Posted inArt and Poems, Blue Cliff, Koans, Other Teachings

Speck of Snow on a Red Hot Oven

January 29, 2016



The Calligraphy on the scroll reads: 紅爐一点雪 Koro Itten No Yuki

This is one letter shorter version of 紅爐上一点雪 (Korojo Itten No Yuki), “a speck of snow on a hot oven”

This saying appears in the Blue Cliff Record – Case 69

“Patchrobed monks who have passed through the forest of prickly briars are like snow on a red hot oven.

Putting aside for a while the ability to pass through seven loops and eight holes on level ground, how is it when one does not fall into entangling relationships?

To test, I bring this up. Look!”


“The forest of prickly briars” refers to our own concepts and thoughts which catch us up constantly, depriving us of our freedom. Man may be “the measure of all things” because our ability to think gives us supposed dominion over the rest of nature. But, from another standpoint, this very ability to think is the source of all our suffering. (…)

The patchrobed monks (it need not be just monks!) who have passed through this forest of prickly briars (through the practice of Mu or Shikantaza, for example) are “like snow on a red hot stove.” If a pinch of snow were placed on a red hot stove, it would immediately melt and evaporate. In the same way, when you stand up, there is just that standing, with nothing else remaining.

All other concepts have disappeared like snow on a red hot stove.
And when you sit down, there is just that sitting, without a trace of standing left over.
Every moment of our lives is like this. Just that moment.
Each second disappears like snow on a red hot oven. Standing, sitting, eating, sleeping, laughing, crying.
The content is always completely empty.

Yamada Kôun commentary – Blue Cliff Record – case 69

Photo by Rosa Bellino, used with her permission

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