using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2007
winter 2007| 26 |buddhadharma may be only empty words. We can get tired of all these words, even the word “Buddha.” So to wake people up, Master Linji invented new terms and new ways of saying things that would respond to the needs of his time. For example, Master Linji invented the term the “businessless person,” 1 the person who has nothing to do and nowhere to go. This was his ideal example of what a person could be. In Thera- vada Buddhism, the ideal person was the arhat, someone who practiced to attain enlightenment. In Mahayana Buddhism, the ideal person was the bodhisattva, a compassionate being who, on the path of enlightenment, helped others. According to Master Linji, the businessless per- son is someone who doesn’t run after enlighten- ment or grasp at anything, even if that thing is the Buddha. This person has simply stopped. She is no longer caught by anything, even theories or teach- ings. The businessless person is the true person inside each one of us. This is the essential teaching of Master Linji. When we learn to stop and be truly alive in the present moment, we are in touch with what’s going on within and around us. We aren’t carried away by the past, the future, our thinking, ideas, emotions, and projects. Often we think that our ideas about things are the reality of that thing. But even our notion of the Buddha may be just an idea and far from reality. The Buddha outside ourselves was a human being who was born, lived, and died. For us to seek such a Buddha would be to seek a shadow, a ghost Buddha, and at some point our idea of Buddha would become an obstacle for us. Master Linji said that when we meet the ghost Buddha, we should cut off his head. Whether we’re looking inside or outside ourselves, we need to cut off the head of whatever we meet, and abandon the views and ideas we have about things, includ- ing our ideas about Buddhism and Buddhist teach- ings. Buddhist teachings are not exalted words and scriptures existing outside us, sitting on a high shelf in the temple, but rather they are medicine for our ills. Buddhist teachings are skillful means to cure our ignorance, craving, anger, as well as our habit of seeking things outside and not having confidence in ourselves. Insight can’t be found in sutras, commentaries, or dharma talks. Liberation and awakened under- standing can’t be found by devoting ourselves to the study of the Buddhist scriptures. This is like hoping to find fresh water in dry bones. Returning to the present moment, using our clear mind which exists right here and now, we can be in touch with liberation and enlightenment, as well as with the Buddha and all his disciples as living realities right in this moment. The person who has nothing to do is sover- eign over herself. She doesn’t need to put on airs or leave any trace behind. The true person is an active participant, engaged in her environment while remaining unoppressed by it. Although all phenomena are going through the various appear- ances of birth, abiding, changing, and dying, the true person doesn’t become a victim of sadness, happiness, love, or hate. She lives in awareness as an ordinary person, whether standing, walking, lying down, or sitting. She doesn’t act a part, even the part of a great Zen master. This is what Master Linji means by “Be sovereign wherever you are and use that place as your seat of awakening.” We may wonder, “If a person has no direction, isn’t yearning to realize an ideal, and doesn’t have an aim in life, then who will help living beings be liberated? Who will rescue those who are drown- ing in the ocean of suffering?” A buddha is a person who has no more business to do and isn’t looking for anything. In doing nothing, in simply stopping, we can live freely and true to ourselves and our liberation will contribute to the liberation of all beings. Master Linji’s Medicine Master Linji taught in order to shake things up. He wanted to smash obstacles, heal sickness, and undo fetters. Reading his words is like taking a very strong medicine. Most of us tend to think that if we take vitamins or tonics, we’ll feel health- ier. But sometimes, rather than taking anything more into our bodies, we need to clean them out. That’s when we need a good dose of the teach- ings of Master Linji. They aren’t vitamins, they’re laxatives. When we’ve accumulated so much knowl- edge inside, we don’t have the capacity to digest it. It’s like when we eat too much food, we can’t digest it and we become constipated. When we don’t understand what we’ve learned and can’t apply it in our practice, in our daily life, then our knowledge can block our bodies and minds. But you don’t have to wait until you’re constipated to benefit from Master Linji’s teachings; prevention is better than cure. Master Linji didn’t want to present deep and wonderful ideas for us to study and debate. We don’t come to the teachings of Master Linji look- ing for some absolute truth or hoping to discover difficult concepts and mystical ideas. All teaching devices are first and foremost words, mere desig- nations. Master Linji calls them “empty terms” or “-isms.” They aren’t objective realities. Master Linji doesn’t want us to see his words as a golden framework or jade ruler to study and worship. He tells us his words are only drawings made in empty space. We tend to think that if we take vitamins or tonics, we’ll feel healthier. But sometimes, rather than taking anything more into our bodies, we need to clean them out. That’s when we need a good dose of the teachings of Master Linji. They aren’t vitamins, they’re laxatives. 1 Eido Shimano Roshi translates this as the “true man without rank.” kiMsooja