Chu Gives Three Calls

Today's teisho is from the Mumonkan, The Gate of No Barrier, Case 17, "Chu the National Teacher Gives Three Calls."

The National Teacher called his attendant three times, and three times the attendant answered. The National Teacher said, "I long feared that I was betraying you, but really it was you who were betraying me."


The National Teacher called three times, and his tongue fell to the ground. The attendant responded three times, and he gave his answer with brilliance. The National Teacher was old and lonely; he held the cow's head and forced it to eat grass. The attendant would have none of it; delicious food has little attraction for a man who is satiated. Tell me, at what point was the betrayal? When the country is flourishing, talent is prized. When the home is wealthy, the children are proud.


He carried an iron yoke with no hole
And left a curse to trouble his descendants.
If you want to hold up the gate and the doors,
You must climb a mountain of swords with bare feet.

I want to thank all of you for coming this morning. All over New Jersey right now, people are just getting out of bed. Many people look forward all week to their Saturdays. They work hard and they think, “On Saturday, I’m finally going to be able to sleep in. I’m going to get up late and have a leisurely cup of coffee. Maybe I’ll to read the paper too. Or I could go to Dunkin Donuts and get a donut. Just takin’ it easy!” And yet, everyone in his room decided not to do that. Some of you got up very early indeed to come here. I know that some of you had to drive here from far away–in some cases, more than hour away. If we start at seven o’clock and it takes an hour to get here, then you left your home around five-thirty or six. That means you got up around four-thirty or five. And you’ve probably had a difficult week. You’ve probably had to work hard and you’re tired. I myself had a difficult week. I’m a teacher, an English teacher, and if you’re in the English teacher business, you always have a big stack of papers to grade. This week I had a huge stack of papers I’ve been trying to get through, and I had to give them back on Friday. My students like me to give them extensions on their papers, but they don’t like to give me extensions for returning their papers! Basically, they want the papers turned around within a week. In fact, if they submit their papers on a Friday, they will ask me the following Tuesday, “Do you have our papers yet?” And I’ll say, “Give me one more day, please!” But this week I was scared to go into the classroom and say to them, “I’ll need another day,” because a week had already gone by. So I stayed up all night on Thursday to get the papers back on Friday. I’m a teacher and that’s my job, and I take pride in doing it well.

But you know, something made me get out bed early this morning and come here, even though I was a little tired. Something made me do it. Everybody in this room acted in the same way. Something made you get up this morning at 4:30 to get here by 7:00. Or something made you get up in time to be here by 9:30. Or something made you get up and come here just now, in time for the teisho, when you could be in bed with the coffee, the Dunkin Donuts, and the New York Times. And you have to ask yourself, “Why the hell did I do this?” It’s a very interesting question. There is a simple way to answer it, and a more complicated one. The first answer comes to us from early Buddhism, the second from the Mahayana school.

This semester I’ve been teaching a course called “The Buddhist Path." It’s a special course that Rutgers College is offering in conjunction with the recent visit of the Dalai Lama here. The class started with early Buddhism and we ended with contemporary Buddhism. The early Buddhists thought in very straightforward terms. There was samsara, and there was nirvana, and it was all very clear. Samsara is a condition we each know directly. We experience it again and again. It’s not necessarily “misfortune.” Samsara is more like “unhappiness.” Unhappiness is a little bit different from misfortune. You could go driving on Rt. 287 and have an accident, as Kritee did this week, but if you’re still alive when it’s all over, you could be very happy. Everybody around you, everyone who knows you, could be very happy. No, samsara is when you just feel rather bleak and unhappy. For inexplicable reasons, you’re just not happy. There are lots of people who live like that. I was reading the other day about the number of Americans who are on antidepressant drugs. It’s a huge number. The figure the article gave was something like fifty percent of all adult Americans, using some kind of antidepressant. Now, on further reflection, I see that this figure can’t be right–I’m going to have to investigate. It can’t be fifty percent because that would mean that every other person you know would be on Prozac, but the figure is still probably quite high. When I think about all the people I know who actually are taking Prozac and drugs like that, the proper figure might very well be twenty or thirty percent, anyway. And of course, whether or not we’re talking about medications, I’ve seen my share of unhappiness in my own life and I’ve certainly seen unhappiness in the lives of people close to me.

As I was saying to the students in my Buddhism class, one of the first things my father taught me how to do was to make him a martini, because he would come home from work and he would often be a little down, so he would “self-medicate,” as we now say, with gin and vermouth, and this is also extremely common. So, samsara is not misfortune; samsara is unhappiness. And lots of people live in unhappiness.

In fact, unhappiness is why people come to sit. Generally speaking, people are motivated to follow this beautiful path because they have had some unhappiness in their lives, a typical human situation.

We have all experienced samsara directly, but at the beginning of our practice, when we are still unhappy, nirvana is a rather different matter--not something we know from experience but something we imagine in a certain way. When we conceive of nirvana at that stage in our lives, we might imagine the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai lama came here recently, and he seemed very happy, as usual. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when he poses for photographs, he’s always smiling. Sometimes he has a big smile and sometimes he has a little smile like he’s just eaten a lollipop. That appeals to us because we think, “Ah, this guy lives in nirvana–happiness.” Often you’ll see pictures of other Buddhist teachers who are laughing. A friend of mine just sent me a postcard showing the late Korean Master Seung Sahn, and of course he’s laughing too. If you look at traditional Zen painting as well, there are the same sorts of images. There’s a picture by the famous Japanese artist Sengai, and it shows a monk with a big round belly; his faced is turned upward and he has a giant mouth because he’s laughing with his whole being. And when we see these images we think, I want to go from my unhappiness to that other place, to where the Dalai Lama is. I want to get from samsara to nirvana. This is the perspective of early Buddhism.

And so we set off on the journey of Zen. One Monday or Friday night you might come here to start doing zazen, and I will give you the usual speech about how to breathe through your dantian or hara. You sit on the cushion and then occasionally something happens, something really remarkable. I always caution people against having any expectations initially; I always say, “Eventually your mind will be more clear” or “Eventually you’ll have more energy if you breath through your hara or dantian.” I often caution them against expecting any results the first time they come here to practice. But sometimes, after they meditate, people walk up to me and they say, “That was just wonderful!” I’m always happy to hear this, of course, but sooner or later, after a number of weeks, I’ll ask them, “How did your sit go tonight?” and they will say, “Well, it was OK.” Not “Wonderful!” this time, but “just OK.” For just a moment, they had a glimpse of nirvana, but then, it is as though they’ve slipped back into samsara again. You have a wonderful sit on one occasion, but later, you find yourself on the cushion thinking anxiously about your chemistry test. Maybe you didn’t do as well on the test had you had hoped. Or maybe you had an argument with someone you love. Or maybe you have financial difficulties, or maybe your boss didn’t give you the raise you deserved. Or maybe you’re not in good health. You sit on the cushion and you think about this or that, and you worry and worry, and you try to get back to your breath, but your practice just doesn’t come together. Or worse yet, you sit on the cushion and all this junk tumbles through your mind, all this seemingly random and trivial junk. It’s far from nirvana, and it’s disappointing.

And so one way to think about Zen practice is to say that we start in samsara and then we have work like the devil to get to nirvana. We really have to work! It’s a long, hard slog. In fact, Master Mumon says it’s like this: “You must climb up a mountain of swords with bare feet.” That a raw deal, don’t you think? If you let yourself think about, practice can take on that rough, flinty, difficult character.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been abjectly unhappy at various times in my life–totally unhappy. And so I jumped into zen to escape from my unhappiness, and indeed, it helped me a lot, right from the start. That’s why I kept with it. But zen did not bring me to “enlightenment” right from start. I had a long period of walking up the mountain of swords in my bare feet, constantly disappointed by my performance.

I may have mentioned to you before that I had the incredible good fortune to run into my first teacher, Takabayashi Genki Roshi, by accident. I was living in Seattle, Washington, just drifting through life after finishing college. And I wasn’t very happy. But one day I heard about this Tibetan Center and I went there and sat. There was no resident teacher, just some people who ran the center while the teacher would visit periodically. I used to go there at 4:30 in the afternoon, the end of my work shift, and I felt better just by meditating on my own. I didn’t really know how to sit but I’d read a few books, and these books helped me to sit in a certain fashion. But then, I ran into someone at the Center who asked me, “Have you heard that there is a Japanese master who’s just come to Seattle? He’s holding meditation over at the University on Wednesday nights.” So I went and sat with Genki Roshi and became his student.

At this time, Zen was very big on the West Coast, and the rumor that a flesh-and-blood Japanese zen master had arrived got all over the city. On any particular night, forty or fifty people would come to sit. At the first sesshin we probably had 40 people. This was 1976, I believe. Over time, some of these people peeled off and drifted away, but a fair number of them continued to practice. Maybe 20 or 25 people kept practicing–the core of our sangha, our community.

I have to tell you that I was so unhappy at this time in my life–I don’t know why, just ordinary unhappiness--that I had wild fantasies about what nirvana was going to be like. I had read these crazy books about Tibet by this man named Lobsang Rampa, who said that monks could communicate telepathically, and that sort of thing. I just thought that I was someday going to be so far above my problems that they would be gone. I didn’t really know what enlightenment might be, but I knew that it was different from where I found myself right then and there. Because I felt this way, I practiced with diligence, yet I got nowhere, which was very disappointing to me, and another occasion for being sad, being in samsara . All my zen friends started training at about the same time I did, but they moved rapidly forward. Genki Roshi gave us all susoku-kan, breath meditation, and we were all doing breath meditation and going to sesshin, but I just couldn’t crack that koan to save my life. Literally for years. It was so embarrassing!

You know, you’re not supposed to talk about your koan with other people, and I hope you never will talk about it with anybody, not even with your spouse. But sometimes, after sesshin, people would say, “Hey, I passed my koan.” I would hear that all the time: “I passed my koan.” And I would think, if I could just pass my koan, I’d be so happy. But I couldn’t pass it–literally for years.
At sesshin people would go to dokusan and they would be in there for fifteen minutes, and when they came out, you could see a big smile. When I would go in, I’d be in the dokusan room for a minute. I just had nothing to say. I tried to be creative, I tried to invent answers, but I couldn’t make any headway.

Before we built our temple, Tokugan-ji, we used to rent different facilities–retreat centers, seminaries, and so, in order on to hold sesshin. I remember once, when we held a sesshin out at Sun Lakes, Washington, I drove out there with my friend Bill Koogler and a women whose name, as I recall, was Regina. She belonged to a dance company in Seattle, and as we were driving home after the sesshin she announced, “I answered my koan,” and Bill and I tried to pry out of her what the answer was. She was working on the breath koan too, and we assured her, “We’ll never tell anyone! Come on–what’s the answer! ” We kept pressuring her until she finally she told us that she had gone in to see Genki Roshi and had said, “Peach,” and Genki Roshi had said, “Ah! That’s an excellent answer.”

So . . . . Naturally, I’m embarrassed about this, but I went into the dokusan room and asked, “Is the answer peach?” And Genki said, “No–not for you it’s not!” So embarrassing!

I was working on the breath koan for five years. I had really wanted to be good at zen because I was having a lot of trouble being good at anything else. I was really not a very good graduate student, even though I worked hard. I just wasn’t very talented, and I had tried at an earlier point in my life to be novelist, and that also hadn’t worked out very well. So I put my psychological chips into zen. I thought, “Maybe my talents lie in meditation.” But apparently not! So all of this piled up on me little by little. You start out in zen and you think, “Give me six months, and I’ll be in nirvana, baby!” Then, after a while, you think, “Well, give me six months and maybe I can answer my koan.” And then, after a while, you don’t even want to think six months into the future. Maybe this has not happened to you yet, but wonderful things can take place when you’re in that situation.

We start practicing, generally speaking, because we want to achieve something or we want to escape something. We want to get from samsara to nirvana. This is the perspective of early Buddhism. But then, along the way, something can happen to you that I just think is the most wonderful thing in the world.

You know, I mentioned a little earlier that I’ve been teaching this course, the Buddhist Path, and I have a number of students, some of whom are from our group and some of whom aren’t, and some of whom have just started doing meditation and some of whom have been doing it for a while. I’ve asked them to write a paper on some aspect of Zen that interests them, or rather some aspect of Buddhism. I’ve tried to be fair and not make the course into a Zen course exclusively, so I’ve given equal time to all the different traditions of Buddhism. But this particular student, whose paper I will read from now, has indeed been practicing zen. Here's what he wrote:

I will use this opportunity to discuss my life and how Buddhism has changed it. And also, I must remember what I have learned in order to attain enlightenment. First and foremost, I must mention that there is nothing that I am more grateful for in my life than having the opportunity to learn and practice Buddhism. I am glad for whatever I did in my previous life for me to end up in the position I am in today. This new way of life has really made me understand the nature behind everything. I feel calmer I do not worry so much, and I am a great deal happier than I was previous to this sort of awakening. My heart fills with absolute joy when I think about this path and I think about meditating. Being able to meditate and having the chance to learn is a blessing in my life. I have overwhelming love for my family, friends and overwhelming love for this path.

I want to stop there. I think this is such a wonderful statement because it expresses so clearly what I’ve been getting at. The part that I find especially important is the reference to “overwhelming love for my family [and] friends and overwhelming love for this path.” I think these things--family, friends, and the path--go together at certain stage, and in fact, in Buddhism, we even have a term for this stage and it's quite important.

When you start practicing at first, you have motives, personal motives. “I want to get from samsara to nirvana. I want to get from here to there.” You may have a timetable in your mind and you may have a story about how it will happen. For me, the story was “In six months, I’ll have kensho.” And then it turned into a year, and then it turned into six years, and then, who could say? But along the way, something really happens to people if they stick with it. At some point, you’re not practicing to liberate yourself any more. It’s not the goal anymore. The goal is . . . I’m not sure there even is a goal. Instead of a goal, what takes its place is this feeling of love, of compassion, this beautiful life energy welling up in your heart.

It’s interesting that when the writer of this paper talked about his practice, it turned him to the love for his family and friends. He’s not “enlightened” yet –has not directly seen fundamental nature – but something has happened to his practice. At a certain point, you’re not practicing for yourself anymore. You’re not practicing for others, either. You’re not practicing for anything–and that’s why the love arises. You’re no longer trying to arrange a contract with the universe: “If I do this, then that will happen.” Your practice has now become something else. At some point, we stop worrying about how long we’ve been working on our koan and we just love the path. And the minute we stop worrying, this love or joy, this beautiful life energy, just wells up automatically. In our hearts we just say, “I don’t care if I ever answer my koan. I don’t care!” It’s not about answering koans.

I hope I’m making some sense. The word that describes this experience is bodhicitta. “Bo-dee-cheeta.” It looks like it’s pronounced “bo-dee-see-ta. “Mind of enlightenment,” you could say. In Chinese this is called bodhai-hsin, a phonetic translation. At some point, we stop practicing for ourselves, and the instead the practice unfolds through us, and when the practice unfolds through us, joy and love arise spontaneously–regardless of the results. Regardless of whether we answer the koan or not. When we have experienced this, we have experienced bodhicitta.

I think this experience is the most wonderful thing in the world. Sooner or later you just don’t care! If you’re honest with yourself, you didn’t come here today to get enlightened. If you’re really honest with yourself, you’re not really practicing to answer your koan. That’s just a game we’re playing, right? I think you’re practicing instead because your “true self” told you to practice. When you do what your “true self” tells you to do, you’re happy because you’re living a truly natural life. This is the Mahayana perspective.

I want to read you something else because it gets at the same thing. This passage comes from a collection of stories about the great master Baizhang:

One day the community of monks and nuns went out to work in the fields. When a monk heard the drumbeat, he held up his hoe, laughed heartily, and returned to the monastery. Seeing this, master Baizhang said, “What a remarkable thing! This is Avalokiteshvara’s dharma door to enlightenment.

Avalokiteshvara is Guan Yin, Kannon. I should explain also that in the Zen tradition, monks and nuns all work, just as you and I work. At the time of this story, they have to work in the garden. They have to plant the rice, or cut the rice, or thresh the rice. The vegetables they eat are the vegetables they grow. Baizhang famously once said, “Around this monastery, if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” At any rate, they all went out to the fields to do their daily chores after the morning zazen, and then, when a monk heard the drumbeat, he held up his hoe, laughed loudly and raced back to the monastery. Seeing this, Baizhang said, “What a remarkable thing! This is the dharma door to enlightenment.” Then there’s this detail:

Afterwards, Baizhang sent for the monk and asked him, what have you seen today?

Imagine that you’re there and you’ve gone out to work in the fields with everyone else. You hear a drumbeat and suddenly one of your friends stands up. His face grows radiant; he lifts up his hoe; he laughs, drops it and runs back to the temple. If you saw this, you’d think, “My god! He’s had enlightenment. He’s just had kensho!” So Baizhang sends for the monk to ask, “What have you seen today?”

The monk said, “I didn’t have any rice gruel for breakfast this morning, and when I heard the drumbeat, I returned to take my meal. Hearing this, Baizhang gave a loud roar of laughter.

You need to understand that in Zen communities during this period, when it was time for the monks and nuns to come back to eat after working in the fields, the cooks would strike the drum. But when the monks and nuns heard the drum, they were not supposed to drop everything and race back, as the monk in the story does. Basically, everybody must have thought that this guy had just experienced kensho, enlightenment. So they bring him to Baizhang, who asks, “Well? What happened? We saw your face light up; you dropped the hoe; you ran back to the temple. What was it all about?” And the guy says, “Lunch!” It was all about lunch! Then Baizhang bursts into laughter.

Now look--Was it enlightenment or not? At first, we might say no, that wasn’t kensho. But look at the joy. Look at the trust, look a the love. Lunch! The monk didn’t think, "I don’t know what we’re going to have for lunch today-- I might like it and I might not.” He didn’t think, “I hope it's not lentils and rice again. I hope its not stir-friend broccoli.” Instead, he just thinks, “Lunch!” It’s a kind of kensho, lunch kensho. Unconditional acceptance. This beautiful lunch!

Normally we have to work so hard to achieve that state. It’s usually day two or day three of a sesshin before you you sit down and the food tastes just like heavenly nectar. The rice is just rice, but when you eat it, you think, “The rice tastes so good! These are just lentils, but they’re so delicious.” After a couple days of purifying our minds, lunch can be delicious because we have total acceptance of this moment, whatever it is. The monk’s "true self" said, “Lunch!”

Now, finally, let’s go back to the Mumonkan: Chu the national teacher called three times. In China, sometimes teachers were recognized by the imperial house as people of exceptional clarity of understanding. They had dwelled deeply in enlightened mind for long periods of time, and they were compassionate and awake. So this person, Chu, had received the honorific title, National Teacher. Chu the National Teacher called his attending three times. Why three times? He was testing the attendant--testing.

For a brief period in Seattle, I was Genki Roshi’s attendant. In Japanese, the attendant is called an inji or inji-san and you’re job is to look after the teacher. At first you want to be approved of by the teacher. You think, “Oh boy, now I’ll have the chance to get close to the master. Now I’ll strike up a friendship with him and we can be like Nansen and Joshu, deep dharma friends.” But then you get to know the teacher, and you realize that sometimes he can get tired. Once I had to pick up Genki Roshi in my car and take him over to the university for the evening sit after he had been working all day as a gardener. I had driven over to his house, which we called Kuge-an. He had taken a shower and he was sitting on the sofa in his personal room. I said, “Hey, we’ve got to go,” but he said, “Wait. Give me a minute.” He was so tired. And I realized that he was a fifty-some year old man who had been moving rocks all day, and now he was going to go over to the university to teach Zen meditation. His face looked tired. And I began to think, “I’ve got to take better care of this person.” This is the inji-san’s job.

When we would have sesshin at Tokugan-ji, our temple, Genki Roshi would be busy from day until night, so during my term as inji, I always made sure that there was a basin of warm water for him next to his tent, to wash and shave and brush his teeth with when he got up. I tried to make sure he got tea in the afternoon because I knew he would get really tired. I tried to look after his health, which was not that good at the time. Later, our group discovered that he had diabetes. You learn how to take care of somebody by being an inji-san. You learn to see your teacher in a different way, not as a Dalai Lama type figure but as a human being. Even the Dalai Lama gets tired, and he must have someone who takes care of him. The taking care is the important part.

Anyway, Chu has an inji-san. Traditionally, the injii-san is often a senior student, and Chu is testing the inji-san to see how awake his assistant really is. But let me tell you that there’s another angle on the inji-san’s job, and it’s like this. You know, zen teachers prefer certain things to be done in certain ways. Genki Roshi liked sake, for example, but there were some brands of sake he preferred not to drink, so I made mistakes by buying the wrong brands of sake. He might say, “This doesn't taste right; you’ve go to go back to the store.” After that, I would worry about such matters. I would go to a store to buy sake and then realize, “This is not the right brand. Now I’ll have to go to another store!” There were certainly moments when I’d say to myself, “For crying out loud! Sake is sake. ” I’d get a little impatient, and this is also part of being an inji-san. Roshis like certain things done in certain ways, and when these things aren’t done just right, the teacher will say, “Inji-san, remember when we talked about the blah-blah-blah?”

And the inji-san will say, “Yes, certainly.”

“Well, how come this wasn’t done?”

“I’m very sorry.”

So, sometimes my beloved teacher could be a pain the ass. Every once in a while I’d get a phone call from Genki and he’d say, “I have people coming over tonight for dinner. Could you do this?” And I’d think, “Oh, man! Now I have to do this on top of everything else I have to do!”

So in the story we have a typical inji-san–or do we? The National Teacher calls his attendant, “Inji-san!” There are different ways to answer the call. You can say with some exasperation, “Yes? What is it this time?” Or you could say, with a little dread, “Yessss?” Or, timidly, “Yes?” followed by a big sigh. But there’s a way to respond that expresses bodhicitta, and it’s like this: YES!

Who is calling, "Inji-san? Actually, its your “true self.” The real teacher is your "true self."

Last night, before you went to bed, you said to yourself, “Maybe I’ll go to sit in the morning. But when that alarm clock went off at 4:30, you might have thought, “Hmmm. I don’t know. Did I say ‘Yes’ last night? What was I thinking?” Then you turn the clock off and go back to sleep. That’s one response to our “true self.”

When the alarm goes off, another response is to say, “Where has this zen stuff gotten me? I’ve been practicing for eight years. I haven’t answered this damn koan, and I’ve been working with it for three years. I’ll just go and I’ll sit, and I’ll be tired at the end of it all, but nothing will happen. The sensei will just drone on during the teisho–with the same stories every time. Where’s it going to get me?” So, you click off the alarm and start snoring. That’s another possible response.

By the way, my favorite movie is Groundhog Day--which maybe says something about my taste in cinema. But I love that movie, and I could watch it an infinite number of times because it’s just right. You have many lifetimes in which you can turn off the alarm clock, but in one of your lives, you don’t turn it off and you go to practice. You have many lifetimes in which you can sit on the cushion and lament, “Why the hell did I come here today?” But at some point you will stop saying that.

You have many lifetimes in which you can say, “I’ve been working on this damn koan for three years and it’s is just getting me nowhere.” But in one of your lifetimes you will say, “YES!” And that is Buddha! That is Buddha! That is bodhicitta: " YES!" In other words, you are saying, "I love this life. I love this path. I hope I live an infinite number of lives just so I can keep doing what I’m doing. I love it with my whole being. My I be reborn a million times just to sit here with you again and again and again. Yes! Yes! Yes!"

That’s the voice of Baizhang’s monk in the story. He hears the drum for lunch and he says, “Yes! Lunch! I don’t care what it is. Dal, rice–here I come! Pain the legs? Yes! Sick today? Yes!" That is the voice of your true self.

So the National Teacher wants to find out where his student’s mind is these days. He calls, and then the inji-san says, “Yes!”

“Well, not bad,” Chu thinks, “but let’s try again,” because the next one might be a timid “Yessss” or an irritated “Yes–What is it this time?” But the attendant gives an unconditional response,“YES!” And then the teacher calls a third time, and the answer is still “YES!”

Now, please remember that Chu ’s response is an example of zen talk. In zen talk, when someone says that something is crummy, he really means that it's great:

I long feared that I was betraying you, but it was really you who betrayed me.

What he really means is that there is no such thing as a bad sit. There is no such thing as a zen failure. Even if you never answer your koan, you still know the proper answer right now. You know it! It’s “YES.” Life cannot betray you, and you cannot betray life. When you know this, you can be true to your “true self.”


The National Teacher called three times, and his tongue fell to the ground. The attendant responded three times and he gave his answer with brilliance.

That’s a rare direct compliment

The national teacher was old and lonely. He held the cow’s head and forced it to eat grass.

The national teachjer is just fooling around-just testing his excellent student.

The attendant would have none of it.

See, he’s not tempted by anything anymore because he’s always in “Yes!” Always in this beautiful moment. Let me live in this moment! Right now, my legs hurt–I don’t know about you, but my legs hurt. Let me live in this moment again and again forever. It’s so wonderful.

Tell me, at what point was the betrayal?

There is no a betrayal.

When the country is flourishing, talent is prized. When the home is wealthy, children are proud

The country is always flourishing. The home is always wealthy.


He carried an iron yoke with no hole
And left a curse to trouble his descendants.
If you want to hold up the date and the doors,
You might climb up a mountain of swords with bare feet.

Ha, ha, ha. There is no such mountain! Unless you want there to be. You can make life into a mountain of swords if you want to. You can climb up with bleeding feet if you want. Maybe we all have to do that. But at some point we realize, “This is wonderful.” My legs hurt, I’m tired, my back is sore. How wonderful! You get to day three of sesshin and you think, “I can’t go another step,” and then--boom: “How wonderful!” This is the zen life. So thank you all for coming today. Thank you for being so true to your “true self.” Let’s see what happens next.