Blue Cliff Record 83, Book of Serenity 31

Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #83
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #31
The Old Buddha and a Pillar

  • YUNMEN Wenyan (Ummon Bunen, 864-949, 13th gen), disciple of Xuefeng
Wansong's Introduction (Sato)
The one activity of the highest World – a crane soars into the firmament;
The one road facing the sun – a falcon flying over the country of Shiragi.[1]
Even if your eyes are like comets, you cannot help keeping your mouth shut.[2]
Just tell me, what sort of principle is this?
[1] The Korean Peninsula (or a country therein). (Sato)
[2] The fuller version of this sentence should go: “Even if your eyes are like comets, you cannot see it; if you have a talent to speak as eloquently as flowing water, you cannot help keeping your mouth shut.” (Sato)

Case (Sato)
Yunmen, instructing the assembly, said, “The old buddha and a pillar intersect each other. What number of activity is that?”[3]
The assembly was silent. He said on their behalf, “Clouds gather over the South Mountain; rain falls on the North Mountain.”
[3] "The old Buddha communes with the pillar. What level of spiritual activity would that be?" (Sekida); "The ancient Buddhas mix with the open pillars -- what level of mental activity is this?" (Cleary); "The old Buddha and the freestanding pillar are mingled together. What level of activity is this?" (Wick).

Xuedou's Verse (Sato)
Clouds on South Mountain, rain on North Mountain:
Four times seven2, two times three3 – they all see it right before them.
In the Kingdom of Silla one ascends the preaching seat;
In the Kingdom of T'ang they have not yet struck the drum.
Pleasure amid suffering, suffering amid pleasure.
Who says that gold is like excrement?
Hongzhi's Verse (Sato)
The one way of godly light: it has never been concealed from the beginning.
It transcends ordinary views: it is “yes” and there is no “yes”;
It goes beyond ordinary emotions: it fits, and there is no fitting.
With the pollen of the flowers upon a cliff, the bees produce honey in their chambers;
With the rich wild grass, the musk deer make fragrance.
Each according to the kind: either three feet or sixteen feet.[4]
It is all clear: wherever you touch, it is superbly manifest.
[4] Three feet: like a small child; sixteen feet: like Buddha.

Sturmer's Verse
It's in the space between
the pillar and the lattice windows.
It's drawn to scale
by a blind person in a dream.
Look -- when the kingfisher flies
into a phoenix palm
all the colours of the Nile
carry you across the evening sky.

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