Book of Serenity 22

Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #22
Yantou's Bow and Shout

  • Deshan Xuanjian (Tokusan Senkan, 782-865, 11th gen). Go to DESHAN
  • Yantou Quanhuo (Ganto Zenkatsu, 828-87, 12th gen). Go to YANTOU
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
Wansong's Preface
People are probed with words. Water is sounded with a stick. Pushing away weeds and seeing the true manner is an eveyrday affair. When suddenly a burnt-tail tiger is transformed, then what?
Yantou arrived at Deshan's place. He straddled the entrance gate and asked, "Is this common or holy?"
Deshan gave a shout, and Yantou bowed low.
Dongshan heard of this and said, "Had that not been Yantou, it would have been most difficult to take."
Regarding this, Yantou remarked, "Old man Dongshan doesn't know good from bad. At the time my one hand upheld and the other hand put down."
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Crushing the visitor, wielding a scepter.
   Demolishing the oncomer,
   Holding the handle of authority;
Affairs have a ways of appropriate dispatch,
   Tasks have a manner in which they must be carried out,
countries have their own inviolable laws.
   The nation has an inviolable law.
If the guest serves reverently, the host is haughty;
   When the guest serves reverently, the host becomes haughty --
if the king resents admonition, the people flatter.
   When the ruler dislikes admonition, the ministers flatter.
Yantou's asking Deshan -- what did he mean?
   The underlying meaning -- Yantou asks Deshan;
One upheld, one put down -- see the movement of mind!
   One upholding, one putting down -- see the action of mind.
A Background Story
One day Yantou spread his sitting mat; Deshan pushed it downstairs with his staff. Yantou went down, gathered up the mat and went off. Next day he went up and stood by Deshan. Deshan said. "Where did you learn this empty-headedness?"
Yantou said, "I never fool myself."
Deshan said, "Later on you will shit on my head."
Another Background Story
Puhua pointed to the sage monk (Manjusri) statue in the meditation hall and asked Linji, "Tell me, is this ordinary or holy?
Linji immediately shouted.
Puhua said, "Heyang is a new bride, Muta's "old lady" Chan. Along with the little pisser of Linji, after all they have one eye."
Linji said, "This old thief!"
Puhua left the hall saying "Thief! Thief!"
Shoushan said, "Of these two thieves there is a real thief; tell me, which is the real thief?" Then in everyone's behalf he said, "Liu Benzi" (who was installed as second successor to the throne of China after Wang Mang, usurper of the Han dynasty claim to rule).
Xuedou's Comment
At that point, as soon as he bowed, to have hit him right on the spine would not only have cut off Dongshan, but would have held old Yantou still.
Wansong's Comment
When Yantou asked, "Is this ordinary or holy?" and Deshan immediately bowed, this too was like "the little pisser of Linji after all has one eye." Xuedou's comment gets at the same thing as Linji's saying, "This old thief!" Dongshan purposely took it up and falsely accused Yantou, wanting to show that at that time in the bow there was the provisional and the real. And after all when the fire reached Yantou's head, he hastily beat it out, saying, "Old man Dongshan doesn't know good from bad -- I was holding up with one hand and putting down with one hand." Thereat he finally lit the lamp and began to eat dinner. Both houses are distinctly clear.
Wick's Comment
Yantou is checking to see if it's a place he wants to study. "Is this place ordinary, or is it sacred? Am I going to have a great time here, or is it just going to be like the rest of my life?" Do I really wast to be here or not? Yantou's question, "common or holy?" is a trap. What can you say? As soon as you say one or the other, you're stuck in that position. How can you express it? Deshan gave a shout, and Yantou bowed. Yantou was checking out Deshan, but then he bows. So is the bow genuine, or is it just flattery? What's his intention? When Dongshan makes his comment, is he genuinely praising Yantou, or is he just probing Yantou to see how he would react? Yantou then remarks, indicating that he thinks he is better than Dongshan, and Yantou explains what he was doing. There's a stench of Zen on Yantou, a kind of arrogance.
Where are you stuck? How do you respond in these situations? Entering could be good or it could be bad. Leaving could be good or it could be bad. Or they could both be good. You never know whether something is going to turn out to be good or bad. It's all grist for the mill, as long as we're aware of it. Just do the best you can.
Charlie Pokorny's Verse
Yantou's "Bow and Shout"

One foot in, one foot out –
This pain, this tethered soul, this beauty, this light released
Does the shout go beyond?
Does the bow come back?
Hotetsu's Verse
Common or holy?
No, not in the least.
That's why
One bows.


Jul 19 - 25

Summer, week 5
"When we live by vow the meaning of our lives totally changes. A bodhisattva living by vow is distinguished from a person living by the continuation of his karma." --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed Jul 19 - Tue Jul 25 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Genjokoan 2, p. 33
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jul 22, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 116-127. (7.3 The Bodhisattva Vow)

This week's case: Gateless Gate #13 / Book of Serenity #55, "Deshan Carries His Bowls." CLICK HERE.


Gateless Gate 13, Book of Serenity 55

Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #13
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #55
Deshan Carries His Bowls

  • Deshan Xuanjian (Tokusan Senkan, 782-865, 11th gen). Go to DESHAN
  • Xuefeng Yicun (Seppo Gison, 822-908, 12th gen). Go to XUEFENG
  • Yantou Quanhuo (Ganto Zenkatsu, 828-87, 12th gen). Go to YANTOU
Wansong's Preface
Ice is colder than water. Blue derives from indigo. When one's viewpoint excels that of the teacher, one is ready for transmission. If the children who are raised are not equal to their parents, the family will decline in a single generation. Tell: Who is the one who snatches up the father's function?
[In BOS, not in GG: Xuefeng came to Deshan and became in charge of cooking food. One day, the lunch was late.]
Deshan came down to the hall carrying his bowls.
Xuefeng asked him, "Old Master, the bell has not yet rung nor the drum sounded. Where are you going with your bowls?"
Deshan immediately went back to his room.
Xuefeng told this to Yantou.
Yantou said, "Great Deshan though he is, he has not yet realized the last word." [Or: "Old Deshan does not understand ultimate truth" -Senzaki]
Hearing of this, Deshan sent his attendant to summon Yantou and then asked him, "Don't you approve of this old monk?"
Yantou secretly whispered his intention.
Deshan remained silent.
Sure enough, the next day, when Deshan ascended the rostrum, his talk was quite different from usual.
Yantou went to the front of the Zen hall and rubbing his hands together, laughed loudly and said, "Wonderful! How happy I am that our Old Man has realized the last word. From now on he'll be subject to no one on earth."
Wumen's Comment
As for the last word, neither Yantou nor Deshan have ever heard it, even in a dream. When I examine this point, I find they are just like puppets on a shelf.
Wumen's Verse
If you grasp the first word
You will realize the last word.
The last word and the first word,
These are not one word. [Or: "Are they not this one word?" (Cleary); "But neither the first nor the last is a word" (Low); "The last and the first, are they not the same?" (Senzaki)]
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
The last word: understood or not?
   The last word -- understand? No?
Deshan, father and sons, are exceedingly abstruse.
   Deshan the father and his sons are exceedingly indistinct.
Within the group there's a guest from Konan.
   In the assembly there is also a traveler from south of the river --
Don't sing the partridge's song before men.
   Don't sing of the partridges in front of people.
Bao-En's Comment
If you accept unrealities and take in echoes, you miss Deshan. If you suppress the strong and help the weak, you bury Yantou. I tell you frankly, for an example of the proverb, "When the teacher is excellent, the apprentices are strong," credit goes to Deshan and his disciples Xuefeng and Yantou.
Youke's's Comment
Those who conceal an army to fight by night do not see Deshan. Those who attack occupied territory by day can hardly know Yantou. What they don't realize is that the battle commander picks fights by day, the watch commander patrols the camp by night.
Keizan's Comment
Deshan just accepts the flow, being as is. Yantou and Xuefeng scatter rubbish in the eye; playing at being adept, they turn out inept.
Aitken's Comment
One might expect Deshan to say, as head of the temple, "The meal is late. You know our schedule is tight. When we have to wait for the meal, that means the time for the monks to rest is shortened, and they need their rest. So it's important that we have our meals on time." But he said no such thing. He just turned and went back to his room. This is the first noteworthy point of the case. As he turned around and headed back, he gave a silent teaching. Then Yantou brings up "the last word." What is the last word? When Deshan asked Yantou about this, Yantou "whispered his intention." What about Yantou's whisper? Can you fathom it? Suppose you were in the assembly the next day when Yantou exclaims "From now on, no one under heaven can outdo him!" How would you answer Yantou's implicit challenge.
Cleary's Comment
Part of the function of the koan's structure is to arouse doubt in the mind of the onlooker, in order to examine the doubt, the doubter, and the doubting. Some say Yantou was provoking an incident in order to help Xuefeng wake up. The "first word" and "last word" refer to samsara and nirvana, or the relative and the absolute, or responsibility and freedom. A genuine understanding of either implies an understanding of both.
Low's Comment
Later, when the two were traveling, Yantou would say to Xuefeng, "What comes in by the front door is not the treasure of the house." This in its way is a key to this koan. Picture Deshan with his bowl, Xuefeng challenging him, and Deshan turning back to his room. What is Xuefeng up to? Is he just being egoistic and rude? Is he thoughtless, or is he challenging Deshan, "Hey, show me your Zen"? What was in Deshan's mind when he returned to his room? Would he have controlled resentful thoughts, kept his mind aloof, and have refused to be moved by Xuefeng? Or would he have flowed out love and compassion toward Xuefeng, hoping in this way to help him overcome his ignorance? What would you have done? No one walked back to Deshan's room. Who, or what, is this no one? Then, in the second act, Xuefeng tells Yantou what happened. Was he bragging, saying the he caught the old man out? Yantou seems to think so and comments that Deshan doesn't know the last word. Why does Yantou side with Xuefeng? What is the last word of Zen? How is it that a renowned teacher such as Deshan does not know it? We have lost the real word, the live word, and so live in a twilight world. Words bring worlds into being -- so what brings words into being? How could we name that? One must say the last word without opening the mouth, and to know this word one must have already gone beyond anything. Then in the final act Deshan gives a talk like no other, and Yantou declares that he has truly grasped the last word of Zen. What was the talk that so pleased Yantou? Did Deshan give a talk?
Sekida's Comment
The last word. There are four wisdoms: Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, Universal Nature Wisdom, Marvelous Observing Wisdom, and Perfecting of Action Wisdom. When you first attain realization, the first, Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, appears. This is the fundamental wisdom. Usually, however, this wisdom is still dim. As you make progress, polishing the other three wisdoms, this Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom becomes ever more brilliant. That final state of great brilliance is the ultimate fulfillment of subtle enlightenment. Of course, it scarcely needs to be said that these wisdoms are simply names for aspects of actual experience. There are gradations in the development of these wisdoms, from which comes the idea of first and last.
Senzaki's Comment
Deshan should have waited for the signal before entering the dining room. Thus, the old master "got the goat" of the cook. The cook should have considered his own rule-breaking -- delaying the dinner -- before criticizing his teacher. Because his Zen was green, he was not master of his mind; he could not see both sides of the wrong. Xuefeng told Yantou about this. Xuefeng still thought he was right and the master was wrong. If Yantou had blamed Xuefeng he would have had to have heard a noisy argument, so he switched the blame to the master. The aim of Zen is to attain peacefulness, not to settle a matter of right or wrong. Deshan hears about, calls in Yantou, who whispered to his teacher that what he had said was in hopes of enlightening his brother monk. Deshan said nothing. You see how gently the master listened to the tale-teller, and how naturally he asked Yantou about it, and how easily and freely he listened to the whisperer, just nodding to him. The next day, Deshan gave an entirely different kind of talk. What kind of lecture do you think the master gave? To work on this koan you must watch your step minute after minute. In your home, in your community, and in your world, you must polish and practice your own Zen. Do not blame the law-breakers until you examine yourself as to whether you are a law-breaker or not. If you know that there is no ego to be supported, you can easily and gracefully give in. Most of the time you gain by giving in, and you lose by persisting. There is no such thing called "ultimate truth" outside your everyday life.
Shibayama's Comment
Deshan was a great and most capable Zen Master. Why did he quite naively turn back to his room without saying a word? Here we have to enter into Deshan's heart. Granting that he committed a blunder by coming down to the dining room before the mealtime was announced, there has to be his Zen at work here, worthy of a great Zen Master. There is no stink of Zen. He lives with no pretension, no affectation. His transcendental purity is like that of an infant. Listening to Xuefeng's report, Yantou felt sorry for Xuefeng, who did not realize his inability to appreciate Deshan's Zen at work. He attempted to inspire his good friend. He resorted to extreme measures, saying Deshan had not yet grasped the last word of Zen. Yantou was well aware that old Deshan was a truly accomplished Master. The koan here gets very intricate. For Xuefeng and the rest of the monks at Deshan's monastery, "The last word of Zen" now stands in front of them as a barrier they must break through. The great question here for everybody is whether the world-famous old Deshan had not in fact grasped the last word of Zen. Consequently, another question is "What is this last word of Zen?" Also it has to be asked whether there is really a so-called last word in Zen or not. What was the secret Yantou whispered? With this question Zen deprives a student not only of all his knowledge and intellect but even of the last smack of Zen. It will open up for him a true Zen vista, pure, lucid, immaculate and simple. Yantou ran a grand play, carrying around "the last word of Zen" until the end and demanding that Xuefeng and the rest of the monks break through this barrier. How will you respond to Yantou's call? How will you express appreciation for his efforts in producing such a grand play? If you are unable to greet him properly you have missed the point of the koan altogether. Here your concrete grasp of the koan based on your own training and experience is required.
Yamada's Comment
Deshan said nothing and quietly returned to his room. What a splendid state of mind! Deshan was not aware of it himself, but he had matured wonderfully with age. Can you appreciate it? Xuefeng was not able to. Here was Deshan unconsciously showing him the supreme world of Zen by his action. Similarly, Mahakashyapa realized what Shakyamuni really meant when he twirled a flower in front of the assembled monks.
The last word. Literally, the last word would seem to mean the highest state of consciousness in Zen. Yantou's device was to prod Xuefeng, who was lingering along the way, by making him wonder whether there might be a last word. What is it? He must strive to achieve it in deeper realization. The last word is that which is spoken without using lips and tongue. It has no meaning. It is nothing.
Yantou's exclamation after Deshan's "different" talk. Yantou was still trying to incite Xuefeng to deeper realization, but in spite of all these efforts, Xuefeng was not able to attain it at that time. It was some years later that Xuefeng finally came to great enlightenment under Yantou's guidance.
Wick's Comment
In his youth as a teacher, Deshan was renowned for being quick with a heavy stick -- yet here he just returns to his room without saying a word. Why is that? Yantou brings up the idea of a "last word." What is the last word of Zen? Do you ever reach the last word? If you say the last word, I can say something else -- and that becomes the last word. Of course, the last word may not be a word at all! Deshan calls for Yantou, who whispers his intention. What did he whisper and why was Deshan satisfied? Deshan's next talk is different. What was different about this talk? So the last word, is it understood or not? If you understand it, what do you understand? If you see clearly into it, there's nothing to understand, and no one to understand it. But if you don't understand it, you're only half a person. Paraphrasing Deshan himself from earlier in his career: If you say you understand it, I give you thirty blows. If you say you don't, I give you thirty blows. So what is it?
Charlie Pokorny's Verse
Xuefeng, the Rice Cook

Hey Deshan! “What? Huh?”
No trace of those lofty heights.
Emptiness is taught for the stuck and staid.
A toothless tiger yawns on the high seat.
Gatha from the Diamond Sutra
So you should view this fleeting world:
a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
a flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
Hotetsu's Verse
Deshan, deep student of the Diamond (his beginning, his first word)
Burner of all his notes (no further words on that!)
At last becomes himself the Diamond.
In this fleeting world he comes --
   an ancient man
   bowls in hand
   no bell rung
   no drum struck
In this phantom dreamland he goes --
   an ancient man
   bowls in hand
   bereft of clue
   bereft of luck.


Jul 12 - 18

Summer, week 4
"The activity of buddha is carried on together with the whole earth and all living beings; if it is not activity that is one with all things, it is not buddha activity." --Dogen
"Acting in accordance with the entire earth and with all beings is zazen practioners' whole life direction" --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed Jul 12 - Tue Jul 18 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 8
  • Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 23
  • The World of Dew, p. 26
  • An Unending Truth, p. 27
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jul 15, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 109-116. (7.1 Zazen as Religion; 7.2 Vow and Repentence)

This week's case: Blue Cliff Record #10, Muzhou's "Empty-Headed Fool." CLICK HERE.


Blue Cliff Record 10

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #10
Muzhou's "Empty-Headed Fool"

  • Muzhou Daoming (Bokushu Domyo, 780-877, 11th gen)
  • a monk
Go to MUZHOU on "Characters" page.
Yuanwu's Preface
Yes is yes; no is no. In the Dharma battle, each stands on his own ground. Therefore it is said, when one's activity is upward, even Shakyamuni, Maitreya, Manjusri, Samantabhadra, the thousand holy ones, and the religious teachers of the whole world become spiritless and silent. When one's activity is downward, even maggots, gnats, and all creatures become brilliantly illuminating and as independent as a ten-thousand-fathom cliff. However, how is it when one's activity is neither upward nor downward? If there is any rule, rely on the rule; if there is no rule, follow a precendent. See the following.
Muzhou asked a monk, "Where are you from?"
At once the monk shouted, "Kaatz!"
Muzhou said, "This old monk has been scolded by you with a 'Kaatz'!"
The monk shouted again, "Kaatz!"
Muzhou said, "After three or four shouts of 'Kaatz,' then what?"
The monk was silent.
Then BokushĂ» hit him saying, "You empty-headed fool!"
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Two shouts, three shouts;
   Two shouts and a third shout;
The knowing one knows well;
   Adepts are expert at strategic change.
If going hell-bent,
   If you call that riding the tiger's head,
Both are blind.
   Both would be blind.
Who is blind? Fetch him!
   Who is blind?
Expose him to the world!
   I bring it out for all to see.
Linji's Comment
I've heard all of you imitate my shouting. But I ask you, if a monk comes from the east hall and another monk comes from the west hall, and they both shout at once, which one is the guest and which on is the host? If you can't distinguish host and guest, then you must not imitate me any more after this.
Yuanwu's Comment
Some people say, "Why worry about Muzhou saying, 'After three of four shouts, then what?'?" and just go on shouting. Let them give twenty or thirty shouts, even go on shouting until Maitreya comes down to be born, and call this riding the tiger's head. If you understand in this fashion, it's because you don't know Muzhou.
Hakuin's Comment
"After three or four shouts": He gradually brought him to a pitfall; an expert commander is unique. Though this monk has no choice but to act, he remains silent; what about that? There is flavor in this silence, and Xuedou appreciates it.
Tenkei's Comment
"You thieving phony!": He shamed him, calling him an outsider with no guts but a high opinion of himself.
Sekida's Comment
"Katsu" (or "kaatz") is an onomatopoeic word for Zen shouting, which was originally used by the teacher when he wanted to sweep from the student's mind all kinds of complications, delusive thinking and so on. Later it came to have several uses. In the present case the monk used it to express his condition.
"This old monk is shouted down by you." Muzhou's reply did away with the monk's shout as if it had been absorbed by empty space. The monk shouted again, but is he a true dragon or a common snake?
"What about after the third and fourth shouts?" The lion was staying crouched. When the monk was then silent, Muzhou hit him. Deshan used to say, "I hit you if you answer, and I hit you if you do not answer." Linji often used hitting to express approval. "You empty-headed fool!" is an instance of approving while seeming to denigrate.
Yamada's Comment
"Where did you come from?" – a checking question. It tries to find out whether the monk is enlightened or not, or (if he is enlightened) how deep his realization is. When asked where they came from, most people answer, "I came from so and so." But this monk suddenly answered with a "Kaatz!" A wonderful Kaatz, which might be paraphrased, "Coming or not coming – what a silly question. Away with it! Kaatz!" But this first "Kaatz" doesn't really show whether the monk is actually enlightened or not. Shouting out loud does not necessarily guarantee authenticity.
"This old monk has been scolded by you with a Kaatz!" This is intended to test whether the monk's "Kaatz" was backed up by solid understanding. Once again, the monk hurled his "Kaatz!" This monk doesn't seem to be an ordinary fellow. He isn't mechanically imitating someone; with his "Kaatz" he is throwing his rugged enlightenment at Muzhou. Then Muzhou reveals his real power:
"After three or four shouts of 'Kaatz,' then what?" What happens after you've shouted "Kaatz" three, four, or hundreds or thousands of times? Will your "Kaatz! Kaatz!" bring you anywhere?
The monk was silent. Now this silence is the big problem. Many say that this silence is not bad, is in fact quite meaningful. Some say that he should have let out another "Kaatz!," but I don't think so. This silence is significant enough.
"You fake monk!" In Zen, there exists no end to the deepening process of our practice, so this severe phrase could be applied to any Zen personage. One famous verse goes, "Even the blue sky must be hit with a stick." At the beginning the monk bravely yelled out his "Kaatz"-cries, but then he became speechless. This judgment attests to Muzhou's supreme Zen-power. But this doesn't mean that the monk was blind.
Rothenberg's Verse
All this Shouting

Look up -- the sages suck in their breath
and swallow their voice
Look down -- worms, maggots,
all the rest of us sentient beings
beam out a shining light.

Walk straight ahead -- how will you deal?

After three or four shouts, a swipe at the head
Always let the monk make the first move
(all this violence, only, to cut away pride?)

Sometimes a shout is a crouching lion.
sometimes it is a jeweled sword.

Cut through the noise
Up! Down!
Slicing quick to the other side.

If there's no wound to enter,
you must find a way in,
Once through, you must not turn your back
to see where you are. Out!
Hotetsu's Verse
Where did you come from, after all?
Conceived in a shout and birthed from silence,
As was the Universe, Dao, God --
As is each eternal moment coming forth.


Jul 5 - 11

Summer, week 3
"there is only the ceaseless flow." --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed Jul 5 - Tue Jul 11 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Genjokoan 1, p. 32
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jul 8, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 97-107. (6.3 Interdependence and the Middle Way; 6.4 Delusion and Zazen)

Thi week's case: Linji Draws a Line, Book of Serenity #95: CLICK HERE


Book of Serenity 95

Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #95
Linji Draws a Line

  • Linji Yixuan (Rinzai Gigen, 812-867, 11th gen)
  • a temple steward
  • the monastery's tenzo (head cook monk)
Go to LINJI on "Characters" page.
Wansong's Preface
When the Buddha comes, one hits him;
When a devil comes, one hits him.
If there is logic, thirty blows;
If there is no logic, thirty blows.
Does one betray malice and hatred through misapprehension?
Or is one not able to distinguish the good [from the bad]?
Try to say it, and I’ll see!
Linji asked the temple steward, "Where have you come from?"
The temple steward said, "From selling brown rice in the province."
Linji said, "Did you sell all of it?"
The manager said, "Yes, I sold all of it."
Linji drew a line with his staff and said, "Have you sold all of this too?"
The manager shouted, "Kaatz!"
Linji immediately struck him.
Later, the tenzo came to Linji, who told him about this incident.
The tenzo said, "The steward didn't understand Your Reverence's intention."
Linji said, "How about you?"
The tenzo made a deep bow.
Linji struck him likewise.
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Linji's total activity -- excellent quality.
   Linji's whole dynamic -- the character and tone are high:
His staff-tip has the eye to distinguish autumn fur.
   On the staff is an eye which can distinguish the finest hair.
Sweeping away fox and hare, his style is precipitous.
   Sweeping out the foxes and rabbits, the family manner is strict,
Lightning and fire scorch, transforming fish and dragons.
   Transforming fish to dragons, lightning fire burns.
Life-giving sword, death-giving sword.
   The life-giving sword, the death-dealing sword:
Leaning against heaven, illuminating the snow,
   Leaning against the sky, shining on the snow,
more sharply than the hair-blown sword,
   sharp enough to sever a hair blown against it,
evenly performing the decree, distinguishing delicate flavors.
   Equally the order's carried out, but tasting differs --
Who meets this painful spot utterly?
   Where it's totally painful, who is it that experiences it?
The Record of Linji, Chap. 22, Trans by Jeffrey Broughton & Elise Yoko Watanbe
The Master asked the temple Custodian, "What place do you come from?"
The Custodian said, "I've just come back from going to the provincial center to sell husked sorghum."
The Master said, "were you able to sell all of it?"
The Custodian said, "It all sold."
The Master with his staff slashed a line [on the ground] right in front of him, saying "By the way, could you have sold this?
The Custodian [springing free of the vajra cage] instantly gave a shout, and the Master instantly whacked him.
The Head Cook arrived. When the Master mentioned this exchange to him, the Head Cook said, "The temple Custodian hasn't understood the Preceptor's meaning."
The Master said, "Well, how about yourself?"
The Head Cook instantly bowed. The Master whacked him, too.
Wick's Comment
The steward doesn't take the first bait, so Linji throws out a second line. Is he asking about selling rice when he says, "Is it all sold?" Did you sell every bit of it, including your self? Did you see that all form is empty, including inside and outside? Did you drop away body and mind? But even that second arrow didn't go very deep. The monk had all his defenses up. He said, "Yeah, I sold it." Still, Linji doesn't give up. He throws out more bait. He hold up his staff, draws a line. "Did you sell this?" This is priceless. You may have sold the rice, but you can't put a price on this. The monk shouts; Linji hits him. What was Linji demonstrating by hitting him? Linji really cared about his monks. He used his stick to put energy in the monk's body. In many of these cases, a blow from the stick and everything's forgotten!
Sue Austin's Verse
Linji's One Stroke
Fox, coyote,
firedog, sundog, fogdog, dog dog,
wolf! - following the tracks home,
the book falls open and hits the mark.
Ryokan’s moon a torch to see
shining on the snow, a diamond blade
of hoar grass.
What person? What world?
A gourd dipper on a branch click, clack.
“It’s you, it’s you!”
Daido's Comment
Drawing a line with a staff is an action that contains the whole catastrophe; thus! Did you sell it all? Did you sell trimming the shrub, planting a tree, cooking the soup, editing a text? Is there any sacred activity that remains, or is it all gone? The director walks into Linji's trap and answers with a shout. He leans and falls over. Linji responds to the imperative and hits him. How would you have answered Linji?
The head cook sees that the director misses the point and presents his understanding with a bow. Linji hits him too. Tell me, are these two hits the same or different? To say the same misses it; to say different is off the mark; to say both or neither is a thousand miles from the truth. If you want to see into the point of Linji's actions, you must first understand being-as-it-is, which is the nature of things in objective reality, without the distortion of ideas and concepts.
Daido's Verse
Eloquent mouth and clever tongue diminish virtue;
cutting off the ten directions gets failing grade.
Opening up and kneading together.
spring is met at every turn.
Hotetsu's Verse
Sell your shout for a whack, or your bow for the same,
Sell all that you've grown, lose your load, lose your name.
Still that trace of the staff is beyond an exchange
'Cause what's given for free is in no one's price range.

Jun 28 - Jul 4. BOS #38

Summer, Week 2

Speaking of the 4th of July and the Declaration of Independence and the whole "pursuit of happiness" thing:
That we make continuous scientific progress resulting in greater human comfort is fine, and that we possess the dissatisfaction that serves as the force for developing and progressing is also certainly a wonderful thing. The problem is that dissatisfaction with the present easily leads to impatience for our desires to be fulfilled, and that engenders a behavior of daggers drawn toward any and all competitors, resulting in the total loss of any peace in our lives. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed Jun 28 - Tue Jul 4 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Heart of True Entrusting, p. 26
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jul 1, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 89-97. (6.1 The Dissatisfactions of Modern Life; 6.2 Self Settling on Itself)

This week's case: "Linji's True Person," Book of Serenity #38

Linji Yixuan (812-867, 11th gen) was a disciple of Huangbo 770?-850, 10th gen), disciple of Baizhang (720-814, 9th gen), disciple of Mazu (709-88, 8th gen). Linji is the founding figure of the Linji House, one of the five houses of Zen.
Linji addressed the assembly, saying, "There is a true person of no rank. He is always leaving and entering the gates of your face. You beginners who have not witnessed him: Look! Look!"
Thereupon a monk asked, "How about this true person of no rank?"
Linji got down from the seat and grabbed him.
The monk hesitated, and Linji pushed him away, saying, "This true person of no rank; what a shit-stick he is!"
The Record of Linji, Chap. 3, Trans by Jeffrey Broughton & Elise Yoko Watanbe
Spoken at a Dharma-Hall Convocation: "Beyond the red-meatball [mind] there is the one true person [true mind or buddha nature] who can't be ranked. [I.e., who does not belong to the 'buddha' ranking and does not belong to the 'sentient-being' ranking.] [That true person/true mind] is constantly exiting and entering from the face-gates of all of you people [like the dazzling rays of light emitted from the face-gate of a buddha]. Those who have not seen with their own eyes -- look! Look!"
At one point there was a monk who emerged to ask: "What is the true person who can't be ranked?"
The Master got down from the [curved-wood] Chan chair, and grabbed him by the collar, saying, "C'mon! C'mon!"
The monk dithered.
The Master, thrusting him back, said, "[This] 'true person who can't be ranked' -- what a magnificent piece of dried shit!" And he at once returned to the fangzhang [personal chamber, ten-foot square].
The Record of Linji, Chap. 3, Trans by Thich Nhat Hanh
One day the Zen master came into the Dharma Hall and said, "On this lump of red flesh is a real person of no position who comes in and out right before your face. Whoever has not seen that person should look carefully. Have a good look!"
At that point a monk came up and asked, "What is that real person of no position?"
The master stepped down from the meditation platform, took hold of the monk and said, "Speak! speak! What is that real person with no position?"
The monk was perplexed.
The master let go of him and said, "The real person with no position is no more than dry excrement on a stick."
Having spoken, he went back to his room immediately.
Wansong's Preface
Taking a theif for a son, perceiving a servant as master. A broken wooden ladle -- how can this be the dried skull of an Ancestor! A donkey saddle cannot be the lower jaw of a grandfather. When the land is split up and the thatch roof is partitioned, how do we distinguish the master?
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Delusion and enlightenment are mutually opposed
   Delusion and enlightenment are opposite,
Subtly conveyed, it's simple:
   Subtly communicated, with simplicity;
In spring, the hundred flowers bloom by a zephyr;
   Spring opens the hundred flowers, in one puff,
in strength, nine oxen are turned about with a jerk.
   Power pulls back nine bulls, in one yank.
It's hopeless to dig a hole in the mud -- it won't stay open
   It's hopeless -- the mud and sand can't be cleared away;
Clearly the sweet spring's eye has been closed.
   Clearly blocking off the eye of the sweet spring,
Suddenly dash out and it freely gushes forth.
   If suddenly it burst forth, it would freely flow.
Thich Nhat Hanh's Comment
The word "position" (in "person of no position") is often understood to mean our status in society. In this case it also means our exact location in space and time. The true person without position can't be located in time and space. This doesn't mean the true person isn't there; it's just that the true person can't be grasped. The Buddha can't be grasped. The Tathagata cannot be found in form, nor outside of form, nor in feelings, perceptions, mental formations, or consciousness, nor does the Tathagata transcend form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness (Anuradha Sutra). Master Linji was saying the same thing. This pile of flesh here, with blood, bone, and marrow, is not the true person. Nor is the true person something outside of them. We live our whole life in this ignorance, thinking our feelings and our flesh are the sum total of our true person. Our true person has no position, is not inside or outside, is not tricked by birth and death, by coming and going, by having or not having, by what we do or don't do. Our true person can't be found by means of our intellect, our reasoning. Our true person is our own miraculous Buddha, present in our wonderful relationship with all things. We are the clouds, the sky, all our ancestors and descendants. Our true person is a wonder. And when we can see this, we are well. We still have our ups and downs, but we don't identify ourselves with them; we know we are more than that.
"...no more than dry excrement on a stick." Linji expressed his disappointment but at the same time used an image opposite the one we have of the true person. We tend to think of a true person as pure and noble, someone extraordinary, so Linji uses this image of dried excrement to neutralize our view. If we have a set view about what our true person is, then that view has no more value than a piece of dry fecal matter.
Wick's Comment
"No rank" means "no basis on which to depend." We find security in our credentials. We are proud of our accomplishments and continually want recognition. Any hint of accomplishment or of feeling better than someone else is like putting chevrons on your sleeve and displaying your rank. No rank means to strip away all of your credentials and then see who you are. The true person of no rank is continually entering and leaving the five sensory gates of your face. Linji gave a clue about how to reveal that true person: "Mind is without form and pervades the ten directions. In the eye, it's called seeing. In the ear, it's called hearing. In the nose, it smells odors. In the mouth, it holds conversation. In the hand, it grasps and seizes. In the feet, it runs and carries. Fundamentally, it is one pure radiance. Divided, it becomes harmoniously united spheres of sense. Since the mind is not existent, wherever you go, you're free." By polishing away our credentials, our cherished views, our status and position, the true person of no rank will appear. On whose door does the moonlight not shine? Who is not the true person of no rank?
Non-Abiding Riding Waves' Verse
Linji's "True Man"
Watching the mind that thinks
the blind man sees through his ears.
Witness looking in and out
of the face
When it comes back to you let go
start over.
Daido's Comment
The true person of no rank is the real form of truth as it appears throughout the universe. It is fluid and in a constant state of becoming. The true person of rank is the real form of truth as it appears throughout the universe. It, too, is fluid and in a constant state of becoming. Rank and no rank are nondual. Therefore, each and every thing up to and including each one of us exists thus!
The essence of all phenomena is thusness; the real nature of body and mind is thusness. Therefore, it cannot be attained by any personal effort. Realized or not, it has always been manifesting as our very life itself.
Daido's Verse
It is at once you,
yet you are not it.
It must be understood in this way,
if you are to merge with suchness.
Hotetsu's Verse
Right where you are is everywhere-nowhere.
Without rank, position, business, affairs,
The no-rowing rowing of your no-boat boat:
Gentle, merry, carried by the stream.



Jun 21 - 27.

Summer, Week 1
When we let go of all our notions about things, everything becomes really true. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed Jun 21 - Tue Jun 27 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Shorter Precepts, p. 47
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jun 24, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 82-89. (5.2 The Activity of the Reality of Life).

(Meredith is away in New Orleans this week. Brian LaVoie will lead the Saturday practice.)


Jun 14 - 20. BOS #13

Spring, Week 13
All existence, all living beings, are living out the power of one great all-pervading life. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed May 24 - Tue Jun 20 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 16
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 16
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jun 17, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 75-82. (5.1 Universal Self)

This week's case: Linji's "Blind Donkey", Book of Serenity #13

Linji Yixuan (812-867, 11th gen) was a disciple of Huangbo 770?-850, 10th gen), disciple of Baizhang (720-814, 9th gen), disciple of Mazu (709-88, 8th gen). Linji is the founding figure of the Linji House, one of the five houses of Zen. Sansheng Huiran (b. 830?, 12th gen) was one of three dharma descendants of Linji.
When Linji was about to die, he entrusted Sansheng with his Dharma and said, "After my passing, do not destroy my treasury of the Eye of the true Dharma."
Sansheng said, "How would I dare destroy your treasury of the Eye of the true Dharma?"
Linji said, "If someone asks you about it, how will you answer?"
Sansheng instantly shouted, "Kaatz!"
Linji said, "Who knows that my treasury of the Eye of the true Dharma has been destroyed by this blind donkey?"
Wansong's Preface
Devoted entirely to others, oneself is unknown. Straightaway eliminating Dharmas, you shouldn't be bothered by there being no one. Mean treatment, like breaking a wooden pillow, should be used. What about when it's time to depart?
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
At midnight the robe of faith's transmitted to No of Ro (Huineng):
   The robe of faith is imparted at midnight to Huineng,
seven hundred upset monks on Yellow Plum Mountain (Huineng's monastery)!
   Stirring up the seven hundred monks at Huangmei.
The True Dharma Eye of Linji's limb;
   The eye of truth of the branch of Linji --
the blind ass extinguished it and people despised him.
   The blind ass, destroying it, gets the hatred of others.
Mind and mind together sealed --
   Mind to mind they seal each other;
Ancestor to Ancestor transmitting the lamp.
   Patriarch to patriarch they pass on the lamp,
Seas and mountains being leveled,
   Leveling oceans and mountains,
a giant fish becomes a phoenix.
   Magically producing a roc:
It's just that such splendid words are hard to compare with;
   Just the name and word is hard to compare --
any time as a device he can metamorphose.
   In sum, the method is knowing how to fly.
Wansong's Comment
In reality this thing does not increase even though a thousand buddhas appear in the world, nor does it decrease when a thousand sges pass away -- how could one Sansheng be able to cause it to prosper or die out? Sansheng came out and said, "How dare I destroy the teacher's treasury of the eye of truth?" The treasury of the eye of truth has not become extinct. Linji asks further, and Sansheng shouted. In high antiquity and later times, since Baizhang was deafened for three days by Mazu's shout, none have compared to this shout of Sansheng.
Wick's Comment
In the Zen tradition, the first instance of Dharma transmission was when Shakyamuni Buddha said, "I have the all-pervading True Dharma Eye. Now I give it to Mahakashyapa" -- and thereby acknowledged Mahakashyapa as his successor. The True Dharma Eye is the reality of what is -- but as soon as you think about it, it's something else. The True Dharma Eye is unborn and undying, and cannot be extinguished.
Master Linji died young, at the age of fifty-five, but the school he founded continues to thrive. His Dharma has been transmitted through the generations to this day. This is another sense in which the True Dharma Eye has not been extinguished. Transmission in Zen does not rely on letters but is transmitted outside the scriptures, from teacher to student, because the experiential fact of the truth does not belong to the realm of logic and intellect (though it does not exclude it either). Because the transmission is always from teacher to student, there can be no self-proclaimed masters in Zen. Each generation vows to his or her teacher to not let his or her True Dharma Eye be extinguished.
Linji is not criticizing Sansheng by calling him a blind donkey, but in fact this is very high praise indeed. Here, to be "blind" means to manifest the state of "no eye" -- the state the Heart Sutra describes as "no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind." When you manifest that state, there is no separation between you, the act of seeing, and the object seen. Not deceived by intellectual conundrums, delusions, knowledge, preoccupation, and attachments the blind donkey is a liberated person who maintains the heart of not-knowing, not seeing. Sansheng says, "How could I let it be extinguished?" But tell me: How would you extinguish something that's unborn and undying?
Ryan Ginn's Verse
Linji's "Blind Ass"
The tools of the trade passed on
Eye to Eye
Warm hand to warm hand
In this lineage
we shout, dance, and slap
when the cup is full
We empty it
The treasury of the eye of truth is not to be
Or taken for granted.
Daido's Comment
Seeing his death appearing, Linji wants to confirm his senior disciple Sansheng as his successor. He says, "After I pass away, do not allow my treasury of the true dharma eye to perish." Since this is a matter that has never advanced nor declined in countless aeons, even before and after the appearance of the buddhas and the ancestors, why does he make such a request?
Sansheng understands his teacher and shows his own provisions. Still, not satisfied that the matter has been settled, the master presses further: "Later, when someone asks about my teaching, how will you answer them?" Sansheng shouts. Linji has no choice but to respond to the imperative: "Who would think that my treasury of the true dharma eye would perish with this blind ass?" But say, what is Linji's intent in saying this? Did his treasury of the true dharma eye perish or not?
Daido's Verse
Eyeball to eyeball,
each confirms the other.
Passing from mouth to ear, it perishes;
pasing from ear to mouth, it is born anew.
Hotetsu's Verse
I think of praying: dear God, when my time is nigh, let me enter
that good night as Linji did:
teaching with my last breath,
learning with my last awareness.
But never mind.
Linji's dying words granted that prayer long ago
And laid bare our imperishable treasury of the true dharma eye.


Jun 7 - 13. BCR #32

Spring, Week 12
It is not that the cessation of all thought is satori and good, and the arising of thoughts and the tendency to chase after them is delusion and bad. Just sitting, transcending good or evil, satori or delusion, is the zazen that transcends the sage and the ordinary person. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed May 24 - Tue Jun 20 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 16
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 16
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jun 10, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 68-74. (4.3 The Scenery of Life)

This week's case: Elder Ding Stands Still, Blue Cliff Record #32

Linji Yixuan (812?-867, 11th gen) was a disciple of Huangbo (d. 850, 10th gen), disciple of Baizhang (720-814, 9th gen), disciple of Mazu (709-88, 8th gen). Linji is the founding figure of the Linji House, one of the five houses of Zen. Elder Ding's dates are unknown. He was one of Linji's spiritual heirs.
Elder Ding asked Linji, "What is the essence of Buddhism?"
Linji, getting up from his seat, seized Ding, slapped him, and pushed him away.
Ding stood still.
A monk standing by said, "Elder Ding, why don't you bow?"
As he bowed, Ding suddenly became enlightened.
Yuanwu's Preface
Once the delusive way of thinking is cut off, a thousand eyes are suddenly opened. One word blocking the stream of thought, and all nen-actions [myriad impulses] are controlled. Is there anyone who would undergo the experience of dying the same death and living the same life as the Buddha? Truth is manifest everywhere. If you do not see it, this case is an ancient example.
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Inheriting the spirit of Huangbo,
   Huangbo's whole potential follows in his footsteps;
How could he be gentle and quiet?
   Brought forth, why should it remain at ease?
Not difficult for Kyorei
To lift his hands and split Mount Kasan,
   The great spirit lifted its hand without much ado
Letting the Yellow River through.
   Splitting Flower Mountains's ten million layers.
Hakuin's Comment
Linji grabbed Ding. Cut through with a single statement, and myriad impulses cease; it is necessary to break up everything, even satori, so Linji grabbed him with his left hand and slapped him with his right hand.
Ding stood there, as if nothing had happened. Splendid! This state manifested because of the power of stability deriving from long-term practice of meditation. This is where the waves of the ocean of learning evaporate overnight -- let him stand there till tomorrow.
The monk standing by was indeed perceptive, one of Linji's associates. As Ding bowed, he simply revived; there is no odor of satori here.
Tenkei's Comment
Linji slapped Ding. What "great meaning of Buddha's teaching" would you talk about here?
Ding stood there, a complete blank, unaffected. A bystander suggested that he bow and be done, to close the matter. It's not that he had not had a vision of enlightenment, it's just that his awkwardness was spoiling the party.
Sekida's Comment
What is the essence of Buddhism? Every time this question is raised it seems fresh and new. That is why it is so often asked, and why there are so many answers to it.
Linji seized, slapped, and pushed him away. This can happen only when a close relationship exists between teacher and disciple. Although the disciple is not aware of his own condition, the teacher perceives it as clearly as if he were looking at an aerial photograph and could point out on it the precise mountain that the student is struggling up. He can do this because he has himself been through that experience.
Ding stood still. His condition at this moment is aptly described as, "The bottom of his pail had fallen out." Imagine you were carrying water in a pail and its bottom suddenly fell out. This is a subtle moment. If chance favors you, openness and emptiness will suddenly appear within you. All the complications that beset you will suddenly be gone, and you will truly understand the emptiness of which you have heard so much but hitherto could not grasp.
A monk said, why don't you bow? A chance event or remark, such as that unwittingly provided by the monk in this episode, may count for much in the kensho experience, just as it does when one has a sudden idea while trying to solve an intellectual problem.
Ding became enlightened. Kensho means seeing into one's own true nature. When this occurs, there is first an intuitive looking into the object (the action of the first nen), and then comes reflection on it by the second and third nen. The moment Ding became aware of the necessity of blowing, he was reminded of himself, and this reflection upon himself brought about this kensho experience. The first nen's intuitive action of looking into the object is an action of pure ego. Reflecting upon this pure ego is seeing into one's own true nature, and the kensho experience is brought about. However, we are every moment reflecting upon ourselves (and thus are conscious of ourselves), but the kensho experience does not normally occur because the third nen (which carries out the reflecting, integrating, and synthesizing operations of the mind, and has come to assume the position of representing our self-consciousness itself), is permeated through and through with a utilitarian way of thinking. We call this state of affairs the deluded, habitual way of consciousness. It is this which blocks the intuitive, pure cognition of the first nen.
R.D.M. Shaw's Comment
The whole force of Huangbo's character was handed down to his successor, Linji who, being the tough sort of person that he was, could not help being rough and impatient in his methods. So he responded to Ding's question in a characteristic way. He had no diffficulty whatsoever in dealing with his questioner. He was like that legendary Kyorei (a legendary figure, a sort of Chinese Hercules who by one stroke of his hand cleft the mountain ranges of Ka which were hidering the flow of the Yellow River to the ocean), who just lifted up his hand and without and difficulty piled up the Mountains of Ka into their ten thousand ranges.
Yamada's Comment
"What is the great meaning of Buddhism?" Ding means "the ultimate reality" or "the fundamental fact" of the Buddhist dharma. The "great meaning of Buddhism" is the fundamental fact of Buddhist dharma. We could also say "truth," but this gives the impression of something abstract and logical, which is not entirely appropriate. Ding is asking, "What is the ultimate fact of Buddhism?" This is precisely what everyone wants to know.
Linji grabbed, slapped, and pushed him away. This is typical of Linji. What a rough treatment!
Ding just stood there, at a complete loss what to do. This is a nice state of mind. All of his delusive thoughts have disappeared. Ordinarily, a person in such a situation would grow angry, "Is that what an honorable master should do to a student?" Why, there might even be a brawl! But Ding simply stood there stupefied. This is the moment of the great death, with all delusive thoughts totally exhausted. But, if you stop here, nothing would happen. Only a bothersome period would follow. To be fixed in this vertical position is a fatal error; you need another leap
forward. Then all things open up – it's the "great resurrection."
A monk standing nearby suggested that Ding bow. I'm not sure whether this monk had an enlightened eye or not. Hearing this, Ding started to bow and, at this very instant, all things collapsed. It was the "great resurrection." This last "one stroke" can be occasioned by many things. In our present Case, it was the phrase, "Why don't you bow in thanksgiving?" This was "the one word that cuts though the current," by which all delusive thoughts are chopped off.
Rothenberg's Verse
The Elder Stands Still
Stand still until the time is right --
so many people are lost when they move.

There's a man standing by who sees through it all.
He has completely attained another one's power.
He uses effort to make up for lack of skill.
He is always passing in and out through your senses.
He face turns yellow and green.
What can be done about the fact that there is such a man?
Strike once with a whisk, split the blossoming mountain to bits.
The whole world appears right now.
Its layers have fallen apart.

His doubt itself is a mountainous heap,
the pieces of his life discarded.
When he steps, the snowpack has started to melt,
when the sun is above no shadows are cast.

At night the fragile ocean sparkles with clumps of light:
Worry for the tangible world.
Hotetsu's Verse
So the essence of Buddhism is: you get slapped and shoved.
Also: Bowing in gratitude.
In this gentle roughness
Gnawing hunger is itself the food.


May 31 - Jun 6. GG #28

Spring, Week 11
It seems to me that we spend all our lives playing with toys. It begins as soon as we are born....This is all just playing with toys! Right up to our death, we exchange one toy for another, and we end our lives having done nothing but play with toys. Doing zazen means to actualize the reality of life. Zazen is the self which is only the self of the universe, without any playing with toys. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed May 24 - Tue Jun 20 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 16
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 16
Next Saturday Zen Service: Jun 3, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 61-68. (4.1 Sesshins Without Toys, and 4.2 Before Time and "I" Effort)

This week's case: Longtan's Name Echoed Long, Gateless Gate #28

Longtan Chongxin (b. 765?, 10th gen) was a disciple of Tianhuang Daowu (748-807, 9th gen), disciple of Shitou (700-90, 8th gen). Deshan Xuanjian (782-864, 11th gen) was Longtan's disciple. Deshan had been a renowned scholar of the the Diamond Sutra before this meeting with Longtan. Later, Deshan's disciples would include Xuefeng (822-908, 12th gen) and Yantou (828-87, 12th gen).
One day Deshan kept asking Longtan for instruction till nightfall.
Longtan finally said, "The night is late. Why don't you go to bed."
Deshan thanked him, made his bows, raised the door curtain and left.
Seeing how dark the night was, he turned back and said, "It's pitch black outside."
Longtan lit a lantern and handed it to Deshan.
Just as Deshan reached for it, Longtan blew it out.
At that Deshan came to sudden realization and made a deep bow.
Longtan asked, "What have you realized?"
Deshan replied, "From now on, I will not doubt the words of the old master who is renowned everywhere under the sun."
The following day Longtan ascended the rostrum and declared, "There is a man among you whose fangs are like trees of swords and whose mouth is like a bowl of blood. Strike him and he won't turn his head. Someday he will settle on the top of an isolated peak and establish my Way there."
Deshan brought his sutra commentaries and notes to the front of the hall, held up a torch and said, "Even if you have exhausted abstruse doctrine, it is like placing a hair in vast space. Even if you have learned the vital points of all the truths in the world, it is like a drop of
water thrown into a big ravine."
He then burned all his commentaries and notes. After making his bows, he left.
Wumen's Comment
Before Deshan had crossed the border, his mind was full of resentment and his mouth speechless with anger. He wanted to go the way south, intending to refute the doctrine of the special transmission outside the sutras. When he got to the road to the province of Rei, he asked an old woman if he could buy refreshment from her.
The old woman said, "Your Reverence, what are all those books you are carrying in the cart?"
Deshan said, "Those are commentaries on the Diamond Sutra."
The old woman, "In that sutra, it says the past mind can't be caught; the present mind can't be caught; the future mind can't be caught. Your Reverence, with which mind are you going to take refreshment?"
This one question tightly shuts Deshan's mouth, but hearing the old woman's words, he still did not completely die away. He asked her, "Is there a Zen master near here?"
She replied, "Master Longtan lives a couple miles away."
After Deshan arrived at Longtan's, he was entirely defeated. It must be said that his former and latter words are not consistent. It seems that Longtan, forgetting his own unsightliness, took too much pity on Deshan. Seeing a live charcoal in Deshan, he immediately threw muddy water over his head to extinguish it. Looking at the whole affair coolly, I think it is just a farce.
Wumen's Verse
Seeing the face is better than hearing the name;
Hearing the name is better than seeing the face.
Even though he saved his nose,
Alas, he lost his eyes!
Baiyun's Verse
When light and dark overcome each other, that is not worth talking about;
As long as there is any interpretation, this is not yet intimacy.
When the paper torch went out, the eyes emerged.
Breaking through the empire of China, finding no one at all.
Baoning's Verse
All at once a cascade comes down before the cliff;
In the middle of the night, the sun is bright in the palm of his hand.
Opening wide his mouth, he expresses the energy of spirit;
With whom will he travel freely throughout the world?
Dahong's Verse
When light and dark form each other, things are vague and remote;
Who would have known the back of his head would gush with spiritual light?
All in all he drew the line, cutting off the path of a thousand distinctions;
South, North, East, West, he arrives at his native village.
Cleary's Comment
Overall, the story illustrates a sudden shift from ratiocinative conceptual consciousness to immediate all-at-once cosmic consciousness. The "darkness outside" represents unknown dimensions of reality beyond the confines of ordinary perception and thought. The Zen teacher hands the hesitant seeker a paper torch, which represents the ordinary exercise of the intellect, thus demonstrating the incommensurability of the tiny light of the torch with the immense vastness of the dark. This simple action further shows how the impression of illumination given off by the torch depends on keeping the eyes trained on the immediate vicinity of the torch itself, just as reason only works within its own self-circumscribed parameters.
Low's Comment
What happens when the light goes out? How dark it would be. In such darkness what could be seen? The alchemists say, "Our sun is a black sun."
Sekida's Comment
Longtan acted intuitively, not conceptually, in blowing out the candle. Sensation (the first nen) plays an important role in realization, and Longtan intuitively knew this. The sudden change from light to darkness had a great effect on Deshan. But if the action had been done intentionally, all would have been spoiled.
Senzaki's Comment
Can't you see the dull face of Deshan, receiving a lighted candle that illuminated only a few feet around him? Then Longtan blew it out! The hungry dog suddenly turned into a lion. Johann Tauler, the fourteenth-century mystic who was a disciple of Meister Eckhart, had an experience like Deshan's. He wandered in the world of wilderness and passed through absolute darkness and the bottomless abyss. Then suddenly he entered into the realm of inner truth and declared, "God is Nothingness." Zen students: do not tarry in the realm of nothingness. Pass through the darkness and see that "God is Everything." Until that moment, candles and torches are blown out in vain.
Shibayama's Comment
As it was dark outside, Deshan turned around and said, "It is pitch dark outside." Not only outside but iwthin, his mind too must have been like a dark abyss. Psychologically, he was in a touch-and-go situation. Longtan quietly lit the candle and handed it to him. Just at themomen when Deshan was about to take it, he blew it out with one breath. What superb working! What excellent instruction! In an instant the whole universe was in sher darkness again, and at this moment, all of a sudden Deshan's relativistic self was dispersed, like a barrel unhooped. This is the great inner conversion which has been described in Zen: "The world has collapsed and the iron mountain has crumbled!"
Yamada's Comment
How incompentent intellectual understanding can be! Why did Deshan come to realization so soon after he met the master? He was ready for it. Previous to that moment, knowingly or unknowingly, Deshan's practice had been accumulating and had matured sufficiently so that the hard ball of doubt broke with one probe from the master. When Longtan blew out the candle, he was actually blowing out the darkness! Deshan deeply realized Longtan's view that all living beings are Buddha from the beginning.
Hotetsu's Verse
He shone with the light of his knowledge.
It was a beautiful, wonderful thing, really.
Also beautiful is how much farther it is possible to see
In the dark.


May 24 - 30. BOS #83

Spring, Week 10
Since desires and cravings are actually a manifestation ofthe life force, there is nor reason to hate them and try to extinguish them. And yet, if we become dragged around by them and chase after them, then our life becomes fogged over. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed May 24 - Tue Jun 20 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Harmony of Relative and Absolute, p. 16
  • Fulfilling the Buddha Way, p. 16
Next Saturday Zen Service: May 27, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 52-60. (3.3 Waking Up to Life)

This week's case: Daowu's Nursing the Ill, Book of Serenity #83

Daowu Yuanzhi (769-835, 10th gen) was a disciple of Yaoshan (751-834, 9th gen), disciple of Shitou (700-90, 8th gen). Before studying with Yaoshan, Daowu had studied under Baizhang (720-814, 9th gen), disciple of Mazu (709-88, 8th gen). Guishan Lingyou (771-853, 10th gen) was also a disciple of Baizhang.
Guishan asked Daowu, "Where have you come from?"
Daowu said, "I come from nuring the ill."
Guishan said, "How many people are ill?"
Daowu said, "There are some ill, and some not ill."
Guishan said, "The one who is not ill -- isn't that you, dear Zhi?" ["Zhi" = short for "Yuanzhi," Daowu's other name]
Daowu said, "Ill or not ill -- it has nothing to do with 'that' matter. Say it quickly! Say it quickly!"
Guishan said, "Even if I could say it, it would have no connection with that matter."
Wansong's Preface
The whole body is ill, Vimalakirti is hard to cure. This grass is the medicine and Manjushri uses it well. Isn't it wonderful to encounter and grasp a man facing the ultimate, and obtain this place of peaceful ease?
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Marvelous medicines never touched his lips.
   When has the wonderful medicine ever passed his mouth?
A divine doctor never had to take his pulse.
   Even the miraculous physician can't hold his wrist.
Seeming to exist, he's not nothing
   As though existent, he is basically not nonexistent
Being utterly empty, he's not something.
   Utterly empty, he is basically not existent
Unextinguished, he's born; undestroyed, he lives eternally.
   Not perishing, yet born, Alive without dying:
He even goes utterly before the ancient Buddhas and walks alone among the empty kalpas.
   Completely transcending before prehistoric buddhas, walking alone after the empty aeon.
Being quiet -- heaven covers, earth supports.
   Subsisting peacefully -- sky covers, earth supports;
Being active -- the crow flies, the rabbit runs.
   Moving on -- the sun flies, the moon runs.
Wansong's Comment
I say, it's all tending the sick -- it's not as good as Daowu seeing through the heart, liver, and guts. Guishan was a master of appropriate technique, sizing up the audience to make his pronouncement, he said, "Even if I could say anything, it would have no relaiton." Only Hongzhi says, "Where there is no relation -- that is just right to say."
Shishin Wick's Comment
There are those who are sick while being healthy, and those who are healthy while being sick. In our own minds, we create all kinds of distress and discomfort for ourselves because of our self-grasping ignorance. Guishan asks, "Isn't it you who's not sick?" Not sick yet sick. What kind of state is that? But, Guishan is challenging him too, implying, "Aren't you stuck on one side?" Aren't you like the fellow who carries a board over one shoulder and can only see on side of the street because the board is obscuring the view? Daowu retorts, "Don't go calling me a board-carrying fellow. Sickness and nonsickness have nothing to do with it." These categories are useful, but they are fabrications. Utimately, whatever you say about it doesn't reach it. But since you have to say something, tell me: What would you say?
Yamada's Comment
Although it might seem a friendly chat, each question is a severe examination. What is this talk about "sickness" after all? What is "that matter?" It is the essential world. Your essential nature has no form: it has nothing to do with sickness or no sickness.
Roberta Werdinger's Verse
Daowu Tends the Sick
Song of the Great Physician
In the mess and fuss of the sickroom a pearl rolls under the bed.
When the parade stops the brassy sound pours out of aching knees.
Myriad hands and arms function, though I’ve burned the patient’s chart.
In the humming center of the existent, emptiness begs for a backrub.
Over the lush thrum of the non-existent, a chiropractor cracks a back.
Don’t say life & death are two when living nurses tend dead bodies;
Don’t make slush out of the grave distinctions carved into headstones.
It takes a cold pond to skate this blade: I float over nothing and serenely bite frost.
Hotetsu's Verse
The stars at night: sick or healthy?
The room where Daowu tends a patient: a sick or healthy room?
Perceiving the sickness of health, the health of sickness,
Is a single step down an infinite road --
A sick or healthy step?


May 17 - 23. BOS #21

Spring, Week 9
Life functions and the power of buddha is actualized, precisely at the point where we become completely lost. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed May 3 - Tue May 9 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Days Like Lightening, p. 46
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
Next Saturday Zen Service: May 20, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 41-52. (3.1 How to Do Zazen, and 3.2 Letting Go of Thoughts)

This week's case: Yunyan Sweeps that Ground, Book of Serenity #21.

Daowu Yuanzhi (769-835, 10th gen) and Yunyan Tansheng (780-841, 10th gen) were "dharma brothers" -- both were disciples of Yaoshan (751-834), who was a disciple of Shitou (700-90). Before going to Yaoshan, Daowu and Yunyan had studied and practiced together under Baizhang (720-814, 9th gen). Yunyan's disciple would be Dongshan Liangje (807-69, 11th gen), the founder of the Caodong (Soto) school; thus, Yunyan would become the grandfather of Caodong (Soto) Zen.
Xuansha Shibei (835-908, 13th gen) and Yunmen Wenyan (864-949, 13th gen) were also dharma brothers, disciples of Xuefeng (822-908). Some 80 or so years after the exchange between Yunyan and Daowu, Xuansha and Yunmen share their comments on it.
When Yunyan was sweeping the ground, Daowu said, "You are having a hard time!"
Yunyan said, "You should know there is one who doesn't have a hard time."
Daowu said, "If that's true, you mean there is a second moon?"
Yunyan held up his broom and said, "What number of moon is this?"
Daowu was silent.
Xuansha said, "That is precisely the second moon."
Yunmen said, "the butler greets the maid politely."
Wansong's Preface
Although you are freed of delusion and enlightenment, and have exhausted holiness and ordinariness, a particular capability is still needed to establish holiness and ordinariness, a particular capability is still needed to establish who is host and guest and distinguish between noble and base. It is not that there is no measuring of character or assigning of work. How do you understand the kndred spirit of the same branch?
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Using what's at hand he finished up the yard.
   Borrowing temporarily, Yunyan comprehends the gateway;
He could use it and know when to desist.
   Realizing the function as is appropriate, Daowu then rests.
Before Elephant Bone Crag, a hand fiddles with a snake.
   The snake handler on Elephant-Bone Crag --
What you did as a youngster, now aren't you ashamed?
   The doings of childhood seem shameful when you're old.
Other Ancients Comment
In addition to to Xuansha and Yunmen, other disciples of Xuefeng, and of Xuefeng's dharma brother, Yantou, have also commented, though their comment was not included in the koan:
Changqing Huileng (854-932): "What if he had the broom turned on him and shaken in his face?"
Luoshan Daoxian (n.d.): "Ah, these two old guys don't know good from bad! This fellow Yunyan, bound hand and foot -- how long has he been dead?"
Baofu Congzhan (d. 928): "Yunyan is a lot like someone pushing a cart through mud, working hard every step of the way."
Shishin Wick's Comment
When we practice we are continually sweeping the ground of our mind. We sweep it clean, and then the dust settles again, and then we sweep again. Sometimes we're like kids. You tell you kid, "Clean your room." He'll say, "What for? It's just going to get dirty again!" Keep sweeping your mind clean. Since all is emptiness, who is the one who's hard at it? "You should know there's one who isn't hard at it." It's not a question of hard or easy. It's just a question of totally putting yourself into it, so that the self completely disappears, and all there is, is "hard at it." When there's no place to rest, you will now there's one who isn't hard at it. Daowu said,
"So, is there a second moon?" Who are you -- the one hard at it or the one not hard at it? If you say one, then there's two. So, is there a second moon? The one who's hard at it and the one who isn't hard at it: Are they the same or are they different? To see the one who's not hard at it, we have to penetrate through the barriers set up by the Zen teachers. To be the puppet master, you have to see that one who's not hard at it.
But we don't see it because we are fascinated and attached to two moons: good and bad,; man and woman; the one hard at it and the one not hard at it.
When we look into our own mind there's all kinds of places where we stick, like Velcro. There's even places we stick that we don't see.
Don't think that Daowu didn't know what to say when he desisted. That was the way he answered Yunyan. It's just a second moon as soon as he says something.
The one who isn't hard at it, that's the same as not-knowing. If you come from that place, if you tap into that place, each one of us is not-knowing. Each one of us is the one who isn't hard at it. But the one who's hard at it is obscuring that view. We work so hard trying to be something else other than just being who we are. If you're nervous, just be nervous. There is no second moon in that.
Tova's Verse
Yunyan Sweeps the Ground
The One
is not busy.
Daido's Comment
Yaoshan teaches his cubs well. In playing together, they learn to clarify the business of the mountain lion. Yunyan's "What is not working hard?" is a phrase that contains the merging of the sacred and the profane. Can you see it? Daowu is not impressed, so he presses further to see if Yunyan will try to set up a reality body apart from the physical body. Yunyan responds to the imperative without falling into intellectual explanations. With a single stroke of the broom, he sweeps up heaven and earth. But say, has Daowu exposed Yunyan, or is it Yunyan who was exposed Daowu?
Daido's Verse
Working hard or not working hard --
this is not a matter of yin and yang.
How could the first moon be anything other
than the second moon?
Hotetsu's Verse
Working hard is taking it easy.
Taking it easy is working hard.
The moon, for instance: nothing works harder --
Nothing's more at ease.
The river, for instance.
The flower beside the path.


May 10 - 16. BCR #89, BOS #54

Spring, Week 8
Self is what is there before you cook it up with thought. --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed May 3 - Tue May 9 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Fukenzazengi 1, p. 36
  • The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 28
Next Saturday Zen Service: May 13, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 27-39.

This week's case: Yunyan's 'The Whole Body is Hand and Eye,'Blue Cliff Record #89; Book of Serenity #54.

Daowu Yuanzhi (769-835, 10th gen) was a disciple of Yaoshan (751-834), who was a disciple of Shitou (700-90). Yunyan Tansheng (780-841, 10th gen), was also a disciple of Yaoshan and thus a "dharma brother" of Daowu. Yunyan's disciple would be Dongshan Liangje (807-69, 11th gen), the founder of the Caodong (Soto) school; thus, Yunyan would become the grandfather of Caodong (Soto) Zen.
Yunyan asked Daowu, "What use does the great Boddhisattva of Mercy make of all those hands and eyes?"
Daowu said, "It is like a man straightening his pillow with his outstretched hand in the middle of the night."
Yunyan said, "I have understood."
Daowu said, "How do you understand?"
Yunyan said, "The whole body is hand and eye."
Daowu said, "You have had your say, but you have given only eight-tenths of the truth."
Yunyan sai, "How would you put it?"
Daowu said, "The entire body is hand and eye."

Yuanwu's Preface
When the entire body is the eye, while seeing you do not see; when the entire body is the ear, while hearing you do not hear; when the ntire body is the mouth, while speaking you do not speak; when the entire body is the mind, while thinking you do not think. Putting aside the entire body, if there are no eyes, how do you see? If there are no ears, how do you hear? If there is no mouth, how do you speak? If there is no mind, how do you think? If you are familiar with this point, you are in the company of the ancient Buddhas. However, putting aside being in the company of the Buddhas, with whom should you study Zen?
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
To say "the whole" is all right;
"The entire" is also well said.
   All over the body, right? Throughout the body, right?
If you take it conceptually,
You are a million miles away.
   Bringing it up is still a hundred thousand miles away.
When the giant roc spreads its wings,
The clouds of six directions vanish.
   Spreading its wings, the roc soars over the clouds of the six compounds,
Its wingbeats lash the seas
Of the four realms.
   Propelling the wind to churn the waters of the four oceans.
This is raising a speck of dust:
Much bleating but little wool!
   What speck of dust suddenly arises? What wisp of hair hasn't stopped?
Don't you see!
   Do you not see --
The net of jewels reflect each other!
   The pearls of the net drape a pattern, reflections multiplied in each other.
Where does the eye of the staff come from?
   Where do the hands and eyes on the staff come from?
I cry, "Tut! Tut!"
Hakuin's Comment
When you scoop up water, the moon is in your hands. It's like groping for a pillow while dreaming at night. Since the whole body all throughout is hands and eyes, Daowu's answer was lax.
Tenkei's Comment
Daowu's statement, "You've said quite a bit, but you've only expressed eighty percent," is the sinew and bone of this koan. It is the eye of a Zen teaching master switching a state of potential, a strategy for revival, turning freely.
Sekida's Comment
The great Bodhisattva of Mercy is Kannon (Avalokitesvara), who has a thousand hands and eyes. He (sometimes she) has empathy with all sentient creatures, looking into them individually and using a thousand different methods to save them.
It's like a man straightening his pillow. He has no thought but to arrange the pillow. He acts with his entire body and soul.
The whole body, the entire body: There can be no difference between these. But there can be a great difference in your degree of attainment and understanding.
Yamada's Comment
The entire universe is an eye, in which case there is neither seeing nor being seen; there is no one who sees and nothing which is seen since they are completely one. The entire universe is an ear since it is totally one. Thus, there is no sound which is heard and no one who hears since hearer and heard are completely one. Since there is essentially no mind there is no thinking. Although we spend our entire day thinking about one thing or another there is actually not a single thought. Both “whole body” and “throughout the body” are on the mark. Nevertheless, if you just bring them forth as concepts, if there is the slightest intellection mixed in, they are far indeed from the truth.
Rothenberg's Verse
Tossing and Turning
If you were just an eye, you still couldn't see it.
If you were just an ear, you still couldn't hear it.
If you were just a mouth, you could not speak it.
If you were just a mind, you would not perceive it.
Now with no eyes, how would you see?
With no ears, how would you hear?
With no mouth, how could you speak?
With no mind, how can you think?
Clutching a pillow in the middle of night
All over the body are hands and eyes
all through the body are hands and eyes.

Wansong's Preface
The eight compass points bright and clear. The ten directions unobstructed. Everywhere, bright light shakes the earth. All the time there is marvelous functioning and the supernatural. Tell me: How can this occur?
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
One hole penetrates space. Eight directions are clear and bright.
   One hole, emptiness pervading;
   Crystal clear on all sides.
Without forms, without self, spring follows the rules.
   Formlessly, selflessly, spring enters the pipes:
Unstopped, unhindered, the moon traverses the sky.
   Unstopped, unhindered, the moon traverses the sky.
Clean, pure, jeweled eyes and virtuous arms:
   Pure jewel eyes, arms of virtues:
Where is the approval in "throughout the body" instead of "all over the body"?
   All over the body -- how does it compare to throughout the body being it?
Hands and eyes before you manifest complete functioning.
   The present hands and eyes reveal the whole works:
The great function is everywhere. How could there be any hindrance?
   The great function works in all ways -- what is taboo?
Wick's Comment
According to legend, as Avalokiteshvara looked down at the suffering of the world, her head literally burst from pain. Her spiritual father, Amitabha Buddha, put the pieces back together as nine new heads -- and her wish to help all beings caused the bodhisattva to grow a thousand arms, with an eye in the palm of each hand. With her manifold eyes, Kannon can perceive the suffering of all beings and with her thousand arms she can act to free them without limit.
Totally asleep at night, somehow your head slips off the pillow and you grope around, trying to find it, without thinking, without discrimination -- like the mother who unhesitatingly cuddles her crying child. You don't care if the pillow has a satin pillowcase or a coarse linen one; you embrace any and every pillow without discrimination. In the same way, Avalokiteshvara embraces every being without discrimination, with total freedom of activity. Not limited by ideas of enlightenment or delusion, self or other, just embrace that pillow.
Hands and eyes transcend the body. We use them to save all sentient beings. These hands and eyes are not bound by observation, behavior or words; they're not limited by ideas or images. For the bodhisattva, they function freely.
Charlie Pokorny's Verse
Yunyan's "Great Compassion"
Open the night eye, the all-gathering in eye
Of the yawning heart of this world -
Grope with the night hand, the transparent lotus hand
With all sentient beings already held on its palm.
Daido's Comment
If your whole body were an eye, you still wouldn't be able to see it. If your whole body were an ear, you still wouldn't be able to hear it. If your whole body were a mouth, you still wouldn't be able to speak of it. If your while body were mind, you still wouldn't be able to perceive it. Because of the activity of the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion is her whole body and mind itself, it is not limited to any notions or ideas of self or other. Asking the question in the first place is a thousand miles from the truth. Answering only serves to compound the error. Don't you see? Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has never understood compassion.
Daido's Verse
All over the body, throughout the body --
it just can't be rationalized.
Deaf, dumb, and blind, virtuous arms and penetrating eyes
have always been right here.
Hotetsu's Verse
Compassion, in the darkness, seeing nothing,
acts with unthinking naturalness.
Being awakened is like being asleep --
Nondiscriminating, responding spontaneously.
A patch of violets beside the path --
What could be more awake?
What more could Compassion do?