"As I have shown in a previous publication, none of the encounter dialogue stories or exchanges, neither those that feature Baizhang nor any other Chan monk, can be traced back to the Tang period. From what we know, the encounter dialogue format was not even known during the Tang dynasty."
Meido wrote:As for the recorded spoken teachings of these masters having greater historicity or being less subject to canonical revision, I couldn't say if that's the case.
(Mario Poceski: Monastic Innovator, Iconoclast, and Teacher of Doctrine - The Varied Images of Chan Master Baizhang, in Zen Masters, p 15)
"The Extensive Record is an especially valuable source of information about Baizhang’s teachings, and it is also among the most valuable resources for the study of Chan doctrine from the Tang period."
"The story of "Ye yazi" or "Wild Ducks," for example, according to the early record in Wuxie heshang, in volume 15 of Zutang ji, originally was attributed to Baizhang Weizheng, but in later records, such as juan 3 of Wudeng huiyuan, juan 1 of Guzun su yulu, and juan 6 no 53 of Biyan lu, its attribution was changed, and it became the most important enlightenment dialogue written by Baizhang Huaihai."
(Zhaoguang Ge: History, Ideology, and General Ideological History - A Case Study of Chan Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty, in New Perspectives on the Research of Chinese Culture, p 65)
As for Baizhang's teachings in his Extensive Record, he was less a subitist than Mazu or Huangbo, as he used a three stages system of progressive elimination of attachment, nevertheless, it ended in buddhahood that could be accomplished in this life.
Regarding the relevance to the Western Myth, because Zen introduced itself primarily through the stories rather than the teachings, it gives the impression of unintelligible mysticism realised suddenly, as in both the wild ducks and the deafening shout story Baizhang attains enlightenment, but the stories do not give any useful information on how one could accomplish the same, besides the idea that one needs to find an enlightened master. And that brings us to the elevated status of the Zen teacher within the Western idea of Zen.
I think it safe to assume that since he participated in the monastic activities he did what others were doing, for example the several times he is mentioned participating in manual work.
My reply was for that particular situation when Linji gave that teaching. The record says, "At the evening gathering the master addressed the assembly" (師晚參示衆), the usual situation of shangtang, ascending the hall, i.e. giving a lecture. So, unlike what seeler242 said, the teaching was not given during a meditation session.
At the end of the day I'm rather fond of the approach which flexibly allows for any possibility, while having concrete methods matching the reality of most students' capacities.
Yes, that is the reality of a viable Buddhist community. And there is a palpable difference between the literary works of Zen and the daily activities of a Zen monastery. But at the same time, literary works can have a strong influence of what activities are considered Zen and what sort of Zen is expected by people. I think it is still the general scenario that those disillusioned by both the traditional religious and New Age arena, and by materialist consumerism, turn to Buddhism as a third alternative. In my opinion, while the "meditation only" approach can work to a certain extent, it fails to generate a stronger connection to the Dharma within a larger community, making Buddhism vulnerable to changes in social trends. For example, the lack of younger generation in Zen communities, as perceived by some (like here