Monday, 7 May 2018


216. The Japanese Rinzai master Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1768) claimed Shoju (1642-1721), disciple and only successor to Bunan (1603-1676), as his 'root master'. However there is no record that Shoju ever formally confirmed Hakuin's enlightenment-realization. So while there is no doubt that Hakuin was an authentic Zen teacher it would seem that in terms of Rinzai lineage charts it could be argued that he lacked legitimacy. But the sangha's recognition and acknowledgement of Hakuin would stand in for Shoju and confer legitimacy on his teaching role. As John McRae points out, 'what counts in the Chan transmission scheme are not the "facts" of what happened in the lives of Sakyamuni, Bodhidharma, Huineng, and others, but rather how these figures were perceived in terms of Chan mythology'. In the Zen tradition myth is more powerful and more important than so-called historical 'facts'.         


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