A very valuable Zen book

In modern times a great deal of nonsense is talked about masters and disciples, and about the inheritance of a master’s teaching by favorite pupils, entitling them to pass the truth on to their adherents. Of course Zen should be imparted in this way, from heart to heart, and in the past it was really accomplished. Silence and humility reigned rather than profession and assertion. The one who received such a teaching kept the matter hidden even after twenty years. Not until another discovered through his own need that a real master was at hand was it learned that the teching had been imparted, and even then the occasion arose quite naturally and the teaching made its way in its own right. Under no circumstance did the teacher even claim “I am the successor of So-and-so.” Such a claim would prove quite the contrary. Read the rest of this entry »

Head and tail

A monk asked Kyuho,
“What is the head?”
Kyuho said,
“Opening the eyes and not perceiving the dawn.”
The monk said,
“What is the tail?”
Kyuho said,
“Not sitting on a ten-thousand-year-old sitting place.”
The monk said,
“What if there is a head, but no tail?”
Kyuho said,
“After all, it is not valuable.”
The monk said,
“What if there is a tail, but no head?”
Kyuho said,
“Being complacent, yet having no power.”
The monk said,
“What if the head matches the tail?”
Kyuho said,
“The descendants will prosper, but it is not known in the room.”

No work no food

Hyakujo, the Chinese Zen master, used to labor with his pupils even at the age of eighty, trimming the gardens, cleaning the grounds, and pruning the trees.

The pupils felt sorry to see the old teacher working so hard, but they knew he would not listen to their advice to stop, so they hid away his tools. Read the rest of this entry »

Sitting quietly, doing nothing

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.

Bodhidharma vast and void

Emperor Bu of Ryo asked Great Master Bodhidharma,
“What is the highest meaning of the holy reality?”
Bodhidharma replied,
“Vast and void, no holiness.”
The emperor said,
“Who are you in front of me?”
Bodhidharma said,
“I don’t know.”
The emperor did not match him.

Finally, Bodhidharma crossed the Yangtse River and came to the Shorin Temple.
There he sat for nine years, facing the wall.

We shape clay

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.

Before and after enlightenment

Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.

The best piece of meat

One day Banzan was walking through a market. He overheard a customer say to the butcher, “Give me the best piece of meat you have.” “Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You can not find any piece of meat that is not the best.” At these words, Banzan was enlightened.

Manjusri outside the gate

One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate, the Buddha called to him, “Manjusri, Manjusri, why do you not enter?” Manjusri replied, “I do not see myself as outside. Why enter?”

The Southern Monastery

Sekiso lived and taught on the Southern Mountain, and Kankei lived and taught on the Northern Mountain. One day, a monk came from the Northern Monastery to the Southern Monastery in search of teaching. Read the rest of this entry »

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