Rinzai asked Anzan, “What is the white bull on the open ground?” Anzan said, “Moo, moo!” Rinzai asked, “Are you dumb?” Anzan said, “How about the worthy elder?” Rinzai said, “This beast.”
Rinzai tested if Anzan knew the true-Self by asking him what the white bull on the open ground was since the white bull on the open ground symbolises the true-Self. Anzan responded by saying, “Moo, moo” which is the sound that a bull makes. This answer can be a nice answer, but Rinzai seemed to suspect that Anzan was clinging to the illusion of a bull, and he said, “Are you dumb?” This implies, “Why don’t you answer my question with words? If you don’t use words because of the saying that the true-Self cannot be expressed with words, you are still being deluded by the words ‘the true-Self cannot be expressed with words’.” If Anzan had known Rinzai’s intention, he would have countered Rinzai’s ‘Are you dumb?’. However, missing Rinzai’s point, Anzan asked him for his perspective. Rinzai had the kindness to reveal the white bull on the open ground, the true-Self by saying, “This beast!”
Student: “What would you have said if you had been asked, ‘Are you dumb?’?”
Master: “I would have said, ‘Are you deaf?’.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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1 thought on “Rinzai 192”
When face to face with the bull in the open field, too many words may lead to your peril–or worse yet: they may not.