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Buddhadharma : Winter 2007
buddhadharma| 29 |winter 2007 That day, as soon as the masters of the two meditation halls saw each other, they shouted at the same time. A monk asked the master, “In this case, is there a proper guest and host?” The master said, “The guest and the host are clear.” And then he added, “Noble Sangha, if you want to know the principle of the four relations of guest and host, then go and ask the two masters of the meditation halls.” Having spoken, he stepped down. The Zen master came into the dharma hall and a monk asked, “What is the main idea of the buddhadharma?” The master raised his duster. The monk shouted and was beaten once by the master. Commentary Master Linji ascended the dharma seat and a monk came up and prostrated and didn’t ask anything. Maybe he had a question, maybe not. But some- thing motivated him to step out. In response, the Zen master shouted, confronting the monk to see what was in his mind. Perhaps the monk went up there just to be seen but had no special question. Perhaps Master Linji’s shout made the monk con- sider his motivation. Perhaps it confused him; he hadn’t said anything and yet he had been shouted at. So he said, “Please, Upadhyaya, don’t test me.” Maybe he didn’t feel he had enough strength to deal with the spiritual power of the master. The Zen master asked, “Tell me, monk, where did the sound of that shout fall?” That is, what effect did it have? And the monk shouted back. He was in the position of a guest, a learner, and he roared back to play the role of a host. Another monk came up and asked, “What is the essential teaching of the buddhadharma?” When we have an opportunity to ask the Zen master a question and we don’t know what question to ask, then we can ask that question. It may not be the question that’s important, but the chance to be in contact with our teacher so that our teacher can look into our mind and shine light into our mind to help us to see the path more clearly. A similar question commonly asked of a Zen master is: What was Bodhidharma’s intention in coming to China from India? Recently, I proposed an answer: “Mind your own business!” What does the purpose of the Master coming to China from India have to do with you? Why don’t you do walking meditation; why don’t you breathe? “Mind your own business” would be an economi- cal answer. It saves us a lot of time. The Zen master’s shout was also an economical answer. Perhaps his shout meant, “Why do you ask that question; what good does it do you?” Per- haps that shout helped the student see the moment of being in contact with the teacher as a valuable opportunity not to be wasted by asking about external knowledge. Why not go on the path of direct experience? The monk prostrated. That prostration may have meant he understood, but it may not have. So the Zen master asked, “Where does the weak- ness lie?” meaning,“Why did I shout at you? Can you tell me?” And the monk replied, “If one offends again, it will not be forgiven,” meaning he wouldn’t ask such a useless question the next time. The Zen master shouts again. The monk is focused already on “the next time” and is not in the present moment. Then a monk came to the Zen master and told him that when the two head monks of the medita- tion halls in the east and west met, they shouted simultaneously. He asked the master, “In this case, is there a proper guest and host?” The Zen master said, “The guest and host are clear. Great Com- munity, if you want to know about the principle of the four relations of guest and host, then go and ask the two masters of the meditation halls.” Having spoken, he stepped down. Traditionally, the west hall was for the monks and the east hall was for guests. The master said to go ask the monks involved because they would know firsthand. The four situations of guest and host, the four ways of interaction, are methods of helping others in the tradition of Master Linji. The host knows what’s going on and the guest comes to learn. And there are times when the guest plays the role of a host and the host plays the role of the guest. In this example, where both monks yelled at the same time, who was the host and who was the guest? Perhaps, in that moment, both were either host or guest, or host and guest. According to the method of Master Linji, we have to distinguish who’s the host and who’s the guest. In all these Zen dialogues, we need to know who is who. In the final part of the teaching, the Zen mas- ter went to the dharma hall where a monk asked, “What is the main idea of the buddhadharma?” The Zen master waved his duster. The monk shouted and the Zen master hit him. Raising the duster was the Zen master’s first answer, which the questioner responded to by shouting. The blow was the master’s second and final answer. Evening Talk: Distinguishing Buddha from Mara The master (Linji) gave an opening talk: “My friends, in the practice of the buddha- dharma there is no need for hard work. The prin- ciple is not to try to be anyone special, and to have nothing to do. If you put on your robe, eat your meal, urinate, defecate, and rest when you are tired, the foolish ones will laugh, but the wise ones will understand. The teachers of old say, ‘If you direct your practice to the outer form, you kiMsooja