Absorption in the Treasury of Light by Zen master Ejo


So I’ve been reading ‘Absorption in the Treasury of Light’ by Ejo (1198-1290) and to put it simply, it has blown my mind. The way Ejo expresses both the so-called ‘path’ and ‘state’ of realisation is astounding. I love how he speaks from his direct experience but also draws from scripture. His interspersed scriptural excepts sometimes seem to contradict each other, but the way he juxtaposes them, and in the context of his writing…well the combination results in a potent pointer to the Ultimate.

Ejo was a zen master, acknowledged to the be dharma-successor to Dogen who in turn is said to have founded the Soto school of Zen in Japan (although my understanding is that he had no intention of founding a new sect). Here are some excepts from ‘Absorption in the Treasury of Light’ that I particularly liked:

In verse 19 Ejo quotes from the Lotus Sutra:

“Delusion conceives of things as existent or nonexistent, as being real or unreal, as born or unborn. In an uncluttered place, concentrate your mind, remain steady and unmoving, like a polar mountain. Observe that all phenomena have no existence, that they are like space, without solid stability, neither being born nor emerging, Unmoving, unflagging, abide in oneness: this is called the place of nearness”

Verse 24:

The great master Yunmen, thiry-ninth generation from the Buddha, said to a group in a lecture “All people have a light, but when they look at it they do not see it, so it is obscure. What is everyone’s light?” No one replied, so the master himself said on their behalf, “The communal hall, the Buddha shrine, the kitchen pantry, the mountain gate.”

Verse 50:

That is why the ancients, pitying those whose approach is mistaken because it is contrived based on cultivated power, painstakingly guided them by saying, “The way cannot be attained by the conscious mind, not can it be attained by mindlessness; it cannot be communicated by words, nor can it be reached by silence. As soon as you get involved in deliberation, you are ten million stages away”

From verse 65:

Therefore Yongjia said “Eternal calm is not apart from right where you are; if you seek, I know you cannot see. It cannot be grasped, cannot be rejected; within ungraspability, it is attained just so”

From verse 68:

…as long as you retain your self-image you wind up in birth and death.

Verse 70:

The idea of self, the idea of a person, the idea of a being, and the idea of life are self-image. The idea of the physical body, prejudiced views, false views,  and fixated views are self-image….even attachment to principle, traces of enlightenment, and the view of equanimity are all…self-image.

From verse 74:

…Not fearing life and death is because of not seeing oneself. Not seeing oneself means not being self-conscious, not having a self-image. The light of great wisdom is thus impersonal…

There are many more wonderful verses in this treasure, and when I get time I hope to type out a few more of them. Meanwhile, if you are seeking along this path, if you are drawn to these teachings, contemplate upon the above verses and ask yourself this:

-How do you find what is already here but ungraspable? Does it need to be found?
-It is always being experienced, so can it be lost?

-If it is gained or lost, can that be IT?
-Can meditation take you to where you already are, to what is ever-present and here?
-In seeking enlightenment, have you denied the ‘kitchen pantry’ and ‘mountain gate’ (see verse 24 above)?

Blessings to you all

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