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The true spirit of meditation

This (on the left) is a hanging scroll, painted by Hakuin Ekaku (白隠慧鶴 , 1689-1796), a famous zen master of the Rinzai school. It reads as
"Zen practice in the midst of activity is a million times superior to that pursued within tranquility."

Although this saying is often attributed to Hakuin, he is actually quoting the Chan master Dahui Zhonggao (大慧宗杲 , 1089-1163). Hakuin added:

静中の工夫だけをしている者 は、動中に入って自由を得ることができず、たまたま動中の境、世俗 的な仕事に入る時は、平生の悟りは、あとかたも無くなってしまう

Seichuu no kufuu dake o shite iru hito wa, douchuu ni haitte jiyuu o eru koto ga dekizu, tamatama douchuu no kyou, sezokuteki na shigoto ni hairu toki wa, heizei no satori wa, atokata mo naku natte shimau.

"Those who practice only in silence/tranquility, cannot establish their [internal] freedom when entering into activity. When they engage into worldy activities, their usual satori (enlightment) will eventually disappear without any trace."

Yeah, we can attain supreme wisdom and enlightment while sitting at home, sipping tea, studying our favourite books, but will that great wisdom last until next morning?

We should practice wisdom during our daily work, during interacting with annoying people, performing tiresome duties, looking after parents or sick relatives, ... if someone neglects these duties, but excels in his study of Zen, he is vastly off the mark.

There is another interesting notion is Hakuin s comment: he says satori can disappear, that it may not last forever. This is not what Buddha taught. I am going to compile a page of quotes from classics about the problem of losing enlightment. The general opinion was that it is not real enlightment/wisdom/Tao that can be lost...

The original quote 動中工夫勝静中百千億倍 is actually in Chinese. Its transcript into Japanese would be:


Douchuu no kufuu wa, seijaku no naka no kufuu ni hyakuman okubai masaru

Note that the final verb 勝る is not katsu "to win", but masaru, "to excel, to surpass".

工夫 has two meanings: today it is pronounced koufu, and it means "worker". But it also means "discipline, training, practice" roughly equivalent to 修行 (shugyou). In this case it is read kufuu. Actually this was the Chinese word (also written as 功夫) for gong1fu2: "martial art, kungfu".

The comment from Hakuin is quoted in modern Japanese (I found it on the net), the original form must be different. So dont take it for an exact quotation.

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