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Buddhadharma : Winter 2008
31 wiNter 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly A stanza from the Shodoka (“Song of Realization”) goes: The wonderful power of emancipation! It is applied in countless ways—in limitless ways. one should make four kinds of offerings for this power. If you want to pay for it, A million gold pieces are not enough. If you sacrifice everything you have, it cannot cover your debts. only a few words from your realization are payment in full, Even for the debts of the remote past. You can get this power of emancipation when you pass “Joshu’s Dog.” Your answer to this koan will be your pay- ment in full, even for the debts of the remote past. The great Chinese Zen master Joshu always spoke his Zen, using a few choice words, instead of hitting or shaking his students as other teachers did. I know that students who cling to worldly sentiments do not like the rough manner of Zen. They should meet our Joshu first, and study his simplest word, “Mu.” Each sentient being has buddhanature. This dog must have one. But before you conceptualize about such nonsense, influ- enced by the idea of the soul in Christianity, Joshu will say “Mu.” Get out! Then you may think of the idea of “manifes- tation.” Fine word! So you think of the manifestation of bud- dhanature as a dog. Before you can express such nonsense, Joshu will say “Mu.” You are clinging to a ghost of Brah- man. Get out! Whatever you say is just the shadow of your conceptual thinking. Whatever you conceive of is a figment of your imagination. Now, tell me, has a dog buddhanature or not? Why did Joshu say “Mu”? MuMon’s CoMMent To realize Zen, one has to pass through the barrier set up by the patriarchs. Do not think that the barrier is in the book. It is right here in front of your nose. Enlightenment is certain when the road of thinking is blocked. Meditation blocks the road of thinking. If you do not pass the patriarchs’ barrier, if your road of thinking is not blocked, whatever you think, whatever you do, will be like an entangling ghost. You are not an independent person if you do not pass this barrier. You cannot walk freely throughout heaven and earth. You may ask, what is the barrier set up by the patriarchs? This one word, Mu, is it. This is the barrier of Zen. If you pass through it, you will see Joshu face-to-face. Then you can walk hand in hand with the whole line of patriarchs. Is this not a wondrous thing? If you want to pass this barrier, you must work so that every bone in your body, every pore of your skin, is filled through and through with this question, What is Mu? You must carry it day and night. Didn’t I tell you it is not an easy job? Don’t be afraid, how- ever. Just carry the koan, and ignore all contending thoughts. They will disappear soon, leaving you alone in samadhi. Do not believe Mu is the common negative. It is not nothingness as the opposite of existence. Joshu did not say the dog has buddhanature. He did not say the dog has no buddhanature. He only pointed directly to your own buddhanature! Listen to what he said: “Mu.” If you really want to pass this barrier, you should feel as though you have a hot iron ball in your throat that you can neither swallow nor spit up. Don’t be afraid; he means you should shut up, and cut off even the slightest movement of your intellectual faculty. Then your previous conceptualizing disappears. Like a fruit ripening in season, subjectivity and objectivity are expe- rienced as one. There you are, in samadhi. You are like a dumb person who has had a dream. You know it, but you cannot speak about it. When you enter this condition, your ego-shell is crushed, and you can shake the heavens and move the earth. You are like a great warrior with a sharp sword. Neither Japan nor China has such a warrior; therefore they have to fight each other. 2 Cut down the buddha who stands in your way. What Mumon means here is complete unification. Kill the patriarch who sets up obstacles. This is an expression in Chinese rhetoric, meaning once you become a buddha, you have no more use for buddha. Some Japanese blockhead could not understand such a pecu- liar expression, and many other quaint Chinese terms as well, and took them all as invitations to stir hatred. This is one of the causes of the conflict between China and Japan. Ignorance is not bliss; it is a terrible thing. You will walk freely through birth and death. You can enter any place as if it were your own playground. I will tell you how to do this. Just concentrate all your energy into Mu, (opposite) Puppy Mokurai olivert.ANdYukiBehrColleCtioN 2 Japan had invaded China and was seeking possession of Manchuria during Senzaki’s work on The Gateless Gate.