Teisho: Case 42, Book of Equanimity: Nanyô and the Water Jug

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“… Absolute happiness, regardless of circumstances, is possible in the existence that the Buddha discovered …”

Buddha

Description: This talk was given by Sanbo Zen Abbot, Yamada Ryoun Roshi, during a special visit to Mountain Cloud. The center of this talk is the koan, “Nanyô and the Water Jug” from the Book of Equanimity. Ryoun Roshi chose this koan because it simply and profoundly conveys the world that Shakyamuni Buddha discovered 2500 years ago. He emphasizes the fact that this case is timeless, truly contemporary—in spite of the fact it took place about 1300 years ago, it is talking about this particular moment. The “essential body of Buddha” is simply another name for ourselves. It is nothing supernatural or separate from this existence. The monk in this case is asking the same question that we are asking, right now—What is our true self? The teacher answers, “Pass me that water jug.” Eating meals, doing the dishes, going to bed, washing your face, brushing your teeth, going to work—this is the world discovered by the Buddha. All these actions “emanate light and shake the earth,” as Bansho says in his verse. Ryoun Roshi explains that the message is simple but to really get it is difficult. Shakyamuni Buddha abandoned his wife and child and went through difficult practice for six and a half years to discover what this life is all about. It is beyond simply just drinking, just eating, just walking; it is the whole universe miraculously functioning and it cannot be understood, it can only be experienced. Absolute happiness, regardless of circumstances, is possible in the existence that the Buddha discovered.

Post & Featured Image (edited): Buddha by sunpath, CCO Public Domain.

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