Saturday, September 26, 2009

kongan blues[i]

you make it a habit, this practice you call Zen. “you think it is a secret, but it never has been one.” this fortune, from a fortune cookie received seven years ago. it jumps out and grips me, he’s got me by the throat. Nánquán’s[ii] cat is out of the bag, he’s hissing and slashed at your eyes. you can’t see clearly, and that’s the way he likes it. three men are walking in a Kirasawa movie.[iii] suddenly, Man'gŏng throws a net on their watermelon patch.[iv] ten thousand dharma’s, one dharma,[v] I don’t give a mouse bowl’s ass.[vi] delusions are endless so quit feeding me all this shit. the Old Man came from Korea,[vii] Wŏnhyo never made to China.[viii] Bodhidharma lost a shoe on his way back to India.[ix] Śākyamuni gave away his flower while attending on Dragon Peak.[x] the secret is out, don’t tell me of dharma don’t try and give me the truth. my heart has been laid open, my mind is no longer static. don’t rationalize with me, there it is, don’t you see? I have a seeing eye dog who can help you find you way. now, just leave it alone. too much shit has already gone down. [i] Kong'an blues: the teachers and quotes are from famous kong'ans. [ii] Nánquán Pŭyuàn: (南泉普願, Nanquan Puyuan, Nan-ch'üan P'u-yüan, Nansen Fugan), 748-835. Nanquan recieved transmission of the Dharma from Mazu Daoyi. Nanquan gave transmission to seventeen of his students, and amongst them Zhaozhou Congshen and Changsha Jingcen have the most recorded history. Nanquan appears in The Blue Cliff Record, cases 28, 31, 40, 63, 64, & 69; as well as The Book of Equanimity, cases 9, 10, 16, 23, 79, 90, 93; and also The Barrier that has no Gate, cases 14, 19, 27, 34. The lines in this poem refer to the following indexed books which contain the particular kongan that I am commenting on, the are, The Barrier That Has No Gate (Wúmén Guān, 無門關) Case # 14, Blue Cliff Record (Bìyán Lù, 碧巌録) Case # 63, The Book of Equanimity (Dǒngqún Shìyì 董群 释) Case # 9, Ten Gates Case # 9, and The Whole World is a Single Flower Case # 293. ㄤ.Nánquán Kills a Cat Once the monks of the Eastern and Western halls were disputing about a cat. Master Nánquán, holding up the cat said, “You! Give me one word and I will save this cat. If you cannot, I will kill it.” No one could answer. Finally, Nánquán killed the cat. In the evening when Zhàozhōu returned from outside, Nánquán told him of the incident. Zhàozhōu took off his shoe, put it on his head, and walked away. Nánquán said, “If you had been there, I could have saved the cat.” 1. Nánquán said, “Give me one word.” At that time, what can you do? 2. Zhàozhōu put his shoe on his head. What does this mean? [iii] Sŭngsan Taesŏnsa: (1927-2004) A student of Korean Sŏn Master Kōbong Gyeŏngk, Zen master Sŭngsan was among a handful of Korean Masters to come to the West and teach. This particular kongan it is said, was revived by Zen Master Sŭngsan, although I still think he made it up late one night while watching a Kirasawa movie. This Kong’an only appears in Sŭngsan’s plublished collections. Ten Gates Case # 12; The Whole World is a Single Flower Case # 364. 十二. Three Men are Walking Three men are walking. The first man pulls his swords almost out of it’s sheath and then returns it, the second man waves his hands, and the third man picks up a handkerchief. 1. If you were there, what would be your correct function? 2. What is the relationship? [iv] Sŭngsan Taesŏnsa: (1927-2004) This is another reference to a kong'an in the Sŭngsan collections, Ten Gates Case # 11; The Whole World is a Single Flower Case # . 十一. Man'gong’s Net [py]: Mǎnkòng Yuèmiàn, 滿空月面, [wg]: Man-k'ung Yüeh-mian, [Kor]: Man'gong Wŏlmyŏn] One day, Zen Master Man'gong sat on the high rostrum and gave the speech to mark the end of the three-month winter retreat. “All winter long you monks practiced very hard. That’s wonderful! As for me, I had nothing to do, so I made a net. This net is made out of a special cord. It is very strong and can catch all Buddhas, Patriarchs and human beings. It catches everything. How do you get out of this net?” Some students shouted, “KATZ!” Others hit floor and raised a fist. One said, “The sky is blue, the grass is green.” Another said, “Already got out; how are you, great Zen Master?” From the back of the room a monk shouted, “Don’t make net!” Many answers were given, but to each Man'gong only replied, “Aha! I’ve caught a Big Fish!” 1. So, how do you get out of Man'gong’s net? [v]十四. The Ten Thousand Dharma’s Return to One, The Whole World is a Single Flower Case # 365. Ten thousand Dharma’s return to one Where does the one return? It is not one, not zero. [vi] 十. Mouse Eats Cat Food, Ten Gates Case # 10, and The Whole World is a Single Flower Case # 363 The mouse eats cat food, but the cat bowl is broken. 1. What does this mean? [vii] The Old Man: referring to Zen Master Sŭngsan’s coming to the west. [viii] Wŏnhyo: (617 - 686) Venerable Wŏnhyo was born in 617 C.E. (the 39th year of Silla King Jinpyŏng), about 1300 years ago, at Buljichon (present-day Sinwol'ri, Amnyang-myŏn, Gyŏngsan). He was given the name of Wŏnhyo which means “dawn” and he lived up to his name for he was a pioneer, not only in Korean Buddhist thought, but also in philosophical thought. He began his monk’s life at Hwangnyongsa Temple. After that, he studied Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism and then practiced meditation diligently as a true practitioner. His life was clearly reflected in his various writings. He tried to go to Tang China two times. First, he crossed the Amnokgang River at the age of 33 with his dharma friend, Venerable Uisang. The trip was a failure and he had to return. The next time he left for Dangjugye, which was in the territory of Baekje, in order to reach Tang through the sea route with Uisang. When he arrived at the harbor, it was already dark and windy, so he stayed in a cave which had been hewn out of the earth for one night. When he awoke he realized that place was not a cave, but an old graveyard. Yet, as the heavy rain had not stopped, he had to stay one more night. That night he could not sleep well because he knew that he was staying in an ancient graveyard and this led to the realization that “all phenomena arise when the mind arises and when the mind is absent, the cave and the graveyard were not two; there was no sense of duality.” This sudden realization gave rise to a profound understanding of the world. Wŏnhyo said, “The three worlds are only mind, and all phenomena arise from the mind, consciousness. If the truth is present in the mind, how could it be found outside of the mind! I won’t go to Tang.” Then he once again returned to Silla. There is a dramatic story which was added to these events later. It is often said that Wŏnhyo drank water from a skull when he awoke during the night desperately thirsty. In the darkness, he found a container with water in it and gratefully drank it. The next morning he found that the water he drank was filthy rainwater which had collected in the skull. This experience became the base of his realization that “there is nothing clean and nothing dirty; all things are made by mind.” The fact that all phenomena arise from the mind is a truth which he clearly understood. He knew that the mind exists in all human beings and so he decided not to go to Tang China and to return home. This is a well-known Korean Buddhist legend. Wŏnhyo was not a man to stick to doctrinal studies or abstract ideas. He was a man dedicated to saving not only the royal and noble families, but also the ordinary and less educated members of society who were equally suffering. One day, he was invited to Yosŏk'gung Palace, and there he met the widowed Princess Yosŏk. The result of the relationship was a son Sŏlchŏng who became one of the greatest Confucian scholars of Silla. After this, Wŏnhyo gave up his monk’s robes and called himself “So'sŏng Gŏsa” (Small Layman.) He didn’t conform to the accepted social code, did not care about his language. He drummed on an empty gourd while singing; “Only a man with no worries and fears can go straight and overcome life and death and transmigration.” His behavior and appearance were eccentric and extra-ordinary. At that time most monks were revered by the royal family and lived in the big temples a life-style that was similar to the noble men of the day; Wŏnhyo, on the other hand lived as a wanderer in the streets. As he lived a secular life along with the common people, he educated and inspired everyone with his talks about Buddhism. Who could imagine that this man had been an illustrious monk, highly revered by the royal family! In this way he was the trusted adviser to the king of Silla, and, at the same time, a friend of the common people. He was completely accessible to the common people who listened to his spontaneous talks with joy. The poor, the uneducated, the beggars, the street wanderers, and even children followed Wŏnhyo; they kept up their hope of being born in the Pure Land by reciting the name of Buddha. [ix] Bodhidharma: (बोधिधर्म, 菩提達摩, Dámó, d. 536) This is from part of the story of Bodhidharma’s life. While Ancestor Bodhidharma was in China, people of various externalist cults and sects were jealous of him. They tried six times to poison him. The first five times he was not poisoned to death. The sixth time he was given poison he spit it out on a rock, and it split the rock in two. And so he thought, ‘People are so jealous, I’d best enter the stillness (i.e., nirvana).’ And so he pretended to enter the stillness. Then people buried him. But just at that time, in Northern Wei there was a government official named Song. At Zongling, at Zhongnan Mountain, he encountered Bodhidharma. The Patriarch was carrying one shoe in his hand. He said to Officer Song, ‘There is a lot of turmoil in your country. You should return there immediately.’ “Song didn’t think there was any problem in his country, but he returned just the same and found that indeed the Wei dynasty was being overthrown. ‘Ah,’ he thought, ‘Bodhidharma’s words are really accurate.’ When he related the Patriarch’s advice to others, they asked him, ‘Where did you see Bodhidharma?’ “‘I saw him just two days ago at Zonglin. He was carrying one shoe, and when I asked him where he was going, he said, “Back to India.” He told me that our dynasty was in trouble, and he was right.’ “‘You saw a ghost!’ they told him. ‘Bodhidharma has already been dead a long time.’ “‘Where is he buried?’ asked the official. ‘Let’s go see.’ They opened the grave and there was nothing inside except for one shoe. ‘With one shoe he returned West, to be remembered forever after.’ He went back to India with one shoe. But the memory of him was left in Jung Gwo for people to hold ever after. They will never forget Patriarch Bodhidharma. His state was inconceivable.” [x] Śākyamuni Buddha Holds Up a Flower, The Barrier That Has No Gate (Wú Mén Guān, 無門關); Case # 6; The Whole World is a Single Flower Case # 285. Long ago on Grdhrakuta Mountain, Buddha sat down in order to give a Dharma talk before a vast assembly of followers. After sitting for an extended period of time in silence, he held up flower. Everyone was silent. Only Mahàkàsyapa smiled. At that moment Buddha said, “I have the all-pervading true Dharma, incomparable Nirvana, exquisite teaching of formless form. It is not dependent on words, a special transmission outside the sutras and I, now, give it to Mahàkàsyapa.” 1. Why did Mahàkàsyapa smile? 2. Why did Buddha pick up the flower? 3. What kind of Dharma transmission was given to Mahàkàsyapa?

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