Tokusan's Bowl

Tokusan went from the meditation hall to the dining room holding his bowl. Seppo was on duty cooking. When he met Tokusan, he said, "The dinner drum is not yet sounded. Where are you going with your bowl?" So Tokusan returned to his room. Seppo told Ganto about this. Ganto said, "Old Tokusan did not understand the ultimate truth." Tokusan heard this remark and summoned Ganto. "I have heard," he said, "you do not approve my Zen." Ganto admitted this indirectly. Tokusan said no more. But the next day Tokusan delivered an entirely different kind of lecture to the monks. Ganto laughed and clapped his hands, saying, "I see our old man understands ultimate truth indeed. None in China can surpass him."

Both Seppo and Ganto were students of Tokusan. Master Tokusan was about eighty years old when Seppo sent him back to his room with his bowl and Ganto criticised his Zen. Tokusan neither explained nor excused himself. He understood the two students and himself. He was well-matured, completely natural. True life needs no excuse, no explanation. As for the following day's lecture being entirely different, perhaps Tokusan just presented himself as he was, not as a Master to teach students. There is no ultimate truth as such. What one is, is the ultimate truth. Tokusan was indeed a great Master.


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