2018-02-26

Book of Serenity 81

132
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #81
Xuansha Reaches the Province

Personnel
  • XUANSHA Shibei (Gensha Shibi, 835-908, 13th gen), disciple of Xuefeng
  • Xiaotang -- a Great Elder.
Wansong's Preface (Sato)
Move: there appears a shadow,
Realize: there arises dust.
Raise it up -- it is clear and distinct,
Throw it down -- it is hidden and intimate.
When people of the true Way meet, how do they converse with each other?
Case (Cleary)
When Xuansha came to Pudian district, they welcomed him with a hundred festivities.
The next day, he asked Great Elder Xiaotang, “Where has all of yesterday's commotion gone?"[1]
Xiaotang held up the corner of his vestment.[2]
Xuansha said, "There's no connection, not by a long shot."[3]
[3] Or: "There's no relation between them at all" (Wick); "Far from it -- no relation at all" (Sato).

Wansong's interjections (Cleary)
[1] It's still noisy.
[2] As it turns out his hands are flustered and his feet flurried.
[3] Thanks for your testimony.
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick, italics Cleary)
Hiding the boat in the darkened valley.
   Hiding the boat in the night valley,
Thrusting the pole into the clear source.
   Setting the oar on the clear source.
Dragons and fish don't know yet that water makes their lives.
   The dragon and fish don't know the water is their life:
A broken stick doesn't impede them.
A little stirring up goes on.
   Busting a gut, nevertheless it's just a little shake.
Master Xuansha, Venerable Xiaotang.
   Master Xuansha, Elder Xiaotang:
Box and lid, two arrows colliding.
   Box and lid, arrowpoints;
Poking stick, covering grass.
   Probing pole, shadowing grass.
When hiding, the old turtle nests in the lotus.
   Submerged, withdrawn, the old turtle nests in the lotuses
When sporting, the colorful carp fiddles with duckweed.
   Frolicking, the multi-colored fish plays in the water grasses.
Wansong's Comment (Cleary)
Where is it that Xiaotang was out of touch? Did Xuansha approve or not?
See below, remarks by Fayan and Fadeng: these two adepts, descendants of Xuansha's lineage, see through Xuansha's action, just loosely interposing a net outside, while inside arrows spontaneously hit each other.
Dagui Zhe's Comment (Wansong)
I would do otherwise -- if someone asked me, I'd just snap my fingers. If a monk came forward and said, 'No connection,' then I'd agree with him. Why? For a powerful man to grab a tiger's whiskers is ordinary. But tell me, where is the gain and loss?
Xuefeng holds the ultimate jewel hidden in his breast; when he meets another, it increases its shine: Xuansha's hammer of the funadmental strikes a blow, and the light flows for a thousand ages.
Fayan's Comment (Wansong)
Yesterday how much commotion was there?
Fadeng's Comment (Wansong)
Today's an even better laugh.
Background on Xuansha (Wick)
Xuansha set out on a pilgrimage, but had not gotten far when he painfully stubbed his toe on a rock, and cried out in pain. He had an enlightenment experience as he thought to himself, "If everything is empty, from where does this pain come?"
Then he went back to see Xuefeng, who said, "Did you go on your pilgrimage just to cut your foot and have a hard time?"
Xuansha said, "Please don't kid me!"
Xuefeng was pleased and said, "What you have just said should be spoken by everyone, but they lack your sincerity. Why don't you continue to visit other masters?"
Xuansha said, "Bodhidharma did not come to China, and the Second Patriarch did not go to India."
Another Background Tale (Wick)
A layman named Kyo came to see Master Xuansha, wanting to know how he could put his energies into his practice of Zen.
Master Xuansha called out to him and said, "Kyo!"
And Kyo said, "Yes, Master?"
Xuansha said, "Do you hear the sound of the bubbling brook outside the window?"
"Yes, I do."
Xuansha said, "Enter Zen from there."
Some time later another student asked Master Xuansha, "What if at that time there had not been a bubbling brook? What would you have said to that student?
Xuansha called out the student's name, "Chu!"
"Yes?"
"Enter Zen from there."
Wick's Comment
Xuansha learned that if we set ourselves in opposition to pain, as if it were something else, it only makes us hard and bitter. Yet if we open up to pain, we find not a demon, but our true self. If we imagine the pain is something else other than who we are, we'll never really know ourselves.
Wherever you are, enter Zen from there. In the winter, it's cold; enter Zen from there. In the summer, it's hot; enter Zen from there. When you're feeling desperate, enter Zen from there. If your mind is wandering in all kinds of fantasies, enter Zen from there. Pain in your legs? Enter Zen from there.
[2] Xiaotang is revealing it couldn't be closer. Remember yesterday's festivities? It couldn't be closer. What about yesterday' sorrow? Where is the pain of your lonely adolescence? It couldn't be closer. What about all of your conditioning? It couldn't be closer. What about your inherent spontaneity and freedom? It couldn't be closer. Even in the black mountain cave of demons, complete freedom is working. It couldn't be closer.
[3] A duck quacks, and a dog barks. What's the relation there? The sky is blue. The grass is green. What's the relation? Yesterday's yesterday; today is today. What are you talking about? It couldn't be closer. You lift the corner of your robe. It's right here. What are you talking about? I don't see the dancing girls and the sword swallower and the horn blowers. Firewood is firewood and ash is ash. Dogen said, "Firewood does not become ash. Each is complete on their own." What is the relation?
If Xiaotang is indicating that yesterday's festivities are right here, then Xuansha is taking the other side, that yesterday and today are totally different. But maybe Xiaotang's not saying that. Maybe he's saying, by lifting the corner of this robe, "I'm here. That's there. So what?" Why is there no relation at all? When the Buddha was enlightened, he said, "I, the stars, the sun, the moon, the great earth, and all beings everywhere are simultaneously enlightened." If that's so, then where can he be? Everywhere you look is the body of our beloved Shakyamuni. Everything you hear is the sound of our beloved Shakyamuni. What's the relation? Where can you hide?
If you're everything, what kind of relation can there be? If you can find it, what relation is there? If it cannot be found, what relation is there? Xuansha says, "no relation" because there's no separation, no difference.
I've just given two opposite interpretations of Xuansha in this koan. Which is the true one?
Yamada's Comment
[2] Xiaotang holds up the corner of his robe (kesa) as if to say, "here!" What relation does this have to Xuansha's question about where the bustle went?
[3] I often make use of a fraction to explain the true fact. As you know, the denominator is zero and infinite. Zero means it is empty while possessing limitless capabilities. The numerator can be anything. Seeing this koan from that standpoint you could say that the bustle of the day before is the denominator, as is the monk's robe held up. Both of them are the denominator. They are the true fact itself, which is zero and infinite. The numerator and denominator are not two separate things. Each individual thing is the fact itself. The bustle of yesterday fills the entire universe. The corner of the kesa robe fills the entire universe. When the bustle fills the universe, there is not a bit of room for the robe. And when the corner of the robe comes to the surface, it reveals the universe, leaving no room for the bustle of yesterday. This is what is known as "absolute difference." When Xuansha says, "no relation at all," he is deftly producing "absolute difference." Xiaotang had lifted the corner of his robe. That was not a bad reply at all, as Xuansha well knew. But simply to give his approval would not do.
Susan O'Connell's Verse
Xuansha Comes to the District

Completely loving Xuansha,
Xiaotang throws in the towel.
Not interested in discourse,
Xuansha crosses bridges in the dark.

Can we stand the silence?
The slightest sound, and the sky bleeds.

Side by side, still,
Not focused on faces or names,
What remains is to hold hands.
Hotetsu's Verse
That thing about everything
Depending on everything else?
The thing is, it makes each thing
whole and complete, dependent on nothing.
This is not a point about shunyata.
It's stranger than that.

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