Is Salt Creek a Zen master? Consider the following anecdotes from 11th century China:
“All those who would communicate the message of the source must be able to kill a person’s false personality without blinking an eye.
One example was old man Huangbo. He knew of this state innately. When he was on his travels he came to Mount Tiantai, where he saw a saint walking across the waves, cutting off a torrent - Huangbo immediately wanted to strike him dead. When he reached (the person) Baizhang and heard the story about how a single shout from Mazu had left Baizhang deaf for three days, he drew back and stuck out his tongue. We know this was the action of Huangbo’s great potential. How could those with simplistic opinions and shallow learning form any opinion of it?
At Vaishali, Vimalakirta revealed the fundamental principle by keeping his mouth shut and refusing to speak. Even so, there are adepts who will not forgive (him) for such a display. How much less would they forgive getting involved with marvels and delving into mysteries, discoursing upon the true nature of mind, and having a sweaty shirt stuck to their skin and being unable to strip it off! That would appear even more broken down and decrepit. They never dragged through the muddy water of emotionalism and intellectualism.
This is how the ancients were aware in advance of the dust blowing in the wind and the grasses moving. As soon as any obstructive illusions sprouted, they would immediately mow them down. Still, they could hardly find anybody willing and able to share in the life of wisdom.
How could the genuine Zen teachers be compared with those phonies who roll around in the weeds together, pulling each other along, dragging each other into intellectual and verbal judgments and arbitrary choices, creating cliches to bury the sons and daughters of other people’s families?
Did Bodhidharma actually bring this teaching when he came from the West? (brought Buddhism from India to China) All he did was to point out the true nature that each and every person inherently possesses, to enable people to thoroughly emerge clear and pure from the orbit of delusion and not be stained and defiled by all their erroneous knowledge and consciousness and false thoughts and judgments.”
Excerpted from ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu,’
translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary