‘Daowu was sitting on the high seat of meditation when a monk came and asked, “What is the greatest depth of the teaching?” Daowu came down from the seat to kneel on the floor saying, “You are here after traveling from afar, but I am sorry to have nothing to answer you.”’ (The Iron Flute)
Another teacher just wanting something nice to eat…
‘A non-Buddhist philosopher said to the Buddha, “I do not ask for words; I do not ask for non-words.” The Buddha just sat there. The philospher said admiringly, “The World-honored One, with his great mercy, has blown away the clouds of my illusion and enabled me to enter the Way.” And after making bows, he took his leave.
Then Ananda asked the Buddha, “What did he realize, to admire you so much?” The World-honored One replied, “A fine horse runs at the shadow of the whip.” (Mumonkan, case 32)
Of course, when the Buddha tries the not-speaking trick, it works much better…
‘Emperor Wu of Liang asked Fu Daishi to give a lecture on the Diamond Sutra. Fu Daishi mounted the platform, struck the reading desk with his staff, and descended from the platform. The emperor was dumbfounded. Shiko said to him, “Your Majesty, have you understood?” The emperor said, “No, I do not understand.” Shiko said, “Daishi has concluded his lecture.’ (Blue Cliff Record, Case 67)
Poor Emperor Wu – not only did he not get his head around what Bodhidharma was trying to tell him, but he gets outfoxed by another teacher trying the old ‘silence is better than speech’ trick.
‘Yunyan asked a monk what he was doing. The monk replied, “I’ve been talking to a rock.” Yunyan said, “Did it nod to you [indicating that it understood you]? When the monk didn’t reply, Yunyan answered for him: “It nodded to you before you even said anything.”‘
‘Student: I am so grateful to you and Tassajara and Zen Center that I’d like to study Zen. What should I do first?
Suzuki Roshi: You should do something in right time in the right way. Try to keep up with our practice.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi archives)
There is really nothing to add. This is the same as Joshu’s bowl.
‘Dizang saw a monastic coming and held up a whisk.
The monastic bowed.
Dizang said, “What did you see that made you bow?”
The monastic said, “I thanked you for your instruction.”
Dizang hit the monastic and said, “You saw me hold up the whisk and thanked me. Why don’t you thank me when you see me sweep the ground every day?”‘ (Shinji Shobogenzo)
‘Yunmen once lived in a temple called the Chapel of Holy Trees. One morning a government official called on him and asked, “Are your holy fruits well-ripened now?” “None of them was ever called green by anyone, ” answered Yunmen.’ (The Iron Flute)
How does the fruit get to be ripe if it was never green? Maybe we can let go of the idea of stages, and just be complete right now.
‘Daowu was sitting on the high seat of meditation when a monk came and asked, “What is the greatest depth of the teaching?” Daowu came down from the seat to kneel on the floor saying, “You are here after traveling from afar, but I am sorry to have nothing to answer you.” ‘ (The Iron Flute)
Those old teachers were pretty useless, eh? Nothing to say to someone who had traveled a long way for some teaching….
What is the answer that he does give?
‘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)
This one still makes me laugh.
‘A monk asked Qingyuan, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from India?”
Qingyuan said, “It’s just like this!”
The monk asked further, “What do you have to teach these days?”
Qingyuan said, “Come closer.”
The monk moved closer.
Qingyuan said, “Keep this in mind.” (Shinji Shobogenzo)
What did the monk miss here?