"Remember, Buddhist zazen does not aim at rendering the mind inactive but at quieting and unifying it in the midst of activity.” -Philip KapleauChants for Wed Jan 25 - Tue Jan 31 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
- Genjokoan 3, p. 33
- Torei's Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 15
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY
This week's reading: from Yastuani's Introductory Lectures on Zen Training, from Three Pillars of Zen: Lecture #2, "Precautions to Observe in Zazen." See PDF here.
OUR NEXT BOOK: In spring, we'll start looking at Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.
This week's case: "Zhoazhou Sees Through an Old Woman," Gateless Gate #31, Book of Serenity #10.
Zhaozhou Congshen (778-897, 10th gen) lived nearly 120 years. Zhaozhou was, along with Changsha, a disciple of Nanquan (748-835, 9th gen), who was a disciple of Mazu (709-88, 8th gen). Zhaozhou appears in "Nanquan Kills the Cat" (GG #14, BCR #63-64, and BOS #9), "Ordinary Mind is the Way" (GG #19), "Zhaozhou's Dog" (GG #1, BOS #18), "Wash Your Bowls" (GG #7, BOS #39), "Zhaozhou Examines the Hermits" (GG #11), "Zhaozhou Sees Through an Old Woman" (GG #31, BOS #10), "The Oak Tree in the Garden" (GG #37, BOS #47), "The Real Way Is Not Difficult" (BCR #2), "Zhaozhou's Four Gates" (BCR #9), "A Big Radish" (BCR #30), "Zhaozhou and the Great Death" (BCR #41, BOS #63), "Zhaozhou's Seven-Pound Hempen Shirt" (BCR #45), "Zhaozhou's Stone Bridge," (BCR #52), "I Alone Am Holy Throughout Heaven and Earth" (BCR #57), "No Justification" (BCR #58), "Why Not Quote to the End?" (BCR #59), "A Newborn Baby" (BCR #80), "Zhaozhou's Three Turning Words" (BCR #96), "Yanyang's 'Thing'" (BOS #57).
There was an old woman on the way to Taishan. Whenever a monk asked her how to get to Taishan, she would answer, "Go straight on."
After the monk had gone a few steps, she would say, "This good and naïve fellow goes off that way, too."
Later a monk told Zhaozhou about this.
Zhaozhou said, "Wait a bit. I will go and see through her for you."
He went and asked the same question.
The next day, Zhaozhou ascended the rostrum and said, "I have seen through the old woman for you."
There is grasping and releasing, a wooden pole accompanies the body. Able to kill or vivify, the scale's handle is held in hand. Dust, toil, demons, and heretics are utterly disposed of with a finger. The great earth, mountains, and rivers all become playthings. Tell me: What state of mind is this?
Honghzhi's Verse (Wick trans)
He's gotten old -- become the essence -- doesn't transmit in error
Old Buddha Zhaozhou succeeded Nanquan.
By a designonits shell the withered turtle lost his life.
Even the steeds "Chariot" and "Wind-chaser" are encumbered by halter and bridle.
Grandma Zen seen through and through --
told to people it's not worth a cent.
In this koan, we are required to see the differnces in the sameness and see the sameness in differences. We all have Buddha Nature, and it is the same in each of us. Yet our Buddha Nature is different, because each one of us is different. How do we see the differences in the sameness, and appreciate them? How do we see the sameness in the differences? We're so busy trying to figure out how Zhaozhou saw through the old woman that we don't see that the old woman saw through Zhaozhou and that they both saw through us. What is the Great Mountain, Taishan? Where do you find it? Where are you looking for it? Just keep going straight ahead.