Sat Nov 8

"Accepting, giving up, letting go -- this is the way of lightness. 
Wherever you're clinging, there's becoming and birth right there."
- Ajahn Chah, Food for the Heart

Saturday Zen Service, Nov 8: 10:00am - 11:45am.

Koan of the Week
Gateless Gate #7: "Zhaozhou's 'Wash Your Bowls'"

A monk asked Zhaozhou in all earnestness, "I have just entered this monastery. I beg you, Master, please give me instructions."
Zhaozhou asked, "Have you eaten your rice gruel yet?"
The monk answered, "Yes, I have."
Zhaozhou said, "Then wash your bowls."
The monk attained some realization.

Wumen's Commentary:
Zhaozhou, opening his mouth, showed his gall bladder and revealed his heart and liver.
If the monk, hearing it, did not really grasp the fact, he would mistake a bell for a pot.

Wumen's Verse:
Just because it is so clear,
It takes us longer to realize it.
If you quickly acknowledge that the candlelight is fire,
You will find that the rice has been cooked.

Nantang's Verse:
Zhaozhou points out "Wash your bowl" --
Zen seekers who scramble and race waste effort madly:
They don't even know where to look for everyday affairs;
They are clearly told, but are as blind and deaf.

Huguo's Verse:
Finding out the principles of things makes up the livelihood of the house;
When you're able to meet the opportunity of the time, then you know the heart.
Let us give thanks to the impartiality of the spring wind;
The peaches and plums of the poor houses also create shade.

Zhaozhou Congshen (778 - 897) was a 10th generation master on the Mazu side:
Mazu -> Nanquan -> Zhaozhou
This is the Zhaozhou who said "Mu!" when asked if a dog has buddha nature.
"Have you eaten your rice gruel yet?" may be taken to be asking whether the monk has had an "enlightenment" experience -- a glimpse of his essential, empty nature.
The monk avers that he has. Zhaozhou's "wash your bowls" operates on (at least) two levels: (1) Wash away the residue of anything special or exalted from that experience. (2) The instruction you seek is found in your every ordinary task.

"You do not wash your bowl in order to get it clean. You wash your bowl in order to wash your bowl." -Thich Nhat Hanh (adapted)

Hotetsu's Verse:
How stupid do you have to be --
Entering the monastery, asking how to live?
What could be plainer than that there are bowls to wash?
How stupid do you have to be --
Never yearning to know how to live,
Never approaching the monastery gate,
Utterly lost in the obscurity of unwashed bowls?
How stupid do you have to be?

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