Hakuin Zenji's Dokugo Shingyo:
Acid Comments on the Heart Sutra
EDITED BY HUNGER AND COLD
REVISED BY COLD AND HUNGER
The format and style of this work is that of a Zen koan collection, for example
Mumonkan, with the phrases of the Heart Sutra, in order, in the place of separate
koans. Several of the phrases Hakuin uses in his commentaries and verses can be
found in my translation, Book of the Zen Grove, 2nd edition, and more in the
forthcoming Zen Grove Handbook, of which it is a partial translation.
Norman Waddell=s pioneering translation, "Zen Master Hakuin=s Poison Words
for the Heart (Dokugo Shingyo)," The Eastern Buddhist, New Series: Vol. XIII,
No. 2, (Autumn, 1980), p. 73-114, includesCin footnotesCall of the tales, legends
and historical anecdotes that Hakuin alludes to in this work.
Copyright 8 1995
The Jacksonville Zen Sangha, Inc.
CAPPING WORDS AND VERSES
A dark cave thick with a maze of vines and creepers with a blind old geezer in it. Stark
naked, he comes back after all and sits in the weeds. Poor Master Fu, it's a pity he=s lost
his endless lofty palaces! And don't say these words are cold and colorless, that they have
no nourishing taste. One bellyful eliminates hunger for all time.
Casting a thorny thicket of vines and creepers reaching to heaven,
He trips and binds the sangha of the seven seas and myriad lakes.
I hope you will recognize and find your innate Way,
And enjoy yourself with falconry inside a lotus thread tube.
The Chinese translation for this is "great". But what is it! There's nothing in the four
quarters, above and below, you can compare it to. Many wrongly take it to mean just
"vast and wide". The wise love wealth too—to get it in the right Way. Bring me a small
Ten million Mount Sumerus in a dewdrop on a hair-tip;
The billions of space-time worlds in a fleck of foam on the sea;
A pair of young lads in the eyes of a midge
Romp all over India, vying without a break.
The Chinese translation for this is "wisdom". But all, without exception, have it to
perfection. Will there ever be an end to this fellow's playing with mud pies? You'll never
get any rest until your fingers let go of the edge of the cliff. Why? Don't trim your nails by
lamplight. You might get an inchworm to measure lengths, but don't use a snail to try to
plow a rocky field.
Ears as if deaf, eyes as if blind.
In the empty sky in the dead of night, the whole body is lost.
Even Shariputra's own eyes don't follow [his] orders.
Thus the clubfooted one on the waves crossed at the wrong ford.
The Chinese translation for this is "reach the other shore". But where is that! He's digging
himself into a hole to get at the blue sky. The shrimp jumps about, but can't escape the
measure. The place where the Treasure is lies near at hand—take one more step!
Gensha is in his boat, the water dripping from his line. Even the clearest-eyed monk is
On the great earth, who is one of "this shore"?
How sad to mistakenly stand on a wave-lashed quay!
Practice pursued with the roots to life still uncut
Is passing through useless suffering and bitterness for however long.
For untold ages this didn't have a name. Then they blundered and gave it one. A speck of
gold in the eye shadows vision; robes and beads are dust on the Dharma. What is THIS!
Most people only think they have the real thing, like the fellow who confused a saddle-
remnant for his father's jawbone. Those who study the Way are unaware of its
reality—simply because from of old they have accepted all [their] discriminations as [their]
gods. Of beginningless ages of birth-and-death the root: Fools take this for the
fundamental, essential Self.
It's clearly ungettable within the Three Realms—
Empty sky swept clean away. Not a particle left.
On the zazen seat, in the dead of night, cold as steel;
Moonlight through a window, bright with shadows of plum!
"Thus have I heard. At one time Buddha stayed…" Faugh! Who wants to roll that open!
So many people rummage through piles of paper trash looking for "red and yellow scripture-
scrolls". It's just another clove plucked off the lily bulb.
This is one sutra they didn't compile
Inside their cave at Pippali.
Kumarajiva had no words to translate it;
Ananda Himself couldn't get wind of it.
The north wind in window paper rents;
Southering geese in snowy reeds on mudflats;
The mountain moon, wretched as if poor;
Cold clouds, freezing, about to break up.
Thousands of Buddhas, even though they appear in the world,
Don't add or take away one thing.
[KANZEON=] KANJIZAI [AFREE, UNRESTRICTED SEEING]
Why, it's the Bodhisattva of Potala Cliff! He=s the Great Fellow supplied one to each of us.
Nowhere on earth can you find a single unfree man! Coughing, spitting, moving your
arms—you don't need others to help you. Who's clapped chains on you? Who's holding
you back? Stretch your left hand up and you scratch what can't be other than exactly
Buddha=s head. Bend down your right hand and you feel a dog's head; on what day will
escaping this be possible for you?
Fingers clasp and feet walk on without the help of others,
While thoughts and emotions pile up great stocks of Wrong;
But cast out all pros and cons and all likes and dislikes,
And I'll call you Kanzeon in the flesh!
To show his difference from the Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, and to set him apart from
full-fledged Buddhas as well, he is given the [provisional] name of Bodhisattva. On the way
without leaving home; having left home, not on the way. I'll snatch from you the practice of
the Four Universal Vows—that's the very thing that will make you sages, able on the Eightfold
Flying the formless nest of the self that's Empty,
Adrift, sinking in karmic seas, in the great life-and-death Ocean—
Hail, Great Compassionate One, Emancipator from Suffering,
In hundreds of millions of bodies, limitless, shoreless!
GOES IN [PRACTICES]
What's it saying?! That he makes living his business? Nights sleeping, days on the move.
Pissing and taking shits. Moving clouds and flowing water. Falling leaves, flying flowers [:
snow]. But to hesitate and deliberate is the triple path of Hell.
Though it's like that all right, if you haven't seen a plain-water current flowing into a
mud puddle penetratingly for yourself even one single time, great will be your
busyness of living!
What is hands grasping, feet carrying?
How about hunger eating, thirst drinking?
If any of these betrays the slightest characteristic,
It's a repeat of giving Chaos eyes by gouging.
DEEP PRAJNA PARAMITA
Yikes! Gouge out flesh, make a wound. How strange! How can so-called prajna cause
things if it is shallow and deep? Do you take it as like river water in this? Try to say. How
about there being shallow and deep prajna? I'm afraid it's [just like] the acknowledging of the
Chu fowl long ago.
Crushing Form seeking Emptiness—this is called shallow;
Seeing Emptiness in the fullness of Form—this is called deep.
If you talk of prajna holding fast to Form and Emptiness,
You're in a glass jug, a lame tortoise chasing a flying bird.
[THEN, AT THAT TIME]
He's done it again! Scraping out another piece of perfectly good flesh. Before all the infinite
kalpas in the past and beyond all those to come, the Feather-edged Blade gleams coldly in its
scabbard-case with a wonderful vibrant radiance. A luminous gem brought forth on its setting
in the black of night.
Yesterday morning I swept out the soot of the old year;
Tonight I pound rice for the New Year goodies;
There's a pine tree with roots, and oranges with green leaves—
I put on a fresh new robe to await the coming guests.
CLEAR[LY=ILLUMINATES AND], SEES
The invincible Diamond Eye is free of even the finest dusts. But don't go blinking it open over
a bed of flying lime-dust! Where does this "seeing" take place? The entire earth is the eyeball
of a Buddhist monk. It's just as Gensha said.
A midge works a mill in the eye of a mite;
A germ spins a web inside a nit's ear;
Tushita heaven, the world of man, the floors of hell,
Stark clear as a mango on the palm of the hand.
THE FIVE GROUPS VOID
The marvelous tortoise drags its tail. How to avoid these traces? Forms are like the Iron
Surrounding Mountains, sense and thought like the Diamond Sword, urge and known like
the Wish-fulfilling Gem. You only know the journey you're on is long, not conscious also of
the yellow dusk.
Acknowledging others' form, sense, thought, urge and known;
Hanging to them to make yourself beautiful, ashamed of yourself;
Like unto floating bubbles retained on the water's surface
Or else like flashing lightning that cracks the vast empty sky.
FREE OF ALL PAIN, GRIEF.
In a guest's cup a bow's shadow was once mis-taken for a snake. In the dream, very clearly,
the Three Worlds are there. Come awake, utterly empty, and the Billions of Worlds aren't!
From behind an ogre pushes the flat and in front an ogre opposes.
Both lay it on with such effort their whole bodies sweat.
From evening they vie, resist till the dawn spreads across heaven:
Stifling laughter, recognizing themselves as oneswho care
greatly for each other.
Faugh! He=s an arhat with insignificant fruition. What good qualities does he have in whose
presence the Buddhas and patriarchs have to beg for their lives? Where [in what situations]
does he conceal, or reveal and manifest, them? In Vimalakirti's sick room he was unable to
transform a woman's body. Is he forgetting—or rejecting—being seven parts overbearing and
eight parts upset?
[His] Wisdom was the best branch of Jeta's grove.
He alarmed Long Nails into a hurry while carried in the womb.
He went himself to the Great One, leaving us this text.
He was Rahula's religious teacher, the Mynah Woman's son.
FORM=S NAUGHT BUT VOID, VOID NAUGHT BUT FORM
A pot of soup we love gets polluted with a couple of rat droppings and we reject it. Excellent
food is not fit for someone that's satiated to eat. Sweeping aside waves seeking water, the
waves being water!
Form doesn't mask emptiness, emptiness is the essence of form;
Emptiness doesn't break up form, form embodies emptiness.
Form and emptiness are nondual within the gates of Dharma,
Where a lame turtle
brushing his eyebrows
stands in the evening breeze.
FORM=S THE REAL VOID, VOID THE REAL FORM
How do you furnish a house that's going to be vacant? There's no teaching apes how to climb
trees. And these goods haven't moved for two thousand years. Gensha in his boat, water
dripping from his line.
Yellow the orioles,
The breeze lightly
Emulating drumming to their lute.
Reddish the peachtrees,
The sun=s warmth
Thinning their cage of haze.
With moth eyebrows
And cicada foreheads,
A group of women
A flowering branch
On a polychrome-damask shoulder.
AND SENSE, THOUGHT, URGE, KNOWN ARE THE SAME.
This is lying down amid the undergrowth. See something strange without estrangement and it
disintegrates. A snow Buddha: the sun comes out, and then—it's just disgraceful! I, amid them,
don't see such things as strange and supernatural.
Earth, air, fire and water are the tracks of flying birds;
Form, sense, thought and urge flowers in your eyes.
The stone womanThe clay ox
Throws the shuttle Kicks into the waves
Lean-armed Glare-of-scorn, fanged.
SHARISSON, ALL THINGS ARE VOID VIEWS
Rub your eyes hard and flowers bloom in them. There never was each thing. Why seek void
views? As well ease nature onto a pure place.
The mountains and rivers, the great earth
Care sea-serpent towers bubbling up;
Earth's hells and heaven's halls
Ca sea market.
The Pure Land and this impure world
Care a turtle-hair brush,
Birth-and-death and Nirvana
Ca hare-horn cane.
UNBORN, UNGONE, UNSOILED, UNWASHED, NOR WAX
Can fresh fruit be balefully struck dead like this? What's the trick with "All things are unborn,
ungone."? If they're not deceived, people are OK. Hand and elbow [: the arm] outward-bending.
The kids in your eyes—come out to meet guests;
The Valley Spirit never dies—waiting on anyone's call.
The thronging-life world transgresses—unpolluted with evil;
Every Buddha-land contains—no pure views at all.
With 84,000 Dharma-gates as your lot in life—do you lack anything?
Containing billions of Buddha-lands—as if next to insubstantial.
On the Handan pillow—new honors and position
And, entering Nanko—receiving land-taxes and rents.
SO IN VOID
Foxes' dens, demons' caves—how many of you disciples are beguiled and fall into them? The
heavy, oppressive black darkness of a deep pit. This certainly can bring fear and trembling.
Cold and hunger are a pair of phoenixes for these hundred-odd monks.
Each spreads his winter-solstice fan to offer greetings to the new sun
On the wall-hanging, the blue-eyed, red-bearded venerable.
A vase of ice, and, like fine flesh on bone, fragrant and beautiful... .
Cold locks the lute's lips and the golden oriole's tongue.
Warmth, fleeting on the straw-mat zazen platform, is the red unicorn's birthing.
In woven floss-grass wrappers, presents: wild yams.
Carefully packaged rings, donated for[this old one: sugar candy.
THERE=S NO FORM, NO SENSE, THOUGHT, URGE, KNOWN;
"Dreams, fantasies, flowers in the air—why take the trouble to grasp them? You must let go of
gain-and-loss and right [that=s it!]-and-wrong[!] and pass them by." It's a matter of repeating the
same order over and over. What's the point of using "void" without quitting the subject?
A vast and wide, empty and frozen,
silent and desolate plain.
Mountains and rivers and the great earth
are just names.
Open [analyze] the mind into four [sense, thought, urge, known]
and close [combine] forms into one.
Mind and form always have been
an empty ravine'echoes.
NO EYE, EAR, NOSE, TONGUE, FRAME, MIND;
NO FORM, SOUND, SMELL, TASTE, TOUCH, THOUGHT;
NO EYE WORLDCON TO NO MIND-THOUGHT WORLD;
Here are eyes, ears, nose, tongue, frame and mind! Here are forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touch
Autumn's clear sky
On the vast plain—
No travelers at all
On a horse
From the six sensings are produced the six fields ["senseds"] afloat.
The mind-sensor taking a break gives rise to the six dusts [sensings]
taking a break.
The roots [sensors], fields [senseds] and discriminations [sensings]
make eighteen realms
Cjust like the iron-gray-blue deep producing a bubble.
NO STUPOR AND NO STUPOR'S ENDCON TO NO AGE-DEATH AND NO AGE-
A purple gauze curtain—in it, scattered pearls; a torn cloth bag—in it, a pearl. Tell it correctly,
know it is the mani-gem.
The cow drinks water that becomes milk;
The snake drinks water that becomes venom.
The Five-fold clouds constantly pressed for—people never reach; the still, desolate [former]
Ascetic's house of twelve storeys.
Twelve Conditions produce twelve Quenchings;
Producings are called common people and quenchings sages.
These connections the Pratyeka-Buddha who contemplates
Floating and flying in emptiness, dust in the eyes,
Able to respect the all-embracing, instantaneous great Wheel of the Law
CAnd, in the Wheel of the Law's shadow, relates to, offers and selects
A transgressing, scabby, itching jackal body.
NO PAIN, CAUSE, END, WAY;
At daybreak beyond the bamboo blind, jewels! The fool meets them with sword raised. In water,
the salt taste; in colorful beauty, the size—drab, neutral color of nature. White the egrets settling in a
field: a thousand flakes of snow; yellow the orioles perched on a tree: a single branch of flowers.
Solid-red, the four iron Kunlun Mountains,
At midnight they put on straw sandals and run away beyond the clouds;
The Truth of Cause, the Truth of Pain, The Truths of the Way and End
Neither end nor are born—nor are all-embracing or instantaneous.
Kaundinya, Bhadrika and Kulika
Didn't get it themselves—it nevertheless illuminated their face-gates.
Don't think Deer Park was rattling shrimps and clams;
The Golden Hermit was quietly anticipating the Mahayana roots.
NO WISDOM, NO GAIN.
Even doing housekeeping in the house [tomb] of this dead spirit! Those who misunderstand these
words are very many. Gazing fixedly inside the coffin. What's clearly evident is Prince-Chang-on-
paper. Call with the loudest voice you can muster—and he won't respond.
In blackness a fire, clear as in a cave, the blackness darkly lit.
Boundless heaven and earth change
their [respective] profound [night] and yellow colors
Mountains and rivers are not there to mirror with contemplation.
Hundreds of millions of worlds have to be deprived [of them],
SO WITH NAUGHT TO GAIN, BODHISATTVAS
Drop this "manifesting as" stuff!—clutching the loot, calling [on others] to bow down. Accord with
conditions, [and you are] going to and serving delusions. There will be none that are not always all
around you. And yet [you'll] constantly abide in the bodhi seat. If you don't get clear about 3, 8,
9Cyou=ll face [your] states with a lot to think about.
Hastily, rudely called everyone, of great determination!—
Enters the three hellish destinies, suffering for us all,
Roams playfully in all directions, not waiting to be invited,
Having decided never to accept the small fruit of partial truths,
Goes beyond seeking enlightenment to transform
having circumstances and feelings,
In vain upright and indulgent, dissolving, perishing, self-exhausting,
Eternally urging on the wheel of his vow for the benefit of us all.
TRUST PRAJNA PARAMITA;
Oppressive suffering, wincing pain! If you see a single thing you can trust and rely on, suddenly the
situation [you're in] has to spit it out—disclose and reject it. Yuzhou I can probably take; most
distressing is Jiangnan.
Talk about arhats having greed [for "headway"] and anger if you like;
By no means say bodhisattvas trust prajna.
If you see a single thing there to trust to—
Wrongly "unblocked," immediately you're attached and bound.
The essences of the bodhisattva and of prajna are indistinguishable
CLike pearls darting on a [playing] board, lightly, randomly, falling off.
Neither simple nor wise nor sage-or-commoner,
Just hating, having painted a snake, to add on a pair of legs.
THUS 1MIND'S UNBLOCKED. 2NO BLOCKAGE, SO 3HAVE NO FEAR; 4FAR PAST ALL
UPSIDE-DOWN VAIN HOPES,
That's nothing special. Supernatural penetrative power and marvelous activity—drawing water and
carrying firewood. Raising my head, the evening glow is there; where I'm from is its dwelling place in
1Neither the mind to nor [true] nature [for] nor nirvana;
Neither Buddha, nor patriarchs nor prajna:
The ten [Dharma] worlds a holeless searing iron hammer:
Emptiness knocked to pieces: constant, vast, boundless.
2Just by opening his mouth, the lion gets frowns and groans
Of foxes, rabbits and raccoon dogs, thoroughly alarmed, overawed.
Adapting to beings, manifesting himself like a master magician,
Going with the chances, turning with change without making
3Seeing her about Mother Li's afflicted left shoulder,
Repeatedly he burns moxa on Granny Zhang=s healthy right leg.
Upside-down vain hopes, fear, dread and gloom
Seem like a single drop thrown into the great ocean.
4When ChX was dispatched to Qi, he wore fine light furs;
When Li passed away, he had a coffin but no outer coffin.
Shouting rouses the monk napping in his hut,
Telling him country boys broke through the bamboo fence
to steal bamboo joint sheaths.
NIRVANA AFTER ALL.
Betraying people, entrapping youth, year after year, self-sufficient. Even doing housekeeping in the
house [tomb] of this dead spirit! To fill what stinking skin and socks? The upright people of our
family are not like that. With us, the father covers for the son, the son for the father.
All thronging lives' life-and-death mentality
Is directly connected to each and every Buddha=s Great Nirvana.
A wooden hen
Incubating[/interring!] an egg
standing on a coffin of wood;
A ceramic horse
Chasing after the wind
Back to where it's from: a [trinket-]string.
ALWAYS BUDDHAS TRUST PRAJNA PARAMITA
Oppressing the well-bred for the sake of the low and mean. Generally, their flesh and bones [bodies]
are good enough without painting them with rouge: they naturally carry themselves well... Boiling
water with no cold place.
Prajna brings forth each Buddha, past, present and future.
All Buddhas, always, live prajna.
Acting as master and attendant inexhaustibly ... OMCSULU!
Ancient nests enduring the gale to the cries of cranes coming to roost.
THUS GAIN ANUTTARA SAMYAKSAMBODHI.
You can't drive a spike into empty space. Even though calves get the ability to give birth to offspring,
still no Buddha will rely on prajna to get insight. And why? Because prajna and insight are in essence
not two. And, even more, if a Buddha had a single thing he could get, he'd immediately be no
Tathagata. It's just like a great mass of fire—in the immediate vicinity of which Buddhas and
patriarchs also immediately lose their bodies and their lives.
It would be vain for an otter to use a tree to catch fish in;
Buddhas don't rely on anything to get insight.
To say a Tathagata has a single thing to get
Is like saying every arhat had a wife.
SO KNOW PRAJNA PARAMITA IS THE GREAT PRECIOUS ...
Carrying water to the river's source to sell. What a stack of lacquer ware!—by no means dream such
up. Characters in sutras—three times they write "write" and "right" becomes "night" becomes "might".
And this is a bit of showing off [the wares]. A night thief doesn't tread on white spots; never water,
usually they're stones.
What's worthy of respect is the "Self-Nature" great precious mantra—
That turns the hot iron ball into finest ghee.
The realms of Hell, Jambudvipa and Heaven:
A single flower of snow fallen on a red-hot stove.
[IS] THE [GREAT] LUCID MANTRA
It's pointless to say "great lucid mantra"—break off the unhewn staff you found in the mountains for
support. From the beginning the great earth's darkness has been deep and vast. The heavens and the
ground lose their appearances. Sun and moon swallow their bright shinings. A black lacquer pail full of
We've already got the great lucid mantra to perfection—
That peacefully, silently, lights up all the mountains and rivers.
Asea in imponderable barriers, transgressions of past kalpas—
Froth floating on the water, flowers in the eyes.
[IS] THE SUPREME ...
How about under your heels? It's the very lowest, the bottommost mantra for me!
Though falling leaves
Are as sympathetic as
The feeling of sprinkling rain
The yellow timothy-grass
CHow like the intimacy
Of evening clouds!
The most supreme, most honored, most number-one—
Sakya and Maitreya are as if slaves to it.
This is what everyone is equipped with from the beginning,
But we need to regenerate our cut-off posterity among people.
[IS THE] INCOMP'RABLE MANTRA,
Talk makes pairs of poles [dichotomizes]. Where could that single pole [the mantra] manifest itself?
Who says it has no equal that it's paired with, above, below or in the four quarters? Seven flowers split
Tokuun, the mild old gimlet!
CCountless times he=s gone all the way down from Wonder Peak's
Getting other idiot sages
To help carry snow and fill up the well together.
In past years, winter cold has afflicted the plum;
Getting rain for once, it blooms!
Scattered shadows—as the moon shifts they move the other way;
A dark fragrance—the breeze comes with it.
The tree that was buried in snow yesterday—
Its branches again bear flowers now.
Suffering the distress of winter cold—how much?
How precious—this paragon of all the plant kingdom.
CAN CLEAR EV=RY PAIN.
Pulling a lily bulb apart seeking the center. Whittling a square bamboo staff perfectly round. Stretching
skin over a soft purple felt wrapper. Nine nines always have been eighty-one. When the one nine and
the other meet, neither lends a hand [offers the other part of itself].
You, if your mind is empty, will pass the exam—
Your five groups and four great elements instantly fiery ashes,
Heaven's halls' and hell's enclosures' household furniture,
The Buddha's realm and Mara's minions all confused and destroyed.
The yellow orioles proclaim and noise about "White Snow" in concert;
Blind turtle, bearing a sword, mounts the lamppost.
If anyone wants to get this samadhi,
They must once clear the vile mud puddle throughout their body.
IT=S TRUE, NO LIE
This and that are of all sizes—it's false, absurd. The arrow is flying over Silla. All day, every day,
shoulder to shoulder—how shall we be born?
Yan of Qi killed three gentlemen.
Wei of Shu destroyed two generals.
Imitated a rooster crowing to give tigers the slip.
Selling dog meat, hung out a sheep['s head].
5Presented a deer to see who'd yield.
Wore a bee to cut off a father's hopes.
Tao Zhu led the Lady of Yue by the hand.
JX XXn surrendered to the King of Chu.
Swallowed down charcoal and lay in ambush under a bridge.
10Threw a hairpin in and wept beside the well.
Carried the king's corpse with a load of [smelly] bream.
He broke his father's teeth; bite his ear.
In broad daylight, it would have been repairing, replacing;
In secret, it was crossing at Chen Cang.
15If this is intimately seen and penetrated,
Then in the casket is a yard of glittering steel.
SO CHANT THE PRAJNA PARAMITA
Is it in front of you? It's like someone who hates drunkenness sending in wine. The wine being strong, it's good
not to have many cups. For ten years I haven't had to go back; I forget the Way I came.
It's recommended—and, that finished—again!
Pile up a heap of snow and, on top of it, pile up a heap of snow.
Still attending to it again, not avoiding its circumstances.
For whom, after we're drunk, are you setting out more cups?
CHANT JUST THIS LINE
This is the second repetition, dwelling on this. Fishing chanteys, woodcutter's songs—where, here, are they writ
out? The orioles calling, the swallows twittering—what do they say? By no means wade out to sea to pick out
bubbles in the froth.
These forty-two reckless and forced seven-character [lines]
And four more of five characters walling it about
Are not present to all the lofty and clear venerable ones;
They're for [you] hut-dwelling, hungry, cold disciples.
For unless you find the Way, and transform your self,
You stay trapped and entangled down a bottomless pit.
And don't try to tell me my poems are too hard—
Face it, the problem is your own Eyeless state.
When you come to a word you don't understand, quick,
10Bite it at once! Chew it right to the pith!
Once you're soaked to the bone with death's cold sweat,
All the koan Zen has are yanked up, root and stem.
With toil and trouble, I too once glimpsed the Edge—
Smashed the Scale that works with a blind arm;
15When that Tool of Unknowing is shattered for good.
You fill with the fierceness and courage of lions.
Zen is blessed with the power to bring this about,
Why not use it to bore through to Perfect integrity?
People these days turn away as if it were dirt,
20Who is there to carry on the life-thread of Wisdom?
Don't think I'm an old man who just likes to make poems,
My motive is one: to rouse men of talent wherever they are.
The superior will know at a glance where the arrow flies,
The mediocre will just prattle about the rhythm and rhyme.
25Ssu-ma of the Sung was a true prince among men;
What a shame that eyes of such worth remained unopened!
Whenever he read difficult "hard-to-pass" koans,
He said they were riddles made to vex young monks;
For gravest crimes man is sure to feel repentance—
30Slander of the Dharma is no minor offense!
Crowds of these miscreants are at large in the world,
The Zen landscape is barren beyond belief.
If you have grasped the Mind of the Buddha-patriarchs,
How could you possibly be blind to their words?
35To determine how authentic your own attainment is,
The words of the Patriarchs are like bright mirrors.
Zen practice these days is all cocksure and shallow;
They follow others' words, or fancies of their own;
When hearsay and book-learning can satisfy your needs,
40The Patriarchal Gardens are a million miles away.
So I beseech you, Great Men, forget your own welfare!
Make the Five-petalled Zen Flower blossom once more!
GATE, GATE, PARAGATE, PARASANGATE, BODHI SVAHA!
The superior person is easy to serve, yet hard to please.
The sunset haze
With a lone duck
The autumn-bright water
Together with the vast sky
Of one color
From south village
To north village
The rains at first plowing
Serves provisions to mother-in-law
As father-in-law feeds baby mouth-to-mouth
In the winter of the year the era changed to Enkyo
All my principal children [students/sages] agreed to prepare moveable types;
Each character must have come to ten cents
And the sum total already verges on 2,000 characters.
They were determined to preserve these words left from talking in my sleep.
Our mind firm and decided, how could I not be glad?
For them I've added this last verse—
To thank them all for their intimately to-the-point compassion.
The verses over, palms together, I beseech and implore that
When nothing is left of empty space, my [our] vow will not be exhausted;
My aggregate of efficacy from praising prajna
I turn over to all in the Dharma-realm of Thusness.
Entrusting my life to all Buddhas, past, present and future
And to the good, the wise and the patriarchs in all directions
To the guardians of the Dharma: all devas, nagas and demons
And all the kami in this Land of the Inter-upholding Red Hibiscus,
I vow that all my hut-dwelling disciples
Their heart's desire set on the Way, brave and persevering as diamond
Going beyond the profound barrier, passing through—
The pure nature of their Mind, the gem of the precepts, ever perfect and clear
Sweeping all vexing delusive demons clean out of existence—
Will advance and benefit the human multitude with no break expected!