Shuzan held out his short staff and said: "If you call this as short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"
A master was asked the question, "What is the Way?" by a curious monk.
"It is right before yous eyes," said the master.
"Why do I not see it for myself?"
"Because you are thinking yourself."
"What about you: do you see it?"
"So long as you see double, saying 'I don't', and 'you do', and so on, your eyes are clouded," said the master.
"When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', can one see it?"
"When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', who is the one that wants to see it?"
The student Doko came to a Zen master, and said: "I am seeking the truth. In
what state of mind should I train myself, so as to find it?"
Said the master, "There is no mind, so you cannot put it in any state. There is no truth, so you cannot train yourself for it."
"If there is no mind to train, and no truth to find, why do you have these monks gather before you every day to study Zen and train themselves for this study?"
"But I haven't an inch of room here," said the master, "so how could the monks gather? I have no tongue, so how could I call them together or teach them?"
"Oh, how can you lie like this?" asked Doko.
"But if I have no tongue to talk to others how can I lie to you?" asked the master.
Then Doko said sadly, "I cannot follow you. I cannot understand you."
"I cannot understand myself," said the master.
A monk asked Baso: "What is Buddha?"
Baso said: "This mind is Buddha."
A monk asked Baso: "What is Buddha?"
Baso said: "This mind is not Buddha."
Goso said: "When a buffalo goes out of his enclosure to the edge of the abyss, his horns and his head and his hoofs all pass through, but why can't the tail also pass?"
Tozan said to his monks, "You monks should know there is an even higher understanding in Buddhism." A monk stepped forward and asked, "What is the higher Buddhism?" Tozan answered, "It is not Buddha."
A monk asked Ganto, "When the three worlds threaten me, what shall I do?" Ganto answered, "Sit down." "I do not understand," said the monk. Ganto said, "Pick up the mountain and bring it to me. Then I will tell you."
Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another person asks him:"Why did Bodhidharma come to China from India?" If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?
Zen master Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A young novice began to imitate him in this way. When Gutei was told about the novice's imitation, he sent for him and asked him if it were true. The novice admitted it was so. Gutei asked him if he understood. In reply the novice held up his index finger. Gutei promptly cut it off. The novice ran from the room, howling in pain. As he reached the threshold, Gutei called, "Boy!" When the novice turned, Gutei raised his index finger. At that instant the novice was enlightened.
A monk saw a turtle walking in the garden of Daizui's monastery and asked the teacher, "All beings cover their bones with flesh and skin. Why does this cover its flesh and skin with bones?" Daizui, the master, took off one of his sandals and covered the turtle with it.
Funyo brought forth his walking stick and said to his monks, "Whoever understands this walking stick thoroughly can end his travelling for Zen."
Seppo, the cook monk in Tozan's monastery, was always punctual in serving the
One day Tozan asked, "What makes you keep the time so accurately?"
"I watch the stars and the moon", Seppo answered.
"What if it rains, or is foggy, what do you then?" Tozan persisted, but Seppo remained silent,
One day Joshu visited his brother monk's lecture hall. He stepped up to the
platform, still carrying his walking stick, and looked from east to west and
from west to east.
"What are you doing there?" asked the brother monk.
"I am measuring the water," answered Joshu.
"There is no water. Not even drop of it. How can you measyre it?" questioned the monk.
Joshu leaned against the wall and went away.
In Nanseen's monastery the cook was entertaining the gardener monk one day.
While they were eating, the heard a bird sing. The gardener monk tapped his
wooden arm-rest with his finger, then the bird sang again. The gardener monk
repeated this action, but the bird sang no more.
"Do you understand?" asked the monk.
"No", answered the cook monk, "I do not understand".
The other monk struck the pillow for the third time.
A monk came to Hyakujo and asked, "What is the most wonderful thing in the
"I sit on top of this mountain", answered Hyakujo.
The monk paid homage to the teacher folding his hands palm to palm. At that moment Hyakujo his the monk with his stick.
A monk came to Seppo and made a formal bow. Seppo hit the monk five blows
with the stick.
At this the monk asked, "Where is my fault?"
With another five blows the master shouted at the monk to get out.
To realize Zen one has to pass through the barrier of the patriarchs.
Enlightenment always comes after the road of thinking is blocked. If you do not
pass the barrier of the patriarchs of if your thinking road is not blocked,
whatever you think, whatever you do, is like a tangling ghost. You may ask:
"What is a barrier of the patriarchs?" This one word, 'MU', is it.
This is the barrier of Zen. If you pass through it, you will see Joshu face to face. Then you can work hand in hand with the whole line of patriarchs. Is this not a pleasant thing to do?
If you want to pass this barrier, yuou must work through every bone in your body, through every pore of your skin, filled with this question: "What is 'MU'?" and carry it day and night. Do not believe it is the common negative sumbol meaning nothing. It is not nothingness, the opposite of existence. If you really want to pass this barrier, you should feel like drinking a hot iron ball that you can neither swallow nor spit out.
Then your previous lesser knowledge disappears. As a fruit ripening in season, your subjectivity and objectivity naturally become one. It is like a dumb man who has a dream. He knows about it but cannot tell it.
When he enters this condition his ego-shell is crushed and he can shake the heaven and move the earth. He is like a great warrior with a sharp sword. If a Buddha stands in his way, he will cut him down; if a patriarch offers him any obstacle, he will kill him; and he will be free in his way of birth and death. He can enter any world as it it were his own playground. I will tell you how to do this with this koan:
Just concentrate your whole energy into this MU, and do not allow any discontinuation. When you enter this MU and there is no dicontinuation, your attainment will be as a candle burning and illuminating the whole universe.