Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Long ago, there was a monk called Prior Sokkō in the order of Zen
Mas ter Hōgen. Zen Master Hōgen asks him, “Prior Sokkō, how long have
you been in my order?”
Sokkō says, “I have served in the master’s order for three years already.”
The Zen master says, “You are a recent member of the order. Why do
you never ask me about the Buddha-Dharma?”
Sokkō says, “I must not deceive you, master. Before, when I was in the
order of Zen Master Seihō, I realized the state of peace and joy in the Buddha-

Hōgen says, “Nice words. But I am afraid that you may not have understood.”
Sokkō says, “The children of fire belong to fire. [So] I understood that
their being fire yet looking for fire represented my being myself yet looking
for myself.”
The Zen master says, “I have become sure that you did not understand.
If the Buddha-Dharma were like that, it could never have been transmitted
until today.”
At this Sokkō became embarrassed and distressed, and he stood up [to
leave]. [But] on the road he thought, “The Zen master is [respected] throughout
the country [as] a good counselor, and he is a great guiding master to
five hundred people. There must surely have been some merit in his criticism
of my wrongness.”
[Sokkō] goes back to the Zen master to confess and to prostrate himself
in apology. Then he asks, “Just what is the student that is I?”
 The Zen master says, “The children of fire come looking for fire.”
Under the influence of these words, Sokkō grandly realized the Buddha-

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." - Abraham Lincoln

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." - Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

SHŌBŌGENZŌ THE TRUE DHARMA-EYE TREASURY VOLUME I ~ The grass, trees, soil, and earth reached by this guiding influence all radiate great brightness, and their preaching of the deep and fine Dharma is without end.

Although, in the quietness, mind and external world enter together into the state of experience and pass together out of the state of realization, [those movements] are the state of receiving and using the self. Therefore, [movements of mind and the external world] neither stir a single molecule nor disturb a single form, but they accomplish the vast and great work of Buddha and the profound and fine influence of Buddha.
The grass, trees, soil, and earth reached by this guiding influence all radiate great brightness, and their preaching of the deep and fine Dharma is without end. Grass, trees, fences, and walls become able to preach for all souls, [both] common people and saints; and conversely, all souls, [both] common people and saints, preach for grass, trees, fences, and walls. The world of self-consciousness, and [the world] of consciousness of external objects, lack nothing—they are already furnished with the concrete form of real experience.
The standard state of real experience, when activated, allows no idle moment. Zazen, even if it is only one human being sitting for one moment, thus enters into mystical cooperation with all dharmas, and completely penetrates all times; and it therefore performs, within the limitless universe, the eternal work of the Buddha’s guiding influence in the past, future, and present.
For everyone it is completely the same practice and the same experience. The practice is not confined to the sitting itself; it strikes space and resonates, [like] ringing that continues before and after a bell. How could [the practice] be limited to this place? All concrete things possess original practice as their original features; it is beyond comprehension.
Remember, even if the countless buddhas in ten directions, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, tried with all their power and all their buddha-wisdom to calculate or comprehend the merit of one person’s zazen, they could not even get close.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Zen Koan

The Last Poem of Hoshin

The Zen Master Hoshin lived in China many years. Then he returned to the northeastern part of Japan, where he taught his disciples. When he was getting very old, he told them a story he had heard in China. This is the story:

One year on the twenty-fifth of December, Tokufu, who was very old, said to his disciples: "I am not going to be alive next year so you fellows should treat me well this year."

The pupils thought he was joking, but since he was a great-hearted teacher each of them in turn treated him to a feast on succeeding days of the departing year. On the eve of the new year, Tokufu concluded: "You have been good to me. I shall leave tomorrow afternoon when the snow has stopped." The disciples laughed, thinking he was aging and talking nonsense since the night was clear and without snow. But at midnight snow began to fall, and the next day they did not find their teacher about. They went to the meditation hall. There he had passed on.

Hoshin, who related this story, told his disciples: "It is not necessary for a Zen master to predict his passing, but if he really wishes to do so, he can."

"Can you?" someone asked.

"Yes," answered Hoshin. "I will show you what I can do seven days from now."

None of the disciples believed him, and most of them had even forgotten the conversation when Hoshin called them together.

"Seven days ago," he remarked, "I said I was going to leave you. It is customary to write a farewell poem, but I am neither a poet or a calligrapher. Let one of you inscribe my last words."

His followers thought he was joking, but one of them started to write.

"Are you ready?" Hoshin asked.

"Yes sir," replied the writer.

Then Hoshin dictated:

I came from brillancy
And return to brillancy.
What is this?

This line was one line short of the customary four, so the disciple said: "Master, we are one line short."

Hoshin, with the roar of a conquering lion, shouted "Kaa!" and was gone.