One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same any place in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear. — Dave Brubeck

Monday, November 21, 2022

Blue Cliff Record Case 22

This is the case of the portion of the commentary that I used for my piece 

A Weed Wacking Roshi goes to Mass

The Case (Sato)

Xuefeng, instructing the assembly, said, “There's a turtle-nosed snake on the South Mountain.[1]

All of you should look at it carefully!”[2]

Changqing said, “Today in the Zen hall there are many people who have lost their body and life.”[3]

A monk told this to Xuansha,[4]

who said, “Only my Elder Brother Changqing could say something like that.[5]

However, I wouldn't talk like that.”[6]

The monk asked, “What then would you say, Master”?[7]

Xuansha replied, “Why does it have to be 'the South Mountain'?”[8]

Yunmen threw his staff in front of Xuefeng and acted frightened.[9]

[1] "Turtle-nosed": i.e., poisonous. The “South Mountain” [Nanzan] was the place where Xuefeng resided.

[2] Or: "You should have a good look at it" (Sekida); "you people must watch out for it" (Cleary); "All of you had better look out!" (Wick)

[3] Or: “Today in the Zen hall there is a great person who has lost his body and life” (Sato note); "Today, in this temple, there is obviously one man who has lost his life" (Sekida).

[6] Or: "even though he's right, I do not concur" (Cleary); "as for me, I am different" (Sekida).

[9] Or: "made a gesture of fright" (Cleary); "gave the appearance of being afraid" (Wick).

The portions of the text of Yuanwu’s Commentary (Cleary) that I used for my own commentary:

[Hsueh] Feng went on. “Later when I got to Te Shan I asked. ‘Do I have a part in the affair of the most ancient sect, or not?’ Shan struck me a blow of his staff and said,’What are you saying?’At that time it was like the bottom of the bucket dropping out for me.” Thereupon Yen T’ou shouted and said, “Haven’t you heard it said that what comes in through the gate is not the family jewels?” Feng said, “Then what should I do?” T’ou said, “In the future, if you want to propagate the great teaching, let each point flow out from your own breast, to come out and cover heaven and earth for me.” 

(He was greatly enlightened etc.Feng goes back and lives at Elephant Bone Mountain, and writes a poem that comes down to us. At this point I will return to the commentary)

Usually Hsueh Feng would go up into the hall and teach the assembly by saying, “In every respect cover heaven and earth.” He talked no more of mystery and marvel, not did he speak of mind and nature. He appeared strikingly alone, like a great fiery mass. . . . “

(Skipping ahead through several bouts of drinking tea and getting whacked, we move onto what Hsueh Tou’s disciple has to say about the matter going back to their root teacher Yun Men.)

You must be a master snake handler.

“How many lose their bodies and their lives?” This praises Ch’ang Ch’ing’s saying, “In the hall today there certainly are people who lose their bodies and lives.” To get here, first you must be thoroughly versed in snake handling.

Hsueh Tou is descended from Yun Men, so he brushes the others away at once and just keeps one, Yun Men: Hsueh Tou says “Shao Yang knows, again he searches the weeds.” Since Yun Men knew the meaning of Hsueh Feng’s saying, “On South Mountain there’s a turtle-nosed snake,” therefore “Again he searches through the weeds.”

After Hsueh Tou has taken his verse this far, he still has more marvels. He says, “South, north, east, west, no place to search.” You tell me where the snake is. “Suddenly he trusts his staff.” 

From the beginning the snake has been right here. But you must not then go to the staff for sustenance. Yun Men took his staff and threw it down in front of Hsueh Feng, making a gesture of fright. Thus Yun Men used his staff as the turtle-nosed snake. Once, though, he said, “The staff changed into a dragon and has swallowed the universe; where are the mountains, rivers and the great earth to be found?” Just this one staff--sometimes it’s a dragon, sometimes it’s a snake. 

(Then some detailed snake handling instructions.)

Since ancient times, how many people have picked up the snake and played with it?

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