Book of Serenity 96

Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #96
Jiufeng Does Not Acknowledge

Wansong's Preface
Yunju does not rely upon spiritual relics, the pearls of Precepts;*
Jiufeng does not appreciate expiring while sitting or standing,
Niutou does not need hundreds of birds to bring him flowers,**
Huangbo does not envy gliding, as if upon a cup, across the water.***
Tell me, what are their special merits?
Background for Wansong's Preface
*Once Yunju asked his attendant to take a garment to a hermit. The hermit did not receive it, saying that he already had a garment from his mother. Thereupon Yunju asked him, “Before your mother was born, what kind of garment did you have?” The hermit could not answer a single word. Later, the hermit died and left some “spiritual relics” after being cremated. Someone brought the relics to Yunju. To this Yunju answered, “What good would it bring even if he had produced tons of spiritual relics? It would have been far better if he had been able to answer the very question I posed him at that time.”

**Niutou Farong (Gozu Hoyu, 594-657, 5th gen, founder of Oxhead School), sat daily in his iron chamber, while the birds of heaven brought him flowers to admire and worship him. The Fourth Patriarch (Dayi Daoxin, 580-651) smelled the fragrance of the spiritual flavor of the flowers and came to visit Niutou. When Daoxin arrived at the place, two tigers came out to welcome him. Daoxin was astonished.
Niutou then greeted him, “There is still this!” The two met and conversed intimately with each other. During Niutou's short absence, Daoxin drew the character “Buddha” upon Niutou’s sitting cushion. Niutou came back and wanted to do zazen. He saw the character “Buddha” on the cushion and was somehow perplexed.
Thereupon Daoxin said, “There is still this!” After this, Niutou became a disciple of Daoxin and began his most serious practice.

***Huangbo met a monk on his way to Mt. Tendai. The two went along friendly together, until they came to a big river, where there were no boats or bridges. The monk used his hat like a boat and crossed the river. Huangbo was angry and cried to him, “It was a waste of time to come along with such an important guy like you. If I had known that you were such a tiny fellow so proud of your stupid ‘supernatural powers’, I would have hit you hard in the face for that!”
Thereupon, the monk admired Huangbo, “Here is a great man of the Mahayana Dharma!”
Jiufeng Daoqian served Shishuang Qingzhu as his attendant. After Shishuang's passing, the assembly wanted to make their head monk the abbot of the temple. Jiufeng would not acknowledge him. He said, “Wait till I examine him. If he understands our late master's spirit and intention, I will serve him as I served our late master.”
So he asked the head monk, “Our late master said,
'Have been totally ceased;*
Have been completely extinguished;
Have become one awareness for ten thousand years;
Have become cold ashes and a withered tree;
Have become a vertical stripe of white silk.'**
Tell me, what sort of matter did he clarify with this?”
The head monk said, “He clarified the matter of the One Color.”
Jiefeng said, “If so, you have not yet understood our late master's spirit.”
The head monk said, “Don't you acknowledge me? Pass me incense.”
He lit the incense and said, “If I had not understood our late master's spirit, I would not be able to pass away while the smoke of this incense rises.” No sooner had he said this than he expired while sitting in zazen.
Jiufeng caressed his back and said, “Dying while sitting or standing is not impossible. But you could not even dream of our late master's spirit.”
*The original text contains five out of the famous “seven Perfecta” of Shishuang Qingzhu. The other two are: Have become a cool land of desolation; have become a fragrant censer in an ancient shrine.
**The image is of a waterfall.

Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Shishuang's primary point intimately transmitted to Jiufeng.
   The school of Shishuang
   Was personally transmitted to Jiufeng.
Expire with the incense smoke and it's still hard to succeed the true lineage.
   Passing away in incense smoke,
   The true bloodline cannot go through.
The crane nesting on the moon has a thousand-year dream.
   The crane nesting on the moon has a thousand-year dream;
the man dwelling in the snow is lost in one-colored merit.
   The man in the snowy room is deluded by the achievement of uniformity.
When sitting cuts off the ten directions, you still bump your head.
   Cutting off the ten directions still gets a failing mark:
Move one step closer, and you'll see a flying dragon.
   Quietly move a step and behold a flying dragon.

No comments:

Post a Comment