When Dharma fills Body and Mind 

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When Dharma Fills Body and Mind Tenshin Reb Anderson No Abode, July 14, 2012 AFTERNOON


Transcribed by Karen Mueller
Various date discrepancies between tape, transcript and notes.

References: Zen’s Chinese Teachers: the Masters and Teaching by Andy Ferguson. Wisdom Publication 2011 pp163-166 “Chuanzi-Decheng” (ZTC) Note: During the telling of the story, Reb read this to us from the book. His commentary is bracketed. I separated the text from the commentary as well as I could but please re-check if you are planning to publish something from this piece as I may have inadvertently mixed his commentary with the direct reading.


There is eating food before and after enlightenment. There is practice before and after enlightenment. It’s not like you eat and practice and then you get enlightened and you don’t have to eat anymore or you don’t have to practice anymore. The Buddha demonstrated that she ate before she was enlightened. Actually she stopped eating and then started again and became enlightened and continued to eat afterwards. And also practiced up to the point of enlightenment and continued to practice afterwards. Some people think that they won’t have to eat anymore after they are enlightened. Some people might also even think that after they are enlightened they won’t have to feel any feelings, but I don’t agree with that. I think the Buddha feels feelings. It’s just that the Buddha has no craving in the field of feelings. The Buddha has feelings, has sensations but no craving and no suffering. So the Buddha can feel pain. Awakened person can feel pain or pleasure, but they don’t suffer with pain or pleasure because they don’t have any desire because they continue to practice. 
Although we live in a shell, we are not determined. We are never determined even by the shell which we are living in and which we think is real. We are still not determined even though we are totally fooled by our mental constructions. We are still not determined. And even though we are not, we are never determined, we never really change. Of course, in a sense we are changing all the time, but basically we don’t change. We continue to live in the world of illusion, however we realize complete freedom from it and joy in teaching others about this. We do not break our bond with the world when we become free and yet we are truly free. We go beyond the limitations, which never really did limit us, by understanding that they never really limited us, but we don’t cease our bond with the world that appears to be limiting. So the chick inside the egg, the hen outside. Peck, peck, peck. The chick becomes free of the shell but the hen never really did get separated or ceased to be in the shell. The hen just understands the shell is just a construction. And the hen also understands that that construction is completely given and therefore it is completely constructed and therefore we can be free. And we are. So I promised to start telling you some stories about another lineage of chicks and hens, didn’t I? So now I start but we probably won’t be able to finish this lineage because it’s a long one. So I told you .. Once a time, there was a monk called Xiangyan and he studied with Baizhang. At the same time that Baizhang was teaching, there was another teacher teaching in China. They were contemporary great teachers. The other teacher’s name was Yaoshan. (Yaoshan which means “Medicine Mountain”). Now the lineage of this temple and the San Francisco Zen Center comes directly down from Yaoshan. We respect the lineage of Baizhang and the people in our lineage studied… some of the successors of Yaoshan studied with Baizhang but didn’t become in his lineage. So we have Yaoshan who is one of our great ancestors. There are three of his students that I want to mention. One’s name is Yunyan which means “Cloud Cliff” and he is a direct ancestor of this lineage. His Dharma brothers are Daowu and Decheng. So those three are the three most noted students of Yaoshan. And Yunyen is the person through whom the Soto lineage comes down. The all studied with Yaoshan. Decheng studied with Yaoshan for closely for thirty years and practiced the way of the Buddha with Yaoshan for thirty years and wit these two close friends Daowu and Yunyan. When he left Mount Yao, when he left Yaoshan, he said to his Dharma brothers, “You too much each go into the world your separate ways and uphold the essence of our teacher’s path. Your nature. My nature is undisciplined. I delight in nature and do as I please. I’m not fit to be head of a monastery like you.” That’s what Decheng said. “But I’ll keep in touch with you and let you know where I am”. Following me? He’s leaving his friends. He’s going off now. He’s studied thirty years with his teacher. He’s going off now. He studied thirty years with his teacher and he’s going off from the monastery. He’s a successor of his teacher but he’s going off. He’s not going to go and start a monastery. “But I’ll tell you where I am and if you come upon a person who is really ripe [who is just about ready to break out of the egg shell] send him [or her] to me. [Following this? Good] Let me teach him [or her] and I’ll pass on everything I’ve learned from our master in this life. In this way, I can repay the kindness of our late teacher.” So I guess Yaoshan died and when Yaoshan died, Decheng said, “Ok, I’m going to go do as I please now. Now that my teacher is not here to help, for me to serve him.” “So Decheng departed and went to Huating [and Huating is Hua Lake. It’s a big lake in China.] And there he lived his life rowing a small boat transporting travelers across the river.” Next time I tell this story I will tell you the name of the river. But anyway a river came out of this big lake and he took people across the river. So they called him “The Boatman. He has the honor of being the Boatman of Chinese Zen. When you say, “Boatman” this is the person we are talking about. He ferried people across the river; like all bodhisattvas vow to do. I’ll just mention here that one time… oh, the people he was taking across, they did not know that the ferry-person who was taking them across was a person of far-reaching ability. In fact a genuine successor of one of the great masters of Buddha Dharma in China. They did not know that. He didn’t tell them. He just gave them rides and he probably asked them to pay him something too. “One day a government official came to the river and asked him [I think maybe this official also didn’t know that he was talking to a zen master.] He said, “what do you do all day?” Decheng held up his oar straight in the air and said, “Do you understand?” And the official said, “I don’t understand”. And Decheng said, “If you only row in clear waters, it’s hard to find the golden fish.” We don’t know… It doesn’t say what the official thought of that. But then Decheng gave him a (one, two three, four, five, six) a six-stanza poem which is probably really good in Chinese. If I tell this story again, next month, or later, I’ll read the whole poem. But I’m not going to read the poem..I’m just going to tell you he did this long poem to this official. Ok? Can I just skip the poem now please. Ok? “Later Daowu [Remember who Daowu was? One of his Dharma brothers who he told “If you see somebody who is really ready for the teaching, send them to me.”] So Daowu traveling around, he went to a monastery called Jingkou where he happened to see a monk named Jiashan Shanhui give a lecture. And a monk came up to the lecturer whose name was Jiashan, and asked him, “What is the true body of Buddha?” And Jiashan said, “The true body is formless.” The monk said, “What is the Dharma eye [the eye of truth]?” And Jiashan said, “The eye of truth is without defect.” When Daowu heard this he laughed out loudly in spite of himself.” In Chinese monasteries, in those times and even later, you weren’t supposed to laugh during the talks, unlike here. Go ahead. Laugh. Thank you. You can laugh here but there you weren’t supposed to laugh but he did anyway. He couldn’t help himself. It says, “In spite of himself, he laughed out loud at the lecturer”. Now this lecturer apparently was quite ripe. He wasn’t totally arrogant. He was a teacher but he was somewhat aware of making slow progress and not understanding completely. He wasn’t totally arrogant even though he was giving talks. That’s another joke. “When Daowu laughed, Jiashan got down from the lecture platform and went over to Daowu and said, “Something I said in my answer to the monk was not correct and it caused you to laugh out loud. Please do not withhold your compassionate instruction about this.” And Daowu said, “You’ve gone into the world to teach, right? But do you have a teacher or not?” And Jiashan said, “No I haven’t had a teacher. May I ask you to be my teacher?” And Daowu said, “I can’t speak of it. But I invite you to go see the Boatman at Huating.” Jiashan said, “Who is he?” And Da-wu said, “Above him there is not a single roof-tile, below him there is not a ground to plant a hoe”. [Remember last time that other guy couldn’t plant a hoe? He’s another guy like that. Can’t find any place to put his hoe.] “If you want to see him, you must change into your travel clothes.” [So after the meeting Jiashan changed into his travel clothes, packed his bag and set out for?... Huating. The big lake.] “When the boatman saw him coming [when the boatman saw Jiashan coming] he yelled out to him, “Your reverence!” [So the boatman maybe looked like a monk; but maybe he didn’t even look like a monk. Who knows? But anyway, Jiashan knew he was going to meet the boatman and the boatman saw probably this very elegant monk coming, this big Buddhist teacher. But he still said,] “Your reverence! In what temple do you reside?” And Jiashan said, “I don’t abide in a temple. I live in a temple of No Abode. Where I abide is not like…” And Decheng interrupted and said, “Not like? Not like what?” and Jao-shan said, “It’s not like the Dharma that meets your eyes.” [This translation could be different. The word “Dharma” could mean teaching but it also could mean thing. So it also could be translated, “It’s not like something that meets your eyes.”] “Where I abide is not like something that meets your eyes”] And Decheng said, “Where did you learn this teaching?” And Jiashan said, “Not in a place which eyes or ears can perceive”. And Decheng, the Boatman said, “A single phrase and you fall into the path of principle. Then you are like a donkey tethered to a post for a thousand eons.” [So he is saying this stuff, which is the Dharma, but he is still looking at the shell, you know. And the Boatman is calling him on this.] 
“Then Decheng, the Boatman said, “You’ve let down a thousand foot fishing line. You are fishing very deep. But your hook is still three inches shy. [Three inches short.] Why don’t you say something!” As Jiashan was about to speak, the Boatman knocked him into the water with his oar. [And I would say the Boatman watched him to see if he could swim. It’s very important when the teachers knock the people in the water, that they keep an eye on them. And they know how, should have life-saving instructions. So he had studied with Yaoshan for a long time and Yaoshan had taught him life-saving skills so he could push people into the water and if they couldn’t swim, he could help them. But this guy anyway}, Jiashan was able to clamber out of the water, back into the boat. And the Boatman yelled at him, “Speak! Speak!” Jiashan tried to speak but before he could, the Boatman struck him again. Suddenly [you know what happened then. Jiashan broke through the shell without making a dent in it because the shell is totally insubstantial. You can break through without cracking it After he broke through, after he had the great break-through..] He nodded his head three times [Like this. Something like that.]. Then the Boatman said, “Now that you are one with the pole and the line, just act on your own and don’t defile the clear waters.” Ok. So now the hen has broken out and the hen, excuse me the chick has broken out. The chick and the hen are both forgotten. And then the new hen says, “What do you mean throw out the line and cast down the pole?” And the Boatman says, “The fishing line hangs in the deep green water, drifting without intention”. And Jiashan said, “There is no path whereby words may gain entry to the essence. The tongue speaks but cannot speak”. The Boatman said, “When the hook disappears into the water of the river the golden fish is encountered.” Jiashan covered his ears. [It sounds really nice in there.] Then the Boatman said. “That’s it! That’s it!” He then encouraged Jiashan by saying, “Hereafter conceal yourself in a place without a trace. If the place has any sign, don’t stay there.” [You know like a sign ‘teacher here’ ‘zen master here’ You might go sit someplace where’s there’s a place without a trace and people might come up and put a little sign above you. ‘Look what’s here!’ Don’t stay.] And then the Boatman said, “I stayed with Yaoshan for thirty years and what I learned there I pass to you today.” [Pretty fast hey? That’s the advantage of getting a ripe one. “Send me a ripe one so I can finish her off fast!] “I’ve just given you all that I learned in thirty years. Now that you have it, stay away from crowded cities. Instead, plant your hoe deep in the mountains. Find one person, or half a person, who won’t let this die”. [Just want to let you know that he does find one person or half a person later in the next check that comes. You’ll hear about that later.] Jiashan then bid the boatman good-bye and as he walked away, he looked back at the Boatman suddenly yelled, “Your Reverence!” Jiashan stopped and the Boatman held up his oar and said, “Do you say that there’s anything else?” And he tipped over his boat and disappeared into the water, never to be seen again.” So that’s the story about a chicken, a hen and a chick and how they worked that out. There are several more generations to come, which I hope to tell you about in the future. We have ten more seconds if you’d like to say anything? Nine? Q. Why did he tip the boat over and disappear? A. I don’t know. I don’t know if he died. Actually I started to tell these stories because someone asked me to tell some stories about how zen masters related to death or how they taught as they were dying. And these next three stories, each one ends with the teacher dying in quite amazing ways. So the way they, in all these stories, the teacher works with the student, the student becomes a teacher and then the teacher dies in all these stories. So there’s both how the teacher taught but also how the teacher taught as the teacher was pretty close to death. In some cases..we don’t know for sure that he died, but he disappeared under the water and maybe he did. He had been studying with Yaochan for thirty years and then he had been working as a ferry person for however many years helping people across the river who were asking him what he did all day. Who knows how many people he helped carrying them across the river. We don’t know how many years that was. But if you.. you know he probably was pretty old by the time his successor was sent to him by his brother. So maybe he did die because he did his job. He repaid his teacher. So, you know, there’s helping people and there’s also finding somebody else who will take care of the tradition. He did both. He was helping many people across the river and finally he found a successor who he could train without having a monastery. Just a boat, an oar and the water. He knew how to use that stuff. So I hope you learn how to use your stuff. The end.