Longshan’s Clay Oxen

Longshan met Dongshan and Shenshan when they were travelling together. Seeing a vegetable leaf floating down a valley stream, Dongshan said, “There must be a Zen practitioner deep in this mountain.” They followed the stream up the mountain and met a hermit.

The hermit Longshan said, “There is no path in this mountain. How did you two Zen practitioners get here?” Dongshan said, “Let’s put aside the matter of no path. Reverend, from where did you enter?”

Longshan said, “I did not come following clouds or water.”

Dongshan said, “How long have you lived in this mountain?”

Longshan said, “I am not concerned about the passing of spring or autumn.”

Dongshan said, “Which started to be here earlier, you or the mountain?”

Longshan said, “I don’t know.”

Dongshan said, “How come you don’t know?”

Longshan said, “I did not come here for humans or devas.”

Dongshan asked further, “Why have you been living on this mountain?”

Longshan said, “I saw two clay oxen fighting with each other until they fell into the ocean. Ever since then, all fluctuations have ceased.”

Student: “How is everything when the clay oxen don’t fall into the ocean?”

Master: “You are anxious and nervous about which ox will win.”

Student: “How is everything when all fluctuations have ceased after the clay oxen fall into the ocean?”

Master: “The ox that you lost a long time ago walks out of the ocean.”


Don’t forsake the ox you are looking for by being absorbed in seeing the clay oxen fighting.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

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