Gateless Gate 46, Book of Serenity 79

Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #46
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #79
Stepping from a 100-foot Pole

  • CHANGSHA Jingcen (Chosha Keishin, 788-868, 10th gen) disciple of Nanquan
  • Hermit Hui, also a disciple of Nanquan
  • SHISHUANG Chuyuan (Sekiso Soen, 987-1040, 17th gen) disciple of Fenyang
Wansong's Preface
The bodhisattva appearing as maiden on the banks of golden sand was a special spirit. Stuffing pastries in a crystal jar, who would dare to roll it? Without going into the frightening waves, it's hard to find a suitable fish. How about one expression of walking relaxed with big strides?
Case -- GG version (Yamada)
Master Shishuang said, "How will you step forward from the top of a hundred-foot pole?"
Another eminent master of old [i.e., Changsha] said, "Even though one who is sitting on the top of a hundred-foot pole has entered realization, it is not yet real. He must step forward from the top of the pole and manifest his whole body throughout the world in ten directions."
Case -- BOS version (Sato)
Changsha had a monk ask Master Hui, “How was it when you had not yet seen Nanquan?”[1]
Hui sat silent.[2]
The monk asked, “What about after seeing him?”[3]
Hui said, “Nothing special.”[4]
The monk returned and told Changsha about this.[5]
Changsha said, “Even though one who is sitting on top of a hundred-foot pole has entered realization, it is not yet real. You must step forward on (or from the) top of the hundred-foot pole. The world of ten directions is your entire body.”[6]
The monk said, “How should you take a step forward on (or from the) top of a hundred-foot pole?”[7]
Changsha said, “Mountains of Lang; water of Li.”[8]
The monk said, “I don't understand.”[9]
Changsha said, “Four seas and five lakes are all under the imperial reign.”[10]
[8] Lang and Li are names of provinces of old China.
[10] I.e., “you” are the emperor; everything is under your reign.

Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans)
The jeweled man's dream is broken by one cock's crow. Look around at life, and everything is equal. The wind and thunder carry news, awakening hibernating creatures. Wordless peach and plum. Under them, people's footpaths naturally form. When the season comes, work to till the soil. Who's afraid in spring paddies to sink in mud to the knees.
Hongzhi's Verse (Cleary trans)
The jade man's dream is shattered -- one call from the rooster Looking around on life, all colors are equal. Wind and thunder, with news of events, roust out the hibernating insects; Peach trees, wordless, naturally make a path. When the time and season comes, laboring at the plow, Who fears the spring rows' knee-deep mud?
Wick's Comment
Master Changsha is encouraging us to take a step forward, from wherever we may be. Each one of us is stranded on a hundred-foot pole. We must step forward into the unknown void in order to experience the boundless life. What is it that keeps us from taking that step into the unknown void? You can ascend the mountain, but you have to descend it to be free. Hermit Hui left Nanquan and stayed on his lofty peak. Changsha could tell he was still holding onto something. Both before and after awakening are hundred-foot poles. The ground is always shifting, there's no place to rest. The monk asks, "How do you advance a step?" and Changsha replies, "The mountains of Lang province; the waters of Li province." In other words, manifest your body in the ten directions. The whole universe in the ten directions is your whole body. Fishes and foxes frolic everywhere.
Andy Ferguson's Verse
Changsha Advancing a Step Old Changsha exclaimed, take one step and advance, you’ve heard this before but you’re still in a trance, so I’ll do him one better if you’re willing to hear, at the top of the pole take one step to the rear.
Sturmer's Verse
Halfway up the sky climbing a wax ladder the rungs begin to melt and he finds himself suspended like Wile E. Coyote in the blue in the immense blue.
Hotetsu's Verse
Down from the pole of emptiness. Then down from the pole of ordinariness. Stepping to one's death over and over, Ah, that's the life.

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