Monday, September 16, 2013

KOAN: Shuzan's Three Phrases

Wisdom Quarterly, Roshi Jeff Albrizze (, Book of Equanimity, Case 76

One phrase clarifies three phrases.
Three phrases clarify one phrase.
Three and one do not interact.
Clear and obvious is the path of the utmost.
Tell me: Which phrase is first?

Shuzan addressed the assembly: "When you are awakened by the first phrase,  
You become a teacher of buddhas and ancestors.
When you are awakened by the second phrase, you become a teacher of humans and devas [advanced beings from space].
When you are awakened by the third phrase, you can't even save yourself."
A monk asked, "Osho, by which phrase were you awakened?"
Shuzan replied, "After the Moon sets in the third watch, one penetrates through the city."     
Withered skulls of buddhas and ancestors skewered on one stick.
The water clock's drop after drop moves the pointer minutely.
Essential activity of devas and humans.
Firing a thousand pounds by catapult.
Thunderheads glistening and glowing swiftly shoot down lightning.
You, over here! See the transformations. 
When meeting the humble, be noble. 
When meeting the noble, be humble.
Leaving the finding of the jewel to Mosho, the ultimate Way stretches endlessly. 
Letting the butcher's knife sort freely in the dead ox, there's implicit trust each moment.

A koan (Zen riddle, puzzle, aphorism -- a question or statement meant to provoke "great doubt") is a means of stopping discursive thought, not of instigating it. For when the mind stills, it may be possible to know-and-see. So long as it is moving (vibrating like Patanjali's vrittis), there are distortions. The way to know, the way to see is to sit (zazen), and to walk (kinhin), and to wash dishes and so on (zen). A koan study group and meditation is available every Thursday night, FREE, in Pasadena, California at

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