Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #57
Zhaozhou's 'Carry It with You'
Zhaozhou's 'Carry It with You'
Zhaozhou Congshen (778-897, 10th gen) was a disciple of Nanquan (748-835), who was a disciple of Mazu (709-88). Yanyang Shanxin (b. ca. 850, 11th gen) was Zhaozhou's only dharma heir.Case
Yanyang asked Zhaozhou, "Where there is not one thing, what then?"Wansong's Preface
Zhaozhou replied, "Throw it away."
Yanyang said, "With not one thing, what is there to throw away?"
Zhaozhou remarked, "Then carry it off."
Fiddling with shadows, toiling with forms. It's not understood that forms are the basis for shadows. Raising the voice to quiet an echo. It's not known that the voice is the root of the echo. You don't ride on an ox to look for an ox. This is using a wedge to remove a wedge. How can you avoid this error?Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Be inattentive to careful moves and you lose to the opponent.Huanglong's Verse
Not prepared for meticulous action, he loses to the first to move --
Learn for yourself it's a shame to be surrounded due to carelessness.
Realizing himself the coarseness of his mind, he's embarrassed at bumping his head.
The game ended, an axe-handle at the waist has rotted.
When the game is ended, the axe handle's rotted at his side:
Washing clean a bumpkin, sporting with hermits.
Clean and purify the ordinary bones to play with the immortals.
Not bringing a single thing, both shoulders can't bear it upGerry Wick's Comment
At the words he suddenly knows his error
In his heart is boundless joy
Since from poisonous ill he forgot what was on his mind
Snakes and tigers have been his intimates
Empty and still for a thousand years, the pure breeze still hasn't stopped.
How do you remove all of the stickiness of words and ideas, so that you don't stick to anything? When there is nothing, "throw it away," says Zhaozhou -- commenting that Yanyang was raising his voice to quiet an echo. An ancient teacher remarked, "Bringing not one thing, both shoulders can't lift it up." As long as you think you're bringing not a single thing, that idea itself is vastly heavy. Why not get rid of it? Throw it away! Don't even carry "not a single thing." Yanyang objects, "what is there to throw away?" Zhaozhou says, "Then carry it off." Zhaozhou doesn't argue with Yanyang, doesn't beat him down, but just gives Yanyang space. Clean all of the stuff that's sticky to you, the sticky-tape of all of your ideas and notions and your fears. Free youself from the trap of ideas and notions. And then throw away that idea of "no ideas." And if you can't throw it away, then carry it out.Susan O'Connell's Verse
Yanyang's "Thing"Daido's Comment
Today, I thought I knew you.
But now, my eyes water in the stench of rotting flesh.
And yet, if I try to forget you,
The moon and stars cry out “False! False!”
Believing is for children and politicians.
When the king gives up the throne,
True peace covers the land.
Yanyang arrives at Zhaozhou's place in dire poverty, looking for a helping hand. Zhaozhou's penetrating eye immediately sees the enormous burden that he is carrying and suggests that he let it go. Since he has nothing to let go of -- no eye, ear, nose, tongue body, mind -- the moastic cannot understand Zhaozhou's instructions. Not having yet penetrated Yunmen's sicknesses, he persists in his ignorance.Daido's Verse
In the end, Zhaozhou acquiesces and lets him carry the whole thing off. At this point the old master, bringing it out like this, ends up pulling the rug out from under Yanyang. If he realized the weight of the load he was bearing, in an instant he would be free of it.
A bodyless person suffering a grave illnessHotetsu's Verse
sweeps away tracks, leaving a trail.
Only those who have thoroughly explored it
can know the wonder of the ceaseless flow.
The nothing returns again to something.
If the nothing returns as something to obtain, have, grasp,
Scrape off that sticky something nothing.
Wash it away.
Otherwise, the nothing returns to mere being, the self-world river.
Flow on with that river
Smiling softly over the fall.