Chapter 1: The Master of the Shouts
Rinzai became known as the master of the shouts.
On one occasion, a monk asked, “What about the cardinal principle of the buddha-dharma?”
Rinzai shouted - the monk bowed.
“Do you say that’s a good shout?” Rinzai asked.
The monk commented: “The thief in the grass has met complete defeat.”
“What’s my offense?” Rinzai asked.
The monk replied, “It won’t be pardoned a second time.”
Rinzai gave a shout.
Maneesha, this silent and beautiful evening we are going to start a new series of meditations on the sutras of Rinzai. Rinzai is one of the most loved masters in the tradition of Zen.
The first transmission of the light happened between Gautam Buddha and Mahakashyapa. The second great transmission happened between Bodhidharma and his successor. Bodhidharma took the ultimate experience of consciousness from India to China; Rinzai introduced the same consciousness, the same path of entering into oneself, from China to Japan.
These three names - Mahakashyapa, Bodhidharma and Rinzai - stand like great peaks of the Himalayas.
One of the most difficult things is to change an experience into explanation, and from one language to another it becomes almost an impossible task. But Bodhidharma managed it, and Rinzai also managed. This transmission of the lamp has to be understood deeply; only then will you be able to understand the sutras that follow.
No language is able to translate an inner experience, a subjective experience, for the simple reason that language is created for the objective world, about things, about people. No language has been created about the innermost center of your being, for the simple reason that when two men of the same experience meet there is no need to say anything. Their very presence, their very silence, the depth of their eyes and the grace of their gestures is enough.
There are only three possible situations. Either two enlightened beings meet, then language is not needed; they both meet beyond language, their meeting is the meeting of no-mind.
The second situation is if two unenlightened people meet: they will talk much, they will use great words, much philosophy, much metaphysics, but it will all be meaningless. It will not be supported by their experience. They are just parrots, repeating other people’s words. Obviously they cannot create the language for the buddhas. They have no idea what it is in the innermost core of your being.
The third possibility is a meeting between an enlightened person and an unenlightened person. The enlightened person knows, the unenlightened person does not know. But although the enlightened person knows, it is not enough to convey it. To know is one thing; to transfer it into language is another thing.
You know what love is - you can sing a song, you can dance, but you cannot say a single word about what love is. You can have it, you can be overwhelmed by it, you can know the absolute experience of love, but still you cannot bring even a fragment of it into words. Words are not meant for it. To transfer it from one language to another language is almost an impossibility.