Yantou

‘One day, Yantou was talking with Xuefeng and Qinshan. Xuefeng suddenly pointed at a basin of water.
Qinshan said, “When the water is clear the moon comes out.”
Xuefeng said, “When the water is clear the moon does not come out.”
Yantou kicked over the basin and walked away.’ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage)

My first thought on reading this story was of the first three lines of the Genjo Koan: first the conventional view, then the view of emptiness, finally the view going beyond relative and absolute. Reading Nishiari Bokusan’s commentary as part of my preparation for going to England to try to teach on the subject, he points that it is not necessarily a progression from the ‘simplest’ to the ‘most advanced’ way of looking at things; all three views always exist at the same time. So perhaps this time Yantou (Ganto in Japanese), rather than having the final say, is only left with one option to express himself. Still, he does not miss the target. Walking away just seals the deal.

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