Friday, April 26, 2013

The One-Hundred Foot Fence

#9   Buddhanandi

Hello Eric, Pat, Matt, Will, Louie, Laura et al of the One World,
This will be our last meeting until the autumn. It has been a good season with you, Hui Neng and now with Keizan Jochim and our ancestors. I look forward to continuing this book with you sometime in September or October. I will bring some new cases from the Denko-roku that we can focus on when we have our September retreat in the Palouse. If you have any interest in joining us in September, please be in touch with Pat. Her contact info is on the Palouse web site, but if you have trouble finding her, feel free to contact me at Mountain Lamp.

Although it does not change the tenor of the case, Aitken Roshi translates 'discuss' as argue. He translates the case this way, "Buddhanandi met the Eighth Ancestor and said, 'I have come to argue the real fact with you.'
The Eighth Ancestor said, If you argue, it is not the real fact. The real fact is not argument. If you want to argue, it cannot be an argument of the real fact.'
Buddhanandi realized that the teacher's argument about the real fact was superior to his own, and realized the fact of no-birth.'"

Why was the teacher's argument a presentation of the true fact? But why, no matter how Buddhanandi argued, would it always be incorrect?  Remember, Buddhanandi was known to be quite the debater. He was probably well organized, a gifted speaker and bright, yet whichever approach he took in the debate or discussion, he would not show or present the real fact. How come?  I am reminded here of De-shan, the Diamond Sutra expert, coming from the north with his stack of sutras and sastras to argue with the heretics of Zen who were purported to be saying, "It is outside of the sutras and it is not based on words or phrases." Before finding a Zen Master to argue with, he bumped into a wise old woman who toppled him and his cart. She showed her wonderful mind of nirvana as he searched in vain for even one word. After she picked him up and dusted him off, she pointed up the road to the nearest Zen teacher. De-shan followed her finger and located the teacher whom he talked with long into the night. As he readied to leave the teacher's quarters, the teacher gave him a lighted candle so that he could find his way. De-shan opened the door to the night's dark and before he could take a step, the teacher blew out the candle. De-shan was met only by the dark, dark. He immediately saw the dark's true light and, for the first time, understood the arguments of the Diamond Sutra and the wise old woman.

 But please do not think this means that silence is the way. Keizan wrote, "Even Manjusri's speaking of no words is not an announcement of reality. Neither is Vimilikirti's sitting in silence a discussion of the truth." Both of those ways, arguing and not saying a single word are just activities of the mind. Neither can show or express the fullness of it. In this present teisho, Keizan is very strict. It is almost as though he missed his morning's green tea and so is rather cranky. No matter what you say or do, or don't say and don't do, Keizan will find you lacking. In his crankiness, he is building a 100' wall and no matter which way you turn, his wall is all you can see or experience or know...and all you can hear is Keizan saying, "Not That Way!" So what is one to do?

I'd like to leave you with this from the Blue Cliff Record:
A monk asked Yun-men, "What is the Dharmakaya?"
Yun-men said, "Flower fence."
The monk asked, "What if I have realized 'that's it!'"
Yun-men said, "Golden haired lion!"

take care & check the Mountain Lamp web site for teisho from the last sesshin on the Denko-roku and for upcoming retreats...


  1. PZC Scribe’s Report, Saturday, April 27, 2013, “Buddhanandi” in The Record of Transmitting the Light, pp. 63-67.

    Starting with Jack’s comment that “Aitken Roshi translates 'discuss' as argue” – what about this change? It’s not that you can’t say anything about it. Is that what Keizan is saying re “Buddha nature was something shravakas and pratyekabuddhas had never known even in a dream” (64) – “hearers” and “proclaimers,” lone Buddhas who practice on their own (enlightened without teachers); they seem to be undesirable extremes. You can’t argue but you can’t be silent either. Explore implications of “argue.” Differences between Mahayanas vs. Theravadins arise again; “the Dharma is everywhere.” The role and importance of ceremony, ritual at different points in one’s practice; the meanings and effects of different aspects of the ceremony, the posture of prostration, etc.. “Total purity is not the place to conceal your body”(67): discuss. One’s changing relation to one’s body; pain and discomfort; it’s one thing of many things. Is it any more “within” or “outside” the self as the “opening blossoms in the spring”? We refer to aural and visual phenomena as gateways; why privilege these senses? “Who hears” – but what about “who feels,” “who thinks,” “who dies”? Transitoriness of sound, usefulness of it as a gateway; as a condensed experience. Observed avoidance of the body in Dharma teaching? Pain on the cushion – what does one do? Men and women and gauging and responding to pain; our cultural baggage. Sit through it, respond? Accommodate one’s body/self? Which pulls you out of practice, too much in your mind? If you can sit through it, something is strengthened. Mind over matter; if you don’t mine, it don’t matter (The Marines). What about boredom, and its underlying irritation? Do really live people, like Suzuki Roshi, experience boredom? If everything is in flux, how can one be bored? Procrastination: why doesn’t the ability to nurture a practice translate, or does it? We arrive at Gary Snyder’s haiku:
    After weeks of watching the roof leak
    I fixed it tonight
    by moving a single board.
    Then we return to the text, to the final verse, “When is some seasoning not appropri-ate?”(67). Seasoning as building up, as jiriki, isn’t that what we’re doing here? You can’t argue your way to the truth, but we’re humans and we need to do something; we play (this week, anyway; last week we stayed with the reading, having arrived with no ideas). Was this week’s text or discussion different? Our thoughts turn to current events, to Jack’s Teisho of last week, to foes, to suffering, to violence, to politics, the world we live in outside these, and will return to, and never left. Till next time.

  2. One of my comments for the year: Our thoughts return to..foes, to suffering, to violence, to politics, the world we live in outside these, and will return to, and never left.

    Great stuff Linda!


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