Monday, 16 April 2018


208. A problem with seeing Zen as a way of salvation is its insistence on saving oneself through one's own efforts. This reliance on self-power (jiriki) seems to be generally interpreted as ruling out any appeal to a higher power such as a deified Buddha, or Heidegger's 'a god', or the God of the Judeo-Christian revelation. But we need to think carefully about the nature of this 'self' that the Zen practitioner comes to rely on. And we might further ask how does such self-reliance square with the Zen practice of taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha? Moreover, a practitioner's enlightenment-realization is not complete until it has been acknowledged and certified by a legitimate and authentic master and accepted by the sangha. Note the important role of knowing a master's lineage in the Zen tradition. Furthermore, the self that powers Zen practice cannot be the isolated, limited ego-self. Here we might call to mind Dogen's well-known saying: 'To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things'. 


  1. Hakuin's enlightenment was genuine yet denied legitimacy by his master at that time. Fortunately, Hakuin was not deterred by that lack of "official" acknowledgement.the Buddha's enlightenment too went unrecognized by his first two companions. The idea that enlightenment requires the acknowledgement of others does not square with historical fact. Ric Peters

  2. To claim that awakening is somehow qualified by or related to one's taking refuge in the Buddha, sangha and dharma is t ignore the fundamental fact that kensho/Bodhi involves the mind's coming to know its own nature at a deep level, and that is a solipsistic not a social act. Moments of awakening CAN be misinterpreted, however, and that is where evaluation/confirmation by others can be invaluable. Ric Peters