When you come
searching for a key
to unlock the door
to Nirvana
I will ask you
to complete
a simple task.
All you need to do
is go to the ocean
and select the one
drop of water different
from all of the others.

A reflection on Case 26 of the Book of Equanimity, 従容錄, Shōyōroku


If your teacher asks
you to bring him all
of the Dharma you have learned
what will you bring him?
If you begin to recite
what you know
of the sutras
he will turn away
and cover his ears.
If you sit
next to him in silence
he will smile.

A reflection on Case 25 of the Book of Equanimity, 従容錄, Shōyōroku


When you look
in the mirror
what do you really see?
If you say yourself
you are blind.
If you say nothing
you have grasped
the heart of the Dharma.
If you shatter the mirror
you have found Nirvana.

A reflection on Case 24 of the Book of Equanimity 従容錄, Shōyōroku


When you approach
the teacher what is it
that you expect from her?
If you ask her
to show you the way
she will sit
and face the wall
in silence.
What will you learn
from this?
If you are
facing the wall
in silence
you shout
your answer.

A reflection on Case 23 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


Walking in an open field
when you come to a gate
which is inside, which outside?
If you straddle the gate
there is no inside,
there is no outside,
there is only a gate
with you balanced upon it.
Ask yourself
on which side
will you fall?

A reflection on Case 22 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


When you are cleaning,
what becomes of the dirt?
When you are bathing,
what becomes of the water?
When you exhale,
what becomes of the breath?
When the moon disappears
is the moon truly gone?
When you ask your teacher,
what becomes of the question?
If you sit quietly on the mat
and do not think of this,
what becomes of you?

A reflection on Case 21 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


When you come
before your teacher
and he asks you
what is it exactly
that you are looking for,
what is it that you
expect finally to attain,
how will you answer him?
If you say you are seeking
enlightenment, he will laugh
and send you away,
but if you answer
that you do not know,
he will hand you
an empty bowl
and tell you to go fill it.

A reflection on Case 20 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


When you ask your teacher
what happens when you
stop thinking, allow
no new thoughts
what you expect him
to tell you?

The dead have no thoughts
but that is not the door
to Nirvana.

But if thoughts abandon you
without your effort, without
being asked to do so,
then the door you seek
will open before you.

A reflection on case 19 of the Book of Equanimity 従容錄, Shōyōroku


My teacher once asked me
“what do you have
to say for yourself,” and I
answered “absolutely nothing,”
or did I smile and remain silent?

You assume the teacher would
be upset with the silent student
and in most cases you would
be perfectly correct.

But if this occurred
in a zendo, having nothing
to say is a step toward no-self
and you can be
in that moment,
Joshu’s dog.

A reflection on Case 18 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)