‘Dongshan asked Yunyan, “When I want to see it face to face, what should I do?”
Yunyan said, “Ask someone who’s done it.”
Dongshan said, “That’s what I’m doing.”
Yunyan said, “What can I say to you?”‘ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage)
I don’t remember ever seeing this dialogue before, though I have been reading about Dongshan recently, thanks to Taigen’s book Just This Is It. Taigen spells out that even though Dongshan (Tozan in Japanese) became one of the founders of the Soto school, and wrote the incomparable Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi, it took him a while to get there. Many stories are handed down of him questioning his teachers and not getting it. This is a classic exchange; Dongshan plays it straight, falling right into Yunyan’s trap. Probably Yunyan knew that Dongshan would figure it out for himself eventually.