What is zen? A baby fish once asked an elder fish : I keep hearing people talk about this thing called the sea. Just what is the sea? The sea is what surrounds you. But why can't I see it? The sea is within you and all around you . you were born in the sea and will die in the sea. The sea envelops you , just like your own skin does. >Confucius said "fish forget that they live in lakes and rivers; people forget that they live in the magic of the dao. People live in a sea of zen, yet they don't know what it is. Would you like to know what zen is? 2. Enlightenment of the wave? oh how I suffer. The other wavers are so big, I'm so tiny. Some are so well off, and I'm so lousy. It's because you haven't seen clearly your original face that you think you suffer. I'm not a wave then what am I A wave is just your temporary form. You're really water. When you realize that your fundamental essence is water, you won't be confused about being a wave, and your suffering will go away. Oh I get it! I'm you and you're me. We're both part of a greater self! People selfishly think that they belong only to themselves. So they compare themselves with other people, and then they think that they are suffering. In fact, though, every person is a part of nature . 3. A cup of zen. A scholar went to see a zen named Nanin about zen. Nanin treated his guest to a cup of tea. He poured the tea into a cup, and kept pouring even when cup was full. Master that's enough it's full! You are just like this cup- full of your own thoughts and ideas. If you don't first empty yourself, how can I teach you about zen? If your mind is filled with your own prejudices, the truth that others speak can't be heard. When engaging in conversation, most people are in a hurry to express their own opinion, and as a result, they don't hear anything but the sound of their own voices. 4. The outcome of enlightenment. Many have left their homes and loved ones to study zen meditation. They expend a great amount of time and energy in disciplined contemplative training, but what is it they gain? If this question were posed to enlightened zen masters , they would answer: nothing! When we stop differentiating, halt our delusions, and put an end to all thoughts, the two hindrances of discursive thought and intention will dissolve, and as our minds fill with peace, there will be "nothing" we won't understand. 5. Passing on the mind Siddhartha Gautama founder of buddhism was preparing to speak. He pulled out a flower, watching for reaction of his disciples. Not understanding his intent, they just sat there silently Only the venerable kasyapa broke into a smile. My method of enlightenment is to see through everything, to embrace everything, and to approach things with a happy heart, seeing clearly their original face. This mysterious dharma transcends both language and rational principles. Logical thinking cannot be used to attain enlightenment. Instead one must use intuition Just now, the venerable ksayapa revealed his understanding. Thus I shall pass on to him the zen mind. Zen is : Enlightenment proceeding from the resonance between the principles of an unpolluted universe and the mind of an unpolluted life, allowing the unpolluted mind to continue on in peaceful contentedness. 6. Seize the moment The ordinary mind is the dao. You needn't track through an illusory world to find the principles of buddhism. Just pay attention to the details of life and try to understand things intuitively that's all. 7. Carrying a woman across a river Tanzan carried a person across a river, but in his mind he wasn't carrying a woman; he was completely detached and had no misgivings. The one who was really carrying a woman seems to have been the younger monk. 8. Gates of Heaven Heaven and hell aren't places that suddenly appear after death. They exist here and now. Good and evil involve just a single instant of thought, and the gates of heaven and hell are ready to open for you at any time. 9. The lamebrain official Disregarding the high position of the official, Dayu spoke exactly what was on his mind, and as a result was held in high regard for it. When the dualism of good and bad is gone from your mind, only then will you be nearing zen. 10. If I Don't go to hell who will? If buddhism is reserved only for places of purity, does that mean the buddha doesn't exist in filthy bathrooms? There is no place that the buddha doesn't exist. Of course, the buddha exists in heaven, but isn't therer an even grater need for the buddha in hell? 11. Black bamboo, red bamboo When you go pointing out other people's mistakes, the real error may very well be hidden in your own misconceptions. 12. The order of life and death. Life is taxing, death is relaxing. (zhuangzi). Death is like a weary traveller returning home. Isn't it the most fortunate thing for everyone to die in their natural order? 13. Vow Silence When pointing out other people's faults, we often forget that we may be guilty of the same mistake. 14. Everything is empty There is no good or evil : No suffering or pleasure: everything is empty. Even this sentence isn't worth saying to anyone. Tesshu had only a superficial understanding of zen. 15. The buddha is in the home A wholesome thought from within the mind can help us slough off the shell of our inferior selves and like the croak of a frog, cause a sudden and profound enlightenment. 16. Pointing at the moon. Language is mererly a tool for pointing out the truth, a means to help us attain enlightenment. To mistake words for the truth is almost as ridiculous as mistaking a finger for the moon. 17. The lost student If you had one hundred sheep and one got lost, wouldn't you go in search of the lost one, abandoning the other 99 in the open fields? It is important to help those who need help the most. 18. Enlightenment of the thief Laying down his butcher's knife he became a buddha, this is a most difficult thing to do, and what is it that can get people to lay down their butcher's knives? love-that's all. 19. Can't say it Anytime we use words to explain something, there will be deficiencies. That which is asked about is itself the most complete answer. 20. The must and the parrot In practicing zen, we should be like the must, gaining insights yet feeling it not worthwhile to discuss them with others. The worst thing a person can do is emulate a parrot and go around teaching others about one merely superficial understanding of zen. 21. Zen in a Cup If there is life, the naturally there will be death. If we can see through our own mortality, then surely we can see through the mortality of material objects. 22. Disregarding titles. Name , positions, achievements, and wealth often conceal the real "self" inside, making one feel like a traveller who can't find his way home. 23. Self and other If it's their fate to die, why should I try to save them? If my medicine means anything, then why do they go back to war and get killed? Don't project yourself on things you come into contact with, and don't differentiate between yourself and other things, because so-called objectivity and subjectivity do not exist. The domain of wisdom is in understanding that there is no self, there is no other , and everything is the way it is. 24. Words Exceeding actions Colorful and inspiring words will lose their simplicity and cause confusion. Consistency between actions and words is the foundation of self-cultivation 25. Sound of the hollow. There is goodness in a blossoming flower, and therer is beauty in a withering flower. when you can see the beauty and goodness in everything around you, you have entered the gates of zen. 26.Fate is in your own hands. Heaven looks on all beings just the same and won't help anyone in particular. The one who can help you is yourself. 27. The faster the slower If we take our time , we'll achieve our goals faster than if we hurry. This is what is meant by "the ordinary mind is the dao." 28. The general's antique Being concerned with gain and loss brings us the feelings of happiness and sadness. We should transcend the concepts of good and evil, gain and loss. Happiness is acting according to circumstances, whatever they may be. 29. Giving and receiving Knowledge and action should be one. Preaching something but not practicing it is just like someone who recites the scriptures but doesn't understand the principles of buddism. 30. One who understands the music A person who understands one's music is difficult to find. When the person who understood his music died, although boy a was still very much alive, only half of him remained. 31. A blind man carrying a lantern Using another person's ideas to enlighten other people is like the blind man carrying a lantern-the light may go out along the wan , and you'll never know. 32. Something valuable Most people pursue fame and fortune, but think of how much there is in nature that you own already. The stars, the moon, mountains, rivers, flowers, and trees all for you! 33. A blade of grass a drop of dew Everything has its own use. Regardless of some things' seeming insignificance. Everything has its place in nature. 34. For no reason Most people live in a dualistic world of gains and losses, self and object. If the scenery is beautiful. I'm happy; if it's not , I'm disappointed. 35. Past, Present, Future Don't dwell on the past, don't worry about the future. Experience and cherish the moment. Happiness is acting according to circumstances, whatever they may be. 36. The great wave. All you have to do is respond in a direct, resolute way to any situation, and you will become that situation, and that situation will become you. 37. Because I'm here. Heaven and earth nurture all things, but we should act without counting on the results and strive for success without dwelling on it. If we just work hard without complaining , we can become one with heaven and earth. 38. Matter is empty Your self=nature is complete and undiminished. We must all discover our self-nature on our own because there is no external road that can take us there. 39. The weeping lady If the mind is the buddha, then whether a situation is good or bad, all depends on how you look at the situation. 40. Mind like a mirror When the wind blows, the bamboo bends; when the wind is gone, the bamboo makes no sound. When something happens, confront it with your original nature. when it's over, empty your mind of it. 41., Mountain paths, don't change The perfect person's mind is like a mirror, neither taking nor welcoming, it responds but doesn't store. So , when it's time to be a general, you should be a general, and when it's time to be a monk be a monk. 42. Torn If your mind is torn by two conflicting desires, the contradiction will destroy your mind's unity and tranquility. Just remember. when you should grab something, grab it: when you should let go , let go. 43. Where do we go after death? While we live, we should enjoy the mystery and beauty that are life, rather than worrying about what comes after death. Live today without worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own worries. 44. The swordless sword If you can attain a a profound level of self-cultivation, so that your mind is like a mirror, you will be able to respond automatically to whatever changes may suddenly occur. 45. With a slight fanning, the fire returns. Words and actions are two exterior manifestations of our inner thoughts; but most people's words exceed their actions. 46. The spider and the monk We all experience troubles and worries, but it often happens that our greatest troubles arise from ourselves! 47. Rich and Poor Rich and poor are not functions of how much money we have, but rather, of whether or not we are content with what we have. 48. Do not grasp either extreme All opposites - good and evil, having and lacking, benefit and harm, self and others - are due to the differentiating mind. As soon as we give rise to such views, we turn away from our original mind and succumb to this dualism. Zen however, stands in the middle , not on either side. 49. Not changing to meet the changes In changing with the changes, the more we chase, the father away we get. Meet the changes by not changing. for the number of ways to change is limited, while the number of ways to stay the same is infinite. 50. Laughing with heaven and earth If we can just forget ourselves, we can become one with our environment yaoshan was able to forget himself and laugh out loud, thus becoming one with heaven and earth. 51. Zen can't be spoken Zen belongs neither to the past, the present, nor the future. It has just always been the way it is, and it can't be expressed through words. 52.Clouds in the blue sky, water in a bottle Don't worry about whether the clouds are going to turn into water or whether the water is going to turn into clouds. If it's clouds, take a cloud's leisurely point of view, and if it's water, take water's placid, carefree point of view. 53. Snowflakes fall where they should Everything under heaven, whether it be large or small, important or insignificant, has its own particular place. And when it arrives in its rightful place, why ask why? that's just how it is! 54. Zhaozhou's stone bridge The actual single log bridge could let only one person cross at a time, but through the mercy of zhaozhou, his abstract stone bridge allowed all being to quietly cross at the same time. 55. Go wash your bowl Enlightenment, self-cultivation, and our daily activities are all parts of the same thing. It is essential to understand this fact of enlightenment, and it is the maintenance of this attitude that is self-cultivation. It is not because of self-cultivation that we gain enlightenment. 56. What is self-cultivation? Self-cultivation refers to all the details of everyday life that should be done with care and sincerity . If performed in this way, every little task will resonate with truth. 57. A Cypress tree becomes a buddha The buddha-nature is the original nature of all things. The true meaning of zen is to gain insight into the entire universe as it is and to be one with the truth. This truth has been around since ages past, and will be the same for ages to come. 58. The many return to one Although the universe is separated into an infinite number of parts, and each part has its own distinct identity, they are still all parts of one universal body. The one and the many interfuse with each other, so if the many return to one, then the one returns to the many, therefore, even the tiniest speaks in the universe return to the one. 59. What is Zhaozhou? Zhaozhou's zen was just like the gates of zhaozhou the city, approachable from all sides and leading in all directions. You could take what you wanted, and if you just wanted to look, you could do so to your heart's content. 60. Zhaozhou asks the way to zhaozhou The same pat answer isn't necessarily true in all situations. The truth of life is always moving, always changing 61. The cypress tree out front Green mountains are pure life; a stream is the buddha speaking - through the sound of flowing water we see that the cypress tree resonates with the life of the universe, and they become one. 62. There is no substitute Coming to understand the big questions in life has to be done by oneself, no one else can do it for you. Maintaining other people's ideas is like the mimicry of a parrot- it may be speaking, but it doesn't know what it's saying. 63. Dropping everything Dropping everything must include casting aside the very idea of dropping everything. If you continually concentrate on dropping everything, you'll never reach that realm of purity and tranquility. 64. Have some tea Whether they had been there before or not, zhaozhou did not differentiate and invited them all to tea. Although a cup of tea is just an expression of the ordinary mind, it is the key to zen. 25:17 the path of the r man is beset 65. Cracking a whip to stop the flow In order to attain the realm of zen and enlightenment, you must first forsake the dualities of : self and others, interior and exterior, small and large, good and bad delusion and enlightenment, life and death, being and nothingness. We can attain this new life not through thought, but through direct insight. 66. No crutches , no desires By seeking the buddha, we lose that buddha; in seeking bodhidharma, we lose bodhidharma. The most precious thing there is resides inside you - it is your self. In pursuing external object we lose the self. 67. What are life and death? When we are alive, life is everything to us. AS for dead people, death is everything to them. While you are alive, concentrate on living. This way, you won't be apprehensive about death. 68. Juzhi's one finger zen. The many have one essence, and the one has many manifestations. There are innumerable differences among things in the world, and yet everything originates in one source. The world is a finger; so there is no difference between a finger and the myriad things. 69. Juzhi severs a finger What other people have come to understand intuitively can never become yours unless you come to understand it through your own efforts. 70. Xiangyan up a tree In regard to the fundamental truth, which precedes wordlessness, life before wordlessness should be used in response 71. Same destination, different paths It's cold for both, but each has a different way of dealing with it. Everyone has a different way of arriving at the same destination. Therer is not just one path, and not everyone is fit to travel the same path. By limited yourself to a certain path, you may actually lead yourself astray. 72. Six in one. We have six senses : smell, taste, feel, and thinking. But is the world that they sense the real world? If we can overcome the inherent limitations of our senses , using our eyes to hear, and our ears to see, suddenly everything will become clear. 73. Looking but not seeing By emphasizing appearances, we miss the real thing. In paying too much attention to names and reputations, we can lay eyes on what we're looking for but miss it completely. 74. A mountain in a mustard seed The dao is immeasurable, boundless, and ubiquitous . And it does exist in a tiny mustard seed. 75. Withered tree zen Granted, the monk should refuse such a temptation, but after twenty years of self-cultivation, he should also have more loving kindness and compassion. He was indeed a scoundrel. 76. Master of thy self People are constantly deceived by stimuli from their environment, by their polluted minds, and by past antipathies, which all keep them from being able to control themselves the way they would like to. Each of us must come to a clear understanding of who we ar, do our best in playing our role, and be masters of ourselves. 77. Easier known than done Socrates said that if people know what they should do, they will do it: But he underestimated people's ability to fail themselves. Everyone knows what they should do , but how so many people actually do it? 78. The ordinary mind How many people wake up in the morning still figuring out problems from the day before? we should take everything that threatens our peace of mind and throw it out. We should live according to our original nature because the ordinary mind is the dao. 79. What's not a prime cut? Any time and any place are always the best time and the best place. Al you have to do it experience things with an attentive mind. 80. The sweet smell of osmanthus Seizje the moment: experience the present: don't let anything slip by. Every evening is a spring evening, and every day is a good day. 81. Tall bamboo, short bamboo Some people are intelligent, and other people are not. Some bamboo is tall , while other bamboo is short. short or tall, intelligent or not, neither is good nor bad. Tall bamboo has its good points, and short bamboo has its good points. 82. No self, no others Distinguishing between self and other is the source of suffering. Instead, we should use the compassionate mind, which does not distinguish between self and others, to help those who need help the most. 83. I'm here An enlightened person doesn't distinguish between guest and host. You are I and I am you. The guest and host can be distinguished, and the guest can be made the host. They can also become on at any time. 84. Jingqing and the sound of raindrops We should become one with our surroundings, forget ourselves in the world around us, and enter the one single raindrop between heaven and earth. As we do this, two become one, and we understand intuitively and completely 85. Not recognizing the true self Arriving at the dao is not difficult. What's left is choosing it. Asking where the road lies is a great mistake because therer is no road. WE have been on the way(the dao) all along. 86. Returning empty-handed No teacher can instill a student with anything; but he can help that student understand everything in the student's own mind. 87. Walking in the rain When a finger points at the moon, the moon is not on the finger; and when words point out the truth, the truth is not in the words. If we concentrate only on words, the words will stifle us, and we'll never see the truth. 88. Being and nothingness Everything in the world is different from everything else. Therefore, there can never be one certain, unfailing standard. Standards change with people. 89. Follow the flow Movement was originally easy, but we have been shackled by so many worldly rules and restrictions that it is sometimes difficult to take even a single step. 90. Difficult to advance or retreat Advancing is retreating and retreating is advancing; they both arrive and they both depart. By doing both at the same time, we can get to the realm of perfect harmony among all differences. 91. No better than a clown. Zen transcends the rational and the irrational. When seeking the dao, be sure to avoid getting too stuffy and taking what are other people's natural reactions too seriously or too profoundly. 92. Danxia burns the buddha A man of the dao is of no-mind; how can he do wrong? by not getting mired in appearances and by following our original nature, we can do no wrong. 93. Changing with the surroundings. Life is being in accordance with nature, ordinary and not affected. When you are hungry, eat: when you are tired, sleep. Fools may laugh, but the wise will understand. 94. Mind like the surroundings If you try to attract the truth through the self, then you've yet to completely abandon the self, and you'll never get to the complete truth. Only by assimilating yourself with nature and sincerely forgetting the self can you be one with the truth. 95. Mountain flowers blossom like brocade Flowers are quick to wither, yet the cycle will always remain: water may move, but the surface of the stream will never change. The meaning of life lies in the process of living- change is the only thing that never changes 96. What isn't the buddha-dharma The truth of things does not reside in some unreachable, distant place: it is in our minds. Everything possesses the buddha-nature, so what is there that isn't the buddha-dharma? 97. Grasping emptiness Since matter is empty, and emptiness is matter, grabbing a piece of emptiness isn't as close to reality as just reaching out and grabbing the other person's nose is. 98. The fire god seeking fire Asking and answering are simply the rearranging of words: it's timing that is the most surprising of things! Xuanze could actually have attained enlightenment at any time. 99. The road begins here You don't need to travel to some illusory world to find the principles of life: just pay attention to the details of life and experience them. When you begin to doubt, an answer is most likely found where the question begins. 100. Cold when cold, Hot when hot. If we are comfortable in zen, heat and cold won't bother us. Winter and summer are natural occurrences, so we should become one with them rather than fight them: then they will suddenly disappear. 101. A nun becomes a monk The difference between male and female is in appearance only: it is unreal. How can anyone who quibbles about unreality engage in self-cultivation? 102. 3 Pounds of Flax The words of a person of zen are just pointers, topics that lead to a deeper level of experience, so when encountering the language of zen, don't pursue simply the meanings of the words themselves. 103. A Water Buffalo through a window It often happens that in pursuing our ideal, we get almost all the way there but lack the fortitude to go the rest of the way - just like the water buffalo that makes it all the way through the window except for it's tail. This doesn't count as enlightenment. 104. Being your own master Originally we were all a part of primal chaos, inseparable, indistinguishable. The inseparable is one; the one is dao; the dao is the buddha, zen. He who is the master of himself does not change through influence from his surroundings or from others. 105. A morning of the moon and wind. We often discover a certain joy in hardship after the hardship is over. If we can discover it while it is happening, then summer will have its goodness and winter will have its wonders. 106. The snake's two heads The world and I live together, the myriad things and I are one. Although the myriad things have innumerable manifestations, they are really of one body- just like the snake head and snake tail were of the same snake body. 107. Soliloquy of the frogs. Therer is no definite standard of good and bad. When something happens, it all depends on whether you look at it from the good side or from the bad side. 108. The spider's silk The more love you give, the more love you get. The more you share good fortune with others, the more you have for yourself. The villain in hell didn't understand this, so even the little bit of good he had done while alive was cancelled out. 109. Rashomon There are people in this world who are forced to do shameless things in order to survive, but there are even more people who do even more despicable things simply to satisfy extravagant and shameless desires.