Preaching Dharma

When Master Gichu had taken his seat to lecture, a layman came from the audience and walked from east to west in front of the rostrum. A monk then demonstrated his Zen by walking from west to east. "The layman understands Zen," Gichu said, "but the monk does not."

The layman approached the teacher saying, "I thank you for your approval." Before his speech was ended, the Master struck him with his stick. The monk approached the Master saying, "I implore your instruction," and was also struck with the stick.

Gichu then asked, "Who is going to conclude this koan?" No one in the assembly spoke. Gichu repeated the question twice. Still there was no answer. "Then," said Master Gichu, "I will conclude it." He threw his stick to the floor and returned to his room.

The Zen way of transmitting the Dharma is from mind to mind. It is always simple and direct, though it may seem bizarre and irrational. The layman and the monk both demonstrated their understanding. The Master said that the former understood, the latter didn't. But when the layman thanked the Master, he was struck for clinging to approval. The monk, anxious to attain enlightenment, was also struck. The Zen teacher never hesitates to crush students to break attachment, for most of life's troubles and suffering are caused by attachment. Attachment to favourable conditions is greed; attachment to adverse conditions is anger. And the cause of attachment is ignorance. Greed, anger, and ignorance are the three poisons of life.


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