Saturday, 13 February 2016


26. Hogen of Seiryo was an eminent master active in the first half of 10th century China. As a young man he was steeped in the Mind Only school of Buddhist philosophy and was forever studying the Avatamsaka Sutras. Wandering from teacher to teacher he eventually came to Master Jizo. The master asked the travelling monk why he was wandering about like this. Faced with this question Hogen, in spite of all his philosophizing, found that he didn't know. So Jizo remarked, 'Not knowing is most intimate'. The young philosopher monk was intrigued by Jizo's statement but not enough to stay and study with him. Early next morning he prepared to resume his travels. Jizo accompanied him to the front gate of the temple near which was a huge boulder. No doubt aware of Hogen's enthusiasm for the Mind Only philosophy, Jizo pointed to the rock and enquired of Hogen whether it was inside or outside mind. Not surprisingly Hogen answered that it was inside mind. To which Jizo responded that Hogen must find this rock a heavy load to carry about in his mind. Taken aback, Hogen found that he could say nothing. Thereupon he became Jizo's disciple. Nevertheless, in subsequent interviews with his new master, Hogen persisted in quoting lines from the Avatamsaka Sutras. And invariably Jizo would tell him that Buddhism was not that sort of thing. Finally Hogen was reduced to admitting that he could have no thoughts, no reasoning. At which point Jizo told him that, from the Buddhist point of view, things directly presented themselves. Now of a sudden Hogen came to a deep Enlightenment-Realization.