Like Salad With Nasturtium Petals: The Delicious Way of Zen Master Yunmen

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lindama
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Like Salad With Nasturtium Petals: The Delicious Way of Zen Master Yunmen

Post by lindama » Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:03 am

Like Salad With Nasturtium Petals: The Delicious Way of Zen Master Yunmen, Dosho Port....

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... ontent=119
In these later days of the buddhadharma, when most of what passes off as “buddhadharma” obscures the vivid truth – the essential nature of the self – it can be useful to study and reflect on the ancient teachers. The traces of their extraordinary development in self-knowledge still flows through their breath in their recorded words.

One such inspiring resource is Urs App’s Zen Master Yunmen: His Life and Essential Sayings, recently republished by the good people at Shambhala Publications. App’s rich introductory material will help the newcomer as well as the old Zen hand appreciate the Zen tradition’s original sources, including the life and teaching of Yunmen.

Yunmen was an extraordinary teacher whose awakened mind flow through his words, even, amazingly, through translation to us today. Indeed, I haven’t spoken to anyone who has dived deeply into the Harada-Yasutani koan curriculum who doesn’t celebrate the teaching of Yunmen.

Yunmen was popular in his lifetime too, a couple hundred years later when the now-standard koan collections were created, through Hakuin’s time (72 mentions in The Complete Poison Blossoms), and, like I said, at least up until today.

Yunmen’s teaching is said to have a three-in-one quality:

1. They permeate heaven and earth.
2. They follow the waves and adapt to the currents.
3. They cut through all streams

True enough but a bit abstract for my taste. I’d say Yunmen’s teaching is like a nasturtium petal salad.

Refreshingly, App encourages the reader to chew thoroughly and go slowly through the text. Indeed, just one passage will do. Like this koan that is popular with John Tarrant Roshi and the Pacific Zen Institute:

(15) “Someone asked: ‘What does “Sitting correctly and contemplating true reality” mean?’
Master said, ‘A coin lost in the river is found in the river.’”

What have you lost, friend, and where you going to look?

Yunmen knew what he’d lost and, like all the great teachers, had a provocative and instructive personal narrative that culminated in finding the coin. One of the first teachers he visited during his search was Muzhou, an old hermit at this point in his life, having studied with Huangbo and then returned to his native place.

App tells of their encounter like this:

(278) “[Master Muzhou’s] one room was usually shut, and it was completely empty. When he occasionally did receive people, he allowed no deliberations. When Yunmen could freely roll in and out, he went straight to Muzhou’s door and knocked.
Master Muzhou asked, ‘Who is it?’
Yunmen: ‘It is me, [Yunmen] Wenyan.’
Muzhou blocked the entrance and said, ‘Why do you keep coming?’
Yunmen replied, ‘I am not clear about myself.’
Muzhou said, ‘Absolutely useless stuff!’
Then pushed Yunmen out and shut the door. In this way Yunmen attained understanding.”

One of the strong positives in App’s text is his generous use of footnotes that help explain his translations. In this case, for example, he has Yunmen stating, “I am not clear about myself.” And Muzhou answering, “Absolutely useless stuff!”

App explains that “Absolutely useless stuff,” is “…literally: ‘stone drills from the Qin period.’ These gigantic drills were fashioned for the construction of a huge palace by the Qin emperor. Since the megalomaniac project was never realized, these tools achieved proverbial status as something that is utterly useless.”

Such footnotes add vital nuance to the utterances of Yunmen and the supporting cast. In this case, the self is not only “absolutely useless” but also a futile, megalomaniacal project.

The Record of Yunmen is not intended to stuff the readers heads full of fake knowledge, bolstering the futile, megalomaniacal selfing project, but to point to the heart of the great matter. App comments, “The problem that drives Yunmen to seek instruction is not something that bothers him but rather his own self. This is not one of a number of problems he has but rather the problem he himself is.”

“You must realize that what is at stake here,” said Yunmen, “does not reside in words and phrases: it is like sparks from struck flint, like the brilliance of flashing lightning. However you manage to deal with this, you cannot get around losing your body and life.”

Yunmen’s teaching is straight to the heart:

(271) “A monk asked, ‘What is the problem?”’
Master Yunmen replied, “’You don’t notice the stench of your own shit!’”

This is a nasturtium salad that has had it’s own shit for compost!

(139) Someone asked, ‘What is the pure immaculate Dharma body?”’
Master Yunmen replied, ‘That peony hedge!’
The monk asked, ‘Is it all right if I understand it in this way?’
The Master said, ‘A golden-haired lion!'”

The peony hedge, speaking of the pure immaculate Dharma body, formed the border on the latrine. These are the places where the lion roars.

(20) “Someone asked, ‘What is the place from whence all the buddhas come?’
Master Yunmen said, ‘The East Mountains walk on the river.’”

About this koan, Hakuin said, “If it were me, I wouldn’t say that [East Mountains walk on the river]. If someone asked me, ‘From whence come all the buddhas?’ I would say, ‘A fragrant breeze sweeps in from the south, a refreshing coolness pervades the halls and pavilions (Waddell, “Complete Poison Blossoms from a Thicket of Thorn).”

What is the place from whence off buddhas come?

Around midnight on May 10, 949, Yunmen died. A few hours before, he wrote his death poem:

“Oh! The boat of compassion having been destroyed
Samsara will not attain the shore of salvation.
The Dharma mountain having crumbled
What have flying and walking creatures left to rely upon?”
ps.... not entirely sure this is limited to Rinzai just because it's about koans

Caodemarte
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Re: Like Salad With Nasturtium Petals: The Delicious Way of Zen Master Yunmen

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:37 am

lindama wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:03 am
...ps.... not entirely sure this is limited to Rinzai just because it's about koans
Quite right. Neither the author nor the contemporaries he references are Rinzai teachers. Rinzai itself is not just koan practice. BTW, Rinzai himself never used the word in the records we have and ridiculed the way some abused a similar practice. Anyway, moved to “Zen Buddhism.”

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Like Salad With Nasturtium Petals: The Delicious Way of Zen Master Yunmen

Post by desert_woodworker » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:42 pm

My teacher in earliest days "taught" in such a way on 7-day Ch'an retreats that, sometimes, whatever came up, turned into a k'ung-an for all. Whether you liked it or not. :o

This was Master Lin Chi (re-) incarnate (!), in the more modern person of Ch'an Master Sheng Yen, who engaged so many of us in USA, and other parts "West", as well as in Taiwan.

--Joe

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bokki
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Re: Like Salad With Nasturtium Petals: The Delicious Way of Zen Master Yunmen

Post by bokki » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:46 pm

please, i do have questions here..
(20) “Someone asked, ‘What is the place from whence all the buddhas come?’
Master Yunmen said, ‘The East Mountains walk on the river.’”

About this koan, Hakuin said, “If it were me, I wouldn’t say that [East Mountains walk on the river]. If someone asked me, ‘From whence come all the buddhas?’ I would say, ‘A fragrant breeze sweeps in from the south, a refreshing coolness pervades the halls and pavilions (Waddell, “Complete Poison Blossoms from a Thicket of Thorn).”
this is not |Hakuin.
here..
Before Chan-t'ang's death, the master told Ta-hui that the only person who could help him to reach his goal was Yuan-wu K'o-ch'in 五位偏正 (1063-1135), a master belonging to the Yang-ch'i branch of the Lin-chi School — the same Yuan-wu whose commentaries on the sayings of former masters were to be compiled into the Pi-yen lu 碧巖錄 (The Record of the Blue Cliff) one of the most celebrated Ch'an classics. Various things intervened, and it was not until ten years later, when Ta-hui was thirty-six years old, that he finally had an opportunity to become a student of Yuan-wu, who was then the abbot of a great monastery, the T'ien-ning Wan-shou-ssu in the northern Sung capital of Pien-liang. According to Ta-hui's testimony, he had by then become almost despaired of ever attaining awakening, and vowed to himself that this was to be his last experiment with Ch'an meditation.

''I will give this master nine summers as the limit. If his teaching does not differ from other masters and if he gives me his approval easily, I will then write a treatise denouncing Ch'an Buddhism. Instead of taxing my spirit and wasting precious time on it, I will devote myself to a suutra or a treatise and cultivate virtue so that I can be reborn again as a Buddhist.''[12]

Having made up his mind, he threw himself into intense struggle. He was told to work on the koan "The East Mountain walks over the water''. He made forty-nine attempts to answer it, but was rebuked each time. Finally on the thirteenth day of the fifth month in the year 1125, he experienced a break-through. He recalled the great event this way:
Master Yuan-wu ascended the high seat in the lecture hall at the request of Madame Chang K'ang-kuo. He said, "Once a monk asked Yun-men this question, 'where do all the Buddhas come from?' Yun-men answered. 'The East Mountain walks over the water' (Tung-shan shuei sheng hsing).東山水上行 But if I were he, I would have given a different answer. 'Where do all the Buddhas come from?' 'As the fragrant breeze comes from the south, a slight coolness naturally stirs in the palace pavilion.'
When I heard this, all of a sudden there was no more before and after. Time stopped. I ceased to feel any disturbance in my mind, and remained in a state of utter calmness.[13]
While the first answer still implied a dichotomy between motion and rest, Yu-wu stressed the unity of the two. Apparently, this remark had enough p.215 suggestive power to enable Ta-hui to achieve a new state of consciousness. However, the master regarded Ta-hui's realization as still imperfect. He said to Ta-hui, "It is indeed not easy to arrive at your present state of mind. But unfortunately, you have only died but are not yet reborn. Your greatest problem is that you do not doubt words enough (pu-i yu-chu shih-wei ta-ping). 不疑語句,是為大病 Don't you remember this saying? 'When you let go your hold on the precipice, you become the master of your own fate; to die and afterward come to life again, no one can then deceive you." Ta-hui was then assigned the koan, "To be and not to be - it is like a wisteria leaning on a tree'' (yu-chu wei-chu ju t'eng i chu) 有句無句,如籐依樹 and told to work on it. He had to see the master three or four times a day to report on his understanding. But as soon as he started to say something, the master would at once say it was wrong. This continued for half a year. Eventually, Ta-hui had another enlightenment experience upon hearing Yuan-wu's discussion of this koan. Let Ta-hui tell the story in his own words.
One day while I was having supper in the abbot's quarters, I [was so absorbed in the koan that I] just held the chopsticks and forgot to eat. The master remarked to a bystander that my progress in Ch'an was as slow as the growth of the Huang-yang plant [Buxus mycrophylla, a plant which allegedly grows only one inch every year]. I then told him by a simile what position I was in. "I am like a dog who stands by a pot of boiling fat: he cannot lick it however badly he wants to, nor can he go away from it though he may wish to quit." The master said, "This is exactly the case. [The koan] is really a vajra cage and a seat of thorns to you." I then said to him. "When you were with your teacher, Wu-tsu, you asked him about the same koan, and what was his answer?" The master at first refused to say anything. But I insisted, saying, "When you asked him about it, you were not alone, but with an assembly. I am sure that there are people who know all about it." The master then said; "I ask him, 'To be and not to be — it is like a wisteria leaning on a tree. What is the meaning of it?' Wu-tsu replied, 'You cannot paint it, you cannot sketch it, however much you try.' I further said, 'What if the tree suddenly breaks down and the wisteria dies?' Wu-tsu said, 'You are following the words'."
i have also doubts as to ' u r following words''...,
i think it would be apropriate
//''you follow along''.

please , any comments,.
thak you very much!
b
ps sry cant link now, its the zen site an my poor memory.
pss iv not bought a book on zen, 4 soo long
im apps yunmen and blue cliff, and lol meido san 2!
soto shu me, lol!
b
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson

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