Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards

頌 古 百 則

Song gu bai ze


by Xuedou Zhongxian


These 100 Selected Koans with Xuedous Attached Verses

Was the Source Text for

the Blue Cliff Record


Byn L (Pi-yen-lu; J. Hekiganroku)


Translated by Gregory Wonderwheel 2008-2010


[This is a work in progress for a new translation of "Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards." by Xuedou Zhongxian (W-G. Hsueh-tou Chung-hsien, J. Setcho Juken), 980/2-1052. The Odes are the foundation text of the Zen classic Blue Cliff Record and are the 100 public cases (koans) selected by Xuedou with a verse by him attached to each of the cases, plus a few additional lines of comments sprinkled in on a few of the cases. In some cases I'm translating the ode at the same time as the koan, but for most Im translating the koans first and then I plan to go back to the beginning and translate the odes for each koan. This would complete the work as written by Xuedou.


At this point Im no longer intending to translate all of Yuanwu Keqins (W-G., Yuan-wu Ko-chin, J., Engo Kokugon),) additions to The Odes which together with The Odes makes up the entire Blue Cliff Record. If causal conditions and circumstances permit, I hope to translate at least Yuanwus indicator introductions attached to most of the cases.


Readers should note that the original text of the Blue Cliff Record does not include either a table of contents or individual titles for each case. Some translators create their own titles for all the cases, however, since many of the cases are also found in either the Record of Composure (從容錄, A.K.A..Book of Serenity, Book of Equinimity) or the Gateless Checkpoint, I use the title found in those koan collections for consistency. When I create a title for a case not found in either of those two collections, I follow the convention that is generally used in both by making a four character title, with the name of the person who is the main teacher in the case and then a description that seems to hit on the point or dramatic pivot of that person's teaching found in the koan.


This translation of the Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards is from the Chinese text from the Blue Cliff Record available online provided by the Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA) at http://w3.cbeta.org/result/normal/T48/2003_001.htm of the Taisho Tripitaka Vol. 48, No. 2003 佛果圜悟禪師碧巖錄, CBETA Chinese Electronic Tripitaka V1.27 (Big5) Normalized Version, Release Date: 2007/01/04.

My purpose in providing at least a new translation of the koans and verses is to make this koan collection in the form of Xuedou's "Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards" more readily available for the English reader and Zen student. I don't feel that leaving out Yuanwu's additions is too worrisome at this point because to do so presents the text of the koans and odes in a format similar to the way that Yuanwu himself would have received and commented on it nearly 60 years after Xuedous death.


This format is also closer in style to the format of Wumen's Gateless Checkpoint, and represents the style of the first generation of koan manuscripts developed by the Zen teachers before the extended commentaries were added to make such full versions as the Blue Cliff Record and the Record of Composure.


I'll be adding the translated portions piecemeal as they are completed. As usual, I welcome well intentioned comments about this work at Wonderwheel @ pon . net (remove spaces) ]



Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards [fn1]

by Xuedou Zhongxian


(The Foundation Text for The Blue Cliff Record 碧巖錄)


Table of Contents.


Case 1 達磨廓然 Bodhidharma's Empty Thusness

Case 2 趙州Zhaozhou's Far-reaching Way

Case 3 馬師不安 Master Ma Was Restless

Case 4 德山挾複 Deshan Carrying a Bundle

Case 5 雪峰粟米 Xuefeng's Rice Grain

Case 6 雲門好日 Yunmen's Good Day

Case 7 法眼云汝 Fayan Said "You"

Case 8 翠嵒眉毛 Cuiyan's Eyebrows

Case 9 趙州Zhaozhou's Four Gates

Case 10 睦州掠虛 Muzhou Robbing and Deceiving

Case 11 黃檗[*]Huangbo Slurping Dregs

Case 12 洞山三斤 Dongshan's Three Pounds

Case 13 盛雪 Baling Heaping Snow

Case 14 雲門對說 Yunmen's Answering Utterance

Case 15 雲門倒說 Yunmen's Emptying Utterance

Case 16 鏡清草裏 Jingqing In the Grass

Case 17 香林坐久 Xianglin's Long Sitting

Case 18 國師塔樣 The National Teacher's Stupa Pattern

Case 19 倶胝一指 Juzhi's One Finger

Case 20 龍牙過板 Longya Passes The Board

Case 21 智門蓮花 Zhimen's Lotus Flower

Case 22 雪峰看蛇 Xuefeng Sees A Snake

Case 23 保福山次 Baofu's Mountain Rest Stop

Case 24 鐵磨牸牛 Iron Grindstone's Cow

Case 25 庵主不顧 The Hermitage Master Doesn't Turn His Head

Case 26 百丈獨坐 Baizhang Sitting Alone

Case 27 雲門金風 Yunmen's Golden Wind

Case 28 南泉底法 Nanquan's Fundamental Dharma

Case 29 大隋劫火 Dasui's Aeon Fire

Case 30 趙州大頭 Zhaozhou's Big Heads

Case 31 麻谷振錫 Magu Shook The Ring-Staff

Case 32 臨濟大意 Linji's Great Meaning

Case 33 資福一圓 Zifu's One Circle

Case 34 仰山遊山 Yangshan Hiking on the Mountain

Case 35 文殊三三 Manjusri's Three Threes

Case 36 長沙遊山 Changsha Hiking on the Mountain

Case 37 盤山無法 Panshan Without Things

Case 38 風穴鐵牛 Fengxue's Iron Ox

Case 39 雲門藥欄 Yunmen's Hedge

Case 40 南泉牡丹 Nanquan's Peony

Case 41 趙州問死 Zhaozhou Asks About Death

Case 42 龐居士雪 Layman Pang's Snow

Case 43 洞山寒暑 Dongshan's Cold and Heat

Case 44 禾山打鼓 Heshan Beats the Drum

Case 45 趙州布衫 Zhaozhou's Cotton Jacket

Case 46 鏡清雨滴 Jingqing's Rain Drops

Case 47 雲門不收 Yunmen's Not Harvested

Case 48 招慶煎茶 Frying Tea at Zhaoqing

Case 49 三聖金鱗 Sansheng's Golden Fish Scales

Case 50 雲門缽桶 Yunmen's Bowl and Bucket

Case 51 雪峰甚麼 Xuefeng's What?

Case 52 趙州石橋 Zhaozhous Stone Bridge

Case 53 大師扭鼻 Great Master Twists a Nose

Case 54 雲門兩手 Yunmens Both Hands

Case 55 道吾不道 Daowu Doesnt Say

Case 56 欽山發箭 Qinshan Shoots an Arrow

Case 57 趙州獨尊 Zhaozhou Alone and Honored

Case 58 趙州分疏 Zhaozhous Slice of Carelessness

Case 59 趙州引盡 Zhaozhou Quotes To the End

Case 60 雲門拄杖 Yunmens Staff

Case 61 風穴一塵 Fengxue's Singular Dust

Case 62 雲門一寶 Yunmen's Singular Treasure

Case 63 南泉斬貓 Nanquan Chops a Cat

Case 64 趙州草鞋 Zhaozhou's Sandals

Case 65 外道問佛 One Outside the Way Questions Buddha

Case 66 巖頭收 Yantou Retrieves a Sword

Case 67 大士講經 The Mahasattva Expounds the Sutra

Case 68 仰山問名 Yangshan Questions a Name

Case 69 南泉畫圓 Nanquan Draws a Circle

Case 70 溈山卻請 Guishan's "I Withdraw and Beg"

Case 71 五峰也須 Wufengs You Too Should

Case 72 雲巖有未 Yunyans Have or Not?

Case 73 馬祖白黑 Master Ma's White and Black

Case 74 金牛飯桶 Jinnius Bucket of Cooked Rice

Case 75 烏臼屈棒 Wujius Unjust Stick

Case 76 丹霞具眼 Danxia Possesses Eyes

Case 77 雲門餬餅 Yunmen's Porridge Cake

Case 78 開士入浴 Bodhisattvas Enter the Bath

Case 79 投子是打 Touzis Correct Hits

Case 80 趙州急水 Zhaoshous Rushing Water

Case 81 藥山看箭 Yaoshan Observes an Arrow

Case 82 大龍錦藍 Dalongs Brocade and Indigo

Case 83 雲門露柱 Yunmen's Bare Pillar

Case 84 摩經不二 The Vimalakirti Sutras Non-Duality

Case 85 庵主虎聲 The Hermitage Masters Tigers Roar

Case 86 雲門光明 Yunmens Brightness of Light

Case 87 雲門藥病 Yunmens Medicine and Disease

Case 88 玄沙三病 Xuanshas Three Maladies

Case 89 雲巖大悲 Yunyan's Great Compassion

Case 90 智門體用 Zhimens Essence and Function

Case 91 鹽官犀牛 Yanguan's Rhinoceros

Case 92 世尊陞座 The World Honored One Ascends The Seat

Case 93 大光作舞 Daguang Did A Dance

Case 94 楞嚴不見 The Surangama's Not Seeing

Case 95 長慶喫茶 Baofu Drinks Tea

Case 96 趙州轉語 Zhaozhous Turning Words

Case 97 剛經輕賤 The Diamond Sutras Belittled and Despised

Case 98 西院兩錯 Xiyuans Pair of Wrongs

Case 99 國師調御 The National Teacher Taming and Driving

Case 100 巴陵撐月 Baling Supports the Moon







Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards



1. Bodhidharma's Empty Thus




Emperor Wu of Liang asked great master Damo, "So, what is the primary meaning of the holy truths?"

Mo said, "Empty thus, without holiness."

The Emperor said, "Who is this one opposing us?"

Mo said, "Don't know."

The Emperor did not concur. Damo proceeded to cross over the river and arrived at the kingdom of Wei.


Afterwards the Emperor brought it up and asked the Official of the Annals. The Official of the Annals said, "Does Your Highness still deny knowing this person?"

The Emperor said, "Don't know."

The Official of the Annals said, "This is the Great-being Guanyin (Mahasattva Avalokiteśvara.) transmitting the imprint of the Buddha's Heart-Mind."

The Emperor regretted and proceeded to dispatch a messenger to go and beseech [him to return]. The Official of the Annals said, "Your Highness do not say to send out a messenger to go fetch him. The people of the entire nation could go, and he still would not return."




2. Zhaozhous Far-Reaching Way




Zhaozhou, instructing the assembly, said, "'The Far-reaching Way is without difficulty, only rejecting picking and choosing.' Only when there is language is there choosing or is there clarity. An old monk does not exist within clarity. Are you still fond of taking sides or not?"

At that time a monk had a question: "Since one does not exist within clarity, what part of taking of sides is there to be fond of?"

Zhou said, "I too do not know."

Monk said, "Venerable, since you do not know, why do you yet say you 'do not exist within clarity'?"

Zhou said, "By asking, you are able to draw near the matter; complete the ceremonial bowing and withdraw."




3. Master Ma Was Restless




Great Master Ma was restless. The chief of the courtyard asked, "Venerable, so what have your esteemed hopes of recent days been?"

Great Master said, "Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha."




4. Deshan Carrying a Bundle




Deshan arrived at Guishan carrying under his arm his vestment bundle and went up into the Dharma Hall. From the east he crossed to the west. From the west he crossed to the east. He turned his head to look around and observe and said "Without, without." (alt."Nothing, nothing" or "Not, not.") Then he exited.


Xuedou's attached words say, Investigate and expose completely!


Deshan got to the main gate and turned back saying, "I should not get careless either."

Then he prepared for a dignified ceremony and again entered to meet together. Guishan sat. Next Deshan lifted and unfolded his sitting paraphenalia (i.e., a sitting cloth or very thin mat) and said, "Venerable."

Guishan intended to take up the whisk. Deshan then shouted and shook (pun with whisk) his sleeves and then exited.


Xuedou's attached words say, Investigate and expose completely!


Deshan turned his back on the Dharma hall, put on his straw sandals, and then went on foot. When evening arrived, Guishan asked the Head-Seat monk, "The coming and going newcomer, where is he?"

The Head-Seat said, "At that time he turned his back and withdrew from the Dharma hall; wearing his straw sandals he exited and went away besides!"

Guishan said, "In that case, then, the son will afterwards be guided to ascend to the top of a solitary peak to tie and weave a grass hut where he will have leave to laugh at the Buddhas and revile the ancestors."


Xuedou's attached words say, "Frost is added on top of the snow."




5. Xuefeng's Rice Grain



Xuefeng, teaching the assembly, said, "I pick up the entire great earth with my fingers and bring it like a big grain of rice from the paddy. I throw it away toward the area in front of you. The lacquer bucket does not meet it. I beat the universal drum begging you to look at it."




6. Yunmen's Good Day




Yunmen handed down words and said, "I do not ask you about before the 15th day has ended. I invite you to speak using one sentence about after the 15th day is done."

He substituted himself and said, "Every day is a good day."



7. Fayan Consults with Huichao

 A monk asked Fayan, "Huichao is consulting, Venerable, so what is Buddha?" 

Fayan said, "You are Huichao."




8. Cuiyan's Eyebrows




Cuiyan at the end of summer instructed the assembly and said, "Continuing since the first of the summer elder brothers and younger brothers, I clarified by words. Observe, are Cuiyan's eyebrows on?"

Baofu said, "I regard the thief's heart-mind as deceptive (alt. hollow, empty void)."

Changquing said, "Alive also."

Yunmen said, "Checkpoint."




9. Zhaozhou's Four Gates


 A monk asked Zhaozhou, "So what is Zhaozhou? 

Zhou said, "East gate, west gate, south gate, north gate."




10. Muzhou Robbing and Deceiving




Muzhou asked a monk, "What place did you leave from nearby?

The monk then shouted.

Zhou said, "This old monk, because of you, has one shout."

The monk again shouted.

Zhou said, "After three shouts and four shouts, how do you make it come alive?"

The monk was speechless.

Zhou then hit him and said, "This is the top fellow of robbing and deceiving."




11. Huangbo Slurping Dregs




Huangbo instructed the assembly and said, "You people of various ranks are fellows who indeed slurp the dregs of the wine to the limit. In this way you travel about on your feet. At what place is today? Do you even know that within the great nation of Tang there are no Zen teachers?"

At that time there was a monk who stood out and said, "But there seems to be in the various directions those who correct disciples and guide assemblies, how do they make it come alive?"

Bo said, "I did not say no Zen; only no teachers."




12. Dongshan's Three Pounds




A monk asked Dongshan, "So what is Buddha?"

Shan said, "Three pounds of flax."




13. Baling Heaping Snow
 A monk asked Baling, "So what is the Deva lineage?" 

Baling said, "Heaping snow in a silver bowl." [fn13]




14. Yunmen's Answering Utterance




A monk asked Yunmen, "So what is the teaching of a single/one/whole epoch?"

Yunmen said, "Answering a single utterance."




15. Yunmen's Emptying Utterance




A monk asked Yunmen, "When it is not the current function and not the current phenomena, at that time what is it like?"

Men said, "Emptying a single utterance."




16. Jingqing In the Grass




A monk asked Jingqing, "This student spits. I beg the teacher to peck."

Qing said, "Yet, are you able to be alive or not?"

The monk said, "If I'm not alive, then people who encounter me would marvel and laugh."

Qing said, "You too are a fellow in the grass."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


The Buddhas of old had a family style.

The raising of comparisons incurred devaluing and stripping away.

Child and mother do not recognize each other.

Is there someone who is equally spitting and pecking?

Pecking, awakening,

Yet even so, he's in the shell.

Valuing incurs a beating.

Patch-robed monks under Heaven disdain fame.




17. Xianglin's Long Sitting




A monk asked Xianglin. "So, what was the intent of the ancestral founder coming from the west?"

Lin said, "To sit for a long time becomes work."




18. The National Teacher's Stupa Pattern




Emperor Suzong asked National Teacher Zhong, "After your 100 years, what object ought to be in place?"

The National Teacher said, "Build a particular seamless stupa to give to this old monk."

The Emperor stated, "Please teacher, what is the pattern of the stupa?"

The National Teacher was quietly respectful for long time and said, "Do you understand?" [fn18]

The Emperor said, "I do not understand."

The National Teacher said, "I have handed down the Dharma to my disciple Danyuan,, however he is fully acquainted with this business. Please decree that the question goes to him."

Afterwards, the National Teacher passed into transformation.

The Emperor decreed that Danyuan be asked, "What is this meaning?"

Yuan said, "South of Xiang river, north of the lake,"

Xuedou's attached words say, "A single palm does not make the sound of waves."

"In the middle there is gold sufficient for the whole nation."

Xuedou's attached words say, "A staff shaped in the mountains."

"Below the shadowless tree, were united in the same boat."

Xuedou's attached words say, "A peaceful sea, a clear river."

"Above the Crystal Palace, there is no knowledge."

Xuedou's attached words say, "Picking it up is finished!"


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Looking back at the seamless stupa is difficult.

The clear and still deep pool does not allow the green dragon to coil up (within it).

The floors go down and down, the reflections go round and round,

For 1,000 ancient ages, 10,000 ancient ages, people take part in watching over it.




19. Juzhi's One Finger




Venerable Juzhi, whenever he was questioned, simply stood up one finger.


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


I am profoundly fond of old Juzhi for being one who draws out the teachings.

The universe comes in emptiness, more than that who exists?

Again and again, he has faced toward the blue sea and dropped down driftwood

On the waves in the night to join in welcoming blind turtles.




20. Longya Passes The Board
 Longya asked Cuiwei, "So, what is the meaning of the ancestral founder's coming from the West?"
 Wei said, "Come, pass over the meditation board and give it to me."
 Ya passed over the meditation board to give it to Cuiwei. Wei received it and then was able to hit him.
 Ya said, "If you hit, then I'll allow the hit; essentially, however it is not the meaning of the ancestral founder's coming from the west." 
 Ya also asked Linji, "So, what is the meaning of the ancestral founder's coming from the West?"
 Ji said, "Come, pass over the rush-ball (sitting cushion) and give it to me."
 Ya fetched the rush-ball and passed it over to give to Linji. Ji received it and was able to then hit him.
 Ya said, "If you hit, then I'll allow the hit; essentially, however it is not the meaning of the ancestral founder's coming from the west."
[Xuedou's] Ode says:
Underneath Dragon Tooth Mountain the dragon is eyeless.
When has stagnant water roused the ancient wind?
If you are not able to use the meditation board and the rush-ball cushion,
You should just part from them and give them over to Mister Black.

[Xuedou's Second] Ode says:


This old fellow even is not able to completely exhaust it and returns to complete the first ode.
Mr. Black handed over likewise. What did he rely on? 
Stop with the sitting and leaning and you will carry on the ancestor's lamp.
Adequate for replying: The returning evening clouds have not combined;
The distant mountains are limitless layers and layers of blue.



21. Zhimen's Lotus Flower




A monk asked Zhimen, "What is it like at the time the lotus flower has not yet gone out from the water?"

Zhimen said, "A lotus flower."

The monk said, "What is it like at the time gone out from the water?"

Men said, "Lotus leaves."




22. Xuefeng Sees A Snake




Xuefeng taught the assembly saying: "On South Mountain (alt: the south side of the mountain) there is a singular turtle-nosed snake. You people of various ranks should take a good look."

Changqing said, "Today within the hall, great are the people who lose body and lose life."

A monk raised this to show to Xuansha. Xuansha said, "Although in this way it is necessary that Elder Brother [Changqing] Leng be able to begin, I do not draw near like this."

The monk said, "Venerable, how do you make it come alive?"

Xuansha said, "Why make use of 'South Mountain'?"

Yunmen flung down his staff towards Xuefeng and in front of his face made gestures of fear.




23. Baofu's Mountain Rest Stop




Baofu and Changqing hiked to the rest stop on the mountain. Fu using his finger to point said, "Just this place on the side then is the summit of wonder."

Qing said, "It is the norm as it is, but a pity to admit it.

Xuedou attached words saying, "Today, sharing a hike on the mountain with these fellows, what is there in particular to seek?"

Again he said, "A hundred thousand years afterwards, I do not say without any, only they are few."

Afterwards it was raised to show Jingqing. Qing said, "If not for Grandfather Sun, then one would see skulls throughout the countryside."




24. Iron Grindstone the Cow




Iron Grindstone Liu arrived at Guishan. Shan said, "Old cow, you came hah!"

Grindstone said, "In the coming day at Lookout Mountain (Taishan) there is a great assembly to provide monks with a vegetarian meal. Venerable, will you be leaving to go back there?"

Guishan relaxed his body and lay down to sleep.

Grindstone then left.




25. The Hermitage Master Doesn't Turn His Head




The master of the Hermitage of Lotus Flower Peak picked up his staff to show the assembly and said, "The people of ancient times arrived at this place, why didn't they agree to dwell here?"

The assembly had no words, so he substituted himself and said, "They did not gain strength on their journey. "

Again he said, "When completely finished, what is it like?"

Again he substituted himself and said, "With a chestnut walking stick across my shoulders I am not a person who turns my head around to look back. I directly enter the 1,000 peaks and the 10,000 peaks." And he left.




26. Baizhang Sitting Alone




A monk asked Baizhang, "So what is the peculiar matter?"

Zhang said, "Sitting alone on Great Victory (Daixiong) summit."

The monk ceremoniously bowed.

Zhang then hit him.




27. Yunmen's Golden Wind




A monk asked Yunmen, "What is it like in the season when the tree withers and the leaves fall?"

Yunmen said, "The body reveals the golden wind."




28. Nanquan's Fundamental Dharma




Nanquan visited Venerable Baizhang Neipan. Zhang asked, "All sages accord with the superior, still is there a fundamental Dharma that they have not spoken for people?"

Quan said, "There is."

Zhang said, "How do you make it alive: 'the fundamental Dharma that is not spoken for people'?"

Quan said, "It is not Heart-Mind; it is not Buddha; it is not things."

Zhang said, "You have spoken too."

Quan said, "I [fn28] am only like this. Venerable, how do you make it come alive?"

Zhang said, "I actually am not very good at knowledge, and I struggle to know if there is speaking or there is not speaking."

Quan said. "I [fn28] have not learned this."

Zhang said, "Having spoken too, I am excessive for you."




29. Dasui's Aeon Fire




A monk asked Dasui, "In the void of the Aeon Fire, most certainly the great many thousands are altogether destroyed, but I have not yet discerned if this one is destroyed or not destroyed?"

Sui said, "Destroyed."

The monk said, "In this way then, it follows the other is gone too."

Sui said, "It follows the other is gone."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


In the center of the light of the fire kalpa is the cause of setting up a question.

The patch-robed monk is as if blocked by two difficult checkpoints.

One may sympathize with the words of the one phrase "it follows the other..."

Discriminations and discriminations for 10,000 miles -- solitary, the going and returning.




30. Zhaozhou's Big Heads




A monk asked Zhaozhou, "I have heard the Venerable has intimately seen Nanquan; do you deny it?"

Zhou said. "The Zhou township produces big turnip heads."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


The Zhou township produces big turnips.

The patchrobed monks under heaven grasp at principles

and only know the past self and the current self.

They struggle to distinguish the white swans and the black crows.

Robber! Robber!

The nostrils of the patchrobed monks have already gotten pinched.




31. Magu Shook The Ring-Staff




Magu holding his ring-staff [fn31] arrived at Zhangjing and went around the meditation bench three full circles, shook the ring-staff once and next stood there stately.

Jing said, "Correct, correct."

Xuedou attached words saying, "Mistaken."

Magu in addition arrived at Nanquan and went around the meditation bench three full circles, shook the ring-staff once, and next stood there stately.

Quan said, "Incorrect, incorrect."

Xuedou attached words saying, "Mistaken."

Magu, rich in opportunity, said, "Zhangjing said, 'Correct', Venerable, why did you say, 'Incorrect'?"

Quan said, "Zhangjing immediately was correct; you were incorrect. Here is a strong wind turning about in place, in the end it is defeated and destroyed."




32. Linji's Great Meaning




Upper-Seat Ding asked Linji, "So, what is the great meaning of the Buddha Dharma?"

Ji got down from the meditation (Zen) bench and seized and held him and gave a single slap, then held up his open palms.

Ding stood motionless.

A monk nearby said, "Upper-Seat Ding, why don't you bow ceremonially?"

Ding just then bowed ceremonially and suddenly had a great awakening.




33. Zifu's One Circle




The high official Chencao called on Zifu.

Fu saw him coming then drew the appearance of one circle.

Cao said, "Your disciple comes in this way, before is or is not manifests plainly, why still more in this situation do you draw the appearance of one circle?

Fu then shut and withdrew behind the door of his "ten-foot-square" (i.e., the abbot's room).

Xuedou said, "Chencao only possessed the one single eye."




34. Yangshan Hiking on the Mountain




Yangshan asked a monk, "What place did you come from recently?

The monk said, "Mt. Lu."

Shan said, "At that time did you roam on the Five Elders Peak [at Mt. Lu]?"

The monk said, "At that time I didn't go there."

Shan said, "At that time the Preceptor [fn34] did not hike on the mountain."

[Later,] Yunmen said, "As these words were all for the cause of compassion, they have fallen into chatting in the grass."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:

xiting the grass, entering the grass

Who seeks release?

The white clouds' layer on layer,

The scarlet sun's brilliance in brilliance;

Turning the head and looking at the left side is without flaws,

Glaring at the right side stops (alt., is already) old age.

You didn't see the guy of Cold Mountain.

Walking extremely early.

For ten years unable to return [where he came from]

He actually forgot the Way since the time he arrived.


[Han Shan's verse cited in Yuan Wu's Commentary:]


If one longs to obtain a place for a tranquil life 
Cold Mountain can excel at its preservation.

A gentle breeze puffs on the secluded pines;

Listen closely, the sound heals excellently!

Underneath, there is a person with white streaked hair

Reading in a whisper Huang and Lao.

Unable to return for ten years

He has actually forgotten the way since he arrived.




35. Manjusri's Three Threes



Manjusri (Wenshu) asked Wuzhu, "What place have you departed from recently?"

Wuzhu said, "The region of the South."

Jusri said, "So how is the Buddha Dharma kept alive in the region of the South?"

Zhu said, "Recently, few of the mendicants of the Dharma respect moral discipline and the rules." [fn35]

Jusri said, "How many assemblies?"

Zhu said, "Perhaps three hundred, perhaps five hundred."

Wuzhu asked Manjusri, "So how is it kept alive in this space?"

Jusri said, "The ordinary and sacred reside together, dragons and snakes mingle."

Zhu said, "How many assemblies?"

Jusri said, "Three threes [i.e., nine] in front; three threes in back." (alt. "Previously nine, afterwards nine." [fn35]


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


A thousand peaks coil and bend, thus the color blue indigo.

Who says Manjusri was chatting in response?

He was able to laugh, "How many assemblies at [Mt.] Qingliang?"

The three threes in front take part in the three threes in back.




36. Changsha Hiking on the Mountain




Changsha one day returned from hiking on the mountain and came to the Leader at the gate.

The Leader-Seat asked, "Venerable, what places have you been going to and coming from?"

Sha said, "I'm coming from hiking on the mountain."

The Leader-Seat said, "You arrived, where did you come from?"

Sha said, "In the beginning I left following the fragrant grasses; and then I returned chasing the falling blossoms."

The Seat said, "That is very much like the meaning of Spring."

Sha said, "It even excels the Autumn dew drops on the lotus."

Xuedou's attached words said, "Thank you for the words of reply."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


The great earth is broken into fine dust.

Whose eyes are not opened?

"In the beginning I left following the fragrant grasses;

and then I returned chasing the falling blossoms."

A feeble crane raises up a cold tree.

A wild ape howls in an ancient tower.

The infinite meaning of Changsha.





37. Panshan Without Things




Panshan appended words saying, "The three realms are without things. Where is there to seek mind?"


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


The three realms are without things.

Where is there to seek mind?

White clouds become a canopy.

The flowing spring makes a harp.

One song, two songs, there is no human comprehension.

After the rain, in the dark pool the autumn water is deep.




38. Fengxue's Iron Ox




Fengxue, when at the government office of Ying province, ascended the hall and said, "The ancestral masters' imprint on the mind is an appearance resembling the function of the arrival of the iron ox. If it leaves, then the imprint remains. If it remains, then the imprint is ruined. As it is just so, if it does not leave and does not remain, is imprinting then correct, or is not imprinting then correct?"

At that time, there was an old timer Lupi who came forward and asked, "Someone first class having the function of the arrival of the iron ox begs the teacher do not hang onto imprints (alt. do not hand over an imprint)."

Xue said. "In the habit of fishing for whales and giant salamanders immersed in the vast clear and still waters, yet alas, the frogs are strolling and rolling over in the muddy sand."

Pi stood still pondering.

Xue gave a shout and said, "Old Timer, why don't you speak further?"

As Pi was deciding how to discuss it, Xue hit him once with the whisk.

Xue said, "Can you go back and remember what you were able to say at first? Try to raise it and see."

As Pi was deciding to open his mouth to speak, Xue again hit him once with the whisk.

The magistrate said, "The Buddha Dharma and Dharma of Kings are one kind."

Xue said, "What principle of the Way do you see in particular?"

The magistrate said, "One ought to be decisive. Not being decisive goes backward and invites this disorder."

Xue then descended from the seat.


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Getting to catch Lupi sitting astride the iron ox,

The spear and armor of the Three Profundities have not been frivolously pledged.

The citadel of the King of Chu trespasses towards the water of the lineage.

The shout has come down ordering to withdraw and reverse the flow.




39. Yunmen's Hedge




A monk asked Yunmen, "So what is the pure Dharmakaya?

Men said, "A hedge in bloom."

The monk said, "Then in this way, when the season has gone what is it like?"

Men said, "A lion with golden fur."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


"A hedge in bloom,"

Don't be stupid:

The points are on the scale --- not on the pan.

"Then in this way"

Extremely clueless

"A lion with golden fur," great family, observe.




40. Nanquan's Peony




The high official Lu and Nanquan were talking and paused.

Lu said "Dharma Master Zhao says, 'Heaven, Earth, and I are the same root. The 10,000 things and I are one body.' Ha, how strange"

Nanquan pointed to a flower in front of the hall. He called to the high official and said, "Nowadays people see this single flower as if it looks like an appearance in a dream."

[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Hearing, seeing, feeling, and knowing are not each separate.

Mountains and rivers cannot be observed in the middle of a mirror.

When the moon in the frosty heaven sets in the middle of the night,

Who shares the shining cold reflection in the clear and still deep pool?




41. Zhaozhou Asks About Death




Zhaozhou asked Touzi, "So, what about the time when the person of great death returns to the living?"

Touzi said, "It is not permitted to go traveling by night; the light must be cast to arrive."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:



In the middle of life there is an eye; turning back is the same as death.

Why must the jealous physician do an exam of the family?

The esteemed words of the ancient Buddha did not arrive together.

One doesn't know who is let loose to scatter dust and sand.




42. Layman Pang's Snow




Layman Pang bid adieu to Yaoshan. Shan ordered ten people who were Zen travelers to go together to the main gate to see him off. The Layman pointed to the snow in the middle of the sky and said, "The excellent snow; flake by flake it does not fall at another spot."

At that time there was Zen traveler Quan who asked, "At what spot does it fall?"

The gentleman hit once with a slap.

Quan said, "A Layman too cannot get careless."

The gentleman said, "Like this you call yourself a Zen traveler. Lao-tzu has not liberated your dependence."

Quan said, "Layman how do you make it alive?"

The gentleman again hit once with a slap and said, "The eye sees like a blind person; the mouth speaks like a mute."

Xuedou separately said, "At the first questioning point, yet grab a snowball then hit."


Xuedou's own ode, placing another hit, says:

A trap.

Hit with a snowball, hit with a snowball.

The checkpoint of Elder Pang's function is unable to be grasped.

The superior person of Heaven does not personally know of the opening.

Inside of the eye, inside of the ear, decidedly easy-going.

Easy-going decidedly.

The blue-eyed barbarian monk is unable to differentiate.




43 Dongshan's Cold and Heat




A monk asked Dongshan. "So, how avoid the coming of the winter cold and summer heat?"

Shan said. "Why not turn to the place without cold and heat?"

The monk said, "So, what is the place without cold and heat?"

Shan said, "In the cold time, the cold kills the preceptor; in the burning time, the burning kills the preceptor."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Hanging down a hand is also identical to a 10,000 fathom precipice,

The Fair and the Biased, why must they be in a plan?

The ancient crystal palace reflects the brilliant moon.

The patient and capable Black [Hound] of Han [fn43] vainly ascends the steps.





44 Heshan Beats the Drum




Heshan handed down words saying, "Rote study is to hear of the meaning. Exhaustive study is near to the meaning. To cross over these two things is indeed genuine crossing over."

A monk came out and asked, "So, what is genuine crossing over?"

Shan said, "Being free to beat the drum."

He again asked, "So, what is genuine truth?"

Shan said, "Being free to beat the drum."

He again asked, "As it is heart-mind and as it is Buddha, as it is I do not question. So, what is neither heart-mind nor Buddha?"

Shan said, "Being free to beat the drum."

He again asked, "Turning to the arrival of the superior person, at that time, so, what is received?"

Shan said, "Being free to beat the drum."




45. Zhaozhou's Cotton Jacket




A monk asked Zhaozhou, "The 10,000 things return (as their origin point) to the one. To what place does the one return?"

Zhou said, "I was at Qing Province and made one piece of clothing: a cotton jacket weighing 7 pounds."




46. Jingqing's Rain Drops




Jingqing asked a monk, "What is the sound outside the door?"

The monk said, "The sound of rain drops."

Qing said, "The multitude of beings are topsy-turvey, confused by the self to chase objects."

The monk said, "Venerable how do you make it alive?"

Qing said, "Soaked is not confused by the self."

The monk said, "So what is the intended meaning of 'Soaked is not confused by the self'?"

Qing said, "To exit the living-body may yet be easy; to speak of the peeled-off entity-body ought to be difficult. Soaked."





47. Yunmen's Not Harvested




A monk asked Yunmen, "So what is the Dharmakaya?"

Men said, "The six are not harvested."




48. Frying Tea at Zhaoqing




Great Superintendent Wang entered Zhaoqing (lit. Incur-blessings) as tea was frying. At the time Upper-seat Lang was together with Mingzhao and held the long-handle pan. Lang flipped over the long-handle pan and expelled the tea.

The Great Superintendent saw and asked the Upper-seat, What is under the tea stove?

Lang said, The spirit being holds up the stove in both hands.

The Great Superintendent said, Since the spirit being is already holding up the stove in both hands, why did you flip over the long-handle pan and expel the tea?

Lang said, A government official of 1000 days loses in one morning.

The Great Superintendent shook his sleeves then exited.

Mingzhao said, Upper-seat Lang, you have yet eaten Zhaoqings cooked rice, yet you go to the other side of the river to strike wild charcoal [fn48].

Lang said, Venerable, how do you make it alive?

Zhao said, The non-human gained its advantage.

Xuedou said, At that time however, one should have stepped on and toppled the tea stove.




49. Sansheng's Golden Fish Scales




Sansheng asked Xuefeng, "[If] the golden fish scales that pass through the net are not investigated, [then] what is used for food?"

Feng said, "Wait until you come out of the net, then [I'll] speak to you."

Sheng said, "A Learned and Virtuous One of fifteen hundred people and [you] still don't know the 'head of the word' (huatou). [fn49] "

Feng said, "[I'm] an old monk in residence managing numerous affairs."




50. Yunmen's Bowl and Bucket




A monk asked Yunmen, "So what is the samadhi of all the dusts?"

Men said, "Cooked rice in the bowl, water in the bucket."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Cooked rice in the bowl; water in the bucket.

With many mouths playing up to the teacher, it is difficult to let down a beak.

The positions of the Northern Bushel [fn50] and the Southern Star are not special.

The white billows flood the Sky, the flat Earth rises up.

Intending does not intend.

Stopping does not stop.

Each and every one is without pants, the children of those who excel.




51 Xuefeng's What?




At the time that Xuefeng was dwelling at a hermitage, there was a pair of monks who came to pay the customary respects. Feng saw them come and used a hand to support himself on the hermitage door. Letting go, he personally came forward and said, Is what?

The monks likewise said, Is what?

Feng hung his head and returned to the hermitage.


The monks later went to Yantou. Tou asked, From what place have you come?

The monks said, Weve come from south of the mountain range (alt. the southern mountain range).

Tou said, You monks went to Xuefeng?

The monks said, We monks went.

Tou said, What did you have for words and phrases?

The monks raised the preceding discussion.

Tou said, What did he say?

The monks said, He was speechless. He hung his head and returned to the hermitage.

Tou said, Too bad. I regard this as my doing in the first place. I regret not saying to him the final after phrase. If I had said it to him, how the people under heaven could not deal with Old Xue.


When the end of summer arrived, the monks repeated the words they had raised before and begged for augmentation.

Tou said, Why didnt you ask beforehand?

The monks said, We had not the confidence to permit it easily.

Tou said, Even though Xuefeng and I are born in the same line, he and I do not die in the same line. One should know the final phrase afterwards, only this is.




52 Zhaozhous Stone Bridge




A Monk asked Zhaozhou, For a long time, [Ive heard] the report of Zhaozhous stone elevated-bridge. [Ive] arrived only to see a rough bridge. [fn52]

Zhou said, You only see the rough bridge. For the time being you do not see the stone elevated-bridge.

The monk said, So what is the stone elevated-bridge?

Zhou said, It ferries across donkeys; it ferries across horses, the bridge.




53 Great Master Twists a Nose




Great Master Ma and Baizhang were walking to a rest stop. Seeing young wild ducks passing in flight, Great Master said, Whats that?

Zhang said, Young wild ducks.

Great Master said, To what place are they going away?

Zhang said, They passed in flight and are gone away.

Great Master proceeded to twist the tip of Baizhangs nose.

Zhang did suffer the pain and cried out.

Great Master said, How have they already flown and gone away?




54 Yunmens Both Hands



Yunmen asked a monk, What place did you leave nearby?"

The monk said, Xichan.

Men said, What words and phrases does Xichan have recently?

The monk stretched out both hands

Men hit with one slap.

The monk said, Im beginning to speak.

However, Men stretched out both hands.

The monk was speechless.

Then Men hit.




55 Daowu Doesnt Say



Daowu and Jianyuan arived to share condolences with one family.

Yuan patted the coffin and said, Is alive the mistaken view or dead the mistaken view?

Wu said Either alive dont say, or dead dont say.

Yuan said, Why dont say?

Wu said, Dont say, dont say.


On the road in the middle of the return trip, Yuan said, Venerable, be straightforward with me and begin to say. If Wu doesnt say, then Ill hit the venerable and go away too.

Wu said, If you hit, of course Ill allow the hit. To say, of course, dont say.

Yuan then hit.


Later Daowu moved into transformation (i.e., he died). Yuan went to Shishuang and brought up the previous conversation. Shuang said, Either alive dont say, or dead dont say.

Yuan said, Why dont say?

Shuang said, Dont say. Dont say.

As these words fell, Yuan had insight.


One day, Yuan went up to the dharma hall with a shovel. and from the east [he] went across to the west, and from the west [he] went across to the east.

Shuang said, Wat are you doing?

Yuan said, [Im] seeking [our] prior masters spirit-bone relics.

Shuang said, Flooding waves vast and unbounded, the white billows overflow the sky[youre] seeking what spirit-bone relics of [our] prior master?

Xuedous attached words said, Blue skies, blue skies.

Yuan said, A just right show of power

Tai Yuan Fu said, It seems the prior masters spirit-bone relics are present.




56 Qinshan Shoots an Arrow




Zen traveler Liang asked Qinshan, So what about the time when one arrowhead destroys three checkpoints?

Shan said, To see it, liberate and produce the host within the checkpoints.

Liang said, Knowing in this way, then to pass across one must transform.

Shan said, What time is there for further waiting?

Liang said, A well released arrow does not show the place it is at. Then he exited.

Shan said, For the time being, come on instructor (acarya).

Liang turned back his head.

Shan held and stopped him and said, As it is for the time being, cease with the One arrowhead destroys three checkpoints. Test it with Qinshan (i.e., me): shoot an arrow and see.

While Liang was deciding what to discuss, Shan hit seven times with a stick and said, Well wait for 30 years further with this fellows doubt.




57 Zhaozhou Alone and Honored




A monk asked Zhaozhou, The Far-reaching Way is without difficulty, only rejecting picking and choosing So what doesnt pick and choose?

Zhou said, Above the heavens, below the heavens, only I, alone and honored.

The monk said, This is tantamount to picking and choosing.

Zhou said, You field-and-village slave, where is picking and choosing?

The monk was speechless.

[Xuedous attached word said] Village(r).




58 Zhaozhous Slice of Carelessness




A monk asked Zhaozhou, The Far-reaching Way is without difficulty, only rejecting picking and choosing. For people of these times, is this a hackneyed phrase run into the ground or not?

Zhao said, I previously had a person ask me, and frankly I gained five years and a slice of carelessness did not befall.




59 Zhaozhou Quotes To the End




A monk asked Zhaozhou, The Far-reaching Way is without difficulty, only rejecting picking and choosing. Just when there is language there is picking and choosing. So what is used for people, Venerable?

Zhou said Why dont you quote these words to the end?

The monk said, I only recall up to this part.

Zhou said, Only this, The Far-reaching Way is without difficulty, only rejecting picking and choosing.




60 Yunmens Staff




Yunmen used the staff to instruct the assembly and said, The staff changes and becomes a dragon. However, it swallows Heaven and Earth completely! Mountains, rivers, and the great earthfrom where are they able to come?




61 Fengxue's One Dust




Fengxue handed down words saying, If the one dust is established the home country prospers. If the one dust is not established, the home country is mournfully lost.

Xuedou picked up the staff and said, Still, patch-robed monks do you have the same birth and the same death?


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


The people in ancient accord with the teaching do not unfurrow the eyebrows

They just plan on the home country establishing a strong foundation.

Scheming ministers and fierce generals, now where are they?

For ten thousand miles the clear wind and only oneself knows.




62. Yunmen's One Treasure




Yunmen taught the assembly saying,

"'Inside of Heaven and Earth,

In the interstices of the universe,

Within there exists one treasure

Hidden in Form Mountain.'

Pick up the lantern and face towards the inner Buddha Hall, the triple gate will come on the top of the lantern."


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Look, look,

On the ancient shore, what person holds the fishing pole?

Clouds gradually, gradually.

Waters endlessly, endlessly.

The reed flowers in the moonlight, you see by yourself.




63. Nanquan Chops a Cat




At Nanquans one day the east and west couple of halls were quarreling about a kitten. Nanquan saw and proceeded to hold it up and said, Be able to say it quickly and I wont chop.

The assembly was without a response. Quan chopped the kitten into a couple of sections.




64. Zhaozhou's Sandals




Nanquan again raised the previous discussion to ask Zhaozhou. Zhou then took off his sandals to wear them on top of his head and went out.

Nanquan said, Sir, if you were there, youd exactly be able to save the kitten.




65. One Outside the Way Questions Buddha




One outside the Way questioned Buddha, I do not question with words; I do not question without words.

The World Honored One was respectful a long time.

The one outside the Way said in praise, The World Honored Ones great compassion and great pity have opened my clouds of confusion and allowed me to gain entry.

After the one outside the Way departed, Ananda questioned Buddha, What did the one outside the Way have in the place of evidence and accordingly the words gaining entry?

Buddha said, Like a fine horse of the world, he sees the shadow of the whip and goes accordingly.




66. Yantou Retrieves a Sword




Yantou asked a monk, What place did you come from?

The monk said, I came from the Western capital.

Tou said, After Huangchao (Yellow-nest) passed away and returned to his origin place, were you able to retrieve his sword?

The monk said, I was able to retrieve it.

Yantou pulled out his neck close in front and said, [@]

The monk said, The masters head has fallen!

Yantou guffawed and guffawed great laughter.

The monk later arrived at Xuefengs.

Feng said, What place did you come from?

The monk said, I came from Yantou.

Feng said, What words and phrases did he have?

The monk raised the previous discussion.

Xuefeng hit 30 blows with the stick and chased him away.




67. The Mahasattva Expounds the Sutra




Emperor Liang Wu requested Mahasattva Fu to expound the Diamond Sutra. The Mahasattva then from the high seat, lifted and brought the lectern table down once, and then came down from the seat. Emperor Wu was dumbfounded.

The Official of the Records asked, Does Your Highness understand yet?

The Emperor said, I dont understand.

The Official of the Records said, The Mahasattva has finished expounding the sutra.




68. Yangshan Questions a Name




Yangshan asked Sansheng, What is your name?

Sheng said, Huiji.

Yangshan said, Huiji is me.

Sheng said, My name is Huiran.

Yangshan gufawed great laughter.


[Comments: Yangshan (revered-mountain) Huiji (kind/gracious-silence)

Sansheng (lit. triple holiness) Huiran (kind/gracious-thus)




69. Nanquan Draws a Circle




Nanquan, Guizong, and Magu together went to do customary respects to National Teacher Zhong. Stopping half way, Nanquan drew the image of one circle on top of the dirt and said, If youre able to say then well leave.

Guizong sat in the middle of the circle image. Magu then did the bow of a woman.

Quan said, Is it like this? The standard is not to leave!

Guizong said, What is going in your mind?



70 Guishans I Withdraw and Beg




Guishan (J. Isan), Wufeng (J. Goh) , and Yunyan (J. Ungan) stood together as attendants for Baizhang. Baizhang asked Guishan, If side by side you withdraw throat and lips, how do you speak to make it alive?

Guishan said, I withdraw and beg the Venerable to speak.

Zhang said, I dont decline to turn to you and speak, but I fear then that afterwards I would lose my children and grandchildren for descendants.


Therefore [Xuedou's] ode says:


I withdraw and beg the Venerable to speak.

The tigers head gives birth to horns coming out from the wild grasses.

In the ten island-continents, spring is ended and flowers are withered.

In the forest of coral trees, the sun is brilliantly bright.




71 Wufengs You Too Should




Baizhang again asked Wufeng (J. Goho), If, side by side, you withdraw throat and lips, how do you speak to make it alive?

Feng said, Venerable (Osho) you too should withdraw them side by side.

Zhang said, In the place without a person, I put my hand to forehead and gaze into the distance for you.


Xuedou's ode says:




72 Yunyans Have or Not?




Baizhang again asked Yunyan (J. Ungan), If side by side you withdraw throat and lips, how do you speak to make it alive?

Yan said, Does the Venerable have or not?

Zhang said, I have lost my children and grandchildren.


Xuedou's ode says:




73 Master Ma's White and Black


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


For someone who is a master explaining the Dharma, there is no explaining and there is no pointing. For someone who is one listening to the Dharma, there is no hearing and there is no attaining. Explaining is already without explaining and without pointing;

to strive thus is not explaining. Listening is already without hearing and without attaining; to strive thus is not listening. Accordingly, those without explaining and without listening, however are relatively few. Just so, now you various people listening to this mountain monk with an explanation of that other side, how do you make it alive to avoid attaining these mistakes? For those who possess the eye to pass through the checkpoints, a test is raised to examine it:




A monk asked Grand Master Ma (Mazu, J. Baso), Abandoning the four phrases and renouncing the 100 negations, I beg Master to directly point to the meaning of that First Certain Someones coming from the West.

Master Ma said, Today, I toiled and am weary and do not have the energy to explain it for you. Take the question to Zhizang, (J. Chizo) and go away.

The monk asked Zhizang. Zang said, Why dont you ask the Venerable?

The monk said, The Venerable instructed me to come and ask.

Zang said, Today my head aches, and I dont have the energy to explain it for you. Take the question to Elder Brother Hai and go away.

The monk asked Elder Brother Hai (J. Kai).

Hai said, I arrived at this side, but still I dont understand.

The monk raised it to show to Grand Master Ma.

Master Ma said, Zangs head is white; Hais head is black.


Xuedou's ode says:


Zangs head is white; Hais head is black.

Clear-eyed patchrobed monks understand they dont attain it.

The horse colt trampled and killed the people under heaven

Linji is not yet a thief snatching in the white.

Abandoning the four phrases and renouncing the 100 negations,

Between heaven above and the people, only I know.




74 Jinnius Bucket of Cooked Rice



Venerable Jinniu (Golden Ox), when every meal time arrived, by himself in the front of the monks hall with the bucket of cooked rice did a dance and, with guffaws of great laughter, said, Mr. Bodhisattvas, come and eat the cooked rice.


Xuedou said, Although [he acted] in this way, Jinniu was not being good hearted.


A monk asked Changqing, The man of old said, Mr. Bodhisattvas, come and eat the cooked rice. So what was his intended aim?

Qing said, A great show causing celebration and praise of the meal.


Xuedous ode says:


Guffaws of laughter underneath the shadow of the white cloud,

Holding on with both hands, he came handing it down and giving it to them.

If [they] are children of the golden-haired lion,

[They would] see the boastful swindle from three thousand li away.




75 Wujius Unjust Stick




A monk who was a follower of the assembly of Venerable Dingzhous side [fn 75] came and arrived at Wujiu.

Wujiu asked, How does the Way of the Dharma of Dingzhou resemble this side?

The monk said, [It is] not different.

Jiu said, If not different then you should turn back to the other center and go. Then he hit.

The monk said, The tip of the stick has eyes. Dont get careless hitting a person.

Jiu said, Today I hit at one in particular! Then he hit down thrice.

The monk then left.

Jiu said, An unjust stick, from the first arrival there is a person enduring it.

The monk turned his body around and said, How can one quarrel when the handle is in the Venerables palm?

Jiu said. If you want it, this mountain monk will turn it around to give it to you.

The monk went close in front and grabbed the stick from Jius palm and hit down on Jiu thrice.

Jiu said, An unjust stick, an unjust stick.

The monk said, There is a person enduring it

Jiu said, I carelessly hit at this particular fellow.

The monk then did a ritual bow.

Jiu said, A Venerable, but goes on like this!

The monk laughed greatly and exited
Jiu said, Alleviating can be like this. Alleviating can be like this.




76 Danxia Possesses Eyes




Danxia asked a monk, From what place have you come?

The monk said, I come from down the mountain.

Xia said, Have you finished eating the cooked rice or not?

The monk said, Ive finished eating the cooked rice.

Xia said, Did the person at the bottom who came with the cooked rice to give to you to eat also possess eyes?"

The monk was speechless.


Changqing asked Baofu, As the person, who gives the cooked rice to eat, announces the benevolence of having a share, how does [that one] not possess eyes?

Fu said, The one who gives and the one who receives are both two blind fellows.

Changqing said Having come to use up all their opportunities, they still become blind dont they?

Fu said, Are you saying were getting blind?


Xuedou's ode says:


Using up the opportunities is not becoming blind.

By laying a hand on the oxs head to eat the grass,

All of the 28 and the six founding masters,

Came to uphold the precious vessel and complete fording across errors.

Fording across the depths of errors,

There is no place to seek.

Heaven (Devas) above and people are in the same in between space sinking on the shore.

A workshop.

A wink.




77 Yunmen's Porridge Cake




A monk asked Yunmen, So what about the discussion of leaping over Buddha and stepping over the founders?

Men said, Porridge cake.


Xuedou's ode says:


In discussions of leaping over, the questions of Zen travelers are one-sided and many.

Do you also see that a seam splits and spreads open to separate?

He came to be stuffed with rice porridge cake yet did not dwell on it.

Until now, under heaven there was a boastful swindle.





78 Bodhisattvas Enter the Bath




In ancient times there were 16 bodhisattvas. At the time for monks to bathe they followed the custom and entered the bath, and suddenly awoke by the primary cause of water.

All you Virtuous Ones of Zen, how do you make it alive to comprehend them saying, The wonderful touch proclaims the brilliance and becomes the abode of the Buddhas children.

Also, [you] must do eight holes in seven borings to begin to get it.


Xuedou's ode says:




79 Touzis Correct Hits




A monk asked Touzi, Every sound is Buddhas sound. Correct or not?

Touzi said, Correct.

The monk said, [Then] Venerable, arent [your] farts the chirping sound of the Buddhas bowl?

Touzi then hit.

He again asked, Coarse words and fine speech all return to the primary meaning. Correct or not?

Touzi said, Correct.

The monk said, May I call the Venerable to be taken for one donkey?

Touzi then hit.


[Xuedou added] Fart.


Xuedou's ode says:




80 Zhaoshous Rushing Water




A monk asked Zhaozhou, When first born, does the infant also possess the sixth consciousness or not?

Zhaozhou said, A ball strikes the surface of the rushing water.


The monk, in repeating this, asked Touzi, So what was the meaning and purpose of A ball strikes the surface of the rushing water.

Zi said, Moment by moment, unceasing flowing.


Xuedou's ode says:




81 Yaoshan Observes an Arrow




A monk asked Yaoshan (Medicine Mountain), In a level field of shallow grass a great stag and the deer became a herd.[fn81] So how is one able to shoot and get the great stag among the great stags?

Shan said, Look... an arrow.

The monk lay down his body then rolled over.

Shan said, Attendant, drag out this dead fellow.

The monk then departed swiftly.

Shan said, What limit is there for this fellows playing with mud balls?


Xuedou picked it up and said, Although in three steps he lived, in five steps he had to die gaping at the great stag.


Xuedou's ode says:




82 Dalongs Brocade and Indigo




A monk ask Dalong (Great Dragon), The color-body (rupakaya) falls to ruin. So what is the firm and stable Dharmabody?

Long said, The mountain flowers open, resembling brocade

The valley river deep, like indigo.


Xuedou's ode says:




83 Yunmen's Bare Pillar




Yunmen instructed the assembly and said, The Old Buddhas and the bare pillar unite with each other. What degree of subtle activity is it?

Substituting himself, he said, Clouds rise up on South Mountain. Rain falls on North Mountain.


Xuedou's ode says:





84 The Vimalakirti Sutras Non-Duality


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


Just say, does this person also possess eye(s) or not? If you are able to judge this person, then I approve that you have come to personally see the people of old.




Vimalakirti asked Manjusri, How do those ranked as being bodhisattvas enter the Dharma gate of non-duality?

Manju(sri) said, So this is my idea, in everything, to be without words, without explaining, without showing, and without knowledge and to leave aside all questions and answers, is the act of entering the Dharma gate of non-duality.

Thereat, Manjusri asked Vimalakirti, Each and every one of those equally ranked and myself have explained already. You who are virtuous and equally ranked explain, how do those ranked as being bodhisattvas enter the Dharma gate of non-duality?


Xuedou said, What did Vimala(kirti) say?

Repeating he said, Investigate and expose completely!


Xuedou's ode says:




85 The Hermitage Masters Tigers Roar




A monk arrived at the place of the hermitage master of Paulownia (Empress Tree) Peak and immediately asked, Here inside, if you suddenly run into a tiger, again how would you make it alive?

The Hermitage Master immediately made a tigers roar.

The monk immediately made gestures of fear.

The Hermitage Master burst out great laughter.

The monk said, This old thief.

The Hermitage Master said, How this old monk endures contention.

The monk gave up and left.


Xuedou said, Indeed, by the standard both are each wicked thieves, only free to steal the hand bell by covering their ears.




86 Yunmens Brightness of Light




Yunmen said in handing down words, In every last person there is the brightness of light. When looking, it is unseen endless darkness. How do you make it live, this brightness of light of all people?

Substituting for himself, he said, The kitchen storehouse, the triple gate.

Again he said, Good things are not as good as nothing.


Xuedou's ode says:


Shining by itself, the solitary brightness lines up

And flows unobstructed a single thread for you.

The flowers wither; the tree is without a shadow.

When looking, who does not see?

Seeing is not seeing.

Backwards astride the ox, ahh!, to enter the Buddha sanctuary.




87 Yunmens Medicine and Disease




Yunmen said in teaching the assembly, Medicine and disease cure each other. The entire great earth is medicine. What particularly is oneself?



[Xuedou's] Ode says:


The entire great Earth is Medicine.

From ancient times to the present, how extremely wrong!

Dont make the cart behind closed doors.

The path through is naturally desolate and empty.

Wrong. Wrong.

Yet, nostrils as far as heaven are also pierced.




88 Xuanshas Three Maladies




Xuansha, instructing the assembly, said, In all directions the sojourning-elders welcomed situations to aide the living in the path leading to the destruction of suffering. If you unexpectedly come to run into people with three kinds of maladies, how do you make it alive to welcome them? With those who suffer from being blind, if you pick up the mallet or stand up the whisk, the other, too, does not see. With those who suffer from being deaf, about the samadhi of language, the other, too, does not hear. With those who suffer from being mute, if you instruct them to speak, again they are not able to speak. Just how do you make it alive to welcome them? If youre not able to welcome these people the Buddha Dharma is without verifiable effect.


A monk requested augmentation from Yunmen. Yunmen said, Set forth your ceremonial-respects.

The monk did the ceremonial obeisance and rose. Yunmen used the staff to stab. The monk withdrew backwards.

Men said, Indeed, you do not suffer from being blind.

Again he called him to come near in front. The monk neared in front.

Men said, Indeed, you do not suffer from being deaf.

Men thereupon said. Reply, what do you understand?

The monk said, I do not understand.

Men said, Indeed, you do not suffer from being mute.

The monk had introspection into this.







89 Yunyan's Great Compassion


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


Flowing throughout the body are eyes, yet seeing does not arrive at it. Flowing throughout the body are ears, yet hearing does not attain it. Flowing throughout the body are mouths yet speaking does not manifest it. Flowing throughout the body is the heart-mind, yet reflecting does not produce it.

Were flowing throughout the body to immediately just stop, and suddenly, if you are without eyes, how do you make seeing alive; without ears, how do you make hearing alive; without a mouth, how do you make speaking alive; without the heart-mind, how do you make reflecting alive?

If you face toward the particular inner side and are able to unfold a single thread of the Way, then you are together with the ancient Buddhas sharing the meeting. Were meeting the standards (i.e., the koans) to just stop, just say, particularly what person would you meet?




Yunyan asked Daowu, How does the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion expect to make use of the many hands and eyes?

Wu said, It is like a person in the middle of the night whose hands feel back for the pillow.

Yan said, I understand.

Wu said, How do you make your understanding alive?

Yan said, All over the body are hands and eyes.

Wu said, You said the greatest part of it, but are only able to say eight-tenths.

Yan said, Senior Teacher, how do you make it alive?

Wu said, Flowing throughout the body are hands and eyes.


[Xuedou's] ode says:


All over the body, yes.

Flowing throughout the body, yes.

Picking it up, though, is still one hundred thousand li [away].

Spreading out and extending [its wings], the roc mounts the clouds of the six unions

To strike the wind drum and clarify the waters of the four oceans.

Indeed, oh, what fine dust suddenly comes into being?

Oh, what piece of thin hair has not yet stopped?

You dont see,

The pearls in the net hang down in patterns, the reflections repeating and repeating,

The hands and eyes in the head of the stick accord with what rises up.





90 Zhimens Essence and Function


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


The single phrase before a sound is not transmitted by 1,000 sages. The single thread before the face endures without an interval. All naked and clean, all washed and red, the coiffure on the head loosened, and the ears erect on the new moon day. Just say, how do you make it alive? A test is raised for examination:




A monk asked Zhimen, So what is the essence of prajna?

Men said, The oyster holds in its mouth the bright moon.

The monk said, So what is the function of prajna?

Men said, The rabbits offspring are held in the womb.


Xuedou's ode says:


One piece of congealed emptiness cuts off names and feelings.

Humans and Devas in accord with this see the being of emptiness.[fn90]

The deepest meanings of the oysters holding in its mouth and the dark rabbit

Have been given to the family of Zen to make war.




91 Yanguan's Rhinoceros


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


Leap over emotions; separate from views; leave bonds; and loosen the stuck. Indeed, rise up facing the vehicle of the supreme lineage. Aid and abet the treasury of the correct Dharma eye. Also in the ten directions you must uniformly respond with the exquisiteness of the eight facets. In this way you directly arrive at the cropland. Just say, in giving back is there the foundation of the same attainment, the same testimony, the same death and the same birth? A test is raised to examine it:




Yanguan one day called the attendant, Give me the rhinoceros fan.

The attendant said, The fan is broken!

Guan said, Since the fan is broken, give back to me the rhinoceros calf.

The attendant had no reply.


Touzi said, I dont refuse to produce it; Im fearful the horn on the head is incomplete.

Xuedou picked it up and said, I want the incomplete horn on the head.

Shishuang said. If it is returned to the venerable, then there is nothing!

Xuedou picked it up and said, The rhinoceros calf is still present.

Zifu drew the appearance of a single circle and in the center drew the single character for ox.

Xuedou picked it up and said, In coming and going, what are you going to produce?

Baofu said, The venerables age is respected; better to ask a different person.

Xuedou picked it up and said, Pitiable, to toil yet be without merit.


Xuedous ode in one thread says:



The rhinoceros fan has been in use for many ages.

The question manifests from the beginning and in general one does not know.

The unrestricted clear wind and the horn on the head,

To the same end, when they leave, the clouds and rain are difficult to pursue.


Xuedou again said, If you want the clear wind to return and the horn on the head re-grow, then I ask each of you zen guests to let down a single turning word on the stated question, Since the fan is broken. give back to me the rhinoceros calf.

At that time there was a monk who came forth and said, Great multitude, leave the meeting hall.

Xuedou called out and said, I cast the hook fishing for Kun (a giant fish of legend), and in fishing got this single frog. He then descended from the seat.




92 The World Honored One Ascends The Seat


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


The stirring lute strings of a different melody are difficult to meet in 1,000 years. To see the rabbit and release the hawk and at once to take hold of the excellent; to sum up all language to become a single phrase; to gather up [as many] realms as the sands of the Great Chiliocosm to become a single dust mote; to die the same and be born the same; [to get] eight holes by drilling seven [times]; still, is there one who can confirm accordingly? A test is raised to examine it.




One Day the World Honored One ascended the seat.

Manjusri, to be clear, struck and said, Carefully observe the Dharma of the King of Dharma. The Dharma of the King of Dharma is thus.

The World Honored One then descended the seat.


Xuedou's ode arises:


Those who are established among the ranks of sages crowded together know

The decree of the Dharma of the King of Dharma is not like this.

If there was a guest from Sindh among the assembled,

Why was it necessary for Manjusri to strike down once?




Case 93 Daguang Did A Dance


[no pointer to this case]




A monk asked Daguang, Changqing state, to cause celebration and praise of the meal.[fn93] So what was the intended purpose?

Daguang did a dance.

The monk offered obeisance.
Guang said, What do you see particularly to then offer obeisance?

The monk did a dance.

Guang said, This wild fox spirit.


Xuedou's ode says:


The preceding arrow was still slight, the later arrow was deep.

Who says the leaves are yellow or gold?

Like an imitation of the billowing waves of Caoxi,[fn93]

Limitless average people blanket the shore to sink.



94 The Surangama's Not Seeing



The Śūraṅgama Sūtra says, When I do not see, why dont [you] see the locus of my not seeing?[fn94] If [you] see the not seeing, intrinsically that is not the characteristic of not seeing. If [you] dont see the ground of my not seeing, intrinsically [it] is not an object, why say [it] is not you?


[Xuedou's ode says]:


The whole elephant and the whole ox are not different from cataracts.

Those who act in accord with what comes share the names and patterns.

So now wanting to see the yellow-headed elder [fn94],

Every grain of dust of every realm is half the way




95 Baofu Drinks Tea


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


Where there is a Buddha do not get there and stop; to stop manifests a life of horns on the head. Where there is no Buddha, quickly run by; if you do not run by, the grass is ten feet deep. If you are abundantly upright, all naked and clean, all washed and red, with external affairs being without machinations, and the external being without affairs, you do not escape sticking by the stump waiting for a rabbit.

Just say, altogether, is treading the living walk not like this or is it like this? A test is raised for examination:



There was a time Changqing said, I would rather there be talk about arhats having the three poisons; dont talk about the Tathagata having two kinds of language. I dont say the Tathagata is without language, only is without two types of language.

Baofu said, How do you make it alive to be the Tathagatas language?

Qing said A deaf person struggles to be able to hear.

Baofu said, I know for sure you are facing towards the Way of the second head.

Qing said, How do you make it alive to be the Tathagatas language?

Baofu said, Go drink tea.


[Xuedou's] Ode says:


Oh, the heads! First. Second.

A resting dragon does not reflect on the still water.

Having the moon without a place, the waves settle.

Having a place, the billows rise up without a wind.

Zen traveler Leng, Zen traveler Leng!

In the third month at the Dragon Gate of Yu, he incurred a spot on the forehead.




96 Zhaozhous Turning Words


[No pointer to this case.]




Zhaozhou taught the multitude with three turning words.


Xuedou's ode says:


[Verse 1]


The clay Buddha does not pass through water.



[Verse 2]


The gold Buddha does not pass through the furnace.



[Verse 3]


The wood Buddha does not pass through fire.










97 The Diamond Sutras Belittled and Despised


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:




A test is raised for examination:




The Diamond Sutra says, If one becomes a person belittled and despised, indeed the persons previous lifes karma of wrongdoing has responded by falling into evil paths. According to the present life, because the person is belittled and despised, the previous lifes karma of wrongdoing as a rule becomes extinguished.

Xuedou's ode says:





98 Xiyuans Pair of Wrongs


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:




A test is raised for examination/(to) examine it:



Venerable Tianping (Heavenly-peace) at the time of traveling on foot called on Xiyuan (Western-courtyard). [He] always said, Do not say [you] understand Buddha Dharma. [I] seek a single person to raise a saying, and still there is none.


One day Xiyuan, seeing [him] in the distance, called and said, Zongyi (Tianpings personal name).

Ping raised his head

Xiyuan said, Wrong. (mistake, blunder, fault)

Ping walked three pairs of steps.

Xiyuan again said, Wrong.

Ping neared in front.

Xiyuan said, It is fitting to come to this pair of wrongs, but are they Xiyuans (i.e., my) wrongs or are they Upper-seats (i.e., your) wrongs?

Ping said, Zongyis (i.e., my) wrongs.

Xiyuan said, Wrong.

Ping gave up to go.

Xiyuan said, Just for the time being Upper-seat, pass the summer on this other side and [we can] stay together to discuss and deliberate this pair of wrongs.

Ping undertook at that time then to walk [on].

Afterwards in residence [as abbot] at a Courtyard (i.e., a temple) [he] spoke to the multitude and said, When I initially undertook the time of traveling on foot, because of the working of the wind, I arrived at senior elder Simings place, and in succession [he] let down a pair of wrongs. Furthermore, [he wanted] to detain me to pass the summer to stay together with me to discuss and deliberate [them]. At the time I did not say in that way, Wrong. At the time I started on foot toward the direction of the South, I knew beforehand to say Wrong entirely (alt. in the end)!




Xuedou's ode says:






99 The National Teacher Taming and Driving


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


A test is raised for examination/(to) examine it:




Emperor Suzong asked National Teacher Zhong, So what is the The Taming and Driving One of the ten bodies [of Buddha]?[fn99]

The National Teacher said, Patron, the supreme practice of surpassing stepping on Vairocanas crown.

The Emperor said, [This] solitary person does not understand.

The National Teacher said, [One] never recognizes ones own selfs pure and clear Dharma-body.



Xuedou's ode says:






100 Baling Supports the Moon


[Yuanwus] Appended pointer says:


A test is raised to examine it:




A monk asked Baling. So what is the Blown Hair Sword?[fn100]

Ling said. Branch by branch, the coral is supporting the moon.


Xuedou's ode says:









[Note 1: On translation of title. The title, Odes to a Classic Hundred Standards, has been variously translated as Odes on the Hundred Cases and 100 Verses on Old Cases. (song4) means a hymn to something; ode; eulogy; paean; composition in praise of some achievements. So ode is the best English translation. In my view verse should be rejected since it is too generic and does not include the necessary element of praise or eulogy. (gu3) means old, ancient, or classic. Here the context is not just that the selected koans are old, but that they are selected as being old and important, which is conveyed by the English word classic. (bai) means hundred. (ze2) means a law, rule, regulation, standard, norm, criterion, etc. I have chosen standard to translate it because as a standard it then has the double connotation of being something to measure against or regulate by comparison which is the intended use of these koans as well as being classic koans or old standards. The Chinese word correctly translated as case is (an4) which is part of the word 公案 gongan (gong1an4) or koan, meaning public case. Since the word koan has now entered the English language dictionaries, I argue that the word case should be reserved for translating words using (an4) and not confused with (ze2) which implies the regulatory meaning of standard not the exemplar meaning of case. Also by the placement of the number hundred immediately before standards, it is modifying the word standards not the first word odes, so it reads hundred standards not hundred odes. Return fn1.]


[Note to Case 13: Deva is short for Kanadeva, also known as Aryadeva, an Indian dhyana master prior to Bodhidharma and known for his eloquence and debating skills. Kanadeva is considered to be the 15th founding ancestor of the Zen lineage and the dharma heir of the great Buddhist teacher Nargarjuna who was the 14th founding ancestor. The question has a dual reference to Kanadeva's personal teaching style and to the Zen lineage in general. Some translators translate the question simply as "What is Zen?" And since the two Chinese characters used for the transliteration of deva can be translated literally as "to raise or mention an old woman," at least one translator has translated the question as the pun "What is old-lady Zen?" Return fn13]


[Note to Case 18: The question "Are you able to?" is suitably ambiguous, similar to "Do you get it?" It includes the meanings of: Are you able to see it?, build it?, understand what I mean?, etc. Return fn18]


[Note to Case 28: For I Nanquan uses a phrase that is literally, a certain someone A, which is used as a generic name such as in naming an unidentified person similarly to John Doe. Return fn28]


[Note to Case 31: "Ring-staff" is written with just the character that literally means "tin" and is a nickname for the sounding or ringing staff (聲杖). "Tin" refers to the metal rings on the top of the staff that make the ringing sounds as the monk travels along. Return fn31]



[Note to Case 34: "Preceptor" is the title of the monk and in this context means "you." A preceptor is a monk who is senior enough to give the precepts to beginners. Return fn34]



[Note to Case 35: With the Sanskrit terms: "Recently, few of the bhikkhus (mendicants) of the Dharma respect śīla (moral discipline) and vinaya (rules)."

Three threes in front; three threes in back is one of the most enigmatic phrases in the collection of 100 koans. It is ambiguous if the spatial or temporal dimension is indicated or preferred by this use of the opposition "before-behind" or front-back. Also it is not clear whether 三三 "three threes simply means nine or means three by three as in three rows of three. Return fn35]


[Note to Case 43: The "Black of Han" is a legendary black dog swift as a race horse who was patient as well as swift and the most talented in catching the hardest to catch rabbits. Return fn43]


[Note to Case 48: The term wild charcoal refers to the stumps or spikes of wood left in the wilderness after flames have baked or roasted them to their base. The character translated here as charcoal literally means steamed wood or steamed trees. Wild charcoal is used as praise for Great Superintendent Wang who is wild in the sense of not being a disciplined monk and is charcoal in the sense of having his worldly views being burned out to the base. Return to fn48]


[Note to Case 49: The "head of the word" is the Zen technical term "huatou" which means the "source of language" or that from which words arise, i.e., the True Suchness of Mind, the Original Face. Return fn49]


[Note to Case 50: The Northern Bushel is the constellation Ursa Major, i.e., the Big Dipper. Return fn50]


[Note to Case 52: Yuanwus commentary says that a rough bridge is a single log bridge. Return fn52]


[Note to Case 75: Zen master Dingzhou (W-G. Ting Chou Shih Tsang, J. Jsh Sekiz) (718-800) was a Dharma heir of Pu Chi who was considered the 7th Ancestor of Chan by the Northern School of Chan as he was Dharma Heir of Shenxiu (W-G. Shen Hsiu) who they considered to be the 6th Ancestor instead of Huineng, so Dingzhou is in the 8th generation, and this monk is in the 9th generation. Zen master Wujiu was a Dharma heir of Mazu (W-G. Ma Tsu, J. Baso) who was 8th generation after Huineng as the 6th Ancestor. So this koan is about a meeting between two 9th generation Zen monks, a senior monk from the Northern school side of Dingzhou and a Zen master from the Southern School side of Mazu, and as such it represents an event of historical rapprochement and mutual recognition between two men of the Northern and Southern lineages of Zen.

Coincidentally the Japanese pronunciation of the translation of Dingzhou 定州 is Joshu which is the same as the phonetic Japanese translation of Zhaozhou 趙州 as Joshu, so some confusion may be caused for readers of the English translations of the Japanese that use the same Japanese pronunciation of the name Joshu for both. Obviously, Dingzhou of the Northern School of Zen is not connected to Zhaozhou of the Southern School of Zen. Return to fn75.]


[Note to Case 81: There is a double entendre in the monks question because Yaoshans temple was named Level Field. Thus in addition to being the Buddha nature of ones own level mind, the great stag among the deer herd on the level field was Yaoshan among the monks of the temple. Return to fn81.]


[Note to Case 90: The being of emptiness, is an epithet for Subhuti, one of the ten chief disciples of Buddha, who was the main interlocutor for the emptiness (sunyata) teachings of the Prajnaparamita Sutras. To see the being of emptiness is to see eye to eye with Subhuti. Return to fn90.]


[Note to Case 93: Changqing stated in Case 74. the billowing waves of Caoxi is a reference to the 6th Ancestor Huinengs temple Caoxi and the influence of his many descendants. Return to fn93.]


[Note to Case 94: locus of my not seeing The word locus (place, site, or location) is the translation of the Sanskrit. ayatana indicating where the organ of perception (in this case the eye organ) meets with its sensory field (visual stimuli) such that the locus of this meeting of organ and field is where the associated (eye) consciousness occurs. the yellow-headed elder means the Buddha whose body was said to emit a golden radiance. Return to fn94.]


[Note to Case 99: tamer and driver. This is one of the 10 epithets of the Buddha (Skt. Purusa-damya-sarathi, lit. the driver-tamer of the human spirit) and calls forth the image of the coachman or charioteer who tames and drives the team of horses or the plowman who tames and drives the team of oxen, meaning that the Buddha tames and drives the team consisting of the human karmas of word, thought and deed. Here the Emperor is showing his ability to pun by noting that if there are 10 bodies of the Buddha, who or what is the one who tames and drives this team of 10 bodies without becoming confused, what is that called if not called an 11th body? In other words, what is the True Buddha?

The National Teachers reply also shows his punning ability as it contains three references to walking: the words supreme practice are literally highest walking, the word for surpassing is literally stepping over and then the word for stepping on. The whole reply would be litterally The highest walking of stepping over stepping on Virocanas crown. Return to fn99.]


[Note to Case 100: The Blown Hair Sword was the name of a famous sword known for its sharpness because it could cut a single hair blown across the blade by a slight puff of wind. As an image of the sharpest thing possible, the question became a standard question about the inherent sharpness of the mind or the nature of essential truth like What is the pure and clear Dharma-body? or What is Buddha? Balings reply is considered to be profoundly Return to fn100.]



Links to my other koan translations:


The Gateless Checkpoint of the Zen Lineage


The Record of the Temple of Equanimity


External links:

Buddhist Studies - About the Pi-yen-lu koans

Wikipedia on The Blue Cliff Record




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This web-page was last updated January 01, 2013.