motto lotto

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Emptying Hell"

A samurai in the employ of the provincial barony came to call on the Zen master Hakuin.

The master asked the samurai, "What have you done?"

The samurai said, "I have always liked to listen to Buddhist teaching. I have become infected with an illness because of this."

Hakuin asked, "What is your illness like?"

The samurai said, "I first met a Zen teacher and searched into the principle of the essence of mind. Then I met a Shingon Discipline teacher and studied the esoteric canon. Developing doubt and confusion about these two schools, while in the midst of visualization of the letter A, there suddenly arose in my mind images of hells. When I tried to stop them by means of the principle of the essence of mind, the two visions clashed, so my mind has become disturbed. In sleep I have nightmares, and when awake, I only toil at conceptual thinking."

Hakuin clucked his tongue and said, "Do you know what it is that fears hell?"

The samurai said, "The view of emptiness! I have caught this illness."

Hakuin shouted at the samurai again and again, shouting him away saying, "You little knave! A samurai is someone who is so loyal to his lord that he does not flee floods or fires, and he exposes his body to spears and swords without quivering or blinking an eye. How can you fear the view of emptiness? Right now, fall into each of those hells, and let's check them out!"

The samurai complained, "How can a teacher have people fall into an evil state?"

Hakuin laughed and said, "The hells I fall into are eightyfour thousand in number! Look--there's nowhere I don't fall!"

Finally seeing the master's point, the samurai was overjoyed.

Zen Antics translated by Thomas Cleary p. 22
My favorite part is that all this happened, "while in the midst of visualization of the letter A".

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.


Carl M. said...

The letter A is a big deal in Sanskrit and by extension in Shingon. The sound ah is considered to be the root of every other sound. Obviously, it's not the Roman letter A, but the Siddham alphabet's A. See

Carl M. said... is good too:

``A core meditative practice of Shingon is Ajikan (阿字觀), "Meditating on the Letter 'A'", which uses the Siddham letter representing the sound "Ah."``

Mike said...

Ah. That makes much more sense. ;)