Thursday, 12 December 2019

Dongshan Liangjie [W-G:Tung-shan Liang-chieh / J: Tozan Ryokai]

A monk once complained to Dongshan Liangji about the discomforts of the monastery, which was too cold in winter and too warm in the summer.  He asked the master how one could avoid these discomforts.  Dongshan told him, “Go where there is neither cold nor heat.”
                “Where’s that?”
                “When cold, let the cold kill you; when hot, let the heat kill you.” 

[Dongshan Liangjie – Zen Masters of China: 126-37; The Story of Zen: 154-56]

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Jiashan Shanhui [W-G: Chia-shan Shan-hui / J: Kassan Zenne]

                Jiashan Shanhui was a student of the sutras and was a recognized “lecture master.”  He attracted large audiences to his presentations.  At one of these, a listener asked, “What is the Dharmakaya?”
                “It’s without form,” Jiashan said.
                “What then is the true eye of the Dharma which, it is claimed, Buddha passed onto Mahakasyapa?”
                “It’s without flaw.”
                Daowu Yuanjie was in the lecture hall when this exchange took place, and he laughed out loud.
                Jiashan demanded, “Why are you laughing?”
                “You might understand the sutras, but you still need a master to guide you to the discovery of your Buddha-nature.”
                “Where would I find such a man?”
                “Go see the Boatman Monk.  He hasn’t a tile to cover his head nor a speck of earth to stand upon.”
                Jiashan gave up lecturing and sought out Chunzi Decheng.  It was a long journey, and Jiashan’s traveling clothes were dusty and soiled by the time he finally came to the ferryman.  When Chunzi saw Jiashan approaching, he shouted, “Monk, at what monastery do you reside?”
                “I’m not a resident of any monastery otherwise I wouldn’t look like this.”
                “So what do you look like?” the Boatman Monk asked.
                “I’m beyond sight and sound and consciousness.”
                “Is that so?” Chunzi said, then he took hold of Jiashan and pushed him into the river, holding his head under water for a long while before letting him up.  “Speak now!” Chunzi demanded, but as soon as Jiashan opened his mouth, the ferryman plunged him into the water yet again.  “Speak!” Chunzi shouted.  Jiashan tried again and was submerged a third time.  On this occasion, he came to awakening, and when Chunzi let him up, he bowed in gratitude.

[Jiashan Shanhui – Zen Masters of China: 120-22]

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Chunzi Decheng [W-G: Ch’uan-tzu Te-ch’eng / J: Sensu Tokujo]

                Chunzi Decheng, Daowu Yuanjie, and Yunyan Tansheng all received Dharma transmission from Yaoshan Weiyan. Chunzi said to the other two: “I know that both of you will eventually go your separate ways and continue our master’s Dharma.  That isn’t my path; I lack that discipline.  I enjoy nature and will follow my own way.  I’m not fit to be the teacher of a great assembly.  Still, if an appropriate student comes to you, please send him to me so that I may repay our teacher by passing on what little I’ve learned.”
                He then became a ferryman and was popularly known to the people he helped cross the river as the “Boatman monk.” 

[Chunzi Decheng – Zen Masters of China: 119-20, 121]

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Jianyuan Zhongxing [W-G: Chien-yuan Chung-hsing]

                 Daowu Yuanjie and his disciple, Jianyuan Zhongxing, went to visit a family who were mourning the death of one its members.  The coffin was still at the house, and Jianyuan took the opportunity to ask his master a question.  Laying his hand on the coffin he asked, “Is he alive or dead?”
                “I won’t say alive,” Daowu told him.  “I won’t say dead.”
                “Why not?”
                “I won’t say.”
                After the visit, as they were returning to the monastery, Jianyuan was very disturbed and demanded, “Tell me, alive or dead.  If not, I’ll strike you down!”
                “Strike me or not, I still won’t tell you.”
                Jianyuan was unable to restrain himself, and he struck his master.  Daowu did not strike back, but it was such a breach of etiquette that he told his student, “If others learn what you’ve done, it may cause you trouble.  So it would better if you leave our monastery for a while.”
                Jianyuan wandered from place to place until he learned that his former master had died.  Then he returned to the monastery where Shishuang Chuyuan was now teaching.  Jianyuan explained why he had been absent from the monastery for so long and told the new master about the question to which Daowu had merely said: “I won’t say alive; I won’t say dead.”
                “Can you answer my question?” he asked Shishuang.
                “I won’t say alive; I won’t say dead,” Shishuang replied.
                “But why not?” Jianyuan asked.
                “I won’t say.”
                And with those words, Jianyuan finally came to awakening.

[Jianyuan Zhongxing – Zen Masters of China: 120-22]

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Daowu Yuanjie [W-G: Tao-wu Yuan-chieh / J: Dogo Enchi]

                 Yunyan Tansheng and Daowu Yuanjie were admiring a statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Guanyin.  As was common, the statue portrayed the Bodhisattva with multiple arms and eyes.
                Tangshen asked, “Why do you suppose the Bodhisattva has so many hands and eyes?”
                “It’s like someone in their sleep groping for a pillow,” Daowu replied.
                “Ah!  I understand.”
                “Tell me what you understand.”
                “The whole body is covered with hands and eyes.”
                “That isn’t bad,” Daowu said, but his tone suggested that Tansheng still did not fully understand.
                “How would you put it?”  Tansheng asked.
                “The whole body is hands and eyes.”

[Daowu Yuanjie –  Zen Masters of China: 116-19]

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Yunyan Tansheng [W-G: Yun-yen T’an-sheng / J: Ungan Donsho]

                Yunyan Tansheng once told this parable:  “Three travelers noticed a man standing on a small hill looking out over the landscape.  The first traveler said, ‘Look at that man.  I suppose he’s searching the country round for an animal that has wandered from his herd.’ 
                “‘Not at all,’ the second said, ‘he’s simply watching out for a friend who’s coming to visit him.’
                “‘Nonsense,’ said the third.  ‘He’s just enjoying the refreshing breeze.’
                “The travelers argued among themselves but weren’t able to come to agreement about why the man was standing there.  When they came nearer to him, the first traveler called out to the man, ‘Are you looking for a goat or sheep which has wandered from your flock?’
                “‘I don’t have any flocks,’ the man replied.
                “‘Then are you waiting for a friend?’ the second asked.
                “‘No.  I’m not waiting for a friend.’
                “‘Ah,’ said the third.  ‘It must be as I expected that you’re just enjoying the refreshing breeze.’
                “‘Not particularly,’ the man said.
                “‘Then what are you doing?’ the three travelers demanded.
                “‘I’m just standing here.’”
[Yunyan Tansheng – Zen Masters of China : 116-18, 129; The Story of Zen: 154]

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Yaoshan Weiyan [W-G: Yuen-shan Wei-yen / J: Yakusan Igen]


                One day after Yaoshan Weiyan had been seated in meditation for a long while, a monk asked him what he did during zazen: “What is it that you think of while you sit there as still as a mountain?”
                “I think of not-thinking,” Weiyen replied.
                “How can you think of not-thinking?” the bewildered monk persisted.
                “It isn’t thought.”

[Yaoshan Weiyan – Zen Masters of China: 110-16]