Blue Cliff Record 16

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #16
Jingqing's Instruction on Pecking and Tapping

  • JINGQING Daofu (Kyosei Dofu, 868-937, 13th gen), disciple of Xuefeng
  • An unnamed monk
Yuanwu's Introduction (Sato)
The way knows no side roads; the one who stands on it is alone and lofty.
The dharma is beyond seeing and hearing; it transcends by far words and thoughts.
If you pass the jungle of thorns, untie the bonds of buddhas and patriarchs, and attain the region
of secrecy, then heavenly deities find no way to offer flowers[1], nor will non-Buddhists see a gate to spy through.
You act all day without ever acting; talk all day without ever talking.
In complete freedom, you will be able to develop the activities of picking and pecking, and wield the sword that kills and gives life.
Even if you become like this, you must know that in guiding others, you should raise up with one hand, while pressing down with the other.
Then you will fit the matter a bit.
Yet, when it comes to the essential matter, it has nothing to do with these things.
What is the essential matter?
I will try to cite an example, look!
[1] "Heavenly deities let flowers fall as a sign of praise upon Subhuti who sat in zazen. Subhuti was one of the ten disciples of Shakyamuni and is said to have captured the world of emptiness more than anyone else, which deeply impressed the deities." (Sato)
Case (Sekida)
A monk said to Jingqing, "I want to peck from the inside. Would you please tap from the outside?"
Jingqing said "Could you attain life or not?"[2]
The monk said, "If I could not attain life, I would become a laughingstock."
Jingqing said, "You too are a fellow in the weeds!"
[2] "But will you be alive or not?" (Sato); "Will you survive?" (Cleary)

Xuedou's Verse (Sekida):
Old Buddha had his way of teaching,
The monk's answer won no praise.
Strangers to each other, hen and chick,
Who can peck when the tapping comes?
Outside, the tap was given;
Inside, the chick remained.
Once again the tap was given;
Monks throughout the world attempt the trick in vain.

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