2011-06-09

Maybe Better Go Naked

Koan of the Week
Gateless Gate #16
Yunmen: The Sound of the Bell

Featuring Yunmen Wenyan (Ummon Bun’en, 864-949), 13th Generation.
Line: Shitou (8th Gen.) to Tianhuang to Longtan to Deshan to Xuefeng to Yunmen.
Yunmen appears in 27 koans in the three collections (Gateless Gate, Blue Cliff Record, Book of Serenity) – much more than any other figure.
THE CASE
Yunmen said, "The world is vast and wide like this. Why do you put on your seven-piece robe at the sound of the bell?"
WUMEN’S COMMENT AND VERSE
When one meditates and studies Zen, one extinguishes the attachment to sound and color. Even though some have attained enlightenment by hearing a sound, or an awakening by seeing a color, these are ordinary matters. Those who intend to master Zen freely master sounds or colors, see clearly the nature of things and every activity of mind. Even though this is so, now tell me: Does the sound come to the ear, or does the ear go to the sound? But when both sound and silence are forgotten, what would you call this state? If you listen with your ear, it is hard to hear truly, but if you listen with your eye, then you begin to hear properly.

If you are awakened, all things are one and the same,
If you are not awakened, all things are varied and distinguished.
If you are not awakened, all things are one and the same,
If you are awakened, all things are varied and distinguished.

Why rise from bed at the sound of the alarm?
Dress and go to work?
Why leave work when the clock says a certain hour?
Why dine at the evening hunger pang?
Why inhale after exhaling?
Why do you do these things you do?

"Brother Yunmen," I said, "The world is vast and wide."
"Like this," he answered.
Like this.
Like this he wears
All there is of
Why?

* * *

Previous:
Don't Beat the Dog
Staff Issues
The Old In and Out
What Is the Sound of an Arrow Hitting Oatmeal?

Pangs of the Layman:
The Increase of Mystery
To Recognize, Look
Hard (Or Easy) To Swallow
Prayers That Reach the Gods. Or Not.
"Shut up," he explained.