Doctrinal Teachings & Patriarchal Teachings
One time Zen Master Hye-Am citied the famous dialogue about doctrinal teachings and patriarchal teachings:
Doctrinal Teaching Speaker (DOC): They have been talking about cultivating serenity and wisdom to clearly see the Self-Nature. Now, what does this mean?
Patriarchal Speaker (PAT): In this family neither servant nor slave is distinguished.
DOC: They say the Enlightenment-being beheld the indigent-beings suffering and raised pity and compassion. What does this mean?
PAT: Compassion is not believing that there is something to accomplish the Buddhahood. Pity is not believing that there is something to liberate the indigent-being.
DOC: If that is true, do you mean all the laws which Buddha has spoken cannot liberate the indigent-being?
PAT: If you say there is the word that the Buddha has spoken, it is quite insulting to the Buddha. Also, if you say there is no word which the Buddha has spoken, it is insulting the law. Buddha’s true speaking is not by mouth nor is his true listening by ear.
DOC: Are you saying that all the scriptures are useless?
PAT: All the scriptures are a finger pointing to the moon. The true bright one would see the moon directly while the ignorant would just see the finger. The bright one is like a lion and the ignorant one is like a dog. The dog chases the mudball, while the lion eats the thrower.
DOC: But it is clear to me that there are ordered steps from faith, to knowing, then to practice, and finally to attainment. Why then doesn’t the omniscient awakening become the luminous serenity? Why doesn’t the profound awakening become serene luminosity? Why doesn’t the bewilderment transform into Enlightenment, and life-and-death transform into Nirvana?
PAT: The true awakening of the omniscient and the profound are ghosts carrying staffs. Enlightenment and Nirvana are nothing but donkey posts. Believing in phrases and names is nothing different from holding a feces-stick in your mouth. Seeking the Buddha and the Patriarchs is the fastest way to enter the karma hell.
DOC: What do you mean the Buddha and the Patriarchs?
PAT: Buddha is a body of apparition; the Patriarch is the old monk.
DOC: Do you mean that each and every saint does not have a unique perspective and attainment?
PAT: How can one see his own eyes? How can one attain his own mind? Even in the doctrinal scriptures it is said: One already has his own head; how can one raise a thought of his getting or not having it? Even though minds are originally equal, discrimination opinions arise about the saint and the indigent-being.
DOC: Then what is this?
PAT: In its essence, originally there is no name. For expedience it can be called True-Law-Eye-Chambered-Nirvanic-Profound-Mind. I have more to say. I would like to present you with a famous Kong-an about this.
Once a student came to the Venerable Zen Master Pa-Ling and asked, “Are Patriarchal teachings and doctrinal teachings the same or different?”
Master Pa-Ling answered;
When a chicken is cold, it climbs to the top of the tree; When a duck is cold, it goes under water.