(The Gateless Gate )
21 - 40
master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little
protégé named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older
disciples visit the master's room each morning and evening to receive
instruction in sanzen or personal guidence in which they were given koans
to stop mind-wandering.
wished to do sanzen also.
while," said Mokurai. "You are too young."
child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.
evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai's
sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed
respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the
master in respectful silence.
can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together," said Mokurai.
"Now show me the sound of one hand."
bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he
could hear the music of the geishas. "Ah, I have it!" he proclaimed.
next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one
hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.
no," said Mokurai. "That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand.
You've not got it at all."
Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet
place. He meditated again. "What can the sound of one hand be?" He
happened to hear some water dripping. "I have it," imagined Toyo.
next appeared before his teacher, he imitated dripping water.
is that?" asked Mokurai. "That is the sound of dripping water, but not the
sound of one hand. Try again."
Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the
wind. But the sound was rejected.
heard the cry of an owl. This was also refused.
sound of one hand was not the locusts.
more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were
wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.
Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. "I could collect
no more," he explained later, "so I reached the soundless sound."
had realized the sound of one hand.
Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: "My heart burns
like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes." He made the following
rules which he practiced every day of his life.
the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.
Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with
moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.
Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone,
maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.
Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.
When an opportunity comes do not let it pass you by, yet always think
twice before acting.
not regret the past. Look to the future.
Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.
Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon
awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a
pair of old shoes.^
Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she
asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.
herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire
around the edges.
nun!" shouted one monk, "is it hot in there?"
matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself," answered Eshun.
flames arose, and she passed away.
farmer requested a Tendai priest to recite sutras for his wife, who had
died. After the recitation was over the farmer asked: "Do you think my
wife will gain merit from this?"
only your wife, but all sentient beings will benefit from the recitation
of sutras," answered the priest.
say all sentient beings will benefit," said the farmer, "my wife may be
very weak and others will take advantage of her, getting the benefit she
should have. So please recite sutras just for her."
priest explained that it was the desire of a Buddhist to offer blessings
and wish merit for every living being.
is a fine teaching," concluded the farmer, "but please make one exception.
I have a neighbor who is rough and mean to me. Just exclude him from all
those sentient beings."
the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion
period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.
gave him the problem: "Hear the sound of one hand."
pupil remained three years but could not pass the test. One night he came
in tears to Suiwo. "I must return south in shame and embarrassment," he
said, "for I cannot solve my problem."
one week more and meditate constantly," advised Suiwo. Still no
enlightenment came to the pupil. "Try for another week," said Suiwo. The
pupil obeyed, but in vain.
another week." Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to
be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They
were without result. Then he said: "Meditate for three days longer, then
if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself."
second day the pupil was enlightened.
Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live
there, any wandering monk can remain in a Zen temple. If he is defeated,
he has to move on.
temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling
together. The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and
had but one eye.
wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a
debate about the sublime teaching. The elder brother, tired that day from
much studying, told the younger one to take his place. "Go and request the
dialogue in silence," he cautioned.
young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down.
afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said:
"Your young brother is a wonderful fellow. He defeated me."
the dialogue to me," said the elder one.
explained the traveler, "first I held up one finger, representing Buddha,
the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his
teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and
his followers, living the harmonious life. Then he shook his clenched fist
in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he
won and so I have no right to remain here." With this, the traveler left.
is that fellow?" asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.
understand you won the debate."
nothing. I'm going to beat him up."
me the subject of the debate," asked the elder one.
the minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating
that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be
polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has
two eyes. Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that
between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him,
but he ran out and that ended it!"
Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master's temple
told a friend: "Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person's face, so I
must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear
someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a
secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of
another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was
really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.
my experience, however, Bankei's voice was always sincere. Whenever he
expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he
expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard."
visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: "What do you seek?"
"Enlightenment," replied Daiju.
have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?" Baso asked.
inquired: "Where is my treasure house?"
answered: "What you are asking is your treasure house."
was delighted! Ever after he urged his friends: "Open your own treasure
house and use those treasures."
the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain
the fruits of meditation for a long time.
one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo.
The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment
Chiyono was set free!
commemoration, she wrote a poem:
way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!
the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a
cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the
attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki,
Governor of Kyoto.
no business with such a fellow," said Keichu to his attendant. "Tell him
to get out of here."The attendant carried the card back with apologies.
"That was my error," said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out
the words Governor of Kyoto. "Ask your teacher again."
that Kitagaki?" exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. "I want to see
Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a
butcher and his customer.
me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.
"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find
here any piece of meat that is not the best."
these words Banzan became enlightened.
asked Takuan, a Zen teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He
felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to
receive the homage of others.
wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:
twice this day
Inch time foot gem.
This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.
Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents
complained of the stinginess of his wife.
visited the adherent's wife and showed her his clenched fist before her
do you mean by that?" asked the surprised woman.
"Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?" he asked.
"Deformed," replied the woman.
opened his hand flat in her face and asked: "Suppose it were always like
that. What then?"
"Another kind of deformity," said the wife.
understand that much," finished Mokusen, "you are a good wife." Then he
his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute as well as to save.
was never known to smile until his last day on earth. When his time came
to pass away he said to his faithful ones: "You have studied under me for
more than ten years. Show me your real interpretation of Zen. Whoever
expresses this most clearly shall by my successor and receive my robe and
Everyone watched Mokugen's severe face, but no one answered.
a disciple who had been with his teacher for a long time, moved near the
bedside. He pushed forward the medicine cup a few inches. This was his
answer to the command.
teacher's face became even more severe. "Is that all you understand?" he
reached out and moved the cup back again.
beautiful smile broke over the features of Mokugen. "You rascal," he told
Encho. "You worked with me ten years and have not yet seen my whole body.
Take the robe and bowl. They belong to you."
students are with their masters at least two years before they presume to
teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his
apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so
Tenno wore wodden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in
remarked: "I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want
to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs."
confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry
his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more
years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.
was Buddha's disciple. He was able to understand the potency of emptiness,
the viewpoint that nothing exists except in its relationship of
subjectivity and objectivity.
Subhuti, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree. Flowers
began to fall about him.
praising you for your discourse on emptiness," the gods whispered to him.
have not spoken of emptiness," said Subhuti.
have not spoken of emptiness, we have not heard emptiness," responded the
gods. "This is true emptiness." And blossoms showered upon Subhuto as
Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which
at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed
with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous
Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A
few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the
time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal
gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.
happened that at that time the Uji River overflowed. Famine followed.
Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to
save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.
years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave
away what he had collected, to help his people.
third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was
fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras
can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.
Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and
that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.
was ordained as a nun when she was ten years old. She received training
just as the little boys did. When she reached the age of sixteen she
traveled from one Zen master to another, studying with them all.
remained three years with Unzan, six years with Gukei, but was unable to
obtained a clear vision. At last she went to the master Inzan.
showed her no distinction at all on account of her sex. He scolded her
like a thunderstorm. He cuffed her to awaken her inner nature.
remained with Inzan thirteen years, and then she found that which she was
honor, Inzan wrote a poem:
nun studied thirteen years under my guidance.
In the evening she considered the deepest koans,
In the morning she was wrapped in other koans.
The Chinese nun Tetsuma surpassed all before her,
And since Mujaku none has been so genuine as this Gisho!
Yet there are many more gates for her to pass through.
She should receive still more blows from my iron fist.
Gisho was enlightened she went to the province of Banshu, started her own
Zen temple, and taught two hundred other nuns until she passed away one
year in the month of August.
master Soyen Shaku passed from this world when he was sixty-one years of
age. Fulfilling his life's work, he left a great teaching, far richer than
that of most Zen masters. His pupils used to sleep in the daytime during
midsummer, and while he overlooked this he himself never wasted a minute.
was but twelve years old he was already studying Tendai philosophical
speculation. One summer day the air had been so sultry that little Soyen
stretched his legs and went to sleep while his teacher was away.
hours passed when, suddenly waking, he heard his master enter, but it was
too late. There he lay, sprawled across the doorway.
your pardon, I beg your pardon," his teacher whispered, stepping carefully
over Soyen's body as if it were that of some distinguished guest. After
this, Soyen never slept again in the afternoon.
schoolmaster used to take a nap every afternoon," related a disciple of
Soyen Shaku. "We children asked him why he did it and he told us: 'I go to
dreamland to meet the old sages just as Confucius did.' When Confucius
slept, he would dream of ancient sages and later tell his followers about
extremely hot one day so some of us took a nap. Our schoolmaster scolded
us. 'We went to dreamland to meet the ancient sages the same as Confucius
did,' we explained. 'What was the message from those sages?' our
schoolmaster demanded. One of us replied: 'We went to dreamland and met
the sages and asked them if our schoolmaster came there every afternoon,
but they said they had never seen any such fellow.'"
[1 -20] [21-40]
Layout: Nhi Tuong
Update : 01-12-2002