, and the children as those who emit the thought of awakening. Tōrei further pushed this interpretation by adding the distinct Zen idea that the initial insight into one's true nature needs to be surpassed and refined by perfecting the going beyond (kōjō 向上) phase of training, where the child/disciple's legacy and his indebtedness towards his spiritual mentors is recast in terms of overcoming one's attainments and attachment to them.

Immeasurable Devices: Their Treatment in the Damoduoluo chanjing and Further Distillation in Japanese Zen
Dharma Drum Journal of Buddhist Studies
16: June 2015, 63–94.

On the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Primary Approach: An Annotated Translation of Tōrei Enji's Shūmon mujintōron
(forthcoming book for the Kuroda Institute).

Tōrei Enji and the Construction of Rinzai Orthodoxy
(forthcoming book for the Kuroda Institute).


Works by Tōrei Enji


The Spur by Tōrei Enji
Translated by Trevor Leggett

Kaibaben 快馬鞭 A Swift Horse's Whip


The undying lamp of Zen : the testament of Zen master Torei
Translated by Thomas F. Cleary
Boston : Shambhala ; New York : Distributed in the U.S. by Random House, Inc., 2010.


1. The Source of Zen
2. Faith and Practice
3. Visionary States
4. True Realization
5. Passing Through Barriers
6. Progressive Transcendence
7. Working Application
8. Learning From a Teacher
9. Maturation
10. Circulation

Shūmon mujintō ron 宗門無盡燈論 Treatise on the Inexhaustible Lamp of Zen; On the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Primary Approach



Masumi Shibata: Les maitres du zen au Japon
Éds. G.-P. Maisoneuve & Larose, Paris, 1969,
Ch. XIII, Tōrei, pp. 133-137.

Michel Mohr
“Vers la redécouverte de Tōrei” [Towards the Rediscovery of Tōrei],
Les Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, no. 7, 1993–94, Special Issue on Chan and Zen Buddhism, pp. 319–52 (in French).

Michel Mohr
Traité sur l'Inépuisable Lampe du Zen: Tōrei (1721–1792) et sa vision de l'éveil [Treatise on the Inexhaustible Lamp of Zen: Tōrei and his Vision of Awakening], 2 vols.
Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques vol. XXVIII. Brussels (Bruxelles) 1997: Institut Belge des Hautes Études Chinoises.



Tōrei Zenji:
The Bodhisattva Vow

When I (a student of the Dharma) look at the real form of the universe,
all is the never-failing manifestation of the mysterious truth of Tathagata.
In any event, in any moment, and in any place,
none can be other than the marvellous revelation of its glorious light.

This realization made our founding teachers and virtuous Zen leaders extend tender care,
with the heart of worshipping,
to animals and birds, and indeed to all beings.
This realization teaches us that our daily food, drink, clothes, and protections of life
are the warm flesh and blood, the merciful incarnation of Buddha
Who can be ungrateful or not respectful to each and every thing, as well as to human beings!

Even though someone may be a fool,
be warm and compassionate.
If by any chance such a person should turn against us,
become a sworn enemy and abuse and persecute us,
we should sincerely bow down with humble language, in reverent belief that he or she is the merciful avatar of Buddha,
who uses devices to emancipate us from sinful karma
that has been produced and accumulated upon ourselves
by our own egoistic delusion and attachment
through countless cycles of kalpas.

Then on each moment's flash of our thought there will grow a lotus flower,
and on each lotus flower will be revealed a Buddha.
These Buddhas will glorify Sukhavati, the Pure Land, every moment and everywhere.

May we extend this mind over all beings
so that we and the world together
may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom.


Tōrei Zenji's Bodhisattva Vow

Disciples, when I humbly observe the true nature of things, all are the marvelous manifestation of the Tathagata's truth. Atom by atom, instant by instant, all are none other than his mysterious radiance. Because of this our virtuous ancestors extended loving care and reverence toward even such beings as birds and beasts. How, then, can we be but humbly grateful for the food, drink, and clothing that nourishes and protects us throughout the day, these being in essence the warm skin and flesh of the great masters, the incarnate compassion of the Buddha?

If it is so even with inanimate objects, how much more should we be kind and merciful towards human beings, even those who are foolish? Though they become our sworn enemies, reviling and persecuting us, we should regard them as bodhisattva manifestations who, in their great compassion, are employing skillful means to help emancipate us from the twisted karma we have produced over countless kalpas through our biased, self-centered views.

If we awaken in ourselves this deep, pure faith, offering humble words and taking sincere refuge in the Buddha, then with every thought there will blossom a lotus flower, each with a Buddha. These Buddhas will establish Pure Lands everywhere and reveal the radiance of the Tathagata beneath our very feet. May we extend this mind throughout the universe, so that we and all sentient beings may equally bring to fruition the seeds of wisdom.


Tōrei Zenji's Bodhisattva Vow
Translated by Robert Aitken
Honolulu Diamond Sangha

I am only a simple disciple,
but I offer these respectful words:

When I regard the true nature of the many dharmas,
I find them all to be sacred forms
of the Tathāgata's never-failing essence.
Each particle of matter, each moment,
is no other than the Tathāgata's inexpressible radiance.
With this realization, our virtuous ancestors
with compassionate minds and hearts,
gave tender care, to beasts and birds.
Among us, in our own daily lives,
who is not reverently grateful for the protections of life:
food, drink, and clothing!
Though they are inanimate things,
they are nonetheless the warm flesh and blood,
the merciful incarnations of Buddha.
All the more, we can be especially sympathetic
and affectionate with foolish people,
particularly with someone who becomes a sworn enemy
and persecutes us with abusive language.
That very abuse conveys the Buddha's boundless loving-kindness.
It is a compassionate device to liberate us entirely
from the mean-spirited delusions we have built up
with our wrongful conduct from the beginningless past.
With our open response to such abuse,
we completely relinquish ourselves,
and the most profound and pure faith arises.
At the peak of each thought a lotus flower opens,
and on each flower there is revealed a Buddha.
Everywhere is the Pure Land in its beauty.
We see fully the Tathāgata's radiant light
right where we are.
May we retain this mind
and extend it throughout the world
so that we and all beings
become mature in Buddha's wisdom.

The Sixth Patriarch painting and inscription: The Great Teacher Sixth Patriarch -- I'm pleased to say that today I'm absent.
Paper: 34.2 x 59.3 cm








Gautama Buddha & Manjushri






Zen jewel


Nin (Patience)
Signed Torei and with clam kao, sealed Unmon Rinzai hyakuhu za..., Torei and another seal
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
(120.3 x 27.3cm.)


Meditating Daruma
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: (36.83 × 49.53 cm)
LACMA, Gift of Leslie Prince Salzman (M.2006.207)