Blue Cliff Record 88

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #88
Xuansha's Person of Three Disabilities

Yuanwu's Preface
In his teaching, the master often turns two into three.
Talking of the profound, he goes through and through it,
seven times piercing and eight times breaking through.
He adapts himself to all circumstances, penetrates the most mysterious secrets.
Acting on the principles of the Buddha, he leaves no trace of his actions.
Where do the complicated koans come from?
If you have an eye to see, see the following.
Xuansha said to the assembly, "Every teacher in the land talks of saving things and delivering humanity. When someone of three disabilities comes to you, how do you deal with that person? A blind person does not see you holding up the hossu; a deaf person does not hear your words; a dumb person will not talk no matter how much you desire it. How do you approach this person? If you cannot, Buddhism can bestow no benefit."
A monk asked Yunmen about this topic.
Yunmen said, "Make your bows."
The monk did so.
Yunmen made as if to push the monk with his staff.
The monk retreated, and Yunmen said, "You are not blind."
He then said, "Come close to me."
The monk approached Yunmen, who said, "You are not deaf."
Yunmen asked the monk, "Do you understand?"
The monk replied, "No, I do not understand."
Yunmen said, "You are not dumb."
The monk attained an insight.
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Clear trans in italics)
Blind, deaf, and dumb: none can come near;
   Blind, deaf, mute --
   In darkness, no adjustment to potentialities.
Throughout the country, none could understand.
   In the heavens, on the earth,
   Laughable, lamentable.
Lilu did not discern the true color,
   The sharpest eye cannot discern the true form;
Nor Shikuang the subtle sound.
   How can the keenest ear recognize the mysterious tune?
Let us sit quietly by the window
   How can that match sitting alone at an empty window?
And enjoy the falling leaves, the spring flowers.
   Leaves fall, flowers bloom, each in its own time.
I say, "Do you understand?
It is a holeless iron hammer."
   Xuedou added, "Do you understand or not? An iron hammerhead with no hole.

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