Guishan or the Buffalo?

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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XVIII)

The ordinary is the most wondrous, all things intra-penetrating yet just as they are ...

Dosho Port (on his blog, wild fox zen) has a wonderful rephrase of the reference to Luling rice ...

A monk asked, what is the ultimate meaning of the buddhadharma?
The master [Qingyuan] said, "What is the price of Luling rice?"

Or in contemporary terms, "What's the ultimate meaning of the buddhadharma?"
"What's the Dow at today?"

Maybe the ultimate isn't so far from the business of taking care of business

Daido Loori, who left this visible world this week, has this to say about Master Guishan ...

Guishan, [the famous 9th century master, was earlier the cook in a monastery. His then Master] Baizhang placed a pitcher of water in the middle of the room and said, "If you call this a pitcher, you're caught up in words and ideas. If you don't call it a pitcher, you negate the fact. What will you call it?" The head monastic said, "It can't be called a pair of wooden sandals." Guishan just kicked over the pitcher. Baizhang appointed Guishan as abbot of the new monastery.

In Guishan's own teaching, one of his favorite koans was: "A hundred years from now, I will be reborn as a buffalo at the front gate of this monastery. On the side of that buffalo will be written 'Monastic Guishan such and such.' If you call it a buffalo, it's Monastic Guishan. If you call it Monastic Guishan, it's a buffalo. What will you call it?" Again, the dualities. If you call it a pitcher, you miss it. If you say it's not a pitcher, you miss it. If you call it a buffalo, you miss it. If you say it's not, you miss it. Our tendency is always to be caught on one side or the other. How do we go beyond those dualities?

Anzan Hoshin of the White Wind Zen Community continues ...

So at that moment, is it Guishan or is it a water buffalo? The water buffalo looks at Guishan; Guishan looks at the water buffalo. There is complete mutuality when the tenzo brings in the rice, serves the monks, he sees the water buffalo, he sees Guishan. When the monks look at the tenzo they see the water buffalo and they see Guishan. The monks see the monk. Mutuality sees mutuality in the rice.

Ah, who says the ordinary is just ordinary?


Now carefully calculate: for every grain of rice to be eaten, one grain must be supplied. If a single grain of rice is divided, then you will have two half-grains of rice. Three tenths, four tenths; one half, two halves. If you supply two half-grains of rice, you will make a single whole grain. [You must be able to see clearly how much of a surplus will be created if you add one unit of rice, or whether there will be enough if you take away one unit].

Getting to eat a single grain of Luling rice enables one to see the monk Guishan; getting to supply a single grain of Luling rice enables one to see the water buffalo [that Guishan will become]. The water buffalo eats the monk Guishan, and the monk Guishan feeds the buffalo. Is my measurement complete or not? Is your calculation complete or not? If you carefully inspect and exhaustively check [these matters], your understanding will dawn and become clear. Then, [when you understand these details be prepared to explain them to others according to their capacity to understand. Use ingenuity in your practice; see the buffalo and Guishan as one, not as two, even though temporarily they appear that way. In your day-to-day life, do not forget this even for a moment].

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk [with portion from Uchiyama]

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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