Thursday, 15 October 2015


6. The story of the monk doomed to five hundred re-births as a fox was first told by the T'ang Dynasty Chinese master Hyakujo Ekai. This is how he is known in the world of Japanese Zen. Nowadays we are getting used to meeting him as Pai-chang Huai-hai or even Baizhang Huaihai. And we are told that both these spellings of his Chinese name are to be pronounced 'Bye-jong'. The case is similar with his distinguished disciple Obaku, who went on to become a master in his own right and was to declare that 'in all the land of T'ang there is no Zen teacher'. Obaku's Chinese name is variously written as Huang-po Hsi-jun or Huangbo Xijun. Both versions are pronounced 'Hwong-bwaw'. All very confusing for the non-scholars among us. As for the diacritical marks that I have omitted (limitations of my keyboard), let us not go there. But one thing is clear: in the discourse of Zen, names as designators are far from rigid. Luckily for us, Zen as a 'special transmission outside the scriptures' is 'not dependent on words and letters'.

No comments:

Post a Comment