Blue Cliff Record Case 53

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Good morning. That's better, but a little bit more. Better, better, [...] better. Up, up, and away. That's super. Man, no. Well, this morning I'm going to comment And a case from the Blue Clip record. This is case number 53. I thought about many things before I decided to do this.


I thought I would talk about how to cure all the ills of the world. But then I decided I would talk about case number 51 instead. But if we understand case 51, this is the cure for the world. But nobody will believe it. 53. Yes, 53. You have to keep letting me know. So this case, that's good, that's good. It's called Hyakujo and a Wild Duck. Very well-known case. Hyakujo and a wild duck. Hyakujo, it involves Hyakujo and Baso. Baso was Hyakujo's teacher in his very early days of the Tang Dynasty in China. Hyakujo studied with Baso for about 20 years.


received his Dharma and continued his Dharma. And these are two of the most well-known Zen teachers in China. So here's their encounter. But first, there's Master Ngo's introduction. Master Ngo is the commentator, and he gives us the introduction. So, in the introduction, he's talking about the teacher, Baso, and about his qualities. He says, the universe is not veiled. All its activities lie open. This is a kind of well-known phrase in the Buddha Dharma, in Zen, that everything is just right there. There are no secrets, actually. The only secret is, if we don't see it, it's a secret.


But it's all laid out there in front of us, as plain as day. So then he's talking about the teacher. Whichever way he may go, he meets no obstructions, because he sees everything as it is. So there is no obstruction. At all times, he behaves independently. Independently means totally dependent. There's no such thing as independent. Independent is, you know, each one of us, we're not Siamese twins, we're singular people. But at the same time, we're totally dependent. Absolutely dependent. But at the same time, independent. Dependent and independent. Suzuki Roshi talked about this in his Sando Kai lectures. He used the word, independency.


I said, we don't have a word, independency. He said, well, now we do. He didn't say that, but that's what he meant. So it means, yes, we're independent, but. And yes, we're dependent, but. Yes, we're totally dependent, and absolutely, or absolutely dependent and totally independent. As Gautam reached his finger, when someone asked him a question, he said, he didn't say this, this finger, this one singular finger is independent and yet totally dependent on the whole universe. When I do this, the whole universe takes activity, takes its activity, and this one figure covers the whole universe.


So we have to be careful what we do. You can ask a question later. What is it? I wanted you to explain what dependency means. What does it mean that we are dependent on each other? It's not just each other, we're dependent on the universe, where everything in the universe is holding you up. You are an expression of the whole universe, one tiny expression of the whole universe. You're welcome. So, he says his every word is devoid of egocentricity. In other words, that's his freedom. His freedom means that he's free from himself. He's not bound by self-centeredness. And yet, he still has the power to kill others.


Kill others. This is an expression, as you know, which means the teacher kills the student in order to bring him to life. Unless we die, we can't come to life. This is true of everything. Matter of fact, in the universe, everything is dying and coming to life. Without dying, there's no coming to life. Is it better to, which is the most important, to eat or to defecate? Everything in the universe is equal. Without one, you can't have the other. Without pain, you can't have pleasure. So tell me, where did the ancient worthy come to rest?


In other words, see the following. In other words, where did he find his emancipation, his freedom? So here's the main subject. When Master Ba, Baso, was out walking with Hyakujo, he saw a wild duck fly past. So this is the teacher, Baso. Baso had said that he was a huge guy, and that he could reach out with his tongue and touch his nose. I don't know what kind of an accomplishment that is, but that's the story. and he had big hands. So, when Master Ba was out walking with Hyakujo, his disciple, he saw a wild duck fly past, and he said to Hyakujo, what is it?


Hyakujo said, it's a wild duck. Basso said, where is it? Yakujo said, it has flown away. Basso at last gave Yakujo's nose a sharp pinch with his big hand. Actually, a twist, not a pinch. He wouldn't pinch his nose. He grabbed his nose and twisted it. I saw that. So Hyakujo cried out in pain, he said, ah! And Baso said, I'm there now, how can it fly away? This is the story. So I'm going to talk a little about the story.


Baso and Hyakujo were out walking, Hyakujo, Baso saw, they both saw the duck, of course, and Baso says, what is it? So he's asking this question. He wants to know, it's not that he wants to know, he wants his student to give an enlightened reply about what is this? What is it? So what is it is the key. What is it is what the story is about. It is the subject. It is the subject of the whole thing. The word it, it has many meanings. As a matter of fact, it has no special meaning. When you think about it, it has to have something to be about.


Nevertheless, it, we say it is it. Backwards, it's the same. It is it. Matter of fact, you keep going around in a circle. It is it, is it, is it. So it is. So we can say, what is it? That's a question. And then if we go backwards, we can say, it is what? Which is not a question. The answer is in the question. This is very common in most accurate answers, responses. It, what is it, is the question. So it is the subject. And when you go backwards, it is what, without the question mark. So what is it, right?


without a question mark. Then you can say, so you can say, what is it? Or you can say, what is it? That's more emphasis. And then you can say, it is what? So what is what? We say, we have that phrase, hey man, what's what? We use these terms loosely without thinking about what they mean in a deep sense. So, Yagajao is actually using this, he's very cautious. He knows his teacher. In this kind of atmosphere, he'd been studying with Hyakujo, with Baso for years, and he knows that when Baso says something like this, there's some deeper meaning. He's not saying, what is it?


You know it's a duck. Why is he asking me this question? What is it? Well, it's a duck. Is it? So, what is a duck? Yeah, what is a duck? A duck is what? Dogen uses this kind of language all the time. The what, the how, to mean, because you can't say the name, using the name of the emperor is taboo. That's a common phrase in ancient China. Using the name, you could, because the emperor had several names, but you could never talk about, you could never mention the emperor's name, true name. You had to use other kinds of, other terms to talk about the emperor because his name was taboo.


This happens in religious organizations all the time. The name of the deity, it cannot be mentioned. because you don't know what that is, but it's taboo. So here, I'm not saying this is taboo, but it has that what is the way we talk about Buddha nature. We say Buddha nature, Buddha nature, but actually it's taboo. The reason it's taboo is because we don't know what we're talking about. Yes, everyone has, but the buddha nature, the buddha nature is everywhere, you know, essence of mind, we use these terms, but these terms we use all the time and they're interchangeable because they're words that are not taboo. In Judaism, the name of the deity is taboo.


There are many different ways that are used to talk about the deity, but not the true name, because it can't be understood. So there's something beyond our understanding. So we keep it beyond our understanding. As soon as we name it, we frame it. When you name it, you frame it, and as soon as you frame it, it's not it. So we call it it. It comes really close, because it can be anything, right? Since everything is a, all phenomena is an aspect of, or an extension, or an expression of Buddha nature, we just call it it.


It is not anything special, but everything is it. So, what is it? Hyakujo said, it is a wild duck. And Baso said, where is it? And Hyakujo said, it has flown away. And that was the key for Baso to twist Hyakujo's nose. He said, really? So then, of course, Yakuza, oh, you know, but he woke up. Of course, it is right here, even though it has flown away.


So there are two things. One is Yakuza is taking the mundane stance. And Baso is taking the transcendent stance. So yes, it's a duck. Of course it's a duck. We all know it's a duck. I mean, we know it's a duck because we call it a duck, but it's not a duck in everybody's language. We just call it a duck. That's the usual, but the usual answer is, I know what it is, it's a duck. even though we really don't know what it is at all. So, Hyakuji Baso is taking a sense of it's it, it's Buddha nature, it's an extension, it's an expression of our Buddha nature. And it's not going anywhere because Buddha nature doesn't come or go. It doesn't come or go or stay.


You can't describe it. You can't put it, so we say it. And so it can be anything. He did say, there it goes. Yeah, but it can go or come, but it doesn't. It's expressions come and go, like the duck comes and goes because it's an expression, but it's true nature doesn't go anywhere. Doesn't come, doesn't go. That's what tathagata means. Tathagata means the one that doesn't come or doesn't go, or comes like this, meaning doesn't come from any particular place because it's always where it is. When you go someplace, even though you go someplace, you're always where you are. So in a sense, we go somewhere, but in another sense, we're always where we are. We don't go anywhere at all.


You notice that? Wouldn't you have been any closer if you had said, it's in our mind? No. I mean, Basa would have knocked him over if he said that. He would have kicked him down the hill. He had to say something that was outside of language, outside of naming. We know what these terms are even though we don't know what they mean. What do we mean by mind? Oh yeah, I know what that is, mind. We don't know what mind is. Mind is it, actually. We think of mind as a thinking mind, but that's not what is meant in Buddhism. There is that aspect, thinking mind, consciousness, but we break it down into consciousness rather than mind.


But mind, with a capital M, means it, Buddha nature. Yeah, so if he had said that, It's too academic. Yes. How would you say something outside of language? How would you do that? Well, do it. I remember when I was, as you saw, at Tassajara in 1970. Yeah. And Tatsugami was our teacher at the time. And someone asked me a question in the Shusha ceremony, he said, you tell me the meaning of the Heart Sutra, something like that. And I thought, well, I was taking the stance of Hyakujo, the innocent guy, he'd rather stay in the innocent


and just say a mundane, give a mundane answer, then try to give a transcendent answer. I said, so I said, Kanjizai, and then everybody, everybody started chanting. We chanted the Heart Sutra all the way through, which was really dumb, you know. I should have gone something like, bam, with the stick. But that was what Hyakujo was kind of doing. So Suzuki Roshi, when he talked about this, he said Baso really liked his disciple Hyakujo's innocence and his innocent answer, he said. But being his teacher, he had to be a poison oak. So here's the essentialist verse on the subject.


He says, the wild duck, what, how, where. That's the first line, what, how, where. So what means, what is it? How means, How did it fly away? And where means, where is it going? So this points out the three subjects of this koan. What, how, and where. What is it? How can it fly away? And where is it going? So then Baso, had seen, talked, taught, and exhausted the meaning of mountains and clouds and moonlit seas. In other words, Baso had been teaching Yakujo for 20 years.


I don't know if this is the end of the 20-year period, probably somewhere in there. And he was coming to the end of his, you know, his explanations, and he had to do something. Because he was all out of stuff. So he tweaked the nose. And then the last line is, but Hyuk and Jo, I didn't understand, has flown away. But actually he did. The last line is, flown away? No, he is brought back. So Hyakujo is flown away. No, he got pulled back by the nose. Hey, wait a minute, come back here.


This is where it is, not flying away. Nothing's flown away. You have not flown away. You are right here. Your true nature is right here, wherever you are. Say, say, or speak, speak, say something. That's what the commentator's saying. So what did he say? He said, ouch! That's an enlightened statement. Dogen says, sneezing is an enlightened act because it's totally inadvertent. Hachu, with all your might, Hachu, with all your might, is a great enlightened statement. You're not thinking about what it is? It's not an intellectual statement. It's outside of language. It is language, because there's some kind of communication there, but it's inadvertent.


Everybody gets out of your way. So, when we think of a duck, we say a duck is real. That's a real thing, is a duck. But what is a real thing? What is the meaning of real? We think ordinarily, ordinarily we think that which is tangible is real. But in a transcendent way, understanding, that which is real is not substantial. If we want to know the real aspect of each thing, it's unsubstantial. That's real. It's also real that the duck is a duck.


but just for a moment. A duck, yes, that's a duck. I mean, that's something that we call a duck. It's not a duck, but we call it a duck. It's real for the flash of a moment because it's an expression of that which is truly real to non-substantial. We see the duck, it's there, and then we conceptualize the duck as a duck. It becomes unreal at that point? It doesn't become unreal. Its nature is always unreal. I mean, its nature is always real, which is unsubstantial. And we call it a duck. But it's already flown away. That which we call a duck is already flown away. But it's reality is always there.


Yes, because it's nonexistent. It's always there. That's a rarefied place to be. So yes, so we live in the unsubstantial world as if it was substantial. That's called our delusion. But we have to live in the world of delusion. We have to live in the unsubstantial world as if it was substantial. Therefore, we get up every morning, do all the things we do, and we have our imagination, and our stuff, you know, and we create this Saha world, which means always changing, never substantial, and that's the reality.


So we have to, if we understand this, we can come to better terms with our world. and how to deal with it. It's impossible to deal with the world because everybody's just on this side, and the people that are on that side are in delusion as well. In other words, material and spiritual, right? We think that spiritual is the opposite of material, but actually they're the same thing. But as soon as, while we keep dividing it, we keep creating problems. And now the world as we know it, the human world that is, is coming to the place where the divisions are so strong between this is right and that's right, you're wrong and I'm right, that we'll just kill each other off.


So to speak. In a way, it's some part of the proportion that it's just mind-boggling how we don't, people are just emotionally charged and reactive. The reactivity in the world is just is tearing it to pieces. Yes. Well, it's not that you avoid anxiety, you know, but that's a good point. It's that you find your composure within the anxiety. Find your composure within the doubt, within the uncertainty.


The world has always been uncertain, but we create certain certainties, and then we think that we're safe. But then it all kind of falls apart, because there is no certain certainty. There are temporary certainties, yeah. And we live in one of those bubbles of certain certainties, uncertain certainties. Because we're more comfortable, we don't have to think so much about what's going on around us. But when you think about it, It's like we live kind of in the center of the cyclone in Berkeley. We do. I mean, this is an incredible place where we have the cornucopia of the world in the two biggest markets. We can get anything we want. And the false idea that we can build more and more big buildings San Francisco into a metropolis, a financial metropolis.


It's all got to come down because what goes up comes down. We're so lucky to live in the East Bay. I really believe that. The East Bay is like great because it's open, free, not too much restriction, not too much density. That's happening. It'll happen. And we have the greatest dog parks in the world. If you see what's happening in San Francisco to the dogs, it's just like awful. And yet we have all these wonderful, you know, places. This is an enlightened spot. But we have to remember that everything is changing. And the duck, although the duck is flying, we have to realize our true nature and not just materialistic nature.


That's why we sit saza. So, Do you have any question? Yes. Our true nature is, you said, is not substantial. Or maybe it's kind of like it's not exactly what we call real or tangible, yes. But at the same time, I just want to know what is it? I mean, it's not, I mean, then it's not illusion either. What is it? Yeah, that's a question. What is it? Yeah, I mean, but at the same time, I just don't want to, I'm not, I understand that they talk in this kind of a riddle, also, I'm his disciple, but I'm just asking, not, I mean, in my language, I have a distorted language. I just want to know a little bit more about our true nature.


And the relation of our true nature to this unsubstantial, or do we have to somehow be able to be able to see, to get the wisdom to see the real world? Something to reveal to us. Yes, the challenge is to see the real within the unreal. Because the unreal is an aspect of the real. They're not two different things. The duck is real, but unsubstantial at the same time, right? The duck is real. It's a real duck. It's Buddha nature. But it's not substantial, just like everything else.


So when we think about ourself, we say there is no substantial self. That's Buddhism. Buddha Dharma, for one, everything changes. That's the one fact that you can't deny. Everything changes. So our true nature is beyond change and at the same time is always changing. That's the nature of what we call the koan. That's what we call it. That's what that is. The ephemeral and the essential. The ephemeral and the essential are two aspects of the same thing. It's not like they're two different things. It's all one piece. It's not one and it's not two. So this is the mystery. And so we need to be able to go along with change.


And we can only do that when we let go of our self-centeredness. Because as a human, as a person, human person, there's nothing substantial. But we are, when we resume our true nature, then we can't get lost because we're one with the whole universe, whether the body exists or not. It's just all one piece. You can't get lost. Ross had his hand up. I am Donald Trump and I have come here to say hello. Do you have something to say to me? Yeah, I'm going to vote for you. I was thinking of voting for Ross also. it was the setting itself, just that the teacher and the long-time teacher and the long-time student were taking a walk in a field, and I just was struck by the intimacy and the closeness of that.


The All-Knowing Observer is the mythological narrator. It's in mythology, like Aesop's fables. Did the fox and the cat act this way? Well... So, yeah, it may not even have actually happened, but it's to lay out the difference between the mundane and the... Oh, the oneness. The difference and oneness. Yes. Well, there's always a germ of a story, but how it's told and how it's related is to make a point, so it's kind of like free, it's up for grabs to make a story, yeah.


So it's how you understand the story and how the author of the book Understood it. Come up here and I'll show you. No, stay there. Okay, enough of ducks.