Blue Cliff Record 59

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #59
Zhaozhou's "Why Not Quote to the End?"

Personnel and Background
Zhaozhou Congshen (778-897, 10th gen) was a disciple of Nanquan (748-835), who was a disciple of Mazu (709-88). The Xinxin Ming is a poem of about 1,000 words in English translation, attributed to Jianzhi Sengcan (the "Third Patriarch," 530? - 606). Xinxin: "truthful heart-mind," "faith," or "trust;" Ming: "inscription," or "time-tested truth." Hence, Xinxin Ming: "Heart of True Entrusting," "Faith in Mind," or "Trust in the Heart." Zhaozhou, in his teaching, often cited the Xinxin Ming's opening lines: "The great way is not difficult; it just dislikes choosing." See also: BCR #2, BCR #57, and BCR #58.
A monastic said to Zhaozhou, "'The real Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment. If you say a word, there arise choice and attachment.' How, then can you go about helping someone?"
Zhaozhou said, "Why don't you quote it to the end?"
The monastic said, "I have only this much in mind."
Zhaozhou said, "You know, the real Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment."
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Spit in his face -- he is not sullied;
Call him names -- it doesn't touch him.
   Water cannot wet, wind cannot penetrate.
He walks like a tiger, moves like a dragon.
   A tiger walks, a dragon runs;
Spirits shriek, gods groan and weep.
   Ghosts howl, spirits cry.
His head is three feet long. Who is he?
   His head is three feet long -- I wonder who it is?
Facing you, he stands silent, on a single leg.
   Answering without words, he stands on one foot.
Yuanwu's Preface
Controlling the heavens, commanding the earth, transcending the holy, rising above the mundane, he shows us even in the myriad weeds the Wonderful Mind of Nirvana, and in the midst of Dharma battle holds the lifeline of the monk. Tell me, by what blessing can he be like that?
Hakuin's Comment
"How do you help people, teacher?" If you can't open your mouth, how can you teach others?
"Why not quote this saying fully?" There's still more of the saying, why don't you say it all? What an extraordinary, wonderful, amazingly great teacher!
"It's just this: 'The supreme way has no difficulty'" This flavor can be known only to those who have had the experience of dealing with students.
Tenkei's Comment
How does a teacher help others without words? This monastic posed a question on seeing a gap, but his question was nevertheless a product of subjective discriminatory mental activity.
"The supreme Way..." "If you want brevity, best just say this much." This answer was outside the monastic's expectations. Zhaozhou's way of helping people without running afoul of the the point sees the problem of the monastic's clinging to "as soon as there are words spoken", responding in such a way as to break it down. This is called the methodology of giving medicine according to the illness.
Sekida's Comment
Quoting to "the end" would presumably include all of the words Zhaozhou quoted in BCR #2: "The Real Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment. With but a single word there may arise choice and attachment, or there may arise clarity."
"I have only this much in mind." The monastic shows that he has himself exercised a choice, cutting off the quotation where he does.
Rothenberg's Verse
Thick as Pea Soup
Water pured on you keeps you dry.
Wind guesting stops at your door.
It's like empty space -- solid, impervious.
Address your plea to the sky!
"Cover your ears," he draws back;
stops the words in their tracks.
"Stand on one foot," thus respond in silence.
See yourself in him,
see his idea in you.
Skim over the grasses, slide over the spears.
No blood, no breeze.
Hotetsu's Verse
Take it to the end: Give every bit of yourself!
"I only meant this much." He's made his choice and chosen small.
The Great Way, helping people:
Only take it all the way to the end.

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