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Thread: A stringless lute, a valley without an echo

  1. #1

    A stringless lute, a valley without an echo

    Some years ago I heard the terms "a stringless lute" and "a valley without an echo". They were referenced by Korean Master Chinul in his "straight talk on the true mind". A compilation of his teachings translated by Robert Buswell (Tracing Back the Radiance) was the handbook of the Korean Sangha I was practicing in at the time. I thought they were beautiful and suggestive but could not connect with them. These phrases have been popping up lately, inspired by rolling around the idea of "The person of no rank", and Zazen.

    What does a stringless lute and a valley without an echo mean or evoke for you?

    Thanks

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-07-2014 at 01:27 PM. Reason: grammar
    大山

  2. #2
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    "The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, 'a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish. .... See the ball, Danny. Be the ball."

    Ty Webb from "Caddyshack" (sorry, Daizan, couldn't resist)

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  3. #3
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hello

    What these terms evoke for me is the inherent nature of the interconnections of all things. A lute without strings, a valley with no echoes, speaks to me of our tendency to label things as this or that when in reality they are not two but one. What defines the "lute" or the "valley"? Is it a lute if it has no strings? Is it a valley that does not echo? All things formless dependent on other forms.



    Gassho
    C

  4. #4
    Hi Daizan,

    These pop up here and there in the old literature. Bankei said ...

    Instructing a Confucian of Bizen
    It ranges over past and present, pervades the entire universe
    Look and it's not to be seen, [but] call and it responds
    A stringless lute, a silent melody This has nothing to
    do with being a monk or a layman
    And Daido Loori has a nice talk on this old Koan ...

    Layman Pangyun said to Mazu, “Master, please look up at the unobscured original person.” Mazu looked straight down. Pangyun then said, “How splendid is this stringless lute. Only you can play it.” Mazu looked straight up. Pangyun bowed. Mazu went back to the abbot’s room. Pangyun followed him into the room and said, “You were skillful enough to do something clumsy.”

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Budd...ri%20Roshi.htm
    And the echoless valley ...

    Seven wise women went into the nirvana forest. The elder of them pointed to a corpse and said, “The corpse is here, where has the person gone?” At this, all seven women witnessed the truth and realized the Way. Indra showered them with heavenly flowers from the sky saying, “Excellent, excellent!” The elder of the women said, “Who is praising us?” A voice from the sky said, “I am Indra. Because I have seen the sacred women realize the way, I came and scattered a rain of flowers. I only request that if you need something, I will provide it until the end of your lives.” The elder woman said, “At my house the four material offerings of the seven jewels are all completely provided. I only want three kinds of things. First, I would like a rootless tree. Second, I would like a piece of land with no north and south. Third, I would like an echoless valley.” Indra said, “I have all the things you could possibly want but those three things I truly do not have.” The great Master Dogen said [in Shobogenzo Muchu Setsumu] on behalf of Indra, “Do you want a rootless tree? The cypress tree in the garden is it. If you cannot use that, raise up this staff and see that this is exactly it. Do you want a piece of land without north and south? It is the nirvana forest. If you cannot use that, use the entire world and the ten directions. Do you want an echoless valley? I shout out, ‘Sisters!’ to all seven of you. If you respond, I immediately say, ‘I have given you an echoless valley.’ If you do not respond, I say, ‘After all, it doesn’t echo.’”
    Lovely silent sound, vibrating stillness in all things.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D

    What does [I
    a stringless lute[/I] and a valley without an echo mean or evoke for you?
    Deafening silence.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Juki View Post
    "The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, 'a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish. .... See the ball, Danny. Be the ball."

    Ty Webb from "Caddyshack" (sorry, Daizan, couldn't resist)

    Gassho,
    Juki
    Lol, nice. "Thank you very little."

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  7. #7
    Speaking of Caddyshacks great Buddhist moments ...

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    I love that a clip from and reference to Caddyshack is being posted on a "zen Forum". What isn't dharma? :-D

    Gassho


    Shugen
    As a priest in training, please take everything I say with a pinch of salt

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rculver View Post
    What isn't dharma? :-D
    why, nothing, of course.
    upon investigation, the Buddha's enlightenment is all around.

    -Dogen Zenji, Fukanzazenji



  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Juki View Post
    "The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, 'a flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish. .... See the ball, Danny. Be the ball."

    Ty Webb from "Caddyshack" (sorry, Daizan, couldn't resist)

    Gassho,
    Juki

    I'm not so sure about that donut view, Juki . It seems like there is a whole class of donuts without a hole, usually referred to as filled. Some are filled with a sugary jelly, and some with a mysterious “cream” . They are definitely donuts. Also, if I take a danish and put a hole in the middle, I doubt anyone would call it a donut. Most people would say it is a danish with a hole.

    Just sayin.

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  11. #11
    So maybe a donut with no holes is not really a donut? 😊

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Speaking of Caddyshacks great Buddhist moments. . .

    "Which is nice."

    Priceless.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    So maybe a donut with no holes is not really a donut? ��

    Kind regards. /\
    This issue is raised in the Puggalugga Sutta, where Ananda is sent out for donuts and coffee, and gets into an argument with a Brahman in the line up over what makes a donut a donut. The Brahman insisted that there is an unchanging donut essence abiding in donuts with holes, and that the donuts without holes lack such an essence. When he returns he asks the Buddha, and because Ananda is always really slow on the uptake, the Buddha has to go through this long repetitive discourse deconstructing donuts, to show that no such donut essence is to be found. He does say though that he prefers Old Fashioned Glazed.


    But seriously....

    Thank you for the responses, and thank you Jundo for those passages you quote. Maybe they are really obvious in their meaning? But actually feeling the meaning has not been so obvious , at least for me. So this is appreciated.

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    This issue is raised in the Puggalugga Sutta, where Ananda is sent out for donuts and coffee, and gets into an argument with a Brahman in the line up over what makes a donut a donut. The Brahman insisted that there is an unchanging donut essence abiding in donuts with holes, and that the donuts without holes lack such an essence. When he returns he asks the Buddha, and because Ananda is always really slow on the uptake, the Buddha has to go through this long repetitive discourse deconstructing donuts, to show that no such donut essence is to be found. He does say though that he prefers Old Fashioned Glazed.


    But seriously....

    Thank you for the responses, and thank you Jundo for those passages you quote. Maybe they are really obvious in their meaning? But actually feeling the meaning has not been so obvious , at least for me. So this is appreciated.

    Gassho Daizan
    Hi Daizan,

    When the mind is still even amid chaos ... free of thoughts even while thinking ... silent even as the ambulance siren screams or Ozzie Osborne sings ... such is the stringless lute (or Gibson Les Paul), such is the echoless valley (or timeless Times Square) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...8Part-XXIII%29

    Lovely silent sound, vibrating stillness in all things.

    If the mind is still even while asking "what is the silent sound, the echoless valley?" ... then such is heard. If the bind is longing, burning, churning, turning, spinning, chasing after "what is the silent sound, echoless valley" then one is not going to hear.

    Dogen had a nice way of answering interrogative questions by turning them into declarative statements ... affirmations. So for example, "what is the silent sound, the echoless valley?" becomes ...

    ... "YES, WHAT!!, thus become the silent sound, echoless valley!!!!"

    More on how Dogen played that music here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...DO-WHAT-S-WHAT

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-09-2014 at 07:22 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  15. #15
    Jundo, thanks for making that clear. The dough from the donut hole is actually the real donut.😊

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  16. #16

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