Once, when he passed a strange monk on the road, Bokushu called, "Venerable Sir!" The monk turned. "A blockhead," Bokushu remarked, then walked on. This event was recorded by some monks, and years later Geccho criticised it saying, "The foolish Bokushu was wrong. Didn't the monk turn? Why should he have been called a blockhead?" Later still, Kaido commented on this criticism: "The foolish Geccho was wrong. Didn't the monk turn? Why shouldn't he be called a blockhead?"

The "blockhead" is the centre of the question. In Chinese, the word blockhead (Tanbankan) means one who sees only one side of things, as, for example, a man carrying a broad board on his left shoulder can see only the right side of the street. Bokushu says anyone who automatically responds to a strange voice is a blockhead - in the Zen way. But Geccho says anyone who does not respond spontaneously when called is a blockhead. So Bokushu is a blockhead - in the Zen way. Along comes Kaido and criticises Geccho. But good and bad, right and wrong, young and old, birth and death, east and west, do not really oppose each other. They are complementary. Any individual who attaches to one and ignores the other - he is the blockhead!


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