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Hanging By The Teeth

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5. HANGING BY THE TEETH

(KYOGEN MOUNTS THE TREE)

 

Kyogen said: “Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another person asks him: ‘Why did Bodhidharma come to China from India?'”

If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?”

 

MUMON’S COMMENT

In such a predicament the most talented eloquence is of no use. If you have memorized all the sutras, you cannot use them. When you can give the right answer, even though your past road was one of death, you open up a new road of life. But if you cannot answer, you should live ages hence and ask the future Buddha, Maitreya.

 

MUMON’S VERSE

Kyogen is truly a fool
Spreading that ego-killing poison
That closes his pupils’ mouths
And lets their tears stream from their dead eyes.

 

HOKYO’S COMMENT

 

 

HOKYO’S COUPLET

The terror of the situation! You will die!
Live now, while you are still alive.

 

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4. STUDY WITH YOUR HEART

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6. FLOWER POWER

 

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I AM NOT A HUMAN BEING

A Commentary on The Gateless Gate

©℗2020 Hokyo Jisetsu Walter Bitner
Illustrations ©2020 Carol-Margaret Bitner

 

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