The zen master Kassan Zenne was asked by a monk, “What is the Way?” Kassan said, “The sun floods the eye; not a fleck of cloud for ten thousand miles.” The monk said, “I do not understand.” Kassan said, “In the clear water, the wandering fish deludes itself.” Where does the fish think it is? […]


‘A monk asked, “I ask you to say something about that which is immediately at hand.” The master said, “Pissing is an easy matter, I can do it by myself.”‘ (The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu) Some zen masters like to be provocative – or down-to-earth – depending on how you look at it; Kodo […]


‘Xuansha was informally addressing his monastics when he heard a swallow singing. He said to the assembly, “This is the profound dharma of real form. It skillfully conveys the essence of the true teaching.” He then descended down from the teaching seat. A monastic asking for an explanation said, “I don’t understand.” Xuansha said, “Go […]

The Hidden Lamp

‘Magu, Nanquan and another monk were on pilgrimage. Along the way they met a woman who had a teashop. The woman prepared a pot of tea, and brought three cups. She said to them, “Oh monks, let those of you with miraculous powers drink tea.” The three looked at each other and the woman said, […]

Taiyuan Fu

‘One day the monk Baofu Congzhan was cutting a melon when Taiyuan Fu came up to him. Baofu said, “If you say the right thing I’ll give you a piece of melon to eat.” Taiyuan said, “Give me one.” Baofu gave him a piece of melon. Taiyuan took it and went away.’ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage) I […]


‘Xiangyan asked a monk, “Where did you come from?” The monk said, “I come from Guishan.” Xiangyan said, “What does the teacher have to say these days?” The monk said, “When someone asked about the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west, the teacher raised his whisk.” Xiangyan after hearing this asked, “How did the […]


A monk asked Xuedou, “What is your manner of teaching?” Xuedou replied, “When guests come, one should see them.” (quoted in Zen Essence) If you have been reading this blog from the very beginning, and have a good memory, or if you have read the Tenzokyokun a fair number of times, the name Xuedou will ring a bell. […]