The Religion of the Samurai HTML version
8. The Training Of The Mind And The Practice Of
1. The Method of Instruction Adopted by Zen Masters.
Thus far we have described the doctrine of Zen inculcated by both Chinese and Japanese
masters, and in this chapter we propose to sketch the practice of mental training and the
method of practising Dhyana or Meditation. Zen teachers never instruct their pupils by
means of explanation or argument, but urge them to solve by themselves through the
practice of Meditation such problems as--'What is Buddha?' What is self?' 'What is the
spirit of Bodhidharma?' 'What is life and death?' 'What is the real nature of mind?' and so
on. Ten Shwai (To-sotsu), for instance, was wont to put three questions[FN#229] to the
following effect: (1) Your study and discipline aim at the understanding of the real nature
of mind. Where does the real nature of mind exist? (2) When you understand the real
nature of mind, you are free from birth and death. How can you be saved when you are at
the verge of death? (3) When you are free from birth and death, you know where you go
after death. Where do you go when your body is reduced to elements? The pupils are not
requested to express their solution of these problems in the form of a theory or an
argument, but to show how they have grasped the profound meaning implied in these
problems, how they have established their conviction, and how they can carry out what
they grasped in their daily life.
[FN#229] The famous three difficult questions, known as the Three Gates of Teu Shwai
(To Sotsu San Kwan), who died in 1091. See Mu Mon Kwan, xlvii.
A Chinese Zen master[FN#230] tells us that the method of instruction adopted by Zen
may aptly be compared with that of an old burglar who taught his son the art of burglary.
The burglar one evening said to his little son, whom he desired to instruct in the secret of
his trade: "Would you not, my dear boy, be a great burglar like myself?" "Yes, father,"
replied the promising young man." "Come with me, then. I will teach you the art." So
saying, the man went out, followed by his son. Finding a rich mansion in a certain
village, the veteran burglar made a hole in the wall that surrounded it. Through that hole
they crept into the yard, and opening a window with complete ease broke into the house,
where they found a huge box firmly locked up as if its contents were very valuable
articles. The old man clapped his hands at the lock, which, strange to tell, unfastened
itself. Then he removed the cover and told his son to get into it and pick up treasures as
fast as he could. No sooner had the boy entered the box than the father replaced the cover
and locked it up. He then exclaimed at the top of his voice: "Thief! thief! thief! thief!"
Thus, having aroused the inmates, he went out without taking anything. All the house
was in utter confusion for a while; but finding nothing stolen, they went to bed again. The
boy sat holding his breath a short while; but making up his mind to get out of his narrow
prison, began to scratch the bottom of the box with his finger-nails. The servant of the
house, listening to the noise, supposed it to be a mouse gnawing at the inside of the box;
so she came out, lamp in hand, and unlocked it. On removing the cover, she was greatly
surprised to find the boy instead of a little mouse, and gave alarm. In the meantime the