Monday, 7 March 2016

Fayan Wenyi [W-G: Fa-yen Wen-i / J: Hogen Bun’eki]

                After completing his training with Luohan Chichen, Fayan Wenyi became a teacher in his own right.
                A student named Hsuanze came to the temple and took part in the daily life of the monastery but never made use of the opportunity for private interviews with the teacher which is a standard tool used to hone the understanding of Zen students. One day, Fayan asked Hsuanze why he had not sought to take part in these interviews.
                “When studying with my previous teacher,” Hsuanze explained, “it was my good fortune to have my mind’s eye opened somewhat, and I believe I’ve acquired some insight into this matter of Zen.”
                “Is that so,” Fayan said. “So, tell me about this insight.”
                “When I asked my Master who the Buddha was, he told me, ‘Bingting comes for fire.’”
                “That’s a fine reply,” Fayan said with admiration. “However, I’m afraid that you might have misunderstood what your master was saying. Tell me, in your own words, what do you think he meant?”
                “Well,” the student replied, “Bingting is the god of fire, and so, of course, his nature is fire. It’s clearly ridiculous to suggest that one whose nature is fire should have to come for fire. In the same way, the nature of human beings is Buddha-nature; so it’s just as ridiculous for one whose nature is already Buddha-awareness to ask another who the Buddha was.”
                “Uh-huh!” said Fayan, nodding his head. “It’s as I expected. You didn’t understand.”
                “I didn’t?” the student said with surprise. “In that case, please instruct me. What would you say?”
                “Very well, ask me your question.”
                “All right: Who is the Buddha?”
                “Bingting comes for fire,” Fayan replied.

[Fayan Wenyi – Zen Masters of China: 259-65]

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