SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXIX

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There are many Koans about Zen Masters waving about their staffs. Three of those Koans happen to illuminate the very same point ...


I - Shuzan held out his short staff and said, "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"
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II - Master Basso said to a monk, "If I see you have a staff, I will give it to
you. If I see you have no staff, I will take it away from you.
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III- When Master Yamaoka was a brash young student, he visited Master
Dokuon. Wanting to impress the master, he said:

"There is no mind, there is no body, there is no Buddha. There is
no better, there is no worse. There is no master and there is no
student; there is no giving, there is no receiving. What we think
we see and feel is not real. All that is real is Emptiness. None
of these seeming things really exists."

Dokuon had been sitting quietly smoking his pipe, and saying
nothing. Now he picked up his staff, and without warning gave
Yamaoka a terrible whack. Yamaoka jumped up in anger.

"Since none of these things really exists," said Dokuon, "and all
is Emptiness, where does your anger come from? Think about it."


We see in the past that those who transcended the ordinary and transcended the sacred and those who died while sitting or died while standing, relied totally on this power. Moreover, changing of the moment through the action of a finger, a [flag]pole, a needle, or a wooden clapper; and exact experience of the state through the manifestation of a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood by thinking and discrimination. How could they be known through mystical powers or practice and experience? They may be dignified behavior beyond sound and form. How could they be anything other than criteria that precede knowing and seeing? [Nishijima]


In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout-these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views? [SZTP]


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