What's wrong with Rinzai?

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  • Shui_Di
    • Apr 2008
    • 210

    What's wrong with Rinzai?

    Hi Jundo...

    I have a question....

    What's wrong with Rinzai school?

    Is Rinzai school wrong?

    Because, I found that Master Dogen in Shobogenzo (Shasta abbey version, page 2), admit that Master My?zen (from Rinzai school) alone was correctly Transmitting the
    unsurpassed Dharma of the Buddha.

    ....In my own case, shortly after I gave rise to the intention to seek for the
    Dharma, I went searching everywhere throughout our country for a knowledgeable
    spiritual teacher until I chanced to meet Master My?zen of Kennin-ji Temple. The
    autumn frosts and the spring blossoms quickly passed each other for nine cycles, as
    I absorbed from him a bit about the Rinzai tradition. As chief disciple of the
    Ancestral Master Eisai, Master My?zen alone was correctly Transmitting the
    unsurpassed Dharma of the Buddha: among his Japanese contemporaries there was
    definitely no one who was his equal.....
    Could you explain about this?

    Whether Rinzai Zen is right or wrong?


    Gassho, Shui Di
    Practicing the Way means letting all things be what they are in their Self-nature. - Master Dogen.
  • will
    • Jun 2007
    • 2331

    Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

    Is Rinzai school wrong?
    :lol: :lol:

    Nope. Not wrong. Just a different school.

    To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
    To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
    To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
    To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.


    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39392

      Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

      Originally posted by Shui_Di
      Whether Rinzai Zen is right or wrong?
      Hi Shui DI,

      Drop all thought of "right" or "wrong"! :wink:

      Let me give you a short answer "in a nutshell". Then, I include below some scholars' analysis that add details.

      "In a nutshell", Dogen was less accepting of Rinzai Zen later in life than earlier. Master Dogen seems to have been at first more open to Rinzai teachers, but later in his career was not so much ... It may have been that he came to firm up his philosophical viewpoints later in life, or it may have been because the "established" sects of Rinzai Zen, Tendai and such were not very welcoming of Dogen and became his rivals, and he felt the need to strongly differentiate his views from the others.

      Whatever the cause, some forms of Koan centered Rinzai practice are not compatible with the philosophy of "Shikantaza" "Just Sitting". The reason is simply because we radically stop seeking for anything, finding this moment and act complete ... while, in contrast, "Koan" Zen as practiced in the Rinzai school is based on finding something radically incomplete, requiring one to seek very hard for the "solution". We tell folks that people are like dogs chasing after their tails, and the best thing thus to do is just stop running ... RInzai folks work very very hard to catch their tails.

      (However, to the extend that Koan practice is approached as a form of "not seeking" if one can chase one's tail without chasing ... or to the extent the resolution of the Koan is that "there is nothing to seek" ... then they may be just two roads to the same destination. IMHO. Still, in Japan at least, most "Koan Zen" is taught as a hard searching for a treasure, and this is very different from the "nothing lacks" philosophy of "Just Sitting").

      But that does not mean (in my opinion) that there is anything "wrong" with the Rinzai technique. It may be good or better than our way for some people. However, I think that our way is better for most people, and is generally more effective.

      Now, below are some scholars articles who make complex what I stated simply. They basically say what I said, but with a lot more words! :wink:

      Gassho, Jundo

      One of the major difficulties for interpreters of Dogen's thought is the apparent inconsistency of some of Dogen's teachings when comparing his early and late writings.(1) Some of the key changes that we find in the later writings include: (1) his severe critique of the Rinzai (Lin-chi) tradition and especially the subtradition stemming from Ta-hui, as contrasted to his more ecumenical approach found in his early writings, (2) his escalating critique of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism in general ... Possible inconsistencies between early and late writings should, on the one hand, be considered in the historical context of (1) Dogen's rather unsatisfactory relationship with the Tendai establishment and the Kamakura government, (2) competition with the increasingly popular Japanese Rinzai sect,...

      http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Dog ... putney.htm
      Here is a description, by a noted scholar at Komazawa University (the Soto universtity) of Dogen's criticisms of Ta-Hui, the great Rinzai teacher in China who developed the "Koan Method" ...

      Dogen's Critiques of Koan / Kung-an Contemplation Chan (Kan'na zen)

      As I mentioned above, Koan Contemplation Chan emerged during the Southern Sung dynasty along with Silent Illumination Chan. It was established by Ta-hui Tsung-kao (Daie Soko 1089-1163) ... Dogen strongly objected to Ta-hui's views.

      Now, I would like to talk about a prominent feature of Koan Contemplation Chan, to clarify the nature of Dogen's critiques.

      First, Koan Contemplation Chan rejected the non-practical inclination of Silent Illumination Chan. In this sense, Ta-hui had the same criticism of Silent Illumination Chan as Dogen. However, Ta-hui and Dogen adopted quite different methods to overcome this tendency.

      Ta-hui dared to assert that all people were in a deluded state in the present, though all could attain Buddhahood eventually. For this purpose, he required trainees to contemplate koan/kung-an in their daily activities. He also insisted that they have an experience of awareness as a result of gradual practice. That is, he aimed to re-emphasize the necessity of practice, both mental and physical, and the motivation to attain enlightenment by relying on the notion of 'shikaku' (entering into the enlightened state). This view is the opposite of traditional Chan thought, which focuses on 'hongaku' (original enlightenment).

      Because it was so easy to understand, Ta-hui's Koan Contemplation Chan was accepted not only by the clergy but also by the laypeople, and prospered greatly, nearly sweeping over the whole Chan scene in Southern Sung China.

      Why, then, did Dogen disagree so strongly with Ta-hui's style of practice?

      Now, I would like to show you one passage in the Shobogenzo Jisho-zanmai [by Dogen]:

      Ta-hui did not understand 'self-attainment, self-awakening,' much less did he completely understand other koans in his lifetime. Moreover, all Ta-hui's disciples were even less educated than he, so who knew the real meaning of 'self-attainment'?

      In this passage, Dogen criticizes Ta-hui for changing the definition of enlightenment from 'original Enlightenment' to 'entering into the enlightened state'. Dogen insists, therefore, that all monks in Ta-hui's lineage did not understand 'real' attainment. Dogen saw Ta-hui's view as a departure from the true transmission of Buddha dharma. Dogen, like Ta-hiu, attempted to re-construct the practice of Zen/Chan, but he never changed the basic doctrine of 'original pure nature'. Hence, Dogen felt a need to criticize Ta-hui.

      http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/jo ... n08_02.htm


      • dharma84
        • Jan 2008
        • 17

        Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

        Short answer: They're cosmic terrorists!!!!

        Actually here in Portland and the Rinzai and Soto people intermix seamlessly. I don't think there is even anything fundamentally different between Soto/Rinzai, just different emphasis's.


        • Shui_Di
          • Apr 2008
          • 210

          Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

          Thanks a lot Jundo and to another folks....

          Gassho, Shui Di
          Practicing the Way means letting all things be what they are in their Self-nature. - Master Dogen.


          • Alberto
            • Apr 2008
            • 78

            Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

            Here is a proposal for a scientific approach to this: find 100 people interested in zen and willing to follow the teachings. Randomize the individuals in such fashion that 50 meditate and study under a soto teacher, and 50 do it under a rinzai teacher. All individuals are to attend one sesshin every year, and meditate daily. 3 years later, start gathering data and figuring out how many have had kensho.

            The study is obviously impossible in humans, and I don't think guinea pigs or any other animal model would be willing to sit on a cushion for very long. But it serves me to open a point of discussion regarding what I think would be the results.

            I think that by the end of 3 years, 5 to 10 of the 50 rinzai subjects would have had kensho. That's what they do, and I kind of believe their histrionic case presentations (cf. the hideous three pillars of zen). In the soto group not a single dude would have had the famous phenomenon, or maybe one since accidents do happen.

            From the standpoint of achievement of kensho the soto school sucks. It's ineffective, slow. So maybe we should ask, what is wrong with soto?

            Nothing. The "goal" of buddhism is not the achievement of those enlightenment (acid-trippy, as Burado calls them) phenomena; besides, they are of very questionable value. Yasutani, for instance, may have had all the enlightenment you want, but his support of japanese militarism tells us right there that kensho doesn't prevent any bullshit.

            So koans and kenshos are a distraction from the reality of this very moment. Yeah, it may be very sweet to confirm the unity of the universe and the perfection of everything, but somehow the daily reality seems to creep back in. The only enlightenment is the one you've had since you sat the fisrt time, in that very moment when you were paying total attention to see what happened, immediately before you asked "what the f... am I doing here?".



            • Skye
              • Feb 2008
              • 234

              Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

              It would be even more interesting to see how many of the original groups were still practicing after 3 years, how many dropped out of Rinzai because it's such a hard mountain to climb (and climb, and climb, and climb) and how many dropped out of Soto because it's boring and pointless

              I think they both appeal to certain psychologies....

              Even on one blade of grass / the cool breeze / lingers - Issa


              • Fuken
                • Sep 2006
                • 435

                Re: What's wrong with Rinzai?

                I wonder if everyone in Rinzai's lineage adheres to koan study:?:
                Yours in practice,
                Jordan ("Fu Ken" translates to "Wind Sword", Dharma name givin to me by Jundo, I am so glad he did not name me Wind bag.)