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Dialogue between Zhaozhou, Huangbo and Linji

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Writer Jogye Date16 Sep 2015 Read16,499 Comment0


Dialogue between Zhaozhou, Huangbo and Linji

-Dharma Talk by the Supreme Patriarch Most Ven. Jinje 
 to mark the end of the summer retreat, Aug 28, 2015


[The Master ascends the Dharma Seat and shows the Dharma Staff to the assembly.]

Claim the Truth of this Dharma Staff, and

Your opportune condition is like securing arrows and swords.

You can distinguish between host and guest in a flash.

Dont claim the Truth of this Dharma Staff, but

The Staff has a luminous eye like the sun, and

You will manifest as a barbarian if a barbarian comes, and

Manifest as a civilian if a civilian comes.


Today marks the end of the three-month long summer retreat.

For those of you who have maintained the spirit and courage you had at the beginning of the retreat, and who have resolved the fundamental matter of life through perseverance, despite the intense summer heat, today will be the end of the retreat in its truest sense. However, for those of you who haven’t, the end of this retreat only marks the beginning of a new retreat.

You should look into yourself again and again.

To truly end a retreat means to know your true nature by having broken through your hwadu, and to become a person of great freedom who can travel the world without hindrance. If not, you should brace your mind again and resolve to attain great enlightenment.

When you leave this monastery, you should neither wander from this mountain to that mountain in a hurry without mindfulness, nor should you travel like a ghost with your hwadu stashed in your backpack.


It is impossible to attain the Great Way by passing time idly like that. You must realize that a retreat only truly ends when you shatter your hwadu and a virtuous master acknowledges your enlightenment. Until then, you should sit like a rock with an unwavering mind and practice again and again with all your might.

As you investigate your hwadu, every move you make and every step you take should arise from your heart, and you should keep your hwadu in mind with every step and every breath. You should strive diligently to maintain fervent doubt on your hwadu until it flows like a running river.

As you strive to attain one-pointed concentration on your hwadu, suddenly a true doubt will arise. Then you will become oblivious to sight, sound and even the passage of day and night. Days and months may pass in this condition until you suddenly break through your hwadu, perhaps merely upon seeing an object or hearing a sound. Then you pierce hundreds or thousands of gongan (koan) of the Buddha and Patriarchs as though with a single rod.

From that moment on, no matter what questions are thrown at you, you can give the right answer readily and stand shoulder to shoulder with all the Buddhas and Patriarchs.

At this level of attainment, you will enjoy the bliss of enlightened concentration eternally, and even Old Yama cannot take you to his realm of hell because you are invisible to him.

Once upon a time, Master Zhaozhou visited Master Huangbo during his wandering practice. Upon seeing Zhaozhou approach, Huangbo entered his own room and closed the door. Zhaozhou then walked into the Dharma hall and shouted,

“Fire! Fire!”

Then Huangbo came out, grabbed Zhaozhou and said,

“Speak! Speak!”

Huangbo answered, “You shot arrows after the thief ran away.”

One day Master Zhaozhou visited Linji Monastery and was washing his feet when Master Linji came up and asked,

“What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the west?”

Zhaozhou said, “As it happens, I am just now washing my feet.”

Linji stepped up and leaned in closer, as if listening.

Zhaozhou said, “You should have known instantly. What is the use of ruminating?”

Then, Linji went away swinging his arms.

Zhaozhou said, “Today I put my feet in the wrong place for the first time in my thirty-year wandering practice.”

Assembly! Do you know of Master Zhaozhou?

[The Master addresses the silent assembly.]

Master Zhaozhou

Attained the eye that penetrates from top to bottom.

Everywhere he went he met with virtuous teachers.

The One Phrase at the foundation of Truth shines eternally.

Assembly! Do you understand Master Huangbo?

A dragon and a tiger hit each other, and it is difficult to dodge the entire body.

Though it is the case

A good hand is offered to another good hand.

How many more examples like this can be found in the realms of heaven and humanity?

Assembly! Do you understand Master Linji?

The perfect attainment of Linji

Is truly noble and dignified.

His Dharma Staff has the eye that can discern even the tiniest speck.

As he sweeps away tigers and rabbits, his family tradition is superb.

He burns the sea dragon of change with lightning.

The sword that gives life and the blade that slays the living.

The flash against the blue sky tells us

It is the razor-sharp sword of Truth.

To perform a first-class order imparts special taste.

Who would recognize the spots of full pain?

Would you understand Master Linji?

Alas, Alas, I wail loudly.

[The Master hits the Dharma staff once and descends from the Dharma Seat.]

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