Blue Cliff Record 48

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #48
Turning Over the Tea Kettle at Zhaoqing

  • MINGZHAO Deqian (Myôshô Tokken, 890?-960?, 14th gen), disciple of Luoshan Daoxian
  • Minister Wang
  • Elder Lang
Yuanwu's Introduction
Case (Sekida)
Minister Wang went to Zhaoqing Temple for the tea ceremony.
Elder Lang, lifting the kettle to bring to to Mingzhao, happened to overturn it.
Minister Wang said, "What is under the kettle?"
Lang said, "The god of the hearth."
Wang said, "If it is the god of the hearth, why has it upset the kettle?"
Lang said, "A thousand days of government service, and one accident!"[1]
Wang swung his sleeves and left the room.
Mingzhao said, "Elder Lang, you have long had food from Zhaoqing Temple, and still you wander about the countryside, working with a stump."[2]
Lang said, "What about you?"
Mingzhao said, "That is where the devil gets the better of you."[3]
Xuedou says
Why didn't you, at that moment, trample on the hearth?
[1] "One may serve in office for a thousand days, then lose it all one morning" (Cleary); “Thousand days of good service – all is lost in one morning” (Sato).
[2] "Eating the food here, you go off to the other side of the river noisily gathering charred wood" (Cleary); "you have eaten plenty of rice in Zhaoqing Temple, and yet you are simply hitting a [useless] stump in the field” (Sato).
[3] "The nonhuman gets the advantage" (Cleary); “Something non-human displayed their activities” (Sato).

Xuedou's Verse (Sekida)
Cleaving the air, the question came;
The answer missed the point.
Alas! The one-eyed dragon monk
Did not show his fangs and claws.

Now fangs and claws are unsheathed,
Lightning flashes, stormy clouds!
Surging billows rage around,
Falling back against the tide.

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