Gateless Gate 18, Blue Cliff Record 12

Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #18
Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #12
Dongshan Shouchu's Masagin

Personnel and Date
  • DONGSHAN Shouchu (Tôsan Shusho, 910-90, 14th gen), disciple of Yunmen Wenyan
  • an unnamed monastic
  • Date guess: ca. 978
Yuanwu's Introduction (Sato)
The sword that kills, the sword that gives life: This has been the standard rule since of old, and is the pivotal point of today.
If you talk about killing, you don't harm even a single hair; if you talk about giving life, you lose your body and life.
Therefore it is said: The supreme one way can't be transmitted even by the thousand holy ones.
Practitioners who labor for forms are like monkeys trying to grasp reflections.
Just tell me, if it can't be transmitted, why are there so many entangling koans?
Those who have an eye to see, let them see!
Case (Aitken)
A monk asked Dongshan, "What is Buddha?"
Dongshan said, "Three pounds of flax."[1]
[1] Matching Aitken: Guogu, Low, Shibayama, T. Cleary SBCR. "Three pounds of burlap" (Cleary GB); "Flax. Three pounds" (Hinton); "'Masagin!' [three pounds of flax]" (Sekida); "Dongshan, who was engaged in weighing some flax, replied, "This flax weighs three pounds" (Senzaki); "'Masagin!' (Three pounds of flax!)" (Yamada); “Masagin [Three pounds’ hemp]” (Sato); "Three pounds of hemp" (Cleary & Cleary); "Here is hemp -- three pounds of it" (Shaw).

Wumen's Comment (Aitken)
Old Man Dongshan attained something of clam-Zen.
He opened the two halves of his shell a bit and exposed his liver and intestines.
Be that as it may, tell me: where do you see Dongshan?
Wumen's Verse (Aitken)
Thrusting forth "three pounds of flax!"
The words are intimate, mind is more so;
if you argue right and wrong,
you are a person of right and wrong.
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida)
The golden crow swoops, the silver hare bounds;
The echo comes back, direct and free.
Who judges Dongshan by his word or phrase
Is a blind tortoise, lost in a lonely vale.

The abundant blossoms, the luxuriant flowers,
The southern bamboo, the northern trees.
One recalls Officer Lu and Changqing:
"You should not cry, but laugh!" Eh!

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