Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp – Talks Dec 2020

by tendo zenji

The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School
by Zen Master Torei Enji
with Commentary by Master Daibi of Unman
Translated by Yoko Okuda
Download pdf: here
Purchase: here

For the 2020 Autumn Training period we are studying The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp by Torei zenji. This is primarily through dharma talks at sesshin and other opportunities held via Zoom due to the pandemic and thus are being recorded. Periodically these will be posted here along with the basic information on each talk and the material covered.

Previous Talks

Part 1: Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp – Talks July-Oct. 2020

Part 2: Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp – Talks Oct/Nov 2020

14) December 1st, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 1
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  16-17 p. 63-67
Northern and Southern Schools, Hui-neng, Nanyue. Considered myth, history, teaching value of archetypes. The archetype of the unlearned zen master. The teaching value of tearing down support.
this talk wasn’t recorded.

15) December 2nd, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 2
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  18-19 p. 67-71
Baizhang, Huangbo, Linji
Began by talking about Rohatsu and lineage, how the great effort is put into Rohatsu ala the historical Buddha. The debt owed to the lineage. Not worshiping the ancients but gratitude. Considered the Baizhang Monastic Regulations and sam and the great succession of Matsu, Baizhang, Huangbo and Linji. With the Linji note how essential his teachings are, both in how we function but also directly as koans. Read from the Linji Lu on the costume a teacher puts on and discussed his core teachings such guest and host, person of no-rank and so on.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 14

16) December 3rd, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 3
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  19-21 p. 71-73
Wrapped up Linji section and continued on with the lineage through Koke and Nanin. It is vital to grasp the importance that the Recorded sayings of Linji has to all of Chan and the very conception of Zen. Capped the Linji section with a selection from a Hisamatsu lecture on the True Person of No Rank.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 15

17) December 4th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 4
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  23 & 24 p. 73-75
Sekiso Soen, Yogi Hoe
 Read Practicing Mu at 27 Degrees Below Zero ( Sheng Yen, Shattering the Great Doubt p. 98) and noted the privations and suffering in practice and how we have experienced that at Tahoma and Sogenji. Commitment can be simulated by a stressful schedule, giving one no choice. In a virtual sesshin, like all sesshin, that commitment has to be genuine. If one genuinely sits even for one sitting it is far more fruitful than hours of artificial commitment.  This lead into the text, where I read through the lineage so far with the Chinese names I had dug up (see here: Linji Lineage). Then read the entries on Sekiso Soen, Yogi Hoe. Sekiso Soen was the fellow who kept himself up stabbing himself with an awl. This story related in the Chan Whip inspired Hakuin to keep on the Zen path.  Yogi (Yangqi) was the founder of the two main lines of Linji Chan from Sekiso Soen. All Linji and thus Rinzai lines descend from him. Read a little from Zen’s Chinese Heritage on Yogi to flesh out his contributions to the line. Talked about the use of poetic language to arose some of the feelings that can arise from the ineffable. Concluded with an exhortation to sit severely and experience “The clear moon of the universe. The clear wave of the blue ocean.”
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 16

18) December 5th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 5
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  25-28  p. 75-80
Haku’un (White Cloud), Goso Hoen, Engo Kokugon (BCR Biyan Lu)
This talk delved into mediation, the Social Construction of seeing past the self which is this construction. Mediation in texts and mediation in how the practice is done. At first it was direct, then it was increasingly mediated. That is at first teachers confronted students directly, then they began to use the words of previous teachers, then they collected those encounters and then we worked with those collections. In Japan this became systematized and further mediated.  Talks are on this past events and original nature is seen through that lens.Examined the three lineage holders concluding with Kokugon who was like a sleeping tiger, but beware of his claws and fangs. Noted that this is the way of a master, they may seem meek and compassionate but they are uncompromising where it counts. Pushing students toward awakening their commitment is total.  Zen in the west is often compromised, But our own commitment doesn’t have to be.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 17

19) December 5th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 6
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  29, 30  p. 80-81
Kukyu Shoryu, Oan Donge, Mittan Kanketsu, Dahui, Huatou Chan. The literary period had another peak surrounding the development of the koan collections and Huatoa. Last real devices created. Looked at the mediation with Dahui though where Chan masters mostly reference older Chan Masters. How much more so today!  Considered the complicated issue of the lineage surround Kukyu Shoryu, Oan Donge, Mittan Kanketsu and Dahui. These students worked with teachers of multiple generations, Dahui had gotten “the robe” from Engo Kokugon and gave it to Oan for safekeeping and then allowed it to pass on to Mittan. Is there a straight lineage here? Does that even matter much. Considered Dahui and the impact of Huatoa.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 18

20) December 7th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 7
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  31 and 32 p. 82
Sogen Sogaku, Unman Fugan,  Kido Chigu
Spoke about the practice of Chan at this time and the next period. Gongfu, the dominance of Huatoa Chan. The importance of koans to Rinzai zen, this independent practice that can be carried from place to place. Read from the Chan whip an example of a monk going from place to place and working on huatoa.  Koans infuse the Torei text embedded in these stories and then the focus of later chapters.  The direct encounter with a master becomes one with a text. Completed the Chinese lineage with Sogen Sogaku, Unman Fugan and Kido Chigu.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 19

21) December 19th, 2020
Virtual Solstice Observance
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part 33-35 p. 82-88 Nanpo Jomyo (Daio Kokushi), Shuho Myosho (Daito Kokushi), Kanzen Egan
Enmity between the Tendai and Zen sects. Kokushi means National Teacher. Hanazono – retired emperor who found Shuho under the bridge and brought Kanzan back from the farm to lead Myoshin-ji.These three founded the bedrock of Rinzai Zen: Daitokuji, Myoshinji and the “retired emperor” Hanazono, the Rinzai University was named after. Shuho – Wrote a Koan collection of 120 koans that evolved into Entangling Vines. Entangling Vines – contains koans involving Nanpo, Shuho and Kanzan
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 20


1) The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School
by Zen Master Torei Enji with Commentary by Master Daibi of Unman
Translated by Yoko Okuda
Tuttle Publishing (September 15, 1996)
ISBN: 0804830878
Download: here Purchase: here

2) The Record of Linji: A New Translation Of The Linjilu In The Light Of Ten Japanese Zen Commentaries
by Jeffrey L. Broughton
Oxford University Press, USA; (December 11, 2012)
ISBN: 0199936439

3) Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition: Hisamatsu’s Talks on Linji
Edited by Christopher Ives and Tokiwa Gishin
Univ of Hawaii Press (January 1, 2002)
ISBN:  0824823842

4) Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

5) Shattering the Great Doubt: the Chan Practice of Huatou
Ch’an Master Sheng YenShambhala, 2009
ASIN: B00C5KK738

6) The Chan Whip : A companion to Zen Practice
Jeffery L. Broughton with Elise Yoko Watanabe
Oxford University Press 2015 New York, NY
ISBN: 0190200723