BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 41
Case 40 never ends, yet now comes ...
Case 41: Rakuho's Last Moments
It is helpful to know that what old Zen folks say may have a couple of meanings.
For example, sometimes "I don't know" means "I am baffled and don't understand". But sometimes "I don't know" means "I know clearly" for "no 'I' knowing 'it'".
Sometimes "I can't say" means just "I am tongue tide and don't know what to say", but sometimes saying "I can't say" is saying "I say what cannot be said because beyond and right through words of this and that and I." Then, "not knowing" is Knowing and saying "not saying" is really Saying!
This Koan is chock full of other word play.
If you simply approve what someone else says and do not know oneself, this is "putting another head on top of your own." Likewise, if you simply mentally or philosophically approve or deny the existence of the Reality that is beyond such dichotomies as "right/wrong" "existence/not existence" "approval/disapproval" and "yes/no" ... one is truly Wrong and does not Know, and is still putting on a head.
Likewise, disagreeing with the Teacher who is Teaching about the above is also ignorance of the "lost and just don't get it" sort.
Rather, one should "Approve" (Big "A") in one's own heart, bones and actions the Teaching that is beyond and right through approval and disapproval, existence and not existence, and the rest.
Here, the head monk says something to his dying Teacher like "Things are just what they are, it is clear before our eyes". What he says is perfectly true, but it seems Rakuho may have detected that the Knowing and Saying "in one's own heart, bones and actions" was missing from the words. Maybe the student was just mouthing platitudes. The good Teacher knows when a student is saying X as just a platitude, and when the Saying of the very same X is Real and Authentic perhaps by the twinkle of confidence in the student's expression, how he walks, and all his other actions which show if he is really in tune.
Then Genju pops up with several "I don't question" and "I can't say" statements which seem more of the tongue-tied variety than the "Saying Non-Saying" kind. So, Rakuho does not seem to approve Genju. He says to Genju later, "What you said today made sense and sounded good" but I rather doubt that you Speak and Know the realm of no separate Dharma (here "Dharma" probably means separate things/phenomena) before the eyes (and inside and behind the eyes too) where all is Emptiness/Wholeness (here Big M "Mind" means such)." Rakuho wants Genju to Speak, See and Hear (Big "S" and "H") such which "the ear and eye cannot reach". Such must be "Seen with the ears, Heard with the eyes", or "the eye seeking to find the eye" as the old Zen Masters sometimes put it ... for it is here and there and all around beyond and right through "here vs. there", yet without a discerning Eye and Ear completely missed.
Thus, Rakuho says that one needs to be discerning of "host" and guest". In old Zen lingo, host is generally "Emptiness/Absolute" and guest "form/separate phenomena"
Of course, the Heart Sutra reminds us "Form is no other than Emptiness, Emptiness precisely Form". To the discerning Eye, Guest is Guest and Host is Host, yet Host is precisely Guest and Guest emerges as Host.
These two might also be described as the real and apparent, upright and inclined, universal and particular, ultimate and phenomenal, oneness and many, or absolute and relative, and are frequently suggested in Chan discourse by the metaphors of host and guest or lord and vassal.
Rakuho concludes perhaps, "I toss myself into the river of Compassionate action on the river of flowing Emptiness, there is no place of safety or measure."
He asks, "Tough, isn't it?" ... which perhaps means both "tough" and "amazingly simple" (like a Rubic's Cube, perhaps, or Chinese puzzle boxes which is surprisingly simple and springs open once one finds the trick).
QUESTIONS: Do you know? Can you speak the unspoken? Are you guest or host? Is it tough or simple?