Monday, 15 February 2016

Deshan Xuanjian [W-G: Te-shan Hsuan-chien / J: Tokuzan Senkan]

                Deshan Xuanjian  would become one of the great masters of the classic period of Chinese Zen, but as a young student he was given to intellectualism. His teacher was Lungtan Chongzin. Lungtan recognized the younger man’s potential and was patient with him.
                One evening, Deshan visited his teacher and posed various questions about Buddhism. Finally, Lungtan said, “It is getting late. You should retire for the night.”
                Understanding that he had been dismissed, Deshan bowed and opened the screen to leave the master’s quarters. Looking outside, he remarked, “It is very dark.”
                “Take this candle to light way,” Lungtan said, offering a lit taper.
                Deshan put out his hand to take the candle, but, just as his fingers touched it, Lungtan blew it out. At that moment, Deshan’s mind was opened.
                The next morning, Deshan built a fire in the courtyard before the meditation hall and burned all his books. “However profound the commentaries are,” he said, “in comparison with enlightenment they are like a single drop of water to the great ocean.”

[Deshan Xuanjian – Zen Masters of China: 230-234, 235-36, 245]

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