Joshu Plans a Visit

Joshu was planning a pilgrimage to a mountain temple when an elder monk, Daitoku, wrote a poem and gave it to him:

Every place a holy place -
Why travel to the mountain?
If, to the Enlightened Eye,
The fabled golden lion in the sky
Appeared, it would seem commonplace.

"What," Joshu asked, "is the Enlightened Eye?" The monk made no reply.

Both Joshu and Daitoku present good points. Joshu's planned visit was to famous Mount Tendai where Manjusri, symbol of wisdom and often depicted astride a lion, is enshrined. Daitoku's poem was a Zen challenge: every place is a good place for meditation; the very spot where you are is the golden spot, so why go to Mount Tendai? Do you think Manjusri is there? Manjusri is everywhere. And even if you should see an omen in the clouds, one who has the Enlightened Eye doesn't put any store in such things. Joshu counterattacked. "What," he asked, "is the Enlightened Eye?" Maybe Daitoku had only a beautiful, intellectual understanding of Zen after all.


Popular Posts