Zen

Joshu’s Cypress (1)

A monk asked Joshu, “What is the meaning of the Patriarch’s coming from the West?” Joshu said, “A cypress in the garden.” The monk said, “Please, don’t teach people with something outside.” Joshu said, “I never teach people with something outside.” The monk asked again, “Then, what is the meaning of the Patriarch’s coming from the West?” Joshu said, “A cypress in the garden.” Later after Joshu’s death, a monk asked Gakchulja, one of Joshu’s students, “They say that your master Joshu said, ‘A cypress in the garden’. Is it true?”  The student said, “No, my late master never said such words.”  The monk said, “However, all people say that your master Joshu said, ‘A cypress’ as an answer to the question ‘What is the meaning of the Patriarch’s coming from the West?’ Why do you say that he didn’t say such words?” The student answered politely, “Please don’t defame my late master. He never said such words.”

Student: “If you had been in Joshu’s student’s shoes, what would you have said if you had been asked what Joshu had said?”

Master: “I would have said, ‘He didn’t say a word’.”

Commentary:

The Buddha said, “Not a word did I say” but this doesn’t mean that he was dumb.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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