Saturday, 9 January 2016

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]

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