Marian Mountain

‘One day, many years ago, I asked Suzuki Roshi what the Chinese characters on his wooden nyoi [short staff] said. Roshi studied it thoughtfully. After a long pause, he spoke, very slowly, as if he were reading the characters one by one: “Hit him over the head and by his yell you will know if he is a dragon or a snake!”

Roshi seemed just as surprised by his statement as I, and we both laughed. That was all. We never discussed the matter further. But the words stuck in my mind, and slowly, slowly, over many years, those words began to change my mind. The effect of turning words, as they are called in zen, may not be realized immediately or consciously. They may work quietly in the depths of our mind, changing it very subtly. It was only after my zen master passed away that I found out that Suzuki Roshi hadn’t read me the inscription on his nyoi. He had inscribed the turning words on my own embryonic nyoi.(The Zen Environment)

One thought on “Marian Mountain

  1. We all are stuck to do or what not to do by the impressions of our our beloved Roshi, whatever form that Roshi may take, be it power, lust, money or even be it a Brilliant Zen Master. If you choose the Brilliant Zen Master route you do well to expect a challenging, robust journey. Wherever we go, buddha nature is there within and without. Turn towards the teachings of the Masters.


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