Teisho: Case 68, Book of Equanimity: Kempô’s “One Line”

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“… the core message of Zen—it is all right here, just this, right now ...”


 zen right here now

Description: The focus of this talk is the koan, “Kempô’s “One Line,” from the Book of Equanimity. It also appears in The Gateless Gate. A monk says to Master Kempô, “I wonder where the Way is.” Kempô lifts up his stick, draws a line and says, “Here it is.” This koan expresses the core message of Zen—it is all right here, just this, right now. There are moments in our lives that point to another order of things, separate from the world of understanding. If we can trust that our ordinary sense of things is not the whole story, trust these glimpses, then we can get closer to a koan and the world that the masters are presenting to us. The philosopher William James said that these kinds of experience can overturn the authority of the rational, everyday mind. For this reason, any effort to try to understand a koan will end in frustration and confusion. They can only be experienced, right here, right now. The talk closes with a taste of Master Unmon’s teaching, and words from the current Sanbo Zen Abbot, Yamada Ryoun Roshi, on the power of meditation. “When you are sitting, the whole universe, all existence, is doing meditation. Perhaps this is too startling to be believed, but it is a fact that cannot be doubted.”

Post & Featured image: Zen by mangeorgeCCO Public Domain.

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