A student asked Master Yun-Men,
“Not even a thought has arisen,
is there still a sin or not?

The master answered,
“Mount Sumeru.”

Why did the Master say Mount Sumeru?

Venerable Master Song-Wol said to his students:
” Buddha-Dharma is so calmly fulfilled and powerfully omnipresent that it has never moved at all, yet it melts the iron wheel. Even though Buddha-Dharma has never moved at all, yet it melts the iron wheel. But why?”
There was a monk with broken clothes passing by a piece of farm land. He saw a scarecrow wearing beautiful clothes so he thought to take down the clothes to wear himself. At the moment he took down the clothes, a man on horseback passed by. He saw this event and asked the monk:
” If you take the beautiful clothes to wear yourself, what are you going to do with the scarecrow?”
The monk did not know how to respond. After the monk became enlightened, he realized the horseback rider was Avalokita (Kuan-Se-Um-Po-Sal).
If you were that monk, how would you respond after you were questioned by the Horseback Rider?
Master So-San(Su-Shan Kuang-Jen;837-909) came to Venerable Master Too-Ja (T’ou-Tzu), who asked, ” Where are you from?”
So-San, ” I come from Yon-Pyong (Sword Mountain).”
Too-Ja, “Then did you bring your sword?”
So-San, “Yes, I did.”
Too-Ja Immediately requested, “Show it to me, this old monk.”
So-San, with his finger, pointed at the ground in front of the master instead of answering with the words.
Too-Ja, then abruptly left for his room.
That afternoon he called the attendant to bring So-San to have a cup of tea with him.
The attendant said, “Master, after this morning’s event, he left immediately.”
Then Too-Jam sang a Gatha (Poem):
“For the last thirty years enjoying the horseback riding Today, fell from the horse back by the litter donkey.” In this case, when the Patriarch requested, “Show it to me, this old monk,” why did So-San point at the ground in front of the master, instead?
Once, a student came to the Venerable Ch’an Master Pa-Lung (Pa-Ling) and asked:
” Are patriarchal teachings and doctrinal teachings the same or different?”
Ch’an Master Pa-Lung answered:
“When a chicken is cold, it climbs to the top of the tree:
When a duck is cold, It goes under the water.”
Why did Patriarch (Pa-Lung) answer: “When a chicken is cold, it climbs to the top of the tree; when a duck is cold, it goes under the water,” when asked about the difference between patriarchal and doctrinal teachings?
“Whatever has a form,
As a whole, is all illusory.
If you see all form as no-form,
Directly you see the Tathagata (Buddha-as-it-is).
That one raises a sincere faith on the Four-Line Verse in Diamond Sutra is not just a formal request for belief. If one could discern a core word out of this four-line verse, he would be the one who has really raised sincere faith.”
What is a core word of this Four-Line Verse?
What is the way to discern this one word?
One day Ch’an Master Dok-San (Te-Shan Hsuan-Chen: 781-867) was on the way to the eating room and met Sul-Bong (Hsueh-Feng: 822-908), who was in charge of the kitchen.
Sul-Bong asked:
” The bell and drum have not yet been hit, where are you going? ”
As soon as Master Dok-San heard this question, he returned to his room. Sul-Bong told this story to his elder brother’s disciple, Am-Du who replied:
” Oh, our Venerable Master Dok-San still has not realized the final phrase. ”
Later, Venerable Master Dok-San heard this story and called his attendant to bring Am-Du to him and said, “You do not believe in me, your teacher?”
Am-Du whispered something in Master Dok-San’s ear, telling him what he had meant. Finally, Master Dok-San was satisfied.
The following day, Dok-San’s dharma speech was different from any before. Am-Du watched, and, clapping his hands, said,
“Now, the most pleasant thing is that this old Master realized the final phrase. From now on, no one would dare to challenge him. But it won’t be more than three years.”
In this case, what is the final phase?
Master Song-Wol said: “Hundreds of years ago when the Temple of Patriarch Paik-Chang (Pai-Chang 720-814) held the Transforming Ceremony for the deceased, Master Paik-Chang always recommended that the following Gatha(Poem) be recited for the deceased:
“Divine light shines of itself
Far away form dust and its origin:
Whole essence manifests by itself
Without depending upon any utterance.
The true Self-nature has no affection,
‘ Tis originally complete and fulfilled in itself;
Merely depart from delusory karmic context,
‘Tis the Buddha as-it-is.’

Master Song-Wol continued: “This word ‘Buddha’ itself, is filthy and affected. What word would be most superior as a substitute for ‘Buddha?’ ”

A student came to the Great Venerable Ch’an Master Pop-An (Fa-Yen 885-958) and asked: “How should I understand sound and color? ” Venerable Master Pop-An said:
“Here, good Monk, why don’t you introspect upon yourself who is asking now? ”
Later, Ch’an Master Ja-Soo sang a Gatha for this:
“Sound and color are merely two words;
The monk didn’t realize those sands in his eyes.
Playing the jade flute in the yellow crane gazebo;
In the town near the river, the plum blossoms falling in May.”

  1. How should you understand sound and color?
  2. Jade flute? What kind of jade flute?
  3. Plum blossom? What kind of plum blossom?
In the Ch’an Mirror, written by the famous Korean Patriarch Chong-Ho Hyu-Jong (1520-104), he commented on the Kong-an: “What is the essence of Bodhidharma’s coming from the West? ”
To which Chao-Chou responded,
“Pine nut tree in the garden. ”
On this Kong-an, Master Chong-Ho commented, “This is the unconventional direct teaching which cannot even be found in the Dragon king Palace Sutra (which might be the Avatamsaka Sutra).” to this he added a Gatha:
“Fish swims: Water is not clear.
Bird flies: feather falls.”
Why did Master Chong-Ho add the Gatha, “Fish swims: Water is not clear. Bird flies: feather falls?”
Once upon a time there was a shrine master, whom one old woman devotee and her daughter attended with complete devotion.
About thirty years had passed when the old woman decided to test the shrine Master’s degree of practice. So, she requested of her daughter,
“Today, as soon as he finishes dinner, sit in his lap, rub his face with yours and ask him, ‘Now, this moment, how do you feel?’ ”
The daughter did what she was asked and the shrine master said:
“Decaying tree leaned against the cold boulder,
There is no warm air in the season of bitter cold. ”
According to what he said, he meant, “Even though you have attended me for over thirty years, I do not have any special feeling toward you.”
Upon hearing this story from the daughter, the old woman recognized what level the shrine master had attained.
“Oh,” she lamented, “I have taken care of that idiotic bum for over thirty years for nothing. What a mistake I have made!”
So, she asked him to leave the shrine which she then burned down.
Why did that old woman call the shrine Master, “idiotic bum” and, why did that innocent and pristine man have to leave under the title of “idiotic bum”?

In order to have not been kicked out of the shrine and to have protected the shrine from being burned by the old lady, what should the master have answered when the young girl asked that question?

Whether one is a materialist, spiritualist, realist, idealist, philosopher, priest, or scientist, she has knowledge.

Contrarily, Venerable Master Po-Jo (1158-1210) said:

“Although you want to perceive, Yet it will never be perceived.
While comprehending what-is-not-to-be-perceived,
Suddenly the Self-nature is seen.
How can we possibly comprehend what-is-not-to-be-perceived?
Can anyone speak from what-is-not-to-be-perceived?
In the Shastra, one fragment says: ‘ Even Shakyamuni Buddha did not comprehend this, How could it be transmitted to Mahakasyapa? ‘
Now, in here, what did Buddha not comprehend?
About this dharma, no one could say whether it was easy or hard.
Anyone can say they know what this is,
because everyone, whether in science, philosophy, organic or inorganic nature studies, or religion,
has the idea of knowledge.
We are used to upholding to thought of knowing something as a whole.
But, on the contrary, we are talking about what is not to be perceived.
Is this the mind? Or dharma? Is it Self-nature?
The world in ten-directions and everything in the world and in the whole universe are all included in this one word, that-which-is-not-to-be-perceived.

Now, tell me what this is.”

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