Three Enlightenment Stories from the Denkoroku: Dogen, Rujing, Ejo
Rujing (Dogen’s Chinese teacher) studied with Zen master Zhijian. Zhijian asked him, “How can you purify what has never been defiled?” After more than a year Rujing was suddenly awakened and said, “I’ve hit upon that which is undefiled.”
One day Rujing was suddenly enlightened. He went to the abbot’s quarters and said, “I can say it.” Zhijian said, “This time say it.” Rujing said, “I’ve hit upon that which is undefiled.”
Although he was given a purple vestment of honor and a master’s title by the emperor of China, he formally declined them. Furthermore, he kept his succession a secret, not revealing it all his life; only at the end did he formally acknowledge the teacher from whom he had inherited the teaching. This was not only to put off worldly craving for fame, but also out of deference for the good name of Zen. Truly his virtue was unequaled in his time, his discipline peerless in ancient and modern times.
He used to declare of himself, “The Way of the Zen founders has died out this last century or two. Thus there has not appeared a teacher like me for the last hundred or two hundred years…” He used to say, “Since I made up my mind to go travelling at the age of nineteen, I have found no one imbued with the Way. Many of the monastery abbots just deal with visiting officials and pay no mind to the monks’ hall. They always say, “Each of you should understand on your own,” and so saying they do not develop the people. Even the abbots of great monasteries now are like this. They think having nothing on the mind is the Way, and don’t demand intensive Zen concentration in association with a teacher. Where is there any Buddhism in that? If it is as they say, why would there be old-timers persistently seeking the Way? What a laugh—they haven’t so much as dreamed of the Way of the Zen founders.”
Keizan (4th generation successor of Dogen), Transmission of Light, Thomas Cleary, p.214-216
Once, during meditation sitting late at night Rujing said to the assembly, “Zen study is the shedding of mind and body.” Hearing this, suddenly Dogen was greatly enlightened.
Keizan (4th generation successor of Dogen), Transmission of Light, Thomas Cleary, p.219
Ejo studied with Zen master Dogen. One day in the course of inquiries he heard the saying, “One hair goes through myriad holes,” and all of a sudden realized enlightenment.
Keizan (4th generation successor of Dogen), Transmission of Light, Thomas Cleary, p.227