36 in many such portraits the implements are all

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36 In many such portraits, the implements are all regalia considered proper to the office of abbot. The chair may have a high or low back, be straight or with curvilinear arms, and it is sometimes draped with an elab- orately figured textile. A staff is often propped up against the chair, but in some instances there are two kinds of implements held in the hands of the master. It should be noted that portraits depicting living or recently deceased masters were executed so as to highlight them as objects of ven- eration, whereas paintings of ancient masters and legendary figures of remote times were made in an expressive and artistic manner and, there- fore, did not feature a staff unless it was being used for a purpose that the painter wanted to capture. 37 Another important example of artistic expression featuring the staff is the famous “seal documents” ( inka shōmei 印可証明 ), or certificates of approval given to dozens of accomplished lay disciples by the Rinzai sect monk Hakuin (1686–1769). These documents are also known as “dragon- whisk” ( ryūjō hossu 竜杖拂子 ) images because they depict in elaborately aesthetic fashion a fly-whisk intertwined with a dragon staff. This device is based on master Yunmen’s saying in case 60 of Blue Cliff Record that his walking stick was magically transformed into a dragon, symbolizing the
16 Zen anD material culture experience of awakening that is potentially attainable by all followers who gain or can surpass the esteemed level of comprehension of their men- tor. 38 In addition to Hakuin’s drawings, there are countless other works in the tradition, such as wall hanging scrolls, depicting various forms of the Zen staff. For example, a twentieth-century abbot of Myōshinji temple, Nakahara Nantembō (1835–1929), is known for drawings of the staff on hanging scrolls, including in the horizontal position. Also, he and many other modern masters such as Shibayama Zenkei (1894–1974) inscribed pithy Zen sayings or couplets onto fans or warning boards, like “Three thousand blows in the morning, eight hundred blows in the evening.” 39 Symbols of Authenticity Staffs were used to inspire and reproach disciples by temple abbots, but they were also wielded by irregular practitioners, such as hermits or pil- grims who lived outside the monastic community, as a sign of their ascetic expertise or as a means by which to challenge the ability of mainstream leaders whose teachings may have gotten stale or become self-serving. The staff also functioned as a tool with which to scold inveterate follow- ers or threaten the supposedly great teachers of the past. In sermon 3.231 from his Extensive Record , Dōgen “holds his staff upright and says, ‘This is the highest culmination of all dharmas,’ and then holds his staff side- ways and says, ‘This is the deepest source of Buddha dharma. Here I turn the dharma wheel of four noble truths, that is, the truth of suffering, the truth of causation, the truth of cessation [of suffering], and the truth of the path.’ ” Dōgen goes on to inquire, “What is the truth of suffering?,” as part of a series of questions. Each time he responds with the pattern, “ ‘Do

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