Berkeley Zen Center

Lecture by Sojun Roshi

Given at Tassajra Spring Practice Period, 1995

This lecture is reprinted from the August 2000 Berkeley Zen Center Newsletter.

This morning I want to take up the example of Fa-Jung and his disciple. This is an example of great awakening while serving as Ino. The Ino is the monk in charge of the meditation hall, the "one who causes the community to rejoice." Zen Master Zuan Tugui was an heir of Priest Fo-yan Quin-yan. Tugui went up to Fo-yan and expressed his understanding of everyday matters. In other words, he went up to Fo-yan, his teacher, and started telling him what he knew. This Tugui was a good scholar and a good student but he didn't get the point yet and when he went to Fo-yan, he started explaining what he knew to get his teacher's approval. Fo-yan said, " You have reached the limit of your discriminating mind through study. What you lack is exerting effort in practice and the open eye."

In other words, you have all the right answers. I'm sure that when he went to his teacher, Tugui had all the right answers. Sometimes students have all the right answers but they're not yet on the track and they haven't yet opened their Dharma eye. I don't put too much emphasis on the "right answers." What really counts is the person's behavior. So when someone gives me the right answer, then I start looking at their behavior. Does their behavior match their understanding?

We can have good understanding. Good understanding is the basis of practice. But then you spend the rest of your life working it out in your behavior.

Tugui, the student was put in charge of the meditation hall. He became the Ino. One day when he was standing, waiting on the Master, he asked, "What about the moment when going beyond duality?" What about that moment of enlightenment, when you really go beyond duality? Fo-yan said, "It's like making a sound with the Tsui-ching in the hall." The Tsui-ching is a tall block of wood that is struck by a smaller block to make a sharp, hard sound. At the opening of practice period, the Ino goes whomp! The fifty-fifth practice period has now begun. So-and-so is the Shuso for the practice period." This is like, "So be it." The finality. The Tsui-ching is the instrument of finality. It is like, "This is the way it is, and nothing in the world will ever change it." That's the feeling you get with the Tsui-ching. So what is the moment of going beyond? It's like hitting the Tsui-ching with the mallet.

Tugui did not stop pursuing this inquiry. He didn't get it. In the evening, Fo-yan came to the hall and Tugui asked the same question again. Fo-yan said, "Playing with words! Just playing with words!" What he meant was something like: "You're really good with words. You have a quick mouth and your mind is very active. You've absorbed all the old sayings and read all the sutras. But I didn't stop your mouth. I should actually have gone up and done this --- whomp! with the Tsui-ching. Maybe that would have gotten you." Anyway, Fo-yan said, "Just playing with words!" And at that, Tugui attained great awakening.

So old Fo-yan didn't have to do anything. All he had to do was just say the right thing at the right time: "Playing with words." He brought Tugui up to his pitch. And then all he had to do was say, "Playing with words!" If he had said, "Playing with words" before, it probably wouldn't have worked. Fo-yan said, "There is nothing more to say."

Fo-yan was an excellent disciple of Priest Wuzu Fayan of the Fifth Ancestor Mountain. Tugui received the blood spirit of the ancestral school and met this fine opportunity while he was serving as Ino. The same person is now called Gushan. Few people can be compared to the reputable Tugui when it comes to commenting and writing prose and verse on the ancestors. So after Tugui's enlightenment, he still retained the ability to write and to be scholarly. The teacher didn't take away that ability. But he helped him to find himself so that when he did do scholarly work, it came from a deep place, not just from his head. And he understood what he was saying.

So what is it about the Tsui-ching? When you go whomp!, right there, all thinking stops. The whole world comes to a halt. Right there, there's no duality. Lin-chi used to give a big shout. Sometimes a student would come and ask a question, and Lin-chi would give a big shout. At this big shout, the student would drop body and mind. Cutting through all the verbiage and all the discriminating and all the opinions. Just standing there completely naked. Clear mind.

Last revised September 11, 2000. Copyright 2000 Berkeley Zen Center.
Comments about this site to