Sixty Blows

Tozan went to Unmon, who asked Tozan where he had come from. Tozan said, "From Sato village." Unmon asked, "In what temple did you remain for the summer?" Tozan replied, "The temple of Hoji, south of the lake." "When did you leave there?" Unmon asked, wondering how long Tozan would continue with such factual answers. "The twenty-fifth of August," answered Tozan. Unmon said, "I should give you sixty blows with a stick, but today I forgive you." The next day Tozan bowed to Unmon and said, "Yesterday you forgave me sixty blows. I do not know why you thought me wrong." Unmon, rebuking Tozan's spiritless responses, said, "You are good for nothing. You simply wander from one monastery to another." Before Unmon's words were ended, Tozan was enlightened.

Since it was the first meeting between Tozan and his teacher, Unmon, Tozan was answering the questions very innocently, and he did not understand why he deserved sixty blows. When he asked about it the following day, Unmon said, in effect, "Damned fool! Good for nothing! Waste of time!" The question is whether Tozan's factual, spiritless answers, a result of his lack of awareness, merit the sixty blows or not. A legend says that the mother lion pushes her cubs off a cliff three days after they are born; she will raise the cubs that come back. Life's true lessons are stern. To learn, one must be aware.


Popular Posts