Baizhang Huaihai
Caoshan Benji
Dahui Zonggao
Daman Hongren
Danxia Tianran
Dayi Daoxin
Dazhao Puji
Dazhu Huihai
Dazu Huike
Deshan Xuanjian
Dongshan Liangjie
Guifeng Zongmi
Guishan Lingyou
Guizong Zhichang
Heze Shenhui
Hongzhi Zhengjue
Huangbo Xiyun
Huanglong Huinan
Jinshan tanying
Linji Yixuan
Longtan Chongxin
Luohan Guichen
Mazu Daoyi
Nanquan Puyuan
Nanta Guangyong
Nanyang Huizhong
Nanyue Huairang
Niutou Farong
Qingliang Wenyi
Qingyuan Xingsi
Shishuang Chuyuan
Shitou Xiqian
Tianhuang Daowu
Xiangyan Zhixian
Xitang Zhizang
Xuansha Shibei
Xuedou Chongxian
Xuefeng Yicun
Yangqi Fanghui
Yangshan Huiji
Yantou Quanhuo
Yaoshan Weiyan
Yongjia Xuanjue
Yongming Yanshou
Yunmen Wenyan
Yunyan Tansheng
Yuquan Shenxiu
Zhaozhou Congshen
Luohan Guichen
POSTH name
Chan Master True Response
Xuansha Shibei
Qingliang Wenyi, Qingxi Hongjin, Qingliang Xiufu
LUOHAN GUICHEN (867–928) was a disciple of Xuansha Shibei. He came from ancient Changshan (located in what is now Zhejiang Province). Classical records say that from early childhood he could speak very well and would not eat meat. He was ordained at Wansui Temple, located in his home province, under a teacher named Wuxiang. At first he closely followed the teachings of the Vinaya, but later declared that just guarding against breaking the vows and adhering to the precepts did not equal true renunciation. He then set off to explore the teachings of the Zen school.
Dizang first studied with Xuefeng Yicun, but was unsuccessful at penetrating the Way. It was Xuefeng’s disciple, Xuansha, who is said to have brought Dizang to full awakening. The lamp records indicate that when the following exchange between teacher and student occurred, all of Dizang’s doubts were erased.
Xuansha questioned Dizang, saying, “In the three realms there is only mind. How do you understand this?”
Dizang pointed to a chair and said, “What does the master call that?”
Xuansha said, “A chair.”
Dizang said, “Then the master can’t say that in the three worlds there is only mind.”
Xuansha said, “I say that it is made from bamboo and wood. What do you say it’s made from?”
Dizang said, “I also say it’s made from bamboo and wood.”
Xuansha said, “I’ve searched across the great earth for a person who understands the Buddhadharma, but I haven’t found one.”
Xuansha passed on certain esoteric teachings, known as the Samaya, that Dizang promoted throughout his life. Although Dizang did not aspire to a leading position in the Buddhist community, his reputation as an adept nevertheless spread widely. The magistrate of Zhangzhou [now the city of Zhangpu in Fujian Province] established the Dizang [“Earth Store”] Monastery and invited Dizang to become the abbot there.
Dizang entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying, “If you want to come face-to-face with the essential mystery of our order—here it is! There’s no other special thing. If it is something else, then bring it forth and let’s see it. If you can’t show it, then forget about it. You can’t just recite a couple of words and then say that they are the vehicle of our school. How could that be? What two words are they? They are known as the ‘essential vehicle.’ They are the ‘teaching vehicle.’ Just when you say ‘essential vehicle,’ that is the essential vehicle. Speaking the words ‘teaching vehicle’ is itself the teaching vehicle. Worthy practitioners of Zen, our school’s essential vehicle, the Buddhadharma, comes from and is realized through nothing other than the names and words from your own mouths! It is just what you say and do. You come here and use words like ‘tranquillity,’ ‘reality,’ ‘perfection,’ or ‘constancy.’ Worthy practitioners! What is this that you call ‘tranquil’ or ‘real’? What is it that’s ‘perfect’ or ‘constant’? Those of you here on a pilgrimage, you must test the principle of what I’m saying. Let’s be open about it. You’ve stored up a bunch of sounds, forms, names, and words inside your minds. You prattle that ‘I can do this,’ or ‘I’m good at figuring out that,’ but actually what can you do? What can you figure out? All that you’re remembering and holding on to is just sounds and forms. If it weren’t all sounds and forms, names and words, then how would you remember them or figure them out?
“The wind blows and the pine makes a sound. A frog or a duck makes a sound. Why don’t you go and listen to those things and figure them out? If everywhere there are meaningful sounds and forms, then how much meaning can be ascribed to this old monk? There’s no doubt about it. Sounds and forms assault us every moment. Do you directly face them or not? If you face them directly then your diamond-solid concept of self will melt away. How can this be? Because these sounds penetrate your ears and these forms pierce your eyes, you are overwhelmed by conditions. You are killed by delusion. There’s not enough room inside of you for all of these sounds and forms. If you don’t face them directly then how will you manage all of these sounds and forms? Do you understand? Face them or not face them. See for yourself!”
After a pause, Dizang continued, “‘Perfection.’ ‘Constancy.’ ‘Tranquillity.’ ‘Reality.’ Who talks like this? Normal people in the village don’t talk like this. Its just some old sages that talk this way and a few of their wicked disciples that spread it around. So now, you don’t know good from bad, and you are absorbed in ‘perfection’ and ‘reality.’ Some say I don’t possess the mysterious excellence of our order’s style. Shakyamuni didn’t have a tongue! Not like you disciples here who are always pointing at your own chests. To speak about killing, stealing, and lewdness is to speak of grave crimes, but they are light by comparison. It’s unending, this vilification of nirvana, this blinding the eyes of beings, this falling in the Avici Hell and swallowing hot iron balls without relief.
“Therefore the ancients said, ‘When the transgression is transformed into the host, it no longer offends.’ Take care!”
A monk asked, “What is Luohan’s single phrase?”
Luohan said, “If I tell you it will turn into two phrases.”
A monk asked, “What is Luohan’s house style?”
Luohan said, “I can’t tell you.”
The monk said, “Why not?”
Luohan said, “Because it’s my house style.”
Zen master Luohan saw a monk approach. He held up his whisk and said, “Do you understand?”
The monk said, “Thank you for your compassionate instruction, Master.”
Luohan said, “You see me raise the whisk and you say I’m instructing you. When you see the mountains and rivers each day, do they not instruct you?”
Another time Luohan saw a monk approaching and held up his whisk. The monk shouted in praise and bowed.
Luohan said, “When you saw me raise the whisk you bowed and shouted. Why is it that when someone holds up a broom you don’t shout in praise?”
Luohan asked a monk, “From where do you come?”
The monk said, “From Zouzhou.”
Luohan said, “What did you bring with you?”
The monk said, “I didn’t bring anything with me.”
Luohan said, “Why are you deceiving people?”
The monk remained silent.
Luohan then asked, “Doesn’t Zouzhou produce parakeets?”
The monk said, “Those are produced in Longzhou.”
Luohan said, “About the same.”
Once, Luohan traveled to the provincial capital with Baofu and Changqing. They saw some discarded peonies by the road.
Baofu said, “What a wonderful bunch of flowers.”
Changqing said, “I’ve never seen such flowers.”
Luohan said, “Too bad. It’s a bunch of flowers.”
([Later,] Xuanjue said, “Was the speech of these three old Zen masters intimate or not? If Luohan spoke like this, to where had he fallen?”)
Upon his death, Dizang received the posthumous title “Zen Master True Response.”
Contact us
© Copyright