Book of Serenity 83

Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #83
Daowu's Nursing the Ill

Daowu Yuanzhi (769-835, 10th gen) was a disciple of Yaoshan (751-834, 9th gen), disciple of Shitou (700-90, 8th gen). Before studying with Yaoshan, Daowu had studied under Baizhang (720-814, 9th gen), disciple of Mazu (709-88, 8th gen). Guishan Lingyou (Isan Reiyu, 771-853, 10th gen). Go to GUISHAN L
Guishan asked Daowu, "Where have you come from?"
Daowu said, "I come from nuring the ill."
Guishan said, "How many people are ill?"
Daowu said, "There are some ill, and some not ill."
Guishan said, "The one who is not ill -- isn't that you, dear Zhi?" ["Zhi" = short for "Yuanzhi," Daowu's other name]
Daowu said, "Ill or not ill -- it has nothing to do with 'that' matter. Say it quickly! Say it quickly!"
Guishan said, "Even if I could say it, it would have no connection with that matter."
Wansong's Preface
The whole body is ill, Vimalakirti is hard to cure. This grass is the medicine and Manjushri uses it well. Isn't it wonderful to encounter and grasp a man facing the ultimate, and obtain this place of peaceful ease?
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Marvelous medicines never touched his lips.
   When has the wonderful medicine ever passed his mouth?
A divine doctor never had to take his pulse.
   Even the miraculous physician can't hold his wrist.
Seeming to exist, he's not nothing
   As though existent, he is basically not nonexistent
Being utterly empty, he's not something.
   Utterly empty, he is basically not existent
Unextinguished, he's born; undestroyed, he lives eternally.
   Not perishing, yet born, Alive without dying:
He even goes utterly before the ancient Buddhas and walks alone among the empty kalpas.
   Completely transcending before prehistoric buddhas, walking alone after the empty aeon.
Being quiet -- heaven covers, earth supports.
   Subsisting peacefully -- sky covers, earth supports;
Being active -- the crow flies, the rabbit runs.
   Moving on -- the sun flies, the moon runs.
Wansong's Comment
I say, it's all tending the sick -- it's not as good as Daowu seeing through the heart, liver, and guts. Guishan was a master of appropriate technique, sizing up the audience to make his pronouncement, he said, "Even if I could say anything, it would have no relaiton." Only Hongzhi says, "Where there is no relation -- that is just right to say."
Shishin Wick's Comment
There are those who are sick while being healthy, and those who are healthy while being sick. In our own minds, we create all kinds of distress and discomfort for ourselves because of our self-grasping ignorance. Guishan asks, "Isn't it you who's not sick?" Not sick yet sick. What kind of state is that? But, Guishan is challenging him too, implying, "Aren't you stuck on one side?" Aren't you like the fellow who carries a board over one shoulder and can only see on side of the street because the board is obscuring the view? Daowu retorts, "Don't go calling me a board-carrying fellow. Sickness and nonsickness have nothing to do with it." These categories are useful, but they are fabrications. Utimately, whatever you say about it doesn't reach it. But since you have to say something, tell me: What would you say?
Yamada's Comment
Although it might seem a friendly chat, each question is a severe examination. What is this talk about "sickness" after all? What is "that matter?" It is the essential world. Your essential nature has no form: it has nothing to do with sickness or no sickness.
Roberta Werdinger's Verse
Daowu Tends the Sick
Song of the Great Physician
In the mess and fuss of the sickroom a pearl rolls under the bed.
When the parade stops the brassy sound pours out of aching knees.
Myriad hands and arms function, though I’ve burned the patient’s chart.
In the humming center of the existent, emptiness begs for a backrub.
Over the lush thrum of the non-existent, a chiropractor cracks a back.
Don’t say life & death are two when living nurses tend dead bodies;
Don’t make slush out of the grave distinctions carved into headstones.
It takes a cold pond to skate this blade: I float over nothing and serenely bite frost.
Sturmer's Verse
The old surgeon has difficulty
opening the honey pot.
He coughs -- a cough
that could belong
to no one else.
then the toast pops
and he pours himself
a cup of tea.
Hotetsu's Verse
The stars at night: sick or healthy?
The room where Daowu tends a patient: a sick or healthy room?
Perceiving the sickness of health, the health of sickness,
Is a single step down an infinite road --
A sick or healthy step?

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