“There’s no technique that will save us, no teacher who will save us, no center that will save us. There’s no anything that will save us. That’s the cruelest blow of all.”
– Joko Beck
Tuesday May 29, 8:30am
Friday Jun 1, 7:00pm
This Week’s Reading
Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special, “From Drama to No Drama,” p. 249.
We’ll be discussing Nothing Special until early July, then we’ll start on Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (Parallax Press, 1991). To order a copy from Amazon, click here.
This Week’s Koan
Blue Cliff Record, #90: “Zhimen and the Essence of Prajna”
A monk asked Zhimen, “What is the essence of prajna?”
Zhimen said, “The oyster swallows the full moon.”
The monk said, “What is the action of prajna?”
Zhimen said, “The hare conceives by the full moon.”
Zhimen (“Chimon” in Japanese), b. 927
Lineage: Shitou > Tianhuang > Longtan > Deshan > Xuefeng > Yunmen > Xianglin > Zhimen
Dharma Siblings: None of record.
Appears also in: Blue Cliff Record #21.
Zhimen was Xuedou’s teacher — Xuedou (“Setcho” in Japanese, b. 980), was the compiler of the Blue Cliff Record. So it’s possible that the “monk” in this case might have been Xuedou himself.
“Essence”: substance or nature.
“Action”: activity or function.
The “essence of prajna” would be wisdom based on grasping absolute oneness and emptiness. The “action of prajna” would be wisdom based on present-moment mindfulness.
According to a Chinese folk tale, the oyster rises to the surface of the sea at the time of the full moon, swallows the moonlight, and conceives a pearl. In another folk tale, the hare conceives its young after swallowing the light of the full moon.