This Mind Is Not Buddha

A monk asked Baso: “What is Buddha?”

Baso said: “This mind is not Buddha.”

Mumon’s comment: If anyone understands this, he is a graduate of Zen.

If you meet a fencing-master on the road, you may give him your sword,
If you meet a poet, you may offer him your poem.
When you meet others, say only a part of what you intend.
Never give the whole thing at once
.

Everyday Life Is the Path

Joshu asked Nansen: “What is the path?”

Nansen said: “Everyday life is the path.”

Joshu asked: “Can it be studied?”

Nansen said: “If you try to study, you will be far away from it.”

Joshu asked: “If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?”

Nansen said: “The path does not belong to the perception world, neither does it belong to the nonperception world. Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good.”

At these words Joshu was enlightened.

Mumon’s comment: Nansen could melt Joshu’s frozen doubts at once when Joshu asked his questions. I doubt though if Joshu reached the point that Nansen did. He needed thirty more years of study.

In spring, hundreds of flowers; in autumn, a harvest moon;
In summer, a refreshing breeze; in winter, snow will accompany you.
If useless things do not hang in your mind,
Any season is a good season for you
.

Joshu’s Dog

A monk asked Joshu, a Chinese Zen master: “Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?”

Joshu answered: “Mu.” [Mu is the negative symbol in Chinese, meaning “No thing” or “Nay.”]

Mumon’s comment: 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 or 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 a patriarch? 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, you 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 symbol 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 had a dream. He knows about it but he 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 if 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 discontinuation, your attainment will be as a candle burning and illuminating the whole universe.

Has a dog Buddha-nature?
This is the most serious question of all.
If you say yes or no,
You lose your own Buddha-nature
.

Buddha Twirls a Flower

When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his fingers and held it before his listeners. Everyone was silent. Only Maha-Kashapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control the lines of his face.

Buddha and Maha-Kashapa on Grdhrakuta mountain just hanging out.

Buddha said: “I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashapa.”

 Mumon’s comment: Golden-faced Gautama thought he could cheat anyone. He made the good listeners as bad, and sold dog meat under the sign of mutton. And he himself thought it was wonderful. What if all the audience had laughed together? How could he have transmitted the teaching? And again, if Maha-Kashapa had not smiled, how could he have transmitted the teaching? If he says that realization can be transmitted, he is like the city slicker that cheats the country dub, and if he says it cannot be transmitted, why does he approve of Maha-Kashapa?

At the turning of a flower
His disguise was exposed.
No one in heaven or earth can surpass
Maha-Kashapa’s wrinkled face
.

Zen (?) Gates

As a change from heavy duty strimmer frenzy, I have been trying to fix our electric gate motor. It is 2004 vintage, and I am in email contact with South Africa from whence the motor originated.

The whole factory set up procedure works.

The spare parts if bought in France are ten times the price of the same part bought in South Africa, according to the internet.

Nothing quite like an electrical fault, which is of an intermittent nature to test one’s Zen.

It sounds like a relay has fried. It gets the RF signal {according to the LED} to open but just clicks.

So maybe I’ll have some more things to do waiting for me in my inbox tomorrow.

Hey-ho

It Is Not Mind, It Is Not Buddha, It Is Not Things

A monk asked Nansen: “Is there a teaching no master ever preached before?”

Nansen said: “Yes, there is.”

“What is it?” asked the monk.

Nansen replied: “It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.”

Mumon’s comment: Old Nansen gave away his treasure-words. He must have been greatly upset.

Nansen was too kind and lost his treasure.
Truly, words have no power
.
Even though the mountain becomes the sea,
Words cannot open another’s mind
.

April 2007

A few months after I quit my job, I had a basal cell carcinoma sliced out of my face days before I was due to direct a personal development course for Ph.D. students. The upside is that when you look like this people don’t sit next to you on trains.

The room…

The participants

The venue

I guess the stitches leaked a little.

The venue was F.A.B.

Buddha Twirls a Flower

When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his fingers and held it before his listeners. Every one was silent. Only Maha-Kashapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control the lines of his face.

Buddha said: “I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashapa.”

Mumon’s comment:

Golden-faced Gautama thought he could cheat anyone. He made the good listeners as bad, and sold dog meat under the sign of mutton. And he himself thought it was wonderful. What if all the audience had laughed together? How could he have transmitted the teaching? And again, if Maha-Kashapa had not smiled, how could he have transmitted the teaching? If he says that realization can be transmitted, he is like the city slicker that cheats the country dub, and if he says it cannot be transmitted, why does he approve of Maha-Kashapa?

At the turning of a flower

His disguise was exposed.

No one in heaven or earth can surpass

Maha-Kashapa’s wrinkled face.

Buddha Twirls a Flower

When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his fingers and held it before his listeners. Every one was silent. Only Maha-Kashapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control the lines of his face.

Buddha said: “I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashapa.”

    Mumon’s comment: Golden-faced Gautama thought he could cheat anyone. He made the good listeners as bad, and sold dog meat under the sign of mutton. And he himself thought it was wonderful. What if all the audience had laughed together? How could he have transmitted the teaching? And again, if Maha-Kashapa had not smiled, how could he have transmitted the teaching? If he says that realization can be transmitted, he is like the city slicker that cheats the country dub, and if he says it cannot be transmitted, why does he approve of Maha-Kashapa?

 

        At the turning of a flower

        His disguise was exposed.

        No one in heaven or earth can surpass

        Maha-Kashapa’s wrinkled face.

Zen – better than mine?

One day a travelling Zen master came upon a hermit’s cell. It was a bitterly cold night and he asked of the hermit; “may I tarry a while?”

The hermit agreed and boiled some rice, for them both to share.

Sat on their mats a ball of string fell out of the Zen master’s cloak and the hermit noticed.

The hermit asked the Zen master; “Why, venerable one, do you carry this ball of string?”

The Zen master replied, “Mind is a labyrinth and to enter in without a string, is to be lost forever. It is wise to carry string.”

The hermit asked the master; “Is your Zen, better than mine?”

Even though the gate was opened, the Zen master walked out into the storm, though his belly sorely missed the rice he might have eaten.

Nansen Cuts the Cat in Two

Nansen saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a cat. He seized the cat and told the monks: “If any of you say a good word, you can save the cat.”

No one answered. So Nansen boldly cut the cat in two pieces.

That evening Joshu returned and Nansen told him about this. Joshu removed his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked out.

Nansen said: “If you had been there, you could have saved the cat.”

 

    Mumon’s comment: Why did Joshu put his sandals on his head? If anyone answers this question, he will understand exactly how Nansen enforced the edict. If not, he should watch his own head.

 

Had Joshu been there,

He would have enforced the edict oppositely.

Joshu snatches the sword

And Nansen begs for his life.