Yaoshan’s ‘Birth of a Calf’

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.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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