USER’S MANUAL

In my dreams last night
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s proscription
and killing the Buddha,
but while lost in contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are so lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.

RINZAI’S ENLIGHTENMENT 正法眼蔵 二十七

 

If you ask your question
you will find an answer
but ask another and the stick
will respond each time.
If you seek another teacher
will you change the question
or the answer, and does it matter.
Take up the stick, who
will you strike, your teacher
or yourself, and is there
any real difference?


A reflection on Case 27 of the Shobogenzo – Dogen’s True Dharma Eye

ULTIMATE TRUTH 鐵笛倒吹 四十三

When the stick is raised
a truth hovers nearby,
will you accept it?

When the student is struck
does truth leave
the polished wood, sinking
into the student’s shoulder
or does it rise up
within the student
to meet the falling stick?

Sitting zazen do you ask
directions to the zendo?


A reflection on Case 43 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui)

MEETING BUDDHA ON THE ROAD

In my dreams last night,
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s prescription
and killing this Buddha,
but while lost in my contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said, “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are that lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood,”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.