View Full Version : 4/2 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Daoying

04-03-2011, 09:27 AM

Zen Masters of old often spoke out of "both sides of the no sided mouth". Here, as in past chapters, we see many Koans playing with the 'relative' and the 'absolute' ... which are not apart (when seen with a Buddha's eye), thus intimate and whole. While the expressions are not to be understood intellectually, but truly lived and perceived in the bones, it is possible to get some insight into the word play going on here:

So, for example, there is a fellow named "Daoying". That is his name. But, from the absolute view, there is no separate "Daoying" ... nor teacher named "Dongshan" ... So that is where master and disciple meet: both face-to-face in a temple, and namelessly (where all are whole, beyond even thought of apartness).

In another Koan, Cuiwei jokes that, when the monks eat lunch the ancient Arhats are fed. That is because there is no difference absolutely between today's monks and ancient saints. On the other "relative" hand, of course, ancient saints and modern students are not the same.

Great Priest Si could not become a Buddha or emperor because ... nothing to "become" or in need of becoming.

Daoying was asked "what mountain is fit to live on?". He answers rhetorically "what mountain is -not- fit too live on?" because this special mountain covers the whole universe, all time and space and thus "Daoying takes over the whole country". However Daoying affirms this (not denies it .... because sometimes "yes" means "no" and "no" means yes" in Zen talk) by saying "no I haven't" (which thus actually means "yes yes yes")... which, like with Great Priest Si, may mean because there is nothing to take over because nothing in need of taking!

Dongshan then says that Daoying is walking a good path ... Daoying then says there is no path ... because in the absolute there is no path, and no place to get to, thus master and disciple could meet. And practice of that "no path" path is walking the good path!

When asked if the water is deep or shallow, the response was "it is not wet" ... another statement of the non-waterness of the absolute ... but "neither is it dry", meaning that to say that there is no water there is silly too. The teacher calling the student a "course fellow" is actually a compliment (in the Zen world, insults were often meant as compliments).

It was a common Buddhist belief that Maitreya, the future Buddha, was waiting in his heaven to appear in the future. I do not think that Daoying and Dongshan meant to deny that belief. However, in the absolute, there is no "Maitreya" no need or place to "appear". That is how Maitreya appears.

It was also an ancient belief that a spirit would bring offerings to a monk in retreat. However, dropping thought of good and bad and this and that, Daoying manifested emptiness such that the spirit could no longer even find him to bring the food. (Keizan points out that demons could not find him there either).

(... not sure of the word play in the "bean paste" koan ... but Keizan seems to imply that Daoying, now his own chef, is cooking by his own taste and recipe and is self-reliant as a practitioner)

And the next Koan ... about committing such cardinal sins as killing one's parent or killing a Buddha. Keizan seems to imply that, when one encounters "Buddha Nature" as so empty that one realizes "no Buddha Nature" (which, speaking out of both sides of the no sided mouth, is actually an affirmation of what is "Buddha Nature") ... one thus "kills Buddha" with emptiness (which is thereby bringing Buddha to life) and realizes that one's parents were empty all along (which is a realization by which a monk does the highest honor to his parents)!

Thus Keizan's closing verse:

Never has it been bound by names or forms
[So] how can you speak of it as [absolute] or "relative".

Something like that. Zen teachers speak out of both sides of the no sided mouth.

Cook from 200
Hixon from

Gassho, Jundo

04-05-2011, 02:35 AM
Below follows some highlights of this chapter. I think it is a interesting way to keep the teachings of the text in our minds. Hopefully, it is not unappropriated for me to transcribe those quotations here.


"From the moment that one sits on the round cushion in simple zazen, the universe, while remaining just the universe, is already the full moon of nonduality, floating peacefully in the black sky of Mother Wisdom."


"With empty hands seeking on one's own,
Coming back with empty hands;
Where there is fundamentally no attainment,
After all one attains."

04-10-2011, 04:48 PM
This one I'm at a loss for words for. Each Discussion between master and student confirming and fully expressing the depth of the understanding. Moving with careful ease between the relative and absolute they confirm there is no master or student in the end and there is no end.


04-11-2011, 09:19 AM
Like Shohei I just read and couldn't think of anything to add.
One reflection I did have was on the difficulty of getting past our concepts of things to the 'nameless'. I guess starting with ourselves finishes it.

04-17-2011, 02:18 PM
I have nothing to say, no where to turn... except Shakespeare:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's lyrical tale of "star-cross'd" lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to "deny (his) father" and instead be "new baptized" as Juliet's lover. This one short line encapsulates the central struggle and tragedy of [ZEN].


04-30-2011, 08:10 AM
Nowhere to turn, nothing to say ... just "Attention." Gassho, Shogen

05-12-2011, 10:20 PM
I’ve always loved the play between absolute and relative that we see in such works as the Sadokai and I thought these readings masterfully integrated the two….or perhaps one…or one beyond one.

As Zen_Fire noted above Hixon’s statement on zazen was notable:

"From the moment that one sits on the round cushion in simple zazen, the universe, while remaining just the universe, is already the full moon of nonduality, floating peacefully in the black sky of Mother Wisdom."