SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi LXXVI

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From a talk on Fukanzazengi by Taitaku Pat Phelan (Chapel Hill Zen Center)

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"A mallet" refers to the first case of the Shoyoroku, or Book of Equanimity, which is a Soto Zen koan collection. One day the World Honored One ascended the seat or teaching platform. When Buddha took his place on the raised platform, Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, struck the gavel and said, "Clearly observe the Dharma of the King of Dharma; the Dharma of the King of Dharma is thus." Then without saying anything, the World Honored One got down from the seat, and that’s the end of the story. It was the custom at the opening of the teaching hall to strike the gavel and announce this verse which is similar to the way we chant before a Dharma talk. Except that after the verse was said, Buddha got down and walked out without saying anything. In this case, the teaching is in what was not said.

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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