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西村惠信 Nishimura Eshin (1933-)

Eshin Nishimura is the former president of Hanazono University in Kyoto, Japan. He is a Zen priest, a leading scholar of the philosophical tradition known in the West as the Kyoto School, and a leading scholar in the dialogue between Zen Buddhism and Western philosophy.


PDF: Secrets of the Lotus: Studies in Buddhist Meditation
Edited by Donald K. Swearer
The Macmillan Company, New York, New York. 1971
Part II. Zen Meditation, by Eshin Nishimura, pp. 127-211.


Nishimura Eshin
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 12/2-3


Unsui: A Diary of Zen Monastic Life
drawings by Giei Satō; text by Eshin Nishimura; edited and with introduction by Bardwell L. Smith.
Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1973.


Embracing Earth while Facing Death
A Buddhist monk reflects on the limits of contemporary science.
by Eshin Nishimura
Harvard Divinity Bulletin
, Spring/Summer 2007 (Vol. 35, Nos. 2 & 3)

I am a Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest and scholar on Zen thought. I live in a small Zen temple in the countryside of Shiga Prefecture, the province next to Kyoto. My prefecture is well known, because it is near the biggest lake in Japan, called Biwa-ko, where the ninth International Conference of the Lake and Marsh was held in 2001.

Looking at the boundless space through a window on a plane from Japan to America recently, I was thinking of the smallness of a human existence, which lasts only for a number of decades and soon passes away without knowing anything about this infinite universe. Such a short lifespan is still comfortable for humans, as long as we enjoy our lives creatively and through art. As part of this task, religion and science each have been a driving force expanding the human desire for creativity throughout history.

Toward the end of the last century, the well-known historian Arnold Toynbee summarized the twentieth century as a "century of rapid advancement of natural science, and creative encounter of world religions." But Toynbee's admiration of the brilliant advancements of the twentieth century does not seem to be universally true. Human beings are now faced with a potential turning point in scientific progress, where scientific advances raise as many questions as they resolve.

The twenty-first century does not need to be, nor can it be, just an age of further steps in human technological achievement. It needs to be a century in which human beings stop their headlong rush ahead, plant their feet firmly, and, as an ancient Chinese proverb wisely says, "Stop walking to return to one's Self " (Taiho shūko, in Japanese). I firmly believe, therefore, that the twenty-first century should be a "century of deep considering." As Heidegger points out, human beings in our time truly seem to be running away from deep thinking, which is the essential nature of human existence. To reverse this tendency, some people want to recover what is missing in their thinking, to recover Heidegger's reflective thinking. Thus, they occasionally turn their gaze toward Buddhism, which teaches us to have a "right view" in order to investigate the reality of the world. In order to investigate this path toward right thinking, I shall begin with the most fundamental teaching of the Buddha, who taught the following in his "First Speech" to his five followers right after his Great Awareness of Reality, recorded in the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta:

The world is full of suffering. Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, sickness and death are suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering. To meet a man whom one hates is suffering, to be separated from a beloved one is suffering, to be vainly struggling to satisfy one's need is suffering. In fact, life that is not free from desire and passion is always involved with distress. This is called the Truth of Suffering. . . .

In order to enter into a state where there is no desire and no suffering, one must follow a certain path. The stages of this Noble Eightfold Path are right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. This is called the Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

Among these practices, right investigation through right concentration would be the most necessary to the contemporary human being, who constantly forgets to stop walking in order to watch a thing carefully, patiently. "To think" is a fundamental condition of man's existence: cogito ergo sum, as the French philosopher Descartes said. To think does not require any specific religious belief, but it does belong to each person as his or her ability.

Furthermore, it is the Buddha who followed such a human ability and pursued its implications for one's life. Through his deep thinking under the Bodhi tree, he discovered the root of human existence that is suffering (dukkha) and also recognized the root of suffering that is ignorance (avidyā).

Human beings today have begun to be aware of the reality of human suffering, but we are still not aware of how to think deeply about such a situation. Shin'ichi Hisamatsu, a leading Zen scholar of the Kyoto School, who was my teacher and a guiding influence during my college life, wrote:

The inner structure of humankind itself is based upon Antinomy. This is the core reason why humankind cannot overcome this limit or destiny by itself. . . . It is an authentic way of knowing the limit of humankind, that we be aware of ourselves as limited beings. Therefore, it is a matter of ignorance that we do not know of the limit of our existence. In this sense modern humankind is like the ignorant who is not aware of his own limits.1

Hisamatsu's indication reminds me of a saying of Kierkegaard's that "to be able to despair is a strong point of man." In Zen Buddhism, a master brings his disciple to great doubt or despair by refusing his questions and pushing him back onto himself instead. In this way, the disciple loses his ordinary self-ego. This state of non-self or unconscious self is a necessary precondition for finding an absolute self existing beyond the ordinary self. Unless humans break through this great mass of doubt, they will never be able to reach their final freedom.

Linji (?866), the founder of the Linji (Rinzai) School of Zen, preached to his disciples as follows: "On your lump of red flesh is a true man without rank who is always going in and out of the face of every one of you. Those who have not yet proved him, look, look!"2 Here Linji impatiently encourages students to look to their true selves. According to Linji, one's "true self " exists neither inside nor outside of a physical body, but goes in and out through the sense organs at each moment of daily life. Thus, such a true self exists neither in the physical body, nor somewhere out of the body. But where does it exist? It is this true self, understood as neither existing inside or outside of the body, which Zazen meditation seeks to explore.

There are many well-known episodes of how Zen monks realized the "original self " that transcends the physical limits in each monk's daily life. Examples such as listening to the sound of a temple bell, smelling the fragrance of an apricot tree, looking at one's reflection on the water, having one's leg broken by the slamming of a door by a master, and so on reveal the various ways in which Zen Buddhism explains the discovery of one's true self.

All these happenings occur not in "still meditation" but in the motion of daily life. The true self is almost always discovered in the course of regular, everyday experience. This is the reason why Keiji Nishitani (1900-90), a Kyoto School philosopher of Zen Buddhism, defined religion as the "Real self-awareness of Reality by itself." And thus a Zen master teaches that there is no reality other than this true self, which is often realized when the doubtful self created through practice meets with nature through daily experience.

The Zen master Dōgen, founder of Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhism, wrote in a similar vein in the poem "Original Self " (Sanshōdōei in Japanese):

In Spring, Self is follower,
In Summer moon,
In Autumn, little cuckoo
In Winter, in coldness of Snow!

It is crucial to note that, in Zen Buddhism, one's true self is witnessed by and through surrounding nature; or, in other words, nature is the content of no-self, or true self.

It is well known that Descartes cut the medieval teleological worldview into two parts, namely, the world of "res cogitans," which has its essence in thought or consciousness, and that of "res extensa," which has its essence in physical extension.3 With this division, Descartes's dualistic worldview was established, separated into matter and the "ego subjectivity" or substance of man, and humans began to stand in opposition to the nature that surrounds humankind. And, in so doing, humans became a solitary island floating in the dead ocean of "things."

As a result, science began to be able to treat and manipulate nature as it liked, so that science has advanced in amazing speed up to the present. The object of science is thoroughly a "world of the dead," which is moved by a series of laws of nature, from which science itself cannot be free. This attitude has continued in varying degrees to the present day.

In medieval times and before, the green planet Earth used to be like a unique greenhouse, protected from the dead nature of the universe. But since the beginning of the modern era brought in by Descartes, humans have begun to break apart the precious glass of our greenhouse through science and technology. Our planet has now come to stand for a dead aspect of nature.

In this way, this earth of living beings is now tending toward the world of death. In the near future, living beings may no longer be able to prosper here anymore, and only mechanical beings and the most resilient of organisms may be capable of surviving our fury of technological creation.

Today, in the midst of science's increasing knowledge, we may come to see that, while the debt to science is increasing, human unhappiness is also, unfortunately, increasing. With such a serious global situation at hand, scientists themselves, along with philosophers and many others, have begun to think about the limits of science.

Needless to say, even a scientist is a human being. No matter how committed she is, as an objective scientist, to a picture of nature, a scientist is still a person who lives in the emotional and physical world of her own daily life. Even inside the laboratory, a scientist keeps her religiosity, even if she remains a committed atheist. Even a medical doctor can be a patient, and if his doctor told him frankly that his disease was cancer, he might be shaken by the doctor's pronouncement, even though he had asked his doctor to tell him the truth.

And so it is true that nature is a mysterious mass even for the scientist, thereby opening up an infinite possibility by and for scientists. It is this infinite-possibility space that must force us all to begin to think of the limits of science.

It is true that our current global crisis is not merely the fault of science. It results also from a shallow understanding of human existence, for which, I posit, religion is responsible.

Nishitani explained that traditional religion lacks an understanding of the human experience of death and that religion needs to "re-examine its worldview." He said: "In ordinary religion, God has been thought to be a bottomless fountain of all living beings. Therefore the dead phase of the universe is nothing but the remaining shade. . . ."4

I find a certain irony in Nishitani's writing: the phase of death, which is a fundamental essence hidden within religion, has now been awakened by science instead. It is truly ironic that human beings, who have thus far proceeded by means of an unlimited instinctual impulse, are now meeting with the deeply nihilistic part of human existence, which is somehow fundamentally connected to the essence of religion.

In fact, science and religion have a common root in the "reality of death," according to Nishitani:

Up until now, religions have tended to put the emphasis exclusively on the aspect of life. "Soul" has been viewed only from the side of life. Notions of "personality" and "Spirit," too, have been based on this aspect of life. And yet from the very outset life is at one with death. This means that all living things, just as they are, can be seen under the form of death.5

We interpret science as having a structure of self-reflection. But, not only should science learn about self-doubt, it should learn to open itself more deeply to nature, so that nature might reveal its own reality to humankind. In Gelassenheit, Heidegger called for "letting being be" (which some translate as "releasement"):

Letting being be in man's relation to (natural) things and his attitude toward opening himself to the secret of Nature indicates an interrelation between things. This attitude gives us the ability to stay in this natural world in an entirely different way from the past. This attitude promises us some new root and ground, on which man stands and stays in the world of technology without ill effect. . . .

However, letting being be in man's relation to (natural) things and his attitude to open himself to the secret of Nature is not entirely easy. It does not just happen. . . . It is only possible with the deep and continual thinking filled with spirit.6

As Heidegger realized, humankind now has to take its hand away from nature, to learn an openness to the hidden dimensions of nature, so that nature will reveal its secrets. For this purpose, humanity must work toward a deep and continual thinking filled with spirit.

Buddhism calls such an openness the "openness of Śūnyatā," which is the basic precondition for having good relations with nature. Only in this way will nature also be released from human bondage and return to its own home ground. Nishitani wrote:

In general, science has its uniqueness of standpoint when it understands the world as persistently objective and proves it through evidence. And yet that standpoint is none other than to investigate a world from inside that very world. Such a standpoint is still "immanent" in a world. . . . To be free from such an immanence, we accept the scientific standpoint as it concerns each of us, and through the deepening process of acceptance, we have to break through the limits of science within the world. Through this process, the standpoint of science will be realized and will open a realm of transcendence. In so doing science shall arrive at its essence, which is not "scientific" in any ordinary sense. . . . Such a direction of negation simultaneously becomes one with the direction in which all phenomenal beings are showing their original Realities, and there the fundamental realm of the Reality is opened up.7

Here Nishitani points toward the transcendental world, which belongs neither to the scientific worldview nor to the religious worldview, although, simultaneously, both views belong to that transcendental world, to that sense of Reality. D. T. Suzuki explains it in a different way. "Science today has to change its concept," he writes. "It must treat its object as a living being and not as dead, not as what is killed but as what is living."

I hope for a new direction within science and religion. Although it is still the exception rather than the rule, contemporary science seems to be moving in new directions. Issues such as global warming, air pollution, nuclear energy, information technology, biotechnology, ecosystem studies, and so on are becoming the main topics of our day, and it is none other than the scientists themselves who are now afraid of the awful situation that we have brought about for our living earth.

Scientists are now facing "death" and the possible demise of our planet—realities that have been essentially hidden in science itself. Scientists today also seem to be seeking other possibilities for human happiness than can be created or illuminated by science. It is astonishing to see many Japanese scientists today so interested in Buddhism; they are gathering in large numbers for lectures on Buddhism that are being sponsored, in fact, by other scientists.

For example, it is now not uncommon for medical doctors to seek and raise awareness about what "death" means, such that medical science is now including the issue of death within its field. This has led to a host of new discussions within medical ethics, which are greater in depth and broader in scope than ever before.

Religion, on the other hand, is changing to be more existential and "in the present" than before, in the sense that it now concerns itself just as much with one's present condition as it formerly did with the afterlife. Science, which has for many years ignored human questions about life, now appears to be moving into the domain of traditional religion. Scientists are investigating human subjectivity and concerning themselves with the tremendous influence science exercises in human social, political, and intellectual affairs.

Such a change in humanity's attitude is beautifully summarized by Nishitani as the "un-mythologizing of mythology and the existentialization of science." In these new developments I see hope for a creative relationship between science and religion, a deep relationship that has never happened before in the history of the human species.


1. Shini'ichi Hisamatsu, Collected Works, vol. 3, Enlightenment and Creation (in Japanese) (Risōsha, [1970–80] ), 47 ff.
2. The Recorded Sayings of Ch'an Master Lin-chi Hui-chao of Chen Prefecture, trans. Ruth Fuller Sasaki (Institute for Zen Studies, 1975), 3.
3. See Keiji Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness, trans. Jan Van Bragt (University of California Press, 1982), 10.
4. Keiji Nishitani, Works, vol. 11, Science and Zen (in Japanese) (Sōbunsha, 1987), 231.
5. Ibid., 50.
6. The translation from Heidegger's Gelassenheit is my own.
7. Nishitani, Works, 250.



Eshin Nishimura
Professor of Department of Buddhism, Hanazono University



1. Historical Root of Hakuin Zen Tradition

2. Self-confidence and its Practice

3. Evil state of illusion

4. Definite awareness of the Reality

5. Passing through the Patriarchal gates

6. Non-attachment to the ultimate

7. How to live the ordinary life

8. Succession of Buddha-Dharma

9. Breeding of the Seed of Buddha



Tourie-Enji (東嶺圓慈 1721-1792) is one of the greatest disciples under Hakuin-Ekaku 白隱慧鶴 (1685-1768), a restorer of Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa era. He was especially respected among Hakuin’s disciples as Delicate Tourei(微細の東嶺 misai-no-Tourei) for his carefulness in his Koan study (公案工夫 Kouan-kuhuu). Maybe it is because of Tourei’s inborn intelligence.

According to the Tourei’s biography, upon arriving at Shouin-ji 松蔭寺 for the first time, great master Hakuin asked Tourei to help his preparation for the discourse upon Kidouroku (虛堂錄, Record of Hsu-t’ang chih-yu 虛堂智愚 1185-1269) for coming new semester, since Hakuin knew that Tourei had already learned almost all of Patriarchal records such as personal history, life episode, dialogue and so on, by heart at his age of twenty-three.

Five years later, twenty-eight years old, Torei’s weak body got a heavy disease from too much private meditation at some layman’s house in Kyoto. He came to know that his life is comming to an end within three to five years, so he wrote down two volumes of manuscript entitled “The Theory of Unestinguished Lamp of Zen Buddhism (宗門無盡정論 Shuumon-mujintou-ron: for short, TULZ is used in this paper”) taking only thirty days. Recovering from disease, Tourei intended to burn up his manuscript, but Hakuin who thought this would be a kind enough guidance for Zen student under Koan Zen study put a stop it.

“TULZ” was published in 1800 that is eight years after Tourei’s death, though Tourei himself had prohibited his disciples to open his manuscript to the public. It is our good fortune, however, to have this kind of rare systematic text book of Koan study published by his lay disciple after Torei’s passing away, so that Hakuin’s creative method of Koan Zen study is still at hand today in its original form, so that unestinguished lamp of Zen tradition is still living even in our days.

TULZ is not an ordinary record of Patriarchal teaching done from the standpoint of the truth of the first principle [第一議諦 or daiichigitai in Jp.] like other texts, but the text described by Tourei’s own hand for future use. Therefore it is written from standpoint of the truth of second principle [第二議諦 or dainigital in Jp.]. He arranges various kinds of Patriarchal episodes along with the procedure of Zen study from the entrance to the final attainment of Reality, so that Rinzai Zen students might be able to go along same path as the Patriarchs took for their deepening of Zen mind.


1. Historical Root of Hakuin Zen Tradition

The first chapter of “TULZ” is entitled “ Root of Zen Transmission”(宗由 shuuyuu in Jp.) in which Tourei describes general history that is a transmission tree of Rinzai Zen tradition starting with Buddha and end up with his own master hakuin-ekaku.

Like other religions, Rinzai Zen takes importance upon its traditional history as well as its teaching. Or it might be better to say that history of Zen transmission itself is nothing but the essence of Zen Buddhism. Because Zen transmission has been only achieved through the indirect transmission of existential essence of Zen from master to his disciples, as existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard ever pointed out by saying that the direct transmission is impossible in the case of transmission of the Truth. Therefore the discontinued continuity is only the form of transmission of the Buddha’s Lamp. This means that there is no so-called continual history in Zen tradition but the series of each personal experience.

When Tourei entitles the first chapter “The Reason of Zen tradition” (or 宗由 shuyu in Jp.), “Reason” here means the historical base on which Zen Buddhism stands. Though this chapter is the historical description of Rinzai Zen transmission, it is still not a mere history of Rinzai Zen, but a ground on which Rinzai Zen is surely based. In fact, Tourei’s way of description is not historical but simple arrangement of episodes in the life of Patriarchs. In this specific reason, a history of Rinzai Zen tradition is what is beyond the history itself

The specific reason why historical description could still be super-historical is because it is not a simple document of the Patriarchs, but the records of particular situations in which each Patriarch came to realization of Reality, and therefore they are called “Ancient Samples and Episodes” 古則話頭 that is so-called Koan (公案). Each Kouan (episode) is what has happened once in history and yet it happened as a full manifestation of Reality in each case. Therefore, Shuyu (宗由 or Root of tradition) does not mean mere origin of Rinzai Zen history, but the “Root” where the essence of Zen is manifested through the individual experience.

Therefore, what Tourei tries to describe in the first Chapter is not a simple introduction of this text, but the presentation of the essence of this text in which all other following chapters are also based upon.

In the very beginning of this chapter, Tourei admires Buddha’s declaration of the nobility of his individual existence right after his birth as follows;

Stop talking! Your saying already betrays this Matter too much. Master Yun-men Wan-yen ever criticized you saying; “If I were there with you at that moment, I would club him and give it to dog to eat. I wish you kept this world in peace”. (Eshin Nishimura Text published from The Institute for Zen Studies, 1992, page 24)

In this way, Tourei demonstrates his admiration of Buddgha’s birth in the negative way of saying to stress the significance of Buddha’s coming into this world. All these way of saying shows Tourei’s subjective standpoint, which is free from the tradition within the definite framework of Zen tradition. Here we may see the unique attitude of Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk to go beyond their own tradition for the purpose of going down to deep horizon where they can really meet with all patriarchs of history.


2. Self-confidence and its Practice

Second chapter of TULZ is entitled the self-confidence and its practice [信修 sinshu in Jp.] where Tourei discusses the inevitable preparation for Zen student intending to begin Koan Zen study.

Here I dare to translate this particular Chinese term 信 not belief of faith as ordinarily done, because in Zen study the term 信 (sin) does not mean so-called religious act done toward some outer Being beyond man, but somehow means self-confidence for the Reality which is hopefully realized at the end of his way of Koan Zen study course. Torei writes as follows;

If a man wishes to achieve his path of Zen, in the very beginning, he has to have great root of self-confidence (大信根 Dai-shin-kon). Then what is this confidence?
A confidence about the existence of the same inborn nature and infinite Wisdom as all Buddhas ever had. A confidence of the fact that there is neither big nor small in each individual’s religious ability (根 kon, “root”), neither wise nor fool in each individual daily religious capacity (幾 ki), so that all those who go this way should achieve the goal without exception. A confidence that along with the deepening procedure of meditation, there easily happens various kinds of evil delusions, and if a man took it as the ideal sate of the way (悟りSatori), he would suddenly fall down to the second or non-Buddhist level of the goal. A confidence that when time has come and man’s effort has fully devoted, Buddha-nature is revealed by itself, so that man does not need to use his intellectual judgement anymore. A confidence that no matter how buddha-nature is suddenly revealed, unless a man has a chance to see a Zen master to pass the Gates set by ancient Patriarchs, he would walk through the wrong way of life. A confidence that there is still one more small step (些子向上の一著子 sasi-koujyouno-ichijyakusu) remains even after you finish passing through all those patriarchal gates. A confidence that no matter how man attains this special step, there is deep delicacy in the daily activity following each individual different personality. A confidence that a matter of Zen transmission has most important significance so that man should transmit the lamp to the disciples and not monopolize it for himself. A confidence that each part of daily life is nothing but retraining of his Dharma, and carry on that daily training with him so that Dharma might not be extinguished in the future.(Nishimura’s Text, page 41)

In this way, Tourei encourages us to have confidence as a fundamental condition of whole series of Zen study, therefore this second Chapter is not a part of TULZ anymore, but covers whole system of the text. Here we may see the characteristic of this text, which should be called unsystematic system of Koan Zen study. And this kind of structure can be seen in each Chapter of TULZ.

In this second Chapter Tourei put stress also upon the importance of Vows of Bodhisattva (菩薩の警願 bosatu-no-seigan) as the fundamental condition for the beginner of Zen study. Needless to say, Vows of Boddhisattva is most indispensable to Zen study as Mahayana Buddhist practice, otherwise Zen study comes to be merely the self-centered. He writes as follows;

After the above confidence firmly settled, student must make Vows to himself not to abandon his study until he finally arrives at the achievement of his study.
Not to have any idle mind from his study, no matter how long his journey of suffering would continue.
Not to be controlled by other Buddhist teaching even though he might fall into hell because of his deed. Not to fall into non-Buddhist view by being satisfied with easy realization of Satori experience which is mere evil state of delusion.
To practice Bodhisattva deed after once he achieved his study, and so on. (Nishimura’s Text, page 42)


3. Evil state of illusion

In this chapter, Tourei talks about the danger of the evil state, which appears along with the way of koan study. This dangerous state of mind called Genkyou (現境 or literally translated the appearing state) is already taught as devil state (魔境 or makyon in Jp.) in the Buddhist canons or texts such as the 40th Chapter. of Part one of Maha-prajna-sutra (大般苦經), the 10th volume of Surangama-stura (首楞嚴經) and the 8th volume of Mo-ho-chih-kuan (摩訶止觀)

Among various kinds of evil state of mind, Tourei calls our attention more to the good state (善境界) or zenkyoukai in Jp.) than the evil, because man can easily guard himself from the unpleasant condition of his feeling, while he enjoys himself whenever he feels to be comfortable with the good feeling even though it is nothing but the illusion. Therefore, pleasant illusion which Zazen meditation brings into man is thought to be very dangerous.

Some examples of good state of mind are taken out by Tourei himself such as the view that the existing beings are all empty (法空の見), view that everything is equal (一味平等の見), view that the Reality is being manifested throughout the universe (現成底の見), view that this body is perfect by itself (當體卽是の見), and so on. All these states of view are only possible through deep meditation practice, therefore we should say this is the disturbance, or the necessary evil, which is happen on the way to the real goal of Zen way.

Medieval Japanese Zen Master Musou-soseki (夢窓疎石 1275-1351) is also talking about Madou (魔道 or Evil-path) in his Text “Muchuu-mondou” (夢中問答 or A Dialogue in Dream) as follows;

There are two kinds of Evil that are inner evil and outer evil. Outer evil means the Evil king (魔王 or Maou) and his people (魔民) who are coming from outside the Buddhist student and disturb him. The Evil king is called 天魔(天魔 or Tenma) since he is staying in the sixth Heaven (第六天) and so-called 天狗 (Tengu or long-nosed goblin) are his people. That Evil king thinks all sentient being as his relatives, therefore he intends to disturb the sentient being who makes effort to enter the Buddha’s way..... Even if there were no such disturbance from outside, in such a case as Buddhist student has delusion in his mind, or has attachment with incorrect view, or has self-pride of his achieved state, or sinks into meditation, or is proud of wisdom, or hopes to be released from suffering only for himself in the idea of his Arahat, or falls to the second level of compassion to the othe r(愛見の慈悲), and so on. All these belong to the inner evil since they are all disturbances for the ultimate Bodhi (or 無上菩提 or Mujyou-bodai in Jp.). (Nishimura’s translation and comment of Muchuu-mondou published NHK Press, 1998, page 29)

All these inner and outer evils are what might usually happen also in the process of Christian mysticism as is called “The dark night of the soul” by Mystics. Zen students also have to go once through this dangerous state.


4. Definite awareness of the Reality

An anthentic evidence (or 實證 jisshou in Jp.) of existence of Reality realized as a whole bodily experience is needless to say a core of whole procedure of koan Zen Practice, and that would happen when hard discipline under the Koan study reaches climax. A well-known phrase: “A great awareness (or 大悟 taigo in Jp.)” is only possible amid great darkness or mass of doubt (or 大疑 taigi in Jp.)” is a principle of Koan study Zen (or 看話禪 Kanna Zen) demonstrated by Ta-hui Tuang-kao (大慧宗高 1089-1163) in Sung dynasty China, and Japanese Koan Zen which was re-systematized by Hakuin-ekaku is direct descendant of this tradition.

In particular, Tourei is putting emphasis upon the necessity of visit with an authentic Zen master (明師 meisi or 正師 shousi in Jp.) whenever a student arrives at this experience of Self-realization, otherwise he will fall into the tremendously dangerous cave of self satisfaction. Tourei writes as follows;

Upon attaining a realization of Self Nature (見性 kenshou in Jp.), Zen student has to visit an authentic master in order to remove the delusion of self-awareness (悟中迷 gochuu-no-mei). In old day, Huang-lung Szu-hsin (黃龍死心
1043-1114) told that when you meet one delusion, you mast gain one awareness. After you attain an awareness, you have to be aware of both delusion in awareness(悟中迷 gochuu-no-mei) and awareness in delusion(迷中悟 meichuu-no-go). Therefore you should know that the time to visit an authentic master or the time to start to study in more authentic way. (Nishimura’s Text, page 67)

Reading above quotation, we might know that even though the self-realization of Reality which is known as Satori (悟り) in Japanese seems to be a core of Koan Zen practice, it is merely one stage which happens half way of the whole process of Rinzai Zen study where the more important Zen study really begins.


5. Passing through the Patriarchal gates

This Chapter called “Toukan” (透關) is so to speak the checking upon the attained state of awareness (悟り Satori in Jp.) by reflection on the mirror of Buddha’s or Patriarchal paradigm. As well-known among people today, to deepen one’s awareness of Reality through following the foot prints which Buddha or Patriarchs have ever marked is called Kouan Zen practice (公案禪修行) and this is no other than the proper method which Rinzai Zen tradition started from Sung dynasty China and still practices today in Japanese Rinzai Zen.

In fact, Japanese Rinzai Zen has been able to maintain its traditional Lamp of Dharma only because of this somehow artificial looking method which was systematized by Hakuin-ekaku who was so much worried about declining of Japanese Rinzai Zen as he violently criticized Bankei-youkaku’s unique “Unborn Zen” (盤珪永琢の不生禪 Hushou Zen), Ungo-kuyou’s “Meditating on Buddha Zen (雲居希膺の念佛禪 Nembutu Zen) or Eihei-Dougen’s Meditation-only Zen (永平道元の只管打坐 Sikan-taza) calling them “a modern blind priest living in nothingness only (近代斷無の해僧 Kindai danmu no kassou)” or “the evil party of silent meditation (默照の邪黨 Mokushou no jyatou)” and so on.

Tourei writes in this Chapter as follows;

Today, we easily see Zen brothers who misunderstand Zen as the Wisdom which transcends the rational understanding (沒意智 motuichi), and assert that since Zen Buddhism has been transmitted outside scriptures, it does not need to use any Buddhist scripture. Those people do not realize that if Zen were transmission outside Scripture, it should also accept inside. If “outside Scripture” could not accept inside Scripture, that Outside would also not be true. Why is it so? Because when a mirror is bright enough, it reflects any object whatever it might be. So in the case when object does not appear in the mirror, it means that mirror is not bright. Nonetheless, you sometime refuse the object to hide the darkness of the mirror. This is never the view of great path of Buddhism. In the same way, in the Scripture, there is contained deep teaching of Buddha or Patriarchs, which often points at the disturbance of your path of Zen study. But only because your awareness of Reality is not yet clear, you ignore the Golden words of Buddha and are unable to research the deepest meaning of Scripture. What I mean here is not take Scriptures as the main object of study, but take them as bright mirror. It is important to reflect Self-nature upon the Teaching of Buddha and Patriarchs and also to reflect the Teaching upon the Self-nature. In so doing, both Self-nature and Teaching should be most clear. (Nishimura’s Text, page 81)

The attitude of Zen student toward Koan should be same as Tourei talks about Buddhist scripture as above quoted. This particular Chapter of TULZ commands us to reflect the state of awareness of Self-nature (Reality) upon the Koan so that Self-nature is examined if it is clear enough. But as Tourei writes to study Koan is not the final purpose of Zen study but to reflect the Koan upon the Self-nature to examine if Self-nature is clear enough.

For the purpose of bringing student to the ultimate attainment of self realization of Reality (大悟徹底), Hakuin systematized traditional paradigmatic episodes (古則話) into the more effective order (公案體系). Koan system itself is, however not opened in any document form, but secretly transmitted through Nissitu-sanzen (入室參禪) or private interview of student with Roshi (老師) in small room of the monastery. And contents of so-called seventeen hundred Koans (千七百則の公案) are told to be different each other according to the two main branches, that is to say Inzan-branch (隱山系) and Takujyu-branch (卓州系), that were separated under Gasan-jitou (峨山慈棹 1727-1797) who is the one of Hakuin’s Greatest disciple.

However, both branches are at least keeping the fundamental Koan system which Hakuin set for his students. Or it would be better to say that Hakuin confirmed Koan system which had already been developed by the Japanese Rinzai Zen patriarchs in early days of Japanese Zen such as En’ni-ben’nen (圓爾辨圓 1202-1280) or Nampo-jyoumain (南浦紹明 1235-1308). These Patriarchs divided Chinese Koans into three groups according to their function, namely Richi (理致 or Ultimate of Truth), Kikan (機關 or Skillful Method) and koujyon (向上 or Non-attachment).

“Richi” is the group of words, which show the True Reality and most of them are extracted from Buddhist scripture and Patriarchal record. All Koan of Richi are the theoretical expression of Buddhist theology or State of Zen mind, so students practice Zazen meditation (坐禪) reflecting his mind upon the Koan so that he will realize authentic meaning of each phrase through his bodily experience of awareness (Satori 悟り or Kenshou 見性 in Jp.)

“Kikan” is the group of the episodes by which student knows how the Patriarchs of early days of China came to self realization of Reality, and by refelcting upon those stories through Practice of Zazen meditation, he might attain the living mind of the Patriarch or Kassoi (活祖意) which is called Satori.

“Koujyou” is the group of Koan through which student wipes the dust which he get by above two groups koan. In other words, student has to remove so called the attachment of Buddha-view (Bukken 佛見 in Jp.) or Dharma-view (Hokken 法見) or his Pride of Ultimate attainment of Reality so that he might return to what Buddha or Patriarchs really taught which is nothing but original Ordinariness (Heijyoutei 平常底).

Hakuin opened these three divisions into the five, that is to say Hossin (法身 or dharma-kaya), Kikan (機關 or Skill), Gonsen (言詮 or Word expression), Nantou (難透 or difficult to pass through) and Koujyou (向上 or Non-attachment).


6. Non-attachment to the ultimate

As I already mentioned above, the qualitatively different path still remained for the student as a final part of his Zen study jhourney and it is called Kojyon (向上). A well-known phrase: “This particular path of Koujyou has never been transmitted by any past Saint” (向上之一路, 千聖不傳). This path is specially called “Smallness of Koujyou” (向上之些子) which means that this path is the entirely different from the preceding path where student has passed, or it would be better to be said that this path is the total negation of what has been experienced before. Therefore student should not continue his quantitative progress of path walked but jump into the entirely different realm of quality. Chinese Patriarchs teach this jump by saying: “Have one more step at the top of hundred feet pole!” Here Tourei writes as follows;

 Here is a path of non-attachment. This is called the One which even patriarchs never transmitted before. ..... This is what all Patriarchs ever transmitted from one to the other. (Nishimura’s Text, page 92)

What Tourei mentions here seems to be somehow paradoxical, but this is the essence of Zen transmission. However, as a matter of fact, such Self realization of Reality is never able to be transmitted from man to man directly but only transmitted through indirectly transmitted as an existential philosopher Soeren Kierkegaard ever pointed out. Therefore, we may realize that Koan system itself is not the object of study as it is mere foot-prints of Patriarchs and not the Reality of Patriarch himself. Student should not follow such a shadow of the Reality. Instead, he should jump out of traditional transmission after all. This might be the deep significance of the small path of non-attachment.


7. How to live the ordinary life

Next chapter of TULZ is entitled Rikiyuu (力用 or daily Use) in which Torei talks about the way of living daily life for the student who achieved his Zen study. A student who came to be free from tradition and returned to his own self has to live his daily life authentically (履踐分明 risen-hunmyou in Jp.) His ordinary daily life has to be the continuity of Right meditation (正念相續 Shounen-souzoku in Jp.).

As Bodhi-Dharma says, There are many who attain the Buddha’s Way, but very few who are practicing it. And, moreover, this practice should have no traces (沒종跡 Mosshouseki in Jp.). Torei calls this kind of daily use “Wisdom-use beyond scale (格外の知用 kakugai no chiyuu)” because nobody knows his Saint-ness.


8. Succession of Buddha-Dharma

 In this Chapter of Succession, Tourei discusses the Importance of Succession of Buddhas Lamp. Succession (師承 Shijyou in Jp.) means to succeed to the Wisdom-life of Buddha (佛の慧命 Butu-no-emyou in Jp.) from certain Zen master who is supposed to be a carrier of Zen Buddhist tradition. For this very reason, student who lives his life in the daily use of attained Reality has to go out of his home for searching authentic Zen master. If student kept staying within his enjoyment of Awareness of Reality, he would remain inside of the mere self-satisfaction. Such a self-satisfaction is called the “Heresy of Selfish awareness without Master” (無師獨悟の外道 musidokugo-no-gedou in Jp.). Tourei writes upon this danger as follows;

 A matter of Succession is the most central. Ancient Zen student who arrives at the source of Self-awareness and passes a certain numbers of Patriarchal gates, used to travel throughout the country without any doubt about Reality and have a discussion or fix to the prices of commodities after discussion (問答商量 Mondou-shouryou in Jp.) with any person he meet. But sometime later on, he happened to meet Great Zen master who has Great eyes of Dharma (大眼目 daiganmoku in Jp.), and was compelled to realize the essence of Zen existing in completely different realm that is called Non-attachment, from the Reality he had held until that time. Then he quits his travelling and begins his sincere study under the Great master. In this way, he arrives at Unmovable confidence of his reality. This is the time of Succession (師承). Since that time, he lives with unforgettable thanks to the master about the kindness he received. Such a student should be called “Dharma-successor” (法嗣 Hassu in Jp.). the Patriarchs of Zen tradition all the same have transmitted Fruit of Zen in this way. (Nishmura’s Text, page 119)

From above quotation, we may know that the horizon where succession of Patriarchal lamp become possible is even under the bottom of egoistic self where individual personality is broken into the universal Non-self which is common with master’s Non-self. This is what Wu-men Hui-kai (無門慧開 1183-1150) writes in his “We-men-kuan” (無門開 Mumonkan in Jp.) like “To walk hand in hand with the traditional Patriarchs, and to see the things with same eyes of Patriarch’s and to listen with same ears”.

In other word, Succession is not possible so far as the master and the student stand in opposition to each other, but only possible when student comes down to the transcendentally deep level where he may touch directly with transcendental Non-self of the Master. As we already studied in the above Chapter, this transcendence is only possible with one important step beyond the ultimate self realization of the Reality which was called Koujyou or Non-attachment. However to arrive at such complete level of Non-attachment is so hard that even Wu-tsu Fa-yen (五祖法演 ?-1104) says; “I have studied Zen for twenty years, and now I feel the shame to know my incompleteness (我參二十年, 今方職羞).


9. Breeding of the Seed of Buddha

In this chapter entitled “Chouyon 長養” or Breeding of the seed of Buddha, Torei talks about importance of cultivation of Buddha-seed which student sowed deep in his body through his long Zen meditation. He writes as follows;

Yuan-wu Ko-chin (환悟克勤 1063-1135) says; “Ancient Masters used to live their lives in the humble hermitage or stone cave and take poor meals prepared in broken pans, after he attained Buddha-way (佛道). They never hoped to be known in the world and occasionally spew a word to switchover student’s mind to transmit Buddha’s Dharma”. Therefore, what Zen student has to do is only to
breed the Buddha-seed through many years. Do not like to build a monastery for the purpose of accepting more students. (Nishimura’s Text, page 127)

Torei is then taking a number of examples of ancient Patriarchs who hid themselves in the deep mountain or amid the secular world for many years such as the six Patriarch Hui-nung (六祖慧能638-713)’s fifteen years in the South countryside, Nan-yang Hui-chung (南陽慧忠 ?-775)’s forty years, Ta-mei Fa-chang (大梅法常 752-839)’s thirty years, and so on.


10. Currency

 The final Chapter of TULZ is the conclusion or the End of long Path of Zen study. Or we should say that it was the ultimate purpose to begin study of Zen when a student was standing at the gate of Zen Path. Since Zen Buddhism is based upon the Mahayana Buddhist thought, no matter how this particular branch is hoping to realize a Reality in his own-self and therefore it might be called the religious way of Self-inquiry (己事究明の行道) lasting throughout a whole life, it should be done for the salvation of all sentient Beings. Here the title of this Chapter “Currency” (流通 Ruzuu in Jp.) means the spread of the Buddha Dharma all over this earth.

However Currency of Buddha Dharma might not be the same as so-called religious Mission or social service done under the name of religion. For Tourei, “currency” actually means transmission of Unextinguished Lamp of Zen (in fact, this was the title of his work) to only a few students. Torei writes as follows;

 Yen-tou chuan-huo (巖頭全豁 828-887) says’ “Whenever you intend to demonstrate Great teaching of Buddha, you have to let it issue from your own heart each by each, so that it fills the whole heaven and earth for the sake of all other beings. “I hope that Buddha’s Dharma would last forever by the currency that is possible in a way of gaining of an authentic Seed of Dharma. What I worry is the Buddha Dharma is now in danger like the eggs been piled up! I really do not hope that Buddha Dharma extinguish so easily in future. Situation is like the case that the several persons are traveling through the stormy field. And the all lanterns are almost going to be blown out by the storm. However, if there were one person in the party gives his effort only to concentrate his mind upon a lantern not to extinguish, all other people would be saved by that one lantan. (Nishimura’s Text, page 131)

As Tourei teaches here in its most impressive example, “Currency” does not mean to scatter Zen to the masses of world, but maintain the fruit and its seed within deep individual person so that his existence itself could naturally be a shining Lamp for the world of Darkness. This is nothing but what Zen Patriarchs have taught as “The Great Compassion of Non-object” (無緣の大悲 Muen no daihi) which is entirely different from ordinary Compassion occasionally given to a particular Object (衆生緣の慈悲 Shujyouen no jihi). And Tourei here stresses the importance of this specific sort of Compassion as an Ultimate purpose of Zen study.