One night at the monastics’ hall of Zen master Weiyan of Yaoshan there was no lamp. The master said to the assembly, “I have a single phrase. When the iron ox gives birth to a calf, then I’ll tell you.”
A monastic in the assembly came forth and said, “An iron ox has just given birth to a calf. Still, you haven’t said it.” Yaoshan said, “Light the lamp.” The monastic returned to his seat.
Student: “What did the monastic mean when he said, ‘An iron ox has just given birth to a calf’?”
Master: “He said the master’s single phrase.”
Student: “Why did the master say, ‘Light the lamp’?”
Master: “In order to help the assembly to see clearly what the monastic showed.”
Iron oxen are giving birth to calves here and there and the calves’ cries are very noisy.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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