Blue Cliff Record 60

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #60
Yunmen's Staff Becomes a Dragon

  • YUNMEN Wenyan (Ummon Bunen, 864-949, 13th gen), disciple of Xuefeng
Yuanwu's Introduction (Sekida)
Buddhas and sentient beings are not, by nature, different. Mountains, rivers, and your own self are all just the same. Why should they be separate and constitute two worlds? Even if you are well versed in Zen koans and know how to deal with them, if you stop there everything is spoiled. If you do not stop, the whole world will be dissolved, with not a particle of it left behind. Now tell me, what does it mean to be well versed in Zen koans? See the following.
Case (Sekida)
Yunmen held out his staff and said to the assembled monks, "The staff has transformed itself into a dragon and swallowed up the universe! Where are the mountains, the rivers, and the great world?"[1]
[1] Or "Where do mountains, rivers and the great earth come from?” (Sato).

Xuedou's Verse (Sekida, italics Cleary)
The staff has swallowed up the universe.
The staff swallows the universe;
Don't say peach blossoms float on the waters.
He talks for naught of peach blossoms traveling on the waves.
The fish that gets its tail singed
May fail to grasp the mist and clouds.
Success is not about grabbing the clouds and seizing the fog;
The ones that lie with gills exposed
Need not lose heart.
Why must failure mean losing courage and spirit?
My verse is done.
But do you really hear me?
It's all settled -- did you hear?
Only be carefree! Stand unwavering!
Why so bewildered?
Just be free and at ease, stop any further confusion.
Seventy-two blows are not enough,
Seventy-two blows is still getting off easy;
I want to give you a hundred and fifty
It's hard to let you go with a hundred and fifty.

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