Blue Cliff Record 51, Book of Serenity 50

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #51
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #50
Xuefeng's "What Is This?"

Yuanwu's Preface
If you have the slightest choice of right and wrong,
you will fall into confusion of mind.
If you are not caught up in the ranks,
there will be no groping in the dark.
Tell me, which is advisable, letting go or holding fast?
At this point, if you deal in terms of concepts and remain attached to sophisticated thinking,
you are a ghost clinging to weeds and bushes.
Even if you become innocent of such vulgarity,
you are still thousands of miles from your homeland.
Do you understand? If not, just study the present koan. See the following.
When Xuefeng was living in his hermitage, two monks came to pay their respects.
As Xuefeng saw them coming he pushed open the gate and, presenting himself before them, said, "What is this?"
The monks also said, "What is this?"
Xuefeng lowered his head and returned to his cottage.
Later the monks came to Yantou, who said, "Where are you from?"
The monks answered, "We have come from south of the Nanrei Mountains."
Yantou said, "Have you ever been to see Xuefeng?"
The monks said, "Yes, we have been to him."
Yantou said, "What did he say to you?"
The monks related the story, whereupon Yantou asked "Then what did Xuefeng say?"
A monk said, "He didn't say anything. He just lowered his head and went back inside."
Yantou said, "Alas! I regret that I did not tell him the last word when I was with him. [See GG13/BOS55] If I had done so, no one in the whole world could have pretended to outdo him."
At the end of the summer session the monks repeated the story and asked Yantou for his instruction.
Yantou said, "Why didn't you ask earlier?"
The monks said, "We have had a hard time struggling with this topic."
Yantou said, "Xuefeng came to life in the same way that I did, but he does not die in the same way that I do. If you want to know the last word, I'll tell you, simply -- This! This!"
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans)
The last word, let me tell you --
Light and darkness intermingled,
Living in the same way, you all know;
Dying in different ways -- beyond telling!
Absolutely beyond telling!
Buddha and Dharma only nod to themselves.
East, west, north, and south -- homeward let us go,
Lat at night, seeing the snow on the thousand peaks.

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