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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 25 True Dharma eye Case 23 Yangshan’s “High and Low” main Case One day Zen master Huiji of Yangshan joined his teacher Guishan in plowing the rice field. Yangshan said, “Master, this place is low. How can I level it with the higher place?” Guishan said, “Water is level, so why not use water and make the entire field level?” Yangshan said, “Water is not necessary. Master, high places are level as high and low places are level as low.” Guishan approved. CommenTary The House of Guiyang is like this, parent and child complementing each other’s actions. Yangshan’s question is just an excuse to interact with his teacher. How can he not know that high is perfect and complete just as it is, and low is perfect and complete just as it is? But say, is there some Zen truth here that is being revealed? Although you may speak of the absolute and the relative as if they were two things, the truth is that they are in fact one reality. In one there are the ten thousand things, in the ten thousand things there is only one. Verse Each and every thing abiding in its own dharma state completely fulfills its virtues. Each and every thing is related to everything else in function and position. —From The True Dharma Eye, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Daido Loori; commentary and capping verse by Daido Loori G uishan and Yangshan were master and disciple in ninth-century China. Together they formed the Guiyang school, which was one of the five main schools of Zen in China. There are quite a number of koans with the two of them displaying a very close spiritual relationship. Here they’re plowing the field, working together, examining the dharma—our lives should be like this. Yangshan said, “Master, this place is low. How can I level it with the higher place?” We tend to see the whole world in terms of high and low. Seeing things this way, we usually want to get to the higher place, and so we have various ranks, positions, and titles to establish exactly what ground we’re on. That way everyone knows where we stand and we know everyone else’s place. This is the tyranny of possessing an identity. We worry about how our identity measures up. Are we inferior or superior, ahead of the rest or falling behind? But as Daido Roshi says, “This dharma is equal—no high, no low.” That is, the true world doesn’t function in terms of high and low; it just moves in accord with its nature. High and low is the functioning of our conditioned mind. In our formal training, we employ various positions and titles that appear to resemble worldly positions and titles. We do this so we can realize they are void of any kind of inherent truth—no position or hierarchy can endow someone with superiority. Then, seeing this clearly, we can use these ZENMOUNTAINMONASTERYARCHIVE GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD SENSEI is abbot of Zen Center of New York City: Fire Lotus Temple and head of the Mountains and Rivers Order, founded by John Daido Loori.