A collection of 100 koans

Shoyoroku (E. Book of Serenity, C. Ts’ung-jung lu)
A collection of 100 koans, originally compiled in the 12th century by Wanshi Shogaku (C. Hung-chih Cheng-chüeh).

1. The Buddha Ascends To The Rostrum
4. The World Honored One Points To The Ground
7. Yakusan Ascends The Rostrum
10. An Old Woman Near Taizan
13. Rinzai’s Blind Donkey
16. Mayoku Shook The Ring-Staff
19. Unmon’s Mount Sumeru
22. Ganto’s Bow To The Kaatz
25. Enkan’s Rhinoceros Fan
28. Gokoku’s Three Disgraces
31. Unmon’s Pillar
34. Fuketsu’s Speck Of Dust
37. Isan’s Karma-Consciousness
40. Unmon’s White And Black
43. Razan’s Appearing And Disappearing
46. Tokusan’s Study Accomplished
49. Tozan And the Memorial Service
52. Sozan’s Dharma-Body
55. Seppo In Charge Of Cooking
58. Getting Despised In The Diamond Sutra
61. Kempo’s One Line
64. Shisho’s Succession
67. The Wisdom In The Kegon Sutra
70. Shinsan Asks About Nature
73. Sozan’s Filial Fulfillment
76. Shuzan’s Three Verses
79. Chosa Takes A Step
82. Unmon’s Voice And Color
85. The National Teacher’s Gravestone
88. Non-Seeing In The Ryogon Sutra
91. Nansen And The Peonies
94. Tozan Unwell
97. Emperor Doko’s Helmet Hood
100. Roya’s Mountains And Rivers
2. Bodhidharma’s Clear And Void
5. Seigen’s Price Of Rice
8. Hyakujo And The Fox
11. Unmon’s Two Diseases
14. Attendant Kaku Offers Tea
17. Hogen’s Hairsbreadth
20. Jizo’s Most Intimate
23. Roso Faces The Wall
26. Kyozan Points To Snow
29. Fuketsu’s Iron Ox
32. Kyozan’s Mind And Objective World
35. Rakuho’s Obeisance
38. Rinzai’s True Person
41. Rakuho At His Deathbed
44. Koyo s Suparnin
47. Joshu’s Oak Tree In The Garden
50. Seppo’s What Is This
53. Obaku’s Drinkers
56. Misshi And The White Rabbit
59. Seirin’s Deadly Snake
62. Beiko’s Enlightenment
65. Shuzan’s Bride
68. Kassan Brandishes The Sword
71. Suigan’s Eyebrows
74. Hogen’s Form And Name
77. Kyozan As His Profession Requires
80. Suibi And The Chin Rest
83. Dogo’s Nursing The Ill
86. Rinzai’s Great Enlightenment
89. Tozan’s Place Of No Grass
92. Unmon’s One Treasure
95. Rinzai Draws A Line
98. Tozan’s Intimate With It
3. The Indian King Invites The Patriarch
6. Ba And One Hundred Negations
9. Nansen Kills A Cat
12. Jizo Plants The Rice Field
15. Kyozan Thrusts His Hoe Into The Ground
18. Joshu’s Dog
21. Ungan Sweeps The Ground
24. Seppo’s Look At The Snake
27. Hogen Points To The Bamboo Blinds
30. Daizui’s Kalpa Fire
33. Sansho’s Golden Scales
36. Master Ba Is Ill
39. Joshu’s Wash Your Bowls
42. Nanyo And The Water Jug
45. Four Phrases From The Engaku Sutra
48. Vimalakirti’s Not Two
51. Hogen’s Boat Or Land
54. Ungan’s Great Mercy
57. Gonyo’s one thing
60. Tetsuma The Cow
63. Joshu Asks About Death
66. Kyuho’s Head And Tail
69. Nansen’s Cats And Oxen
72. Chuyu’s Monkey
75. Zuigan’s Everlasting Principle
78. Unmon’s Rice Cake
81. Gensha Reaches The Province
84. Gutei’s One Finger
87. Sozan With Or Without
90. Kyozan Speaks Out
93. Roso Does Not Understand
96. Kyuho Does Not Acknowledge
99. Unmon’s Bowl And Pail

One day, the World-Honored One ascended to the rostrum. Manjusri struck the
table with the gavel and said,
“Contemplate clearly the Dharma of the Dharma-King! The Dharma of
the Dharma-King is like this.”
Thereupon, the World-Honored One descended from the rostrum.

[1]: i.e. the Buddha.
[2]: see case 92 of Hekiganroku.

Case 2: Bodhidharma’s “Vast and Void” [1]

Emperor Bu of Ryo asked Great Master Bodhidharma,
“What is the highest meaning of the holy reality?”
Bodhidharma replied,
“Vast and void, no holiness.”
The emperor said,
“Who are you in front of me?”
Bodhidharma said,
“I don’t know.”
The emperor did not match him.

Finally, Bodhidharma crossed the Yangtse River and came to the Shorin Temple.
There he sat for nine years, facing the wall.

[1]: see case 1 of Hekiganroku.

Case 3: The Indian King Invites the Patriarch

A king of Eastern India invited the twenty-seventh patriarch, Prajna Tara,
for a meal. The king asked,
“Why don’t you recite sutras?”
The patriarch said,
“The poor way [1] does not stay in the world of subject when breathing in,
and has nothing to do with the world of objects when breathing out. I am
always reciting the suchness-sutra in millions and millions of volumes.”

[1]: i.e., “I.”

Case 4: The World-Honored One Points to the Ground

When the World-Honored One was walking with his assembly, he pointed to the
ground with his hand and said,
“This place is good for building a temple.”
Indra [1] took a stalk of grass and stuck it in the ground and said,
“The temple has been built.”
The World-Honored One smiled.

[1]: Exactly: Sakra Devendra. The lord god of the Trayastrimasa Heaven.

Case 5: Seigen’s “Price of Rice”

A monk asked Seigen,
“What is the essence of Buddhism?”
Seigen said,
“What is the price of rice in Roryo?”

Case 6: Master Ba’s “White and Black” [1]

A monk asked Great Master Ba,
“Apart from the Four Phrases, beyond one hundred Negations, please
tell me directly, Master, the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from
the West.”
Master Ba said,
“I am tired today, I can’t explain it to you. Go and ask Chizo.”
The monk asked Chizo about it. Chizo said,
“Why don’t you ask our master?”
The monk said,
“He told me to ask you.”
Chizo said,
“I have a headache today, I can’t explain it to you. Go and ask Brother Kai.”
The monk asked Brother Kai about it. Kai said,
“I don’t understand nothing about that question.”
The monk told Great Master Ba about it. Great Master said,
“Chizo’s head is white, Kai’s head is black.”

[1]: see case 73 of Hekiganroku.

Case 7: Yakusan Ascends the Rostrum

Yakusan had not ascended the rostrum for a long time. The temple steward said,
“All the assembly has been wishing for instruction for a long time. Please,
Master, give your assembly a sermon.”
Yakusan had the bell rung. The assembly gathered. Yakusan ascended the rostrum
and sat there for a while. Then he descended and returned to his room. The
temple steward followed him and asked,
“You said a while ago that you would give the assembly a sermon. Why
didn’t you speak even a word?”
Yakusan said,
“For sutras, there are sutra specialists; for sastras [1], there are
sastra specialists. Why do you have doubts about this old monk [2] ?”

[1]: Books on Buddhist doctrines, written by ancient Buddhist philosophers.
[2]: i.e. Yakusan.

Case 8: Hyakujo and the Fox [1]

Whenever Master Hyakujo delivered a sermon, an old man was always there
listening with the monks. When they left, he left too. One day, however, he
remained behind. Hyakujo asked him,
“What man are you, standing there?”
The old man replied,
“In the past, in the time of Kashyapa Buddha, I lived on this mountain as a
Zen priest. Once a monk came and asked me, ‘Does a perfectly enlightened
person fall under the law of cause and effect or not?’ I said to him,
‘He does not.’ Because of this answer, I fell into the state of a fox for
500 lives. Now, I beg you, Master, please say a turning word.”
Hyakujo said,
“The law of cause and effect cannot be obscured.”
Upon hearing this, the old man became greatly enlightened.

[1]: see case 2 of Mumonkan.

Case 9: Nansen Kills a Cat [1]

Once the monks of the eastern and western Zen halls in Nansen’s temple were
quarrelling about a cat. As he saw this, Nansen held up the cat and said,
“You monks! If one of you can say a word, I will not slay the cat.”
No one could answer. Nansen cut the cat in two. Nansen told Joshu what had
happened, and asked him for his view. Joshu thereupon took his sandals, put
them upon his head and went away. Nansen said,
“If you had been there, I could have spared the cat.”

[1]: see case 14 of Mumonkan and cases 63 and 64 of Hekiganroku.

Case 10: An Old Woman near Taizan [1]

There was an old woman on the way to Taizan. Whenever a monk asked her how to
get to Taizan, she would answer, “Go straight on.” After the monk had gone a
few steps, she would say, “This good and naïve fellow goes off that way, too.”
Later a monk told Joshu about this. Joshu said,
“Wait a bit. I will go and see through her for you.”
He went and asked the same question. The next day, Joshu ascended the rostrum
and said,
“I have seen through the old woman for you.”

[1]: see case 31 of Mumonkan.

Case 11: Unmon’s “Two Diseases”

Great Master Unmon said,
“When the light does not penetrate, there are two diseases. Everything is
unclear and things hang before you: this is one disease. Even after you
have realized the emptiness of all things, somehow you feel as if there were
still something there. This shows that the light has not yet penetrated
Also there are two diseases concerning the Dharma-body. You have reached the
Dharma-body, but you remain attached to the Dharma and cannot extinguish your
own view; therefore you lead a corrupt life around the Dharma-body: this is
one disease. Suppose you have truly penetrated to the end, if you give up
further efforts, it will not do. You examine yourself minutely and say you
have no flaw: this is nothing but a disease.”

Case 12: Jizo Plants the Rice Field

Jizo asked Shuzanshu,
“Where have you come from?”
Shuzanshu said,
“I have come from the South.”
Jizo said,
“How is Buddhism in the South these days?”
Shuzanshu said,
“There is much lively discussion.”
Jizo said,
“How could that match with our planting the rice field here and making
rice-balls to eat?”
Shuzanshu said,
“How could you then save the beings of the Three Worlds?”
Jizo said,
“What do you call ‘the Three Worlds’?”

Case 13: Rinzai’s “Blind Donkey”

When Rinzai was about to die, he entrusted Sansho with his Dharma and said,
“After my passing, do not destroy my treasury of the Eye of the true
Dharma [1].”
Sansho said,
“How would I dare destroy your treasury of the Eye of the true Dharma?”
Rinzai said,
“If someone asks you about it, how will you answer?”
Sansho instantly shouted his Kaatz. Rinzai said,
“Who knows that my treasury of the Eye of the true Dharma has been
destroyed by this blind donkey?”

[1]: Originally: shobogenzo.

Case 14: Attendant Kaku Offers Tea

Attendant Kaku asked Tokusan,
“Where have all the past saints gone?”
Tokusan said,
“What? What?”
Kaku said,
“I gave the command for an excellent horse like a flying dragon to spring
forth, but there came out only a lame tortoise.”
Tokusan was silent. The next day, when Tokusan came out of the bath, Kaku
served him tea. Tokusan passed his hand gently over Kaku’s back. Kaku said,
“This old fellow has gotten a glimpse for the first time.”
Again, Tokusan was silent.

Case 15: Kyozan Thrusts His Hoe into the Ground

Isan asked Kyozan,
“Where have you come from?”
Kyozan said,
“From the rice field.”
Isan said,
“How many people are there in the rice field?”
Kyozan thrust his hoe into the ground and stood with his hands folded on his
chest. Isan said,
“There are a great number of people cutting thatch on the South Mountain.”
Kyozan took up his hoe and left immediately.

Case 16: Mayoku Shook the Ring-Staff [1]

Mayoku, with his ring-staff in hand, came to Shokei. He circled Shokei’s dais
three times, shook the ring-staff and stood there bolt upright. Shokei said,
“Right, right!”
Mayoku then came to Nansen. He circled Nansen’s dais three times, shook the
ring-staff and stood there bolt upright. Nansen said,
“Not right, not right!”
Then, Mayoku said,
“Master Shokei said, ‘Right, right!’ Why, Master, do you say, ‘Not right,
not right!’?”
Nansen said,
“With Shokei it is right, but with you it is not right. This is nothing
but a whirling of the wind. In the end, it will perish.”

[1]: see case 31 of Hekiganroku.

Case 17: Hogen’s “Hairsbreadth”

Hogen asked Shuzanshu,
“‘If there is only a hairsbreadth of difference, it is the distance between
heaven and earth.'[1] How do you understand that?”
Shuzanshu said,
“If there is only a hairsbreadth of difference, it is the distance between
heaven and earth.”
Hogen said,
“If that’s your understanding, how could you ever attain IT?”
Shuzanshu said,
“My view is just that. How about you, Master?”
Hogen said,
“If there only is a hairsbreadth of difference, it is the distance between
heaven and earth.”
Shuzanshu made a deep bow.

[1]: Cited from the Shinjinmei (A Hymn of Sincere Mind), a work by the Third
Patriarch Sosan. See also Miscellaneous Koans 21-2.

Case 18: Joshu’s Dog [1]

A monk asked Joshu,
“Does the dog have buddha-nature, or not?”
Joshu said,
“It has” [U].
The monk said,
“If it has it, why did it creep into that skin bag?”
Joshu said,
“Because it does so knowingly.”
Another monk asked,
“Does the dog have buddha-nature, or not?”
Joshu said,
“It has not” [Mu].
The monk said,
“All living beings have buddha-nature [2]. Why doesn’t the dog have any?”
Joshu said,
“Because it is in its karma-consciousness.”

[1]: see case 1 of Mumonkan: the Shoyoroku case presents a fuller text of
the dialogue.
[2]: Quotation from the Nirvana Sutra 7, 25.

Case 19: Unmon’s “Mt. Sumeru”

A monk asked Unmon,
“Not a single thought arises: is there any fault or not?”
Unmon said,
“Mt. Sumeru. [1]”

[1]: The highest and most massive mountain in the world according to the
Indian cosmology.

Case 20: Jizo’s “Most Intimate”

Jizo asked Hogen,
“Where are you going, senior monk? [1]”
Hogen said,
“I am on pilgrimage [2], following the wind.”
Jizo said,
“What are you on pilgrimage for?”
Hogen said,
“I don’t know.”
Jizo said,
“Non knowing is most intimate.”
Hogen suddenly attained great enlightenment.

[1]: “Senior monk” (joza) is an honorific for a monk who has practiced more
than 10 years.
[2]: Originally: angya.

Case 21: Ungan Sweeps the Ground

When Ungan was sweeping the ground, Dogo said,
“You are having a hard time!”
Ungan said,
“You should know there is one who doesn’t have a hard time.”
Dogo said,
“If that’s true, you mean there is a second moon?”
Ungan held up his broom and said,
“What number of moon is this?”
Dogo was silent.
Gensha said,
“That is precisely the second moon.”
Unmon said,
“The servant greets the maid politely.”

Case 22: Ganto’s Bow to the Kaatz

Ganto came to Tokusan. He straddled the threshold of the gate and asked,
“Is this ordinary or is this holy?”
Tokusan shouted,
Ganto made a deep bow.
Hearing of this, Tozan said,
“Hardly anyone but Ganto could have accepted it that way.”
Ganto said,
“Old Tozan can’t tell between good and bad. At that time, I raised up with
one hand and suppressed with the other.”

Case 23: Roso Faces the Wall

Whenever Roso saw a monk coming, he immediately sat facing the wall. Hearing
of this, Nansen said,
“I usually tell my people to realize what has existed before the kalpa of
emptiness [1], or to understand what has been before Buddhas appeared in
the world. Still, I haven’t acknowledged one disciple or even a half. If
he continues that way, he will go on even until the year of the donkey [2].”

[1]: One of the “four kalpas” or periods of cosmic changes: the kalpa of
creation, the kalpa of existence, the kalpa of destruction, and the kalpa
of emptiness.
[2]: Since there is no “year of the donkey” in the Chinese zodiac, the
expression “until the year of donkey” means endlessly.

Case 24: Seppo’s “Look at the Snake” [1]

Seppo, instructing the assembly, said,
“There’s a poisonous snake on the southern side of the mountain. All of you
should look at it carefully!”
Chokei said,
“Today in the Zen hall there are many people. They have lost their body
and life.”
A monk told this to Gensha, who said,
“Only Elder Brother Ryo [2] could say something like that. However,
I wouldn’t talk like that.”
The monk asked,
“What then would you say, Master”?
Gensha replied,
“Why does it have to be ‘the southern side of the mountain’?”
Unmon threw his staff in front of Seppo and acted frightened.

[1]: see case 22 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: i.e. Chokei.

Case 25: Enkan’s “Rhinoceros Fan” [1]

One day, Enkan called to his attendant,
“Bring me the rhinoceros fan.”
The attendant said,
“It is broken.”
Enkan said,
“If the fan is already broken, bring me the rhinoceros himself.”
The attendant gave no answer.
Shifuku drew a circle and wrote the ideograph “ox [2]” in it.

[1]: see case 91 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: The Chinese character for “ox” (gyu) is one of the two characters for
“rhinoceros” (saigyu = sai + gyu).

Case 26: Kyozan Points to Snow

Kyozan pointed to the snow lion [1] and said,
“Is there any [2] that goes beyond this color?”
Unmon said [3],
“I would have pushed it over for him at once.”
Setcho said [4],
“He only knows how to push it over, but he doesn’t know how to help it up.”

[1]: Probably a lion made of snow or a stone lion covered with snow.
[2]: I.e., “anyone” or “anything.”
[3]: I.e., later.
[4]: I.e., hearing of this.

Case 27: Hogen Points to the Bamboo Blinds [1]

Hogen pointed to the bamboo blinds with his hand. At that moment, two monks
who were there went over to the blinds together and rolled them up.
Hogen said,
“One has gained, one has lost.”

[1]: see case 26 of Mumonkan.

Case 28: Gokoku’s “Three Disgraces”

A monk asked Gokoku,
“How about when a crane perches on a withered pine tree?”
Gokoku said,
“It is a disgrace when seen from the ground.”
The monk asked,
“What about when every drop of water is frozen at once?”
Gokoku said,
“It’s a disgrace after the sun has risen.”
The monk asked,
“At the time of the Esho Persecution [1], where did the good Guardian
Deities [2] of the Dharma go?”
Gokoku said,
“It is a disgrace for the two of them on both sides of the temple gate.”

[1]: Buddhism was suppressed by order of Emperor Bu (about 840).
[2]: Nio-figures representing the two Deva kings on each side of the main gate
of a Buddhist temple. They are considered to be protectors of the Dharma.

Case 29: Fuketsu’s “Iron Ox” [1]

When he was staying at the government office of the Province Ei, Fuketsu
entered the hall [to preach] and said,
“The heart seal [stamp] of the patriarch resembles the activity of the iron
ox. When it goes away, the [impression of the] seal remains; when it stays
there, the [impression of the] seal is brought to naught. If it neither
goes away nor stays, would it be right to give a seal [of approval] or not?”

Then Elder Rohi came up and said,
“I have the activities of the iron ox. [However,] I ask you, Master, not to
give me the seal.”

Fuketsu said,
“I am accustomed to leveling the great ocean through fishing whales. But,
alas, now I find instead a frog wriggling about in the mud.”

Rohi stood there considering.

Fuketsu shouted
and said,
“Why don’t you say anything else, Elder?”

Rohi was perplexed.

Fuketsu hit him with his whisk and said,
“Do you remember what you said? Say something, I’ll check it for you.”

Rohi tried to say something. Fuketsu hit him again with his whisk.

The Magistrate said,
“Buddha’s law and the King’s law are of the same nature.”

Fuketsu said,
“What principle do you see in them?”

The Magistrate said,
“If you do not make a decision where a decision should be made, you are
inviting disorder.”

Fuketsu descended from the rostrum.

[1]: see case 38 of Hekiganroku.

Case 30: Daizui’s “Kalpa Fire” [1]

A monk asked Daizui,
“When the great kalpa fire bursts out, the whole universe [2] will be
destroyed. I wonder if IT will also be destroyed or not.”
Daizui said,
The monk said,
“If so, will IT be gone with the other [3]?”
Daizui said,
“Gone with the other.”

A monk asked Ryusai,
“When the great kalpa fire bursts out, the whole universe will be
destroyed. I wonder if IT will also be destroyed or not.”
Ryusai said,
“Not destroyed.”
The monk said,
“Why is it not destroyed?”
Ryusai said,
“Because it is the same as the whole universe.”

[1]: see case 29 of Hekiganroku: The Shoyoroku case has an additional part
with Ryusai.
[2]: Literally: “a billion worlds.”
[3]: The word “the other” means “the universe.”

Case 31: Unmon’s “Pillar” [1]

Unmon, instructing the assembly, said,
“The old buddha and a pillar intersect each other. What number of
activity is that?”
The assembly was silent. He said on their behalf,
“Clouds gather over the South Mountain; rain falls on the North Mountain.”

[1]: see case 83 Hekiganroku.

Case 32: Kyozan’s Mind and Objective World

Kyozan asked a monk,
“Where do you come from?”
The monk said,
“I am from Yu Province”
Kyozan said,
“Do you think of that place?”
The monk said,
“I always do.”
Kyozan said,
“That which thinks is the mind [1]. That which is thought about is the
objective world. Within that are mountains, rivers and the great earth,
towers, palaces, people, animals, and other things. Reflect upon the mind
that thinks. Are there a lot of things there?”
The monk said,
“I don’t see anything at all there.”
Kyozan said,
“That’s right for the stage of understanding, but not yet for the stage of
The monk said,
“Do you have any special advice, Master?”
Kyozan said,
“It is not right to say that there is or there is not. Your insight shows
that you have obtained only one side of the mystery. Sitting down, putting
on clothes, from now on you see by yourself.”

[1]: Originally: kokoro.

Case 33: Sansho’s “Golden Scales” [1]

Sansho asked Seppo,
“When a fish with golden scales has passed through the net, what should
it get for food?”
Seppo said,
“I will tell you when you have passed through the net.”
Sansho said,
“A great Zen master with 1500 disciples doesn’t know how to speak.”
Seppo said,
“The old monk is just too busy with temple affairs.”

[1]: see case 49 of Hekiganroku.

Case 34: Fuketsu’s “Speck of Dust” [1]

Fuketsu, giving instruction, said,
“If one raises a speck of dust, the house and the nation prosper. If one
does not raise a speck of dust, they perish.”
Setcho held up his staff and said,
“Is there anyone who lives and dies with this?”

[1]: see case 61 Hekiganroku.

Case 35: Rakuho’s Obeisance

Rakuho came to Kassan and without bowing stood facing him. Kassan said,
“A chicken dwells in the phoenix nest. It’s not of the same class. Go away.”
Rakuho said,
“I have come from far away, hearing much about you. Please, Master, I beg
you to guide me.”
Kassan said,
“Before my eyes there is no you, and here there is no old monk [1].”
Rakuho shouted,
Kassan said,
“Stop it, stop it. Don’t be so careless and hasty. Clouds and the moon are
the same; valleys and mountains are different from each other. It is not
difficult to cut off the tongues of the people under heaven. But how can
you make a tongueless person speak?”
Rakuho said nothing. Kassan hit him. With this, Rakuho started to obey Kassan.

[1]: I.e., “I.”

Case 36: Master Ba Is Ill [1]

Great Master Ba was seriously ill. The temple steward asked him,
“Master, how are you feeling these days?”
Great Master said,
“Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha.”

[1]: see case 3 of Hekiganroku.

Case 37: Isan’s “Karma-Consciousness”

Isan asked Kyozan,
“Suppose a man asks you, saying, ‘All living beings are tossed in a vast
karma-consciousness, and have no foundation to rely upon.’ How would
you check him?”
Kyozan said,
“If such a monk appears, I call out to him, ‘Mr. So-and-so!’ When he turns
his head, instantly I say, ‘What is this?’ If he hesitates, then I say to
him, ‘Not only is there a vast karma-consciousness, but also there is no
foundation to rely upon.'”
Isan said,

Case 38: Rinzai’s “True Person”

Rinzai instructed his assembly and said,
“There is one true person of no rank, always coming out and going in
through the gates of your face [1]. Beginners who have not yet witnessed
that, look! look!”
Then a monk came out and asked,
“What is the one true person of no rank?”
Rinzai descended from the rostrum and grabbed him. The monk hesitated.
Rinzai pushed him away and said,
“The true person of no rank — what a shit-stick you are!”

[1]: I.e., sense organs such as eyes, nose, ears, tongue, etc.

Case 39: Joshu’s “Wash Your Bowls” [1]

A monk asked Joshu,
“I have just entered this monastery. I beg you, Master, please give me
Joshu asked,
“Have you eaten your rice gruel yet?”
The monk answered,
“Yes, I have.”
Joshu said,
“Then wash your bowls.”

[1]: see case 7 of Mumonkan.

Case 40: Unmon’s “White and Black”

Unmon asked Kempo,
“May I ask for your answer [1]?”
Kempo said,
“Have you ever reached this old monk or not?”
Unmon said,
“If so, I must say I was too late.”
Kempo said,
“Is that so? Is that so?”
Unmon said,
“I thought I was Marquis White, but I find that here is Marquise Black [2].”

[1]: A literal translation. It is possible to understand the word simply as
[2]: Marquis White and Marquise Black are noted thieves in Chinese folklore.
Marquise Black, a female thief, seems to have been the cleverer of the two.

Case 41: Rakuho at His Deathbed

When he was about to die, Rakuho addressed his assembly and said,
“I have one matter to ask you about. If you say ‘yes’ to this, you are
putting another head on your own. If you say ‘no,’ you are looking for life
by cutting off your head.”
The head monk said,
“The green mountain always lifts up its legs; you don’t need to carry a
lantern in the daylight.” [1]
Rakuho said,
“What time is this to utter such a saying?”
A senior monk named Genjo stepped forward and said,
“Apart from these two ways, I beg you, Master, not to ask.”
Rakuho said,
“That’s not enough. Say some more.”
Genjo said,
“I cannot say it fully.”
Rakuho said,
“I don’t care whether or not you can say it fully.”
Genjo said,
“I feel just like an attendant who has nothing to respond to his master.” [2]
That evening, Rakuho called Genjo to him and said,
“Your response today had something quite reasonable. You have to realize
what our late master [3] said,
‘There are no dharmas before the eyes,
Yet consciousness is before the eyes.
IT is not the Dharma before the eyes,
IT cannot be reached by eyes and ears.’
Which phrase is the guest? Which phrase is the host? If you can sort them
out, I will transmit the bowl and robe to you.”
Genjo said,
“I don’t understand.”
Rakuho said,
“You must understand.”
Genjo said,
“I really don’t understand.”
Rakuho uttered a kaatz and said,
“Miserable, miserable!”
[Another] monk asked,
“What would you like to say, Master?”
Rakuho said,
“The boat of compassion is not rowed over pure waves. It’s been wasted
labor releasing wooden geese down the precipitous strait [4].”

[1]: Most probably a saying formed by Rakuho himself.
[2]: Apparently an idiomatic expression meaning, “I can’t describe it in words.”
[3]: Rinzai or Kassan.
[4]: It was a custom that the boat rushing down the stream through a gorge
released pieces of wood ahead as a warning so that a possible crash with
the boat coming upstream could be avoided. These wooden chips were
called “wooden geese.”

Case 42: Nanyo and the Water Jug

A monk asked National Teacher Chu of Nanyo,
“What is the essential body [1] of Vairocana Buddha [2]?”
National Teacher said,
“Pass me that water jug.”
The monk passed him the water jug. National Teacher said,
“Put it back where it was.”
The monk asked again,
“What is the essential body of Vairocana Buddha?”
National Teacher said,
“The old Buddha is long gone.”

[1]: The so-called “Dharma-body” or dharmakaya.
[2]: The principal Buddha.

Case 43: Razan’s “Appearing and Disappearing”

Razan asked Ganto,
“What if things appear and disappear without ceasing?”
Ganto scolded him saying,
“Who appears and disappears?”

Case 44: Koyo’s “Suparnin”

A monk asked Master Ho of Koyo,
“The great dragon has emerged from the ocean, calming heaven and earth. How
will you treat him when he suddenly appears before you?”
Master Ho said,
“Suparnin [1], the king of birds, absorbs the entire universe. Who can
stick his head within him?”
The monk said,
“But how about when he does appear?”
Ho said,
“It is like a falcon catching a pigeon. If you don’t realize it, you will
learn the truth through the ‘inspection before the balcony.’ [2]”
The monk said,
“If so, then I’ll fold my hands on my chest and retreat three steps.”
Ho said,
“You black tortoise under the Sumeru altar. [3] Don’t wait to be struck on
the forehead again and get hurt.”

[1]: A giant bird that eats even dragons.
[2]: A reference to a story in which Heigenkun Chosho, the brother of the king
of Cho and a wealthy landlord with 3,000 dependents, built a grand palace
with a balcony that overlooked the main road. One day a crippled person
was passing by and one of the concubines saw him and laughed. The crippled
person was angered and demanded Heigenkun her head. Heigenkun presented
the head of an executed convict as the head of the concubine. His
dependents knew of his deception, lost faith in their master and gradually
all left him. His fortunes declined, so at last he cut off the head of
the concubine and presented it for the crippled person to inspect. After
that the dependents returned and his fortunes were restored. The story is
an allusion to the fact that you can never hide away the real truth.
[3]: A reference to one of the four carved figures, representing black
tortoises, underneath the Sumeru altar (with the Buddha statue). It is
used here as a symbol of someone who has lost the freedom of movement.

Case 45: Four Phrases from the Engaku Sutra

The Engaku [1] Sutra says:
“At all times, you do not raise the delusive mind.
When there are all kinds of illusory thoughts, you do not extinguish them.
Dwelling in the delusory state of mind, you do not add understanding.
Where there is no understanding, you do not distinguish the truth.”

[1]: “Engaku” means the perfect awakening of Buddha.

Case 46: Tokusan’s “Study Accomplished”

Great Master Tokusan Emmyo instructed his assembly and said,
“If you have exhausted to the end, you will realize right away that all
buddhas in the three worlds have stuck their mouths to the wall [1].
Yet there is still one person ¡© he is giving a great laugh. If you can
recognize that person, you have accomplished your study.”

[1]: I.e., they are unable to open their mouths.

Case 47: Joshu’s “Oak Tree in the Garden” [1]

A monk asked Joshu,
“What is the meaning of the patriarch’s coming from the West?”
Joshu said,
“The oak tree there in the garden.”

[1]: see case 37 of Mumonkan.

Case 48: Vimalakirti’s “Not-Two” [1]

Vimalakirti asked Manjusri,
“What does it mean that the Bodhisattva enters the Dharma-gate of Not-Two?”
Manjusri said,
“I see it like this: in all phenomena, there are neither words nor
explanations, neither presentations nor knowledge; it is beyond all
questions and answers. That is what I understand with ‘to enter the
Dharma-gate of Not-Two’.”
Then Manjusri asked Vimalakirti,
“All of us have finished giving our explanations. Now you should give your
explanation. What does it mean that the Bodhisattva enters the
Dharma-gate of Not-Two?”
Vimalakirti remained silent.

[1]: see case 84 of Hekiganroku.

Case 49: Tozan and the Memorial Service

When Tozan held a memorial service for Ungan before his portrait, he mentioned
the episode with the portrait [1]. A monk came forward and asked,
“When Ungan said, ‘Just this!’ what did that mean?”
Tozan said,
“At that time, I almost misunderstood my master’s meaning.”
The monk said,
“I wonder whether or not Ungan really knew that IT is.”
Tozan said,
“If he did not know that it is, how could he say like that? If he knew that
it is, how did he dare say like that?”

[1]: Tozan was still a young monk under Ungan. One day, when he was leaving his
master, he asked Ungan, “After your passing, if I am asked by someone
whether I have your portrait, what should I answer?” Ungan was silent for
a while and then said, “Just this.”

Case 50: Seppo’s “What Is This?” [1]

When Seppo was living in a hermitage, two monks came to pay their respects.
When he saw them coming, Seppo thrust open the gate of his hermitage with his
hands, jumped out, and said,
“What is this?”
The monks also said,
“What is this?”
Seppo hung his head and retired into his hermitage.

Later, the monks came to Ganto. He asked them,
“Where have you come from?”
The monks said,
“From Reinan.”
Ganto said,
“Did you ever visit Seppo?”
The monks said,
“Yes, we visited him.”
Ganto said,
“What did he say?”
The monks related what had happened. Ganto said,
“What else did he say?”
The monks said,
“Not a word; he hung his head and retired into his hermitage.”
Ganto said,
“Oh, how I regret now that in those days I did not tell him the last word!
If I had told it to him, no one under heaven could do anything against him.”

At the end of the summer practice period the monks came back to this
conversation and asked him about its meaning. Ganto said,
“Why didn’t you ask me about it sooner?”
The monks said,
“We could not dare to ask you about it.”
Ganto said,
“Seppo was born on the same stem as I, but he will not die on the same
stem. If you want to know the last word, it is just this.”

[1]: see case 51 of Hekiganroku.

Case 51: Hogen’s “Boat or Land”

Hogen asked Senior Monk Kaku,
“Did you come by boat or by land?”
Kaku said,
“By boat.”
Hogen said,
“Where is the boat?”
Kaku said,
“The boat is on the river.”
After Kaku had withdrawn, Hogen asked a monk nearby,
“You tell me, did that monk who was here just now have the eye or not?”

Case 52: Sozan’s “Dharma-body”

Sozan asked Elder Toku,
“‘The true Dharma-body of Buddha is like the empty sky. It manifests its
form corresponding to things — just like the moon on the water.’ [1]
How do you explain the principle of this corresponding?”
Toku said,
“It is like a donkey looking into a well.”
Sozan said,
“You put it in a nice way, but you were able to say only eighty percent.”
Toku said,
“How about you, Master?”
Sozan said,
“It is like a well looking at a donkey.”

[1]: A quotation from a sutra.

Case 53: Obaku’s “Drinkers” [1]

Obaku instructed the assembly and said,
“You are all drinkers of lees. If you continue to go on your Way like this,
where will the ‘Today’ [2] be? Do you know that in this great empire of
Tang there is no Zen master?”
Now a monk came forward and said,
“What would you say to the fact that in various places there are people who
accept students and direct their assemblies?”
Obaku said,
“I don’t say that there is no Zen; I only say that there is no master.”

[1]: see case 11 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: The world of nirvana.

Case 54: Ungan’s “Great Mercy” [1]

Ungan asked Dogo,
“What does the Bodhisattva of the Great Mercy use so many hands and
eyes for?”
Dogo answered,
“It is like a person in the middle of the night reaching with his hand
behind his head groping for his pillow.”
Ungan said,
“I understood.”
Dogo said,
“How did you understand it?”
Ungan said,
“The whole body is hands and eyes.”
Dogo said,
“You said it very well. But you expressed only eight-tenths of it.”
Ungan said,
“How would you say it, Elder Brother?”
Dogo said,
“The entire body is hands and eyes.”

[1]: see case 89 of Hekiganroku.

Case 55: Seppo in Charge of Cooking [1]

Seppo came to Tokusan and became in charge of cooking food. One day, the lunch
was late. Tokusan came down to the hall carrying his bowls. Seppo said,
“Old Master, the bell has not yet rung nor the drum sounded. Where are you
going with your bowls?”
Thereupon Tokusan went back to his room. Seppo told this to Ganto.
Ganto said,
“Great Tokusan though he is, he has not yet realized the last word.”

Hearing of this, Tokusan sent his attendant to summon Ganto and then asked him,
“Don’t you approve of this old monk?”
Ganto whispered his intention. Tokusan remained silent. Sure enough, the next
day, when Tokusan ascended the rostrum, his talk was quite different from
usual. Ganto, rubbing his hands together, laughed and said,
“Wonderful! How happy I am that our Old Man has realized the last word.
From now on he’ll be subject to no one on earth.”

[1]: see case 13 of Mumonkan.

Case 56: Misshi and the White Rabbit

When Uncle Misshi [1] and Tozan were walking together, they saw a white rabbit
run by in front of them. Misshi said,
“How swift!”
Tozan said,
“In what way?”
Misshi said,
“It is just like a person in white clothes [2] being venerated as a prime
Tozan said,
“You are such an elderly and respectable man, and still you say something
like that?”
Misshi said,
“Then how about you?”
Tozan said,
“A noble of an ancient house is temporarily fallen into poverty.”

[1]: Somitsu Zenji, uncle to Tozan Zenji. “Misshi” literally means “Master
[2]: I.e., a commoner, or a person without any social status.

Case 57: Gon’yo’s One “Thing”

Venerable Gon’yo asked Joshu,
“How is it when a person does not have a single thing?”
Joshu said,
“Throw it away.”
Gon’yo said,
“I say I don’t have a single thing. What could I ever throw away?”
Joshu said,
“If so, carry it around with you.”

Case 58: “Getting Despised” in the Diamond Sutra [1]

The Diamond Sutra says,
“It is about getting despised by other people. If you are to come into hell
because of your sins in your previous life, these sins will be extinguished
because you are despised by the people of this world.”

[1]: see case 97 of Hekiganroku.

Case 59: Seirin’s “Deadly Snake”

A monk asked Seirin,
“How is it when a practitioner goes along a narrow path?”
Seirin said,
“You will meet a deadly snake on the great road. I advise you not to run
into it.”
The monk said,
“What if I do run into it?”
Seirin said,
“You will lose your life.”
The monk said,
“What if I don’t run into it?”
Seirin said,
“You have no place to escape from it.”
The monk said,
“Precisely at such a time, what then?”
Seirin said,
“It is lost.”
The monk said,
“I wonder where it is gone.”
Seirin said,
“The grass is so deep, there is no place to look for it.”
The monk said,
“You too, Master, must be watchful in order to get it.”
Seirin clapped his hands and said,
“This fellow is equally poisonous.”

Case 60: Tetsuma, the Cow [1]

Ryu Tetsuma [2] came to Isan. Isan said,
“Old Cow, you have come!”
Tetsuma said,
“Tomorrow there will be a great feast at Mt. Tai [3]. Will you go there,
Isan lay down and stretched himself out.
Tetsuma left immediately.

[1]: see case 24 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: A famous Zen person, once a student of Isan. Her name means “Ryu, the
iron grindstone.”
[3]: More exactly: Mt. Gotai, which is far away in the northern part of
the country.

Case 61: Kempo’s “One Line” [1]

A monk asked Master Kempo in all earnestness,
“In a certain sutra it says, ‘Ten-direction Bhagavats, one Way to the gate
of nirvana.’ I wonder where the Way is.”
Kempo lifted up his stick, drew a line and said,
“Here it is.”
The monk told Unmon about this and asked him. Unmon said,
“This fan jumps up to the heaven of the thirty-three devas and adheres to
the nose of the deva Taishaku. When a carp in the eastern sea is struck
with a stick, it rains torrents as though a tray of water is overturned.”

[1]: see case 48 of Mumonkan.

Case 62: Beiko’s “Enlightenment”

Beiko had a monk ask Kyozan,
“Do people these days really need enlightenment or not?”
Kyozan said,
“It is not that there is no enlightenment, but how can it be helped that it
falls into the second class?”
The monk went back to Beiko and told him about it. Beiko deeply agreed.

Case 63: Joshu Asks about “Death” [1]

Joshu asked Tosu,
“What if a man who has died a great Death comes back to life?”
Tosu said,
“I don’t allow walking about in the night. Come in the daylight.”

[1]: see case 41 of Hekiganroku.

Case 64: Shisho’s “Succession”

Head Monk Shisho [1] asked Hogen,
“You have opened a zendo, Master. But who did you succeed to?”
Hogen said,
“Master Jizo.”
Shisho said,
“You have gone a great deal against your late master Chokei.” [2]
Hogen said,
“I still don’t understand a turning word of Chokei’s.”
Shisho said,
“Why didn’t you ask me?”
Hogen said,
“‘The one body manifests itself in myriad phenomena’, what does it mean?”
Shisho stuck up his whisk. Hogen said,
“That is what you learned under Chokei. What is your own view, Head Monk?”
Shisho was silent. Hogen said,
“When it is said, ‘The one body manifests itself in myriad phenomena’, are
the myriad phenomena swept away or are they not?”
Shisho said,
“Not swept away.”
Hogen said,
“There are two.”
All the disciples on the right and the left side said,
“Swept away.”
Hogen said,
“The one body manifests itself in myriad phenomena, Nii [3]!”

[1]: Shisho was a disciple of Master Chokei.
[2]: Hogen once practiced under Master Chokei.
[3]: A word used to point something out.

Case 65: Shuzan’s “Bride”

A monk asked Shuzan,
“What is Buddha?”
Shuzan said,
“When a bride rides the donkey, her mother-in-law leads it by the bridle. [1]”

[1]: This is how the mother-in-law introduces the bride to the village people.

Case 66: Kyuho’s “Head and Tail”

A monk asked Kyuho,
“What is the head?”
Kyuho said,
“Opening the eyes and not perceiving the dawn.”
The monk said,
“What is the tail?”
Kyuho said,
“Not sitting on a ten-thousand-year-old sitting place.”
The monk said,
“What if there is a head, but no tail?”
Kyuho said,
“After all, it is not valuable.”
The monk said,
“What if there is a tail, but no head?”
Kyuho said,
“Being complacent, yet having no power.”
The monk said,
“What if the head matches the tail?”
Kyuho said,
“The descendants will prosper, but it is not known in the room.”

Case 67: The Wisdom in the Kegon Sutra

The Kegon Sutra says,
“Now I see all living beings everywhere, and I see that each of them
possesses the wisdom and virtue of Tathagata. But because of their
delusions and attachments, they cannot realize it.”

Case 68: Kassan Brandishes the Sword

A monk asked Kassan,
“What if one sweeps away the dust and sees Buddha?”
Kassan said,
“You must brandish your sword. If you do not brandish your sword, the
fisherman dwells in a nest of reeds [1].”
The monk mentioned this to Sekiso and asked him,
“What if one sweeps away the dust and sees Buddha?”
Sekiso said,
“He has no country. Where can one meet him?”
The monk reported this to Kassan. Kassan ascended the rostrum and said,
“As for the facilities in the garden [2], the old monk [3] is superior to
Sekiso, but for deep discourse expounding the true principle he is one
hundred steps ahead of me.”

[1]: That is, unable to catch a single fish.
[2]: Better teaching methods.
[3]: I.e., “I.”

Case 69: Nansen’s “Cats and Oxen”

Nansen instructed the assembly and said,
“All the buddhas of the three worlds [1] do not know that there is.
Only the cats and Oxen know that there is.”

[1]: The past, present and future.

Case 70: Shinsan Asks about Nature

Master Shinsan asked Master Shuzan [1],
“After you have clearly known the unborn nature of life, why are you still
attached to life?”
Shuzan said,
“The bamboo shoot necessarily becomes a bamboo. But is it possible to make
a bamboo rope [2] already out of a bamboo shoot? [3]”
Shinsan said,
“Later you will realize it yourself.”
Shuzan said,
“My view is just as I said. What is your view?”
Shinsan said,
“This is the temple steward’s quarters, and that is the cooks’ quarters.”
Shuzan made a deep bow.

[1]: The two masters were Dharma brothers.
[2]: A rope made out of thin bamboo tops.
[3]: That is, I am still “a bamboo shoot”; you cannot make “a bamboo rope” out
of me.

Case 71: Suigan’s “Eyebrows” [1]

Towards the end of summer [2], Suigan instructed the assembly, saying,
“All summer I’ve preached to you, my brothers. Look here, are Suigan’s
eyebrows still there? [3]”
Hofuku said,
“The robber’s heart is terrified!”
Chokei said,
“They are well grown!”
Unmon said,
“Barrier [4]!”

[1]: see case 8 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: Summer-sesshin for 3 months.
[3]: According to the popular belief a great criminal should lose his eyebrows
as a sign of his coming punishment in hell.
[4]: Literally kan means “barrier” (cf. Mumonkan). In those days this Chinese
word colloquially meant also, “Watch out!” or “There!”

Case 72: Chuyu’s “Monkey”

Kyozan [1] asked Chuyu,
“What does buddha-nature mean?”
Chuyu said,
“I will explain it for you by allegory. Suppose there is a room with six
windows. Inside there is a monkey. Outside, someone shouts, ‘Monkey!
monkey!’ It immediately responds. If someone calls, ‘Monkey!’ through any
of the windows, it responds just the same. It is just like that.”
Kyozan said,
“How about when the monkey is asleep?”
Chuyu descended from his Zen seat, grasped Kyozan and said,
“O monkey, monkey, there you are!”

[1]: At this time Kyozan was about 13 years old.

Case 73: Sozan’s Filial Fulfillment

A monk asked Sozan,
“When one leaves off his mourning clothes [1], how about that?”
Sozan said,
“Sozan today has fulfilled filial piety.”
The monk said,
“How about after you have fulfilled piety?”
Sozan said,
“Sozan loves to get drunk.”

[1]: In Japanese: Reii. The mourning closes that one wore when one of the
parents was dead. Here it is symbolically used to designate the clothes
during Zen practice.

Case 74: Hogen’s “Form and Name”

A monk asked Hogen,
“I hear that a sutra says,
‘From the basis of non-abiding all dharmas are established.’
What is this basis of non-abiding?”
Hogen said,
“Form arises from what has no substance yet; name comes from what has no
name yet.”

Case 75: Zuigan’s “Everlasting Principle”

Zuigan [1] asked Ganto,
“What is the intrinsic, everlasting principle?”
Ganto said,
“It has moved.”
Zuigan said,
“What if it moves?”
Ganto said,
“You can’t see the intrinsic, everlasting principle.”
Zuigan thought for a moment. Ganto said,
“If you acknowledge it, you are not yet free from the roots and their
dust [2]. If you do not acknowledge it, you are immersed in endless birth
and death.”

[1]: At the time of this dialogue Zuigan was still a young boy.
[2]: The “roots” means “six roots” of sense organs: eye, ear, nose, tongue,
body, consciousness. “Dust”, more exactly “six dust particles,” means the
objects of the six sense organs: form, sound, smell, taste, things to be
touched, objects of mind.

Case 76: Shuzan’s Three Verses

Shuzan instructed his assembly and said,
“If you attain the first verse, you will be the teacher of buddhas and
patriarchs. If you attain the second verse, you will be the teacher of
heaven and humankind. If you attain the third verse, you cannot save even
A monk asked,
“Which verse did Your Reverence attain?”
Shuzan said,
“The moon is set at midnight; I walk alone through the market place of
the city.”

Case 77: Kyozan: As His Profession Requires

A monk asked Kyozan,
“Your Reverence, do you know letters or not?”
Kyozan said,
“According to my capacity.”
The monk immediately turned around once clockwise and said,
“What letter is this?”
Kyozan drew the ideograph for “10” [ + ] in the earth. The monk turned
himself around once counter-clockwise and said,
“What letter is that?”
Kyozan modified the sign” + ” into a swastika [1]. The monk drew a circle in
the air and lifted his two palms like Asura [2] vigorously holding the sun
and moon and said,
“What letter is that?”
Kyozan immediately drew a circle enclosing the swastika. The monk at once
represented the vigor of a Rucika [3]. Kyozan said,
“Good, good. Keep it with care.”

[1]: Manji in Japanese; a symbol of Buddhism.
[2]: Originally a Hindu deity, here one of the eight supernatural protectors
of Buddhist Way.
[3]: The buddha Rucika wailed at his fate at first because he was the last of
the thousand buddhas in this cosmic period. But then he made up his mind
to be the energetic protector of the Dharma for all other buddhas. Two
powerful figures of this buddha are seen at the entrance gate of many
temples in Japan (named Nio).

Case 78: Unmon’s “Rice Cake” [1]

A monk asked Unmon,
“What is meant by the pronouncement ‘to go beyond the Buddha and the
Unmon said,
“Poor rice cake [2].”

[1]: see case 77 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: In Japanese: kobyo. Cheap and unrefined cake.

Case 79: Chosa Takes a Step

Chosa had a monk ask Master E,
“How was it when you had not yet seen Nansen?”
E remained silent. The monk asked,
“What about after seeing him?”
E said,
“Nothing special.”
The monk returned and told Chosa about this. Chosa said,
“The man sits on the top of a hundred-foot pole. He has entered the way,
but it is not yet genuine. He must take one step from the top of a
hundred-foot pole. The worlds of the ten directions will be his complete
body.” [1]
The monk said,
“How shall one take a step from the top of a hundred-foot pole?”
Sa said,
“Mountains of Ro; water of Rei [2].”
The monk said,
“I don’t understand.”
Sa said,
“Four seas and five lakes are all under the imperial reign.”

[1]: see case 46 of Mumonkan.
[2]: Ro and Rei are the names of Provinces in the old China.

Case 80: Suibi and the Chin Rest [1]

Ryuge asked Suibi,
“What is the meaning of the Patriarch’s coming from the west?”
Suibi said,
“Bring me a chin rest [2].”
Ryuge brought one and gave it to him. Suibi took it and hit him.
Ryuge said,
“You may hit me as you like. After all there is no meaning to the
Patriarch’s coming from the west.”

Ryuge also asked Rinzai,
“What is the meaning of the Patriarch’s coming from the west?”
Rinzai said,a
“Bring me a sitting cushion.”
Ryuge got one and gave it to Rinzai. Rinzai took it and hit him. Ryuge said,
“You may hit me as you like. After all there is no meaning to the
Patriarch’s coming from the west.”

Later Ryuge became abbot of a temple. A monk asked him,
“Master, at that time, when you asked Suibi and Rinzai about the meaning
of the Patriarch’s coming from the west, did they clarify it or not?”
Ryuge said,
“They clarified it all right. After all, there is no meaning to the
Patriarch’s coming from the west.”

[1]: similar to case 20 of Hekiganroku. However, the third paragraph, is
peculiar to the Shoyoroku.
[2]: Literally: “Zen board.” A narrow board used so as to let one sleep in
the sitting posture.

Case 81: Gensha Reaches the Province

Gensha came to the Province Hoden. He was welcomed with great entertainment.
The next day he asked the head priest, Shoto,
“All the revelry of yesterday, where has it gone?”
Shoto held out the corner of his Buddhist garment. Gensha said,
“Far from it, no connection at all.”

Case 82: Unmon’s: “Voice” and “Color”

Unmon instructed the assembly and said,
“‘To realize the way through hearing a voice, to enlighten the mind through
seeing color’ — Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara comes with some small change
and buys poor rice cakes. If he throws it away, he will get nice manju
cakes instead.”

Case 83: Dogo’s Nursing the Ill

Isan asked Dogo,
“Where have you come from?”
Dogo said,
“I come from nursing the ill.”
Isan said,
“How many people are ill?”
Dogo said,
“There are some ill, and some not ill.”
Isan said,
“The one who is not ill isn’t that you, dear Chi [1]?”
Dogo said,
“Ill or not ill it has nothing to do with ‘that’ matter. Say it quickly!
Say it quickly!”
Isan said,
“Even if I could say it, it would have no connection with that matter.”

[1]: Dogo’s full name was Dogo Enchi. “Chi” is short for Enchi.

Case 84: Gutei’s One Finger [1]

Whatever he was asked, Master Gutei simply stuck up one finger.

[1]: see case 3 of Mumonkan and case 19 of Hekiganroku.

Case 85: The National Teacher’s Gravestone [1]

Emperor Shukuso [2] asked Chu, the national teacher,
“What would you wish me to do after a hundred years [3]?”
The national teacher said,
“Make a seamless gravestone [4] for this old monk.”
The emperor said,
“I should like to ask you, master, for a design.”
The national teacher remained silent for a long time. Then he said,
“Did you understand?”
The emperor said,
“I didn’t understand anything.”
The national teacher said,
“I have a Dharma successor, my disciple Tangen, who is well versed with
this matter.”
Afterwards the emperor called Tangen and asked him about the meaning of this.
Tangen responded:
“The south of the river, north of the lake:
In between there’s gold, which fills the whole land.
Under the shadowless tree all people are in one boat;
In the crystal palace there is no one who knows.”

[1]]: see case 18 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: Historically speaking it was Emperor Daiso the oldest son and successor
of Shukuso.
[3]: After your death.
[4]: An egg-formed gravestone which is made out of a single piece of stone.
It was often made for deceased monks.

Case 86: Rinzai’s Great Enlightenment

Rinzai asked Obaku,
“What is the great meaning of the Buddha-Dharma?”
Obaku hit him. This happened three times. Rinzai then took his leave and went
to see Daigu. Daigu asked,
“Where have you come from?”
Rinzai said,
“From Obaku.”
Daigu said,
“What did Obaku have to say?”
Rinzai said,
“I asked him three times, ‘What is the great meaning of the Buddha-Dharma?’
and I got his stick three times. I don’t know if I was in error or not.”
Daigu said,
“Obaku was overly gentle like an old grandmother; he completely exhausted
himself for your sake. Yet you come here and ask if you were in error
or not!”
With these words, Rinzai came to great enlightenment.

Case 87: Sozan: With or Without

Sozan came to Isan and asked,
“I have heard that you said, ‘Words of being and words of non-being are just
like wisteria wound around a tree.’ If suddenly the tree falls down and the
wisteria withers, where will the words go?”
Isan burst into great laughter. Sozan said,
“I sold my clothes and other belongings, and made an arduous journey of one
thousand miles to come to you. Why does Your Reverence make light of me?”
Isan called his attendant and said,
“Bring some money and give it to this reverend monk for his travel expenses.”
Finally he said,
“Some day a one-eyed dragon will let you open your eyes.”
Later Sozan went to Myosho and told him about this. Myosho said,
“I can say that Isan is completely right, but he did not meet one who could
appreciate him.”
Sozan asked again,
“If the tree falls down and the wisteria withers, where will the words go?”
Myosho said,
“It would make Isan laugh again all the more.”
Upon hearing this, Sozan gained realization. Then he said,
“From the beginning, there was a sword behind Isan’s laughter.”

Case 88: “Non-Seeing” in the Ryogon Sutra [1]

The Ryogon Sutra says,
“When I don’t see, why do you not see what I do not see? If you argue that
you see what I do not see, that is of course not what I do not see. If you
do not see what I do not see, then it is quite natural that it is not a
thing. Why is it not your self?”

[1]: see case 94 of Hekiganroku.

Case 89: Tozan’s “Place of No Grass”

Tozan instructed the assembly and said,
“At the beginning of autumn and the end of summer, you, brothers, are
departing east and west. But you should go directly to the place of no
grass over ten thousand miles.”
And again he said,
“How will you go to the place of no grass over ten thousand miles?”
Sekiso said,
“When you go out of the gate, there is grass!”
Taiyo said,
“I would say: Even if you don’t go out of the gate, grass is abundant

Case 90: Kyozan Speaks Out [1]

Master Kyozan went to Maitreya’s abode in a dream and was led to the second
seat. A venerable monk said,
“Today the second seat is due to speak.”
Kyozan stood up, struck the stand with the gavel, and said,
“The Dharma of Mahayana is beyond the four propositions and transcends the
hundred negations. I dare speak this!”

[1]: see case 25 of Mumonkan.

Case 91: Nansen and the Peonies [1]

Minister Rikuko said to Nansen,
“Dharma-teacher Jo is wonderful. He truly knows what he is talking about:
‘Heaven and earth and I have one and the same root; all things and I are
one single body.'”
Nansen pointed at the peonies in the garden and said,
“Minister, people of our time [2] see these flowers as in a dream.”

[1]: see case 40 of Hekiganroku, which has a slightly different wording.
[2]: I.e. “you”.

Case 92: Unmon’s “One Treasure” [1]

Unmon said,
“‘Within heaven and earth, in the midst of the universe, there is one
treasure hidden in a body.’ [2] You take up the lantern and go to the
Buddha Hall; you take the temple gate and put it on the lantern.”

[1]: see case 62 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: A sentence from the Hozoron by Monk Jo (?-414).

Case 93: Roso Does Not Understand

Roso [1] asked Nansen,
“‘People do not recognize the Mani[2]-jewel. I picked it up myself in the
Tathagata treasury.’ [3] What is this treasury?”
Nansen said,
“Old Master O [4] exchanges questions and answers with you. That’s it.”
Shiso said,
“How about when there is no exchange of questions and answers?”
Nansen said,
“That’s also the treasury.”
Shiso said,
“What is the jewel?’
Nansen said,
“Reverend Shiso!”
Shiso said,
Nansen said,
“Get out. You don’t understand my words.”

[1]: Mistakenly the original text renders “Roso” (Nansen’s elder brother in
Dharma); in reality it should be “Shiso” (Nansen’s student), as Nansen’s
question indicates.
[2]: “Mani” in Sanskrit means “perfect freedom” ¡© another name for Buddha
[3]: A quote from the famous Shodoka by Yoka Daishi.
[4]: Nansen himself.

Case 94: Tozan Unwell

Tozan was unwell. A monk asked,
“Your Reverence is unwell. Is there anyone who does not become ill?”
Tozan said,
“There is.”
The monk said,
“Does the one who does not get ill take care of Your Reverence?”
Tozan said,
“The old monk is properly taking care of that one.”
The monk said,
“How about when your Reverence takes care of that one?”
Tozan said,
“Then the old monk does not see that there is illness.”

Case 95: Rinzai Draws a Line

Rinzai asked the temple steward,
“Where have you come from?”
The temple steward said,
“From selling brown rice in the province.”
Rinzai said,
“Did you sell all of it?”
The manager said,
“Yes, I sold all of it.”
Rinzai drew a line with his staff and said,
“Have you sold all of this too?”
The manager shouted,
Rinzai immediately struck him. Later, the cook monk [1] came to Rinzai, who
told him about this incident. The monk said,
“The steward didn’t understand Your Reverence’s intention.”
Rinzai said,
“How about you?”
The monk made a deep bow. Rinzai struck him likewise.

[1]: I.e. “tenzo”, a monk who prepares meals.

Case 96: Kyuho Does Not Acknowledge

Kyuho served Sekiso as his attendant. After Sekiso’s passing, the assembly
wanted to make their head monk the abbot of the temple. Kyuho would not
acknowledge him. He said,
“Wait till I examine him. If he understands our late master’s spirit and
intention, I will serve him as I served our late master.”
So he asked the head monk,
“Our late master said,
‘Have been totally ceased;
Have been totally extinguished;
[Have become a cool land of desolation;] [1]
Have had only one awareness for ten thousand years;
Have become cold ashes and a withered tree;
[Have become a fragrant censer in an ancient shrine;]
Have become a vertical stripe [2] of white silk.’
Tell me, what sort of matter did he clarify with this?”
The head monk said,
“He clarified the matter of absolute Oneness.”
Ho said,
“If so, you have not yet understood our late master’s spirit.”
The head monk said,
“Don’t you acknowledge me? Pass me incense.”
He lit the incense and said,
“If I had not understood our late master’s spirit, I would not be able to
pass away while the smoke of this incense rises.”
No sooner had he said this than he expired while sitting in zazen. Kyuho
caressed his back and said,
“Dying while sitting or standing is not impossible. But you could not even
dream of our late master’s spirit.”

[1]: The original text contains five out of the famous “seven Perfecta”
(shichikyo) of Sekiso. For your reference, the lacking two lines are
shown in [ ].
[2]: The image of a waterfall.

Case 97: Emperor Doko’s Helmet Hood

Emperor Doko spoke to Koke saying,
“I have attained the treasure of the Central Plain [1]. However, no one can
set a price on it.”
Koke said,
“Your Majesty, please lend it to me so that I may see.”
The emperor pulled the straps of his helmet hood with both hands. Koke said,
“Who can dare to set a price on the emperor’s treasure!”

[1]: The entire land of China.

Case 98: Tozan’s “Intimate with It”

A monk asked Tozan,
“Among the three bodies [of Buddha] [1], what body does not degenerate
into numbers?”
Tozan said,
“I am always most intimate with it.”

[1]: They are: (1) hosshin, Dharmakaya or Dharma-bodya,
(2) hojin, Sambhogakaya or the body of reward,
(3) ojin or keshin, Nirmanakaya or the accommodated body.

Case 99: Unmon’s “Bowl and Pail” [1]

A monk asked Unmon,
“What is the dust-dust samadhi [2] ?”
Unmon said,
“Rice in the bowl, water in the pail.”

[1]: see case 50 of Hekiganroku.
[2]: The word “dust” comes from the expression “six dust particles,” which
means the same thing as the “six objects” (cf. note to Case 75).

Case 100: Roya’s “Mountains and Rivers”

A monk asked Master Kaku of Roya,
“The essential state is pure and clear. How are mountains, rivers and the
great earth produced at once?”
Kaku said,
“The essential state is pure and clear. How are mountains, rivers and the
great earth produced at once?”