Sat Oct 25

"Chasing after fantasies is always a bad idea. Stick with reality. Reality's all you've got. But here's the real secret, the real miracle: It's enough."
- Brad Warner, Hardcore Zen

Saturday Zen Service, Oct 25: 10:00am - 11:45am.

Koan of the Week
Gateless Gate #5: "Xiangyan's Man Up a Tree"

Master Xiangyan said, "It's like a man up the tree, hanging from a branch by his mouth; his hands cannot grasp a branch, his feet won't reach a bough. Suppose there is another man under the tree who asks him, 'What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the west?'

If he does not respond, he goes against the wish of the questioner. If he answers, he will lose his life.

At such a time, how should he respond?"

Wumen's Commentary:
Even if your eloquence flows like a river, it is of no use. Even if you can expound he whole body of the sutras, it is of no avail. If you can respond to it fittingly, you will give life to those who have been dead, and put to death those who have been alive. If, however, you are unable to do this, wait for Maitreya to come and ask him.

Wumen's Verse:
Xiangyan is really absurd,
His perversity knows no bounds;
He stops up the monk's mouths,
Making his whole body into the glaring eyes of a demon.

Xiangyan is an 11th generation master (counting Bodhidharma as 1st generation), and a descendant of Mazu:
Mazu (709-88) -> Baizhang (720-814) -> Guishan (771-853) -> Xiangyan (828-98).
Xiangyan was a younger dharma sibling of Yangshan (807-83): they were both disciples of Guishan.
One of the fabled Five Houses of Zen is the Guiyang House -- named for GUIshan and YANGshan together.

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