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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
summer 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 65 I love this moment. Of course, there is a teacher standing right in front of him. But because of his own biases of culture and education, he is unable to see her. As a modern Western woman teaching Zen, this sort of thing feels very familiar to me; some blind spots persist even after a thousand years. And this old woman, whose name we never learn, simply responds, “Yes, Longtan lives up the road.” Deshan, in his shock and perhaps excitement, gath- ered his backpack and rushed to Longtan’s monas- tery, where the teacher welcomed him. In his newly opened state, he talked with Longtan late into the night, and eventually the teacher said, “It’s getting late. You must be tired after your long journey.” Deshan opened the door of Longtan’s room and said, “It’s dark outside.” Longtan lit a paper candle for Deshan, and, just as he handed it to him, Long- tan blew it out. Suddenly, in that profound and surprising darkness, Deshan had a great awakening to a truth that he had long denied. The next day he burned all of his commentaries on the Diamond Sutra, and said, “Everything I’ve ever known is like a hair in vast space, like a drop of water in a bottomless chasm.” And he said good- bye to Longtan and began a new journey, testing his awakening. —adapted from a translation by Joan Sutherland and John Tarrant The next time we encounter Deshan, in Case 4 of the Blue Cliff Record, he is still arrogant, but now it’s a kind of Zen arrogance. His view has shifted to the other side of knowing; he is in love with not-knowing. Deshan’s behavior may be familiar to anyone who has had an awakening to Oneness and then clings to it in opposition to all forms. This is