Today is the sixth day of this March 2023 seven day sesshin and today we'll take up a koan from the Mumonkan number 13 Tokusan on Carries his Bowls.
and the case reads like this. One day tokus on came down to the dining room, carrying his bowls Seppo the cook called out to him, Old Master, where are you going with your bowls when the bell has not run, and the drum has not sounded taxon turned at once, and went back to his own room. Seppo told this occurrence to Gonzo, who remarked great master though he is taxon has not yet grasped the last word of Zen. Hearing of this dog son sent his attendant to ask the Gonzo to come and said to him, do you not approve of me? God until leaned over and whispered his reply to him. Talk son said nothing further. The next day in his teisho Talk son was different from usual Konto going towards the front of the hall clapping his hands and laughing, said What a happy thing. The old man has now grasped the last word of Zen. From now on, nobody will be able to get the better of him
that's the case. And we'll we'll take up the commentary in the verse later.
At the time of this story, talks on or de Shan is his Chinese name his actual name. By the way, God tau is Yan tau and Seppo is sway Fung both their Chinese names but since a lot of what I've got is in the Chinese in the Japanese version, we'll we'll just stick with taxon and Gonzo and Seppo three pretty famous guys so at the time he's toxin was about 80 years old something like this. It's actually three years before his death
so he's, he's He's an old man, he's the old guy.
But maybe it's good to appreciate what this guy was when he was young. This is the talk sign who
appears in case number 28 of the Mumonkan re watan blows out a candle
and I'm going to I'm going to just pick up what's in the commentary. Because this is a good description of who this this guy was. When he first came to Zen. Mu mon says, Before toxin left his native place, his mind burned and his tongue was sharp. He confidently confidently came to the south, in order to stamp out the special transmission outside the sutras. Of course, that's the slogan of the Zen school. When he reached the road to erase you, that's a long time as the Chinese he asked an old woman at a roadside t stand for something to refresh the mind. This is actually the name, I guess the colloquial name for dumplings, mind fresheners or mind refreshers. And the old woman said, Venerable Monk, what are all those books you're carrying on your back? And he was loaded down. He was a taxon was a commentator on the Diamond Sutra and expert. And when he went south to exterminate the devils, he brought all his commentaries along with him. So he's loaded up and the woman notices says, what are those notes and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra. Actually, what are those notes and talks on said there my notes and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra and the woman said, Oh, I hear it, it said in that sutra, past mind cannot be grasped. Present mind cannot be grasped, future mind cannot be grasped. Now, which mind Venerable Monk, are you going to have refreshed? Talks on was dumbfounded, and unable to answer answer. Even so, he did not die the great death of the old woman's words and finally asked her Is there a Zen teacher nearby? The woman replied, Roatan lives five miles from here. And taxon headed there. Says you're arriving at rutan's monastery toxin was deflated what's what's remarkable here is how he was able to take this to heart. Here he's coming down in this special expert full of them and vigor ready to take on all challengers and when this old woman throws up her seemingly simple question he takes it to heart
remember that he knows that the Diamond Sutra is long and profound. I'm sure he had access to a lot of reasoning and commentary and could have said a few things present mind past mind future mind
but he was awake he saw that he didn't know you don't know say you don't know.
This, this koans particular call on describes toxins awakening it is meeting with with routan. We probably don't have time to go into that
but I just want to read what he was like. After his meeting when he came to his awakening the next day. Real time the teacher entered the hall and declared to the assembly. among you there is a fellow whose teeth are like swords, and his mouth is like a bowl of blood striking with a stick and he won't turn his head. One day he will climb to the highest of all peaks and establish our way there. Talks on then placed his notes and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra in front of the Dharma Hall and holding up a torch declared. You even though one master has various profound teachings, just like placing a single hair in vast space, even though if one gains all the essential knowledge in the world, it's like throwing a drop of water into a deep ravine. With that, he said fire to his books. Then making his bows he left
we see we see talks on in other koans they after this awakening, visiting other monasteries
and he he gained a reputation as a a stern teacher. He was famous for saying if you can give me a word, I'll give you 30 blows on my stick. If you can't give me a word, I'll give you 30 blows of my stick
here he is today quiet old man
wouldn't describe him as a fellow with a mouthful of blood
but he still is iron through and through when real time said hit him with a stick and he won't turn his head can you see how that leads to criticize him and he won't even you won't even ruffle a feather
sepal says to him in our koan.
Hold master Where are you going with your bowls when the bell is not rung and the drum is not sounded What's wrong with you took some completely empty turns and goes back to his room
this is the same guy. Now he's old
still, nothing to defend
I read commentary or a little verse written quoted by Shibayama in his commentary on this koan about this nature of toxin says the wind sways the pussy willows velvet beads wave through the air. As the rain falls on the Pear blossoms, white butterflies fill the sky moving through his life so smoothly so, so empty
some other master commented, he stealthily goes under heaven and quietly walks the earth this is this is the culmination of a lifetime of refinement
is the beauty the dignity of an old monk or an old practitioner?
There's a little passage that we didn't read from Sheng yen.
He says, One day when I was a young monk, I met a very old and highly respected Dharma master. Whenever he said anything, everybody listened to him with great respect. I admired him so much that I even envied him a bit. I said to him, I wish I could get older more quickly, so that people would listen to me like they listened to you. The old Dharma master smiled and said, Well, yes, it is true that people listen to me nowadays. It's about time they did so. I am about to die. In Buddhism, there is a saying that monks should never be afraid of getting old because when they are truly antique, they will be treated like treasure. People think a monk has a deep practice because He has meditated for so many years. So they respect him and make him into a jewel. A wise old master might even receive the title national treasure. Naturally, once you are a national treasure, you are very close to death. By the time everyone is listening to you, you will not have many days more in this life
and still no fuss
just something wonderful about the transition from this amazing phenomenon. It's man who went went south long journey on foot in order to root out the demons of the Zen school. He said, I think I will exterminate them to repay the kindness of the Buddha sort of like a Conquistador. And then on his way, just like Saul in the Bible, he had a conversion, a conversion experience. Everything changed became a true dharma vessel.
so remarkable about someone like this, and not to this degree, certainly. But we see it often in in older people. I'm still young by the way. There's just there's nothing they need to defend. There. As we said the other day, they're comfortable in their own skin. You correct them, they move with the correction. They're not affected by what are called the eight worldly winds.
Can't remember what all the different wins are, but gain and loss, praise and blame. Those are certainly four of them. There's a story about a famous Chinese poet who lived across a river, pretty wide river from a famous Zen master and they were good friends. And one day he came over to the Masters side to visit him and the master wasn't there. He was out somewhere. And so he left a little note, you know, I came and he weren't here and then he signed it. Not sure what his name is, but I'll call him lipo just because that's the name that pops into my mind. He signed it lipo the great Zen adduct, who was unmoved by the eight worldly winds. And when the master came back and saw his note, he sent a note back across the river with just one word. It's the word for fart. And it wending its way across the river and hit its target. And the poet came steaming back and said, We are such good friends. We've always been, how could you How could you show such disrespect? And the Masters seemed generally puzzled. And he said, What do you mean? And he showed him the note and the word fart. And the master said, Oh, the great apt lipo blown across the river by a puff of wind from the anus.
So we've got tokes on and then there's two other actors in this play. Known their their Japanese names are gone toe and Seppo very famous. Man many descendants especially of Seppo
have the two of them gone toe was senior although when I looked it up he's a little bit younger than Seppo but suppose role of course was as we saw the head cook in the monastery and God until, I don't know perhaps he was something like Zendo whatever the titles were and they were fast friends and you know way gone toe was was set simple a second teacher. He was quite a seasoned mock, quite, quite capable and adept, as we can see in this koan.
There's a the story about the two of them took place after this koan after he messed with sepals mind, as we saw in the case, looking for the last word of Zen. So a few years later, the two of them were traveling together in a snowstorm.
I'm reading now from Zen's Chinese heritage, this Compendium put together by Andy Ferguson, ancient Chinese Masters. I'm going to translate their names into Japanese so we're consistent. So when Seppo was traveling with Gonzo, and tortoise mountain, they were temporarily stuck in an in during a snowstorm. Each day Gantos spent the entire day sleeping Seppo spent each day sitting in Zen meditation. Sitting in Zen. One day several called out elder brother elder brother get up. Gonzo said what is it? Suppose said, Don't be idle. Monks on pilgrimage have profound knowledge as their companion this companion must accompany us at all times. But here today, all you're doing is sleeping. Gone toe shot back. Just eat your fill and sleep. Sitting there and meditation all the time is like becoming some clay figure in a villagers hut. In the future, you'll just spook the men and women of the village. Seppo pointed to his own chest and said I feel uneasy here. I don't dare cheat myself. cheat myself by not practicing diligently.
That tension in the chest? How many of us feel that something's still blocked. cantos says I always say that someday you'll build a cottage on a lonely mountain peak and expound a great teaching. It's still you talk like this. And supple said I'm truly anxious. Gonzo said if that's really so then reveal your understanding and where it is correct. I'll confirm it for you. Where it's incorrect. I'll root it out. And then several proceeded to tell him about various awakening experiences that he'd had with with toxin and other times. Including one and he said that moment was like the bottom falling out of a bucket of water. And God told said to him, haven't you heard it said that and then he quotes what comes in through the front gate isn't the family jewels and stuff he said then in the future what should I do? And God said in the future if you want to expound a great teaching is if you want to come to complete awakening and and help others then it must flow forth from your own breast. In the future, your teaching and mine will cover heaven and earth. This Seppo head is great enlightenment. He bowed and said elder brother at last today on tortoise mountain. I've attained the way I can say this is just a culmination of what was started when Seppo boasted about besting Toxa on
these guys were traveling together probably in part. Well one of course they were they were friends, they were deeply close. But this was also a dangerous time in China. There were bandits everywhere this is right at the end of the Tang Dynasty. And not long after the Buddha's persecutions of 845 at that time gone toe would have been about 17 years old and it sounds like from what I've read, he had to leave the like many of the monks had to leave the monasteries. And he was for a while a ferry man on a lake.
Both of these guys became teachers. Gone toe did not live as long as Seppo. And let me just tell you the story of his death. It's again from Andy Ferguson. During the chaos at the end of the Tang Dynasty, bandits were to be found everywhere. The congregation This is that Gantos temple, the congregation all left the temple to hide in the forest, gone to a lone state at the temple, where he sat in meditation, so he doesn't just sleep all the time. One day, the head of the bandits came to the temple, enraged because there was no booty there. He brandished his knife and stabbed Gant gone toe to toe remain composed, and then let out a resounding scream and died. The sound was heard for 10 miles around
some hundreds of years later, this story totally through the great Zen master Hakuin swiza koan for him. After attaining the way how could Gantos die like that?
Seppo outlived gone toe by quite a bit, and they had many great disciples including the Great Yunmen Oman also appears in the koans repeatedly
this was a this was a rocky period in China. And yet the brilliance strength of the Zen school is maybe unsurpassed in the whole history of Zen.
When things are difficult, we take them to heart great as a matter of birth and death.
Let's come back to the koan here
first, we have Seppo correcting talks on and then Gonzo Gantos well aware that there's nothing a talks on is all right right to the bottom. You would think you know as a compassionate elder brother, you Correct Seppo straightened him out. But this is this is more like, like improv says after Seppo boasts about getting the best of, of talks on Kanto goes with it says yeah yeah great master that he is he still doesn't have that last word of Zen just taken Seppo and thrown him with his own momentum and then talks on hears about this and sends us a tendency to call call Gonzo. And says do you not approve of me What do you think Stokes on concerned that maybe he's coming off poorly and others eyes this is the man you can hit with a stick and he wants to turn his head then God toe leans over and whispers something to him. What is that something? Is that that last word of Zen? Well, it seems like it is because the next day talk sounds different. Doesn't say how he's different. Maybe he's more animated than usual. Maybe his eyes twinkle a little more.
He's special. Doesn't need to be special. But if it's called for evidently, you can be special. And then Gonzo takes it from there and makes a huge production What a happy thing the old man has now grasped the last word of Zen. From now on, nobody will be able to get the better of him
and everybody's scratching their heads. What went on what happened? What is the last word of Zen now we have Mu Minh coming in with his commentary. As for what is called the last word of Zen, neither god tone no talks on have ever heard of such a thing. Even in a dream. When you look into the matter carefully, they are like puppets on a shelf. Really, this whole thing is like a play and the maestro has gone toe. It's really kind of dizzy Lee brilliant. What he's doing here
then we have Mu mons verse. If you understand the first word of Zen, you understand the last, the last word or the first. It is not a word.
We know this is the slogan of the Zen school teaching beyond words and letters. This is why tokes on first came to the south to root out Zen devils disregard for the words of the Buddha
so Zen is not a word and if there is no last word of Zen, then what is it?
What is it that can flow out from our breast?
What is it? That's our true nature and rock bottom. We've had from the very beginning. Everyone, everyone.
How can we wake up to what we really are? How can we simply be who we really are?
The road is plain and simple and direct and straight ahead we're like one and water crying I thirst
we're in last part of sesshin we still have over a day everyone here sat hard for six days what can we find
what can we let go off? What can we release
what is clearly shown to our eyes
time is up. We'll stop now and recite the four vows