Blue Cliff Record 61, Book of Serenity 34

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #61
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #34
Fengxue's "Speck of Dust"

Personnel and Date
  • FENGXUE Yanzhao (Fuketsu Enshô, 896-973, 14th gen), disciple of Nanyuan Huiyong
  • Date guess: ca. 951 (about the time of moving to the new Guanghui Temple)
Yuanwu's Introduction (Sato)
To raise the Dharma flag and establish the sect essentials
should be left to those who are skilled at it.
To distinguish between dragons and snakes and to separate black and white
must be the ability of an accomplished Zen person.
To speak about killing and giving life on the edge of a sword,
to judge the activity with a staff – these I will leave aside for the time being.
Just tell me, how will you speak a phrase about being alone
within the imperial precincts?
To test, I cite this case. Look!
Wansong's Introduction (Sato)
An empty hand, bare fist – a thousand changes, ten thousand variations.
Even if one makes being out of non-being,
What could be done when the unreal is cast into the real?
Tell me: is there a fundamental principle or not?
Case (Sato)
Fengxue, giving instruction, said, “If one raises a speck of dust, the house and the nation prosper. If one does not raise a speck of dust, they perish.”[1]
Xuedou held up his staff and said:
Is there anyone who lives and dies with this?[2]
[1] "If one particle of dust is raised, the state will come into being; if no particle of dust is raised, the state will perish" (Sekida); "If you establish a single particle, the nation flourishes; if you do not establish a single particle, the nation perishes" (Cleary BCR); "When a speck of dust is raised, the nation prospers. When a speck of dust is not raised, the nation is destroyed" (Wick); "If you set up a single atom, the nation flourishes. If you don't set up a single atom, the nation perishes" (Cleary BOS).
[2] "Is there anyone among you who will live with him and die with him?" (Sekida); "Are there any Zen practitioners who live the same life and die the same death?" (T. Cleary BCR); "Are there any patch-robed monks who will live together and die together?" (Cleary & Cleary); "Is there any Zen student who has this same death and same life?" (Wick); "Are there any mendicants who will die the same and live the same?" (Cleary BOS).

Xuedou's Verse (Sato)
The old ones in the country might raise their eyebrows;
Yet one does endeavor to establish a firm foundation for the nation.
Bright ministers and brave generals, where are they now?
The pure wind of ten thousand miles, I alone know.
Hongzhi's Verse (Sato)
A white-headed man rises from his angling by the Wei River[3];
The two brothers on Mt. Shouyang are starved for their purity[4]:
Which is better?
It is a speck of dust, with different transformations;
Fame and accomplishment: neither will perish easily.[5]
[3] When Emperor Xi Bo of the future Kingdom of Zhou was about to go hunting, there was a fortune-telling that he would meet a great person who would help the emperor pacify the entire China. Sure enough, the emperor met Lu Shang, an old angler, along the River Wei and made him his royal advisor.
[4] The two brothers, Boyi and Shuqi, were persecuted by Emperor Wu of the Kingdom of Zhou, who eventually conquered the entire China. The brothers fled to Mt. Shouyang, but, refusing to eat anything pertaining to the Kingdom of Zhou, they starved to death in the end.
[5] Another translation: “Fame and accomplishment – both, as difficult to attain as they are, are (already) perished.” -Sato

Extended Version (Ferguson)
Fengxue said to the monks, “Establish one mote of dust and the nation flourishes. The villagers knit their brows in anxiety. Not establishing one mote of dust and the nation is lost. Then the hundred households live in peace. When you understand this, then there is nothing more, and everything is your teacher. If this is not understood, then your teacher is a priest. This teacher and priest can together enlighten the entire world, or blind the entire world. Do you want to know who the priest is?”
Fengxue then slapped his right side and said, “He’s right here.”
Then Fengxue said, “Do you want to know the teacher?”
Fengxue then slapped his left side and said, “He’s right here.”
Sturmer's Verse
When the general falls asleep
his army disappears.
But when he wakes up
in the early morning light
the soldiers are still standing
right outside his tent
with swords unsheathed
rattling their spears.

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