Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Supreme Path is Without Difficulty

Blue Cliff Record Case 2

Joshu said, "‘The Supreme Path is without difficulty, it simply excludes discrimination.’ As soon as words are spoken, ‘This is discrimination,’ ‘This is clarity.’ This old monk does not remain in clarity; do you monks cherish anything?"
A monk asked, "Since you do not remain in clarity, what do you cherish?"
Joshu said, "I do not know either."
The monk said, "If you do not know, why do you say you do not remain in clarity?"
Joshu said, "You have asked the question; now you can go."

"The Supreme Path" is not the Buddhadharma; it is what the Buddhadharma is intended to bring awareness of. Saying that the Supreme Path is "without difficulty" immediately causes difficulty. Even in calling it "The Supreme Path" Joshu cannot avoid chasing students up the one-hundred-foot pole.

Having pushed them to the top of the pole, he knocks it out from under them, saying, "As soon as words are spoken, ‘This is discrimination,’ ‘This is clarity.’" What words is he talking about? "The Supreme Path." What is not The Supreme Path?

One time, a man was inside a butcher shop. He overheard a customer ask the butcher, "Which is the choicest cut of meat here?" The butcher retorted, "Which is not the choicest cut of meat?" Upon hearing this exchange, the man was greatly enlightened.

"This old monk does not remain in clarity; do you monks cherish anything?" The Supreme Path is not even obstructed by clarity; can you monks demonstrate this? Joshu points out that the hand shadow he is making is not really a wolf: just a trick he learned from Sencan. He invites the monks to try their own hands in front of the lamp.

One monk tries to take him up on the game, "Since you do not remain in clarity, what do you cherish?" Not a bad try at all, but it is hard to tell if he is making a wolf or a fox.
Joshu gives him the benefit of the doubt and extinguishes the lamp. "I do not know either." Discrimination, difficulty, clarity, and The Supreme Path are all wadded up together and thrown into the compost pile.

The monk gives himself away; it was a fox after all. "If you do not know, why do you say you do not remain in clarity?" How embarrassing it must have been later, remembering how he plodded around sifting through the stinking compost.

Joshu cannot help allowing his Grandmotherly impulses to come forth, "You have asked the question; now you can go." He is not just being kind-hearted; he also clarifies one step of The Supreme Path.

1 comment:

Jordan&TheTurtle said...

Ted,
What part of Washington are you located? I'd like to invite you for tea and talk if you are neer Vancouver.

Gassho
Jordan