Ch’an Master Lin-chi was about to take leave of his teacher Ch’an Master Huang-po. The latter asked him, "Where are you going?"
"Either to Henan or to Hepei, "Lin-chi answered.
Huang-po immediately slapped him. Grabbing the teacher Lin-chi slapped him back. Although he had been struck, Huang-po laughed heartily and said to his attendant in a loud voice, "Go and get the late Master Pai-chang’s Ch’an board and sutra stand for me.
Lin-chi also called out, " Bring some fire too."
Huang-po turned to Lin-chi and said, "Although I said this the fire will not burn. Just go as you wish. Only you’ll have to keep the people of the whole world quiet."
Later, when Ch’an Master Kuei-shan Ling-yu discussed this incident with Yang-shan , he asked, "Did Lin-chi insult his teacher Huang-po by his behavior?"
"No not really" Yang-shan replied.
"Would you please explain?" Implored Kuei-shan.
"By slapping Huang-po Ling-chi actually acknowledged his teacher's kindness to him. Only those who acknowledge a kindness will requite it." Yang-shan explained.
Do you know any such examples among sages or virtuous individuals in ancient times?" asked Kuei-shan.
"Yes I do. But since they are from the distant past I won't repeat them to you."
"But I’ve never heard of them. Please tell me " urged Kuei-shan.
"All right. In the Surangama Sutra, Ananda praised the Buddha pledging ‘I’m willing to offer my utter devotion to as many nations and people as there are dust particles.' This is called 'requiting the Buddha’s kindnesses' and is an example from ancient times.
"Indeed, " Kuei-shan said agreeably.
"If a disciple has only as much knowledge and experience as the master this will decrease the master’s virtues when the disciple tries to pass the teachings on. Only when one surpasses one’s teacher will one be able to impart fully the teacher’s wisdom."
In the Ch’an School the teaching methods that had been passed on from Master Huang-po and Lin-chi belonged to the Lin-chi School, while those from Master Kuei-shan and Yang-shan belonged to the Kuei-yang School. These masters were all first and second generation disciples of Ch’an Master Pai-chang. Although Kuei-shan (771-853C.E.) was five years older than Huang-po (776-856C.E.)
sixteen years older than Lin-chi and belonged to a different school he always held these two masters in high esteem. This is what is known as being magnanimous virtuous and enlightened.
WHERE IS THE BUDDHA NOW?
Once Emperor Shun-tzung asked Ch’an Master Ju-man, " From where did the Buddha come? Where did he go? If we say the Buddha dwells in this world eternally, then where is the Buddha now? "
Master Ju-man answered, "The Buddha came from the eternal and returned to the eternal. His true nature is one with empty space. He dwells in a place where there is no mind. The mindful merges with the mindless. The dwelling merges with the non dwelling. He came and went away for the sake of all beings. The pure sea of true nature nature is his profound body that abides eternally. The wise should contemplate this carefully and not permit any doubts to arise!"
Emperor Shun-tzung was not convinced and said, "The Buddha was born in a palace and passed away between two sala tree. (teak wood) He taught for forty nine years did not expound a word of Dharma. The mountains the rivers and oceans the sun and moon heaven and Earth all will cease to exist when the time comes. Who said there is no birth and no death.The wise should be able to grasp a clear understanding of this."
Then Master Ju-man explained, "The essence of the Buddha is non being and only the deluded will make distinctions. His true nature is one with empty space and will neither experience birth nor death. When the right conditions are present the Buddha will be born. When the right conditions cease to exist the Buddha will pass away. He teaches beings everywhere just as the moon reflects on all water. He is neither permanent nor is he impermanent; he had neither an origin nor an extinction;he was neither born nor did he ever die. When one sees the place of no mind then there is no Dharma to speak of.Pleased with the response, Emperor Shun-tzung became more respectful toward the Master.
People often say Amitabha Buddha is in the Western Pure Land. The Medicine Buddha is in the Eastern Pure Land. Where is Sakyamuni Buddha? Sakyamuni Buddha is in the Land of Perpetual Peace and Glory.
When a Ch’an practitioner is asked to explain these kinds of questions the ensuing discussion can be very vivacious. Because we perceive with our minds we see the world of birth and death. This is the realm of the Buddha’s manifestation as a physical being. If we perceive with no mind then we will see the world of no birth and no death. This is the true nature. No mind is the Ch'an mind. Only through the use of our Ch’an minds will we be able to discern the true whereabouts of the Buddha.
When the right conditions are present, the Buddha will be born. When the right conditions cease to exist, the Buddha will pass away. This passing away is not death but rather the state of nirvana. In the Land of Perpetual Peace and Glory, there are no distinctions no suffering and no relativity.It is in the world of bliss that one will find true bliss.