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Case 52: Ôbaku instructed the assembly and said, “You are all drinkers of lees [dregs]. If you continue to go on your Way like this, when will you have your ‘today’? Do you know that in this great empire of Tang there is no Zen master?” Now a monk came forward and said, “What would you say to the fact that in various places there are people who accept students and direct their assemblies?” Ôbaku said, “I don’t say that there is no Zen; I only say that there is no master.”
“I really think you could take one koan and … never look at another one, actually.” – Henry
Description: Koans have a mysterious, marvelous power. Henry hesitates to say it at the risk of sounding loopy, but based on his experience and the experience of the great masters, it is true. They are the sayings and doings of masters, which have distilled the essence of their reality into an easily swallowed (though maybe not easily digested) story or phrase. We take them into our sitting and they somehow express themselves in the only way possible – the here and now.
“Experienced differently. Experienced differently. Experienced accurately.” – Henry
“To have magical properties is considered pretty low-grade in zen. Far more important is to swallow the koan and let it do its work and basically explode, and your self disappears … it’s the most extraordinary thing, again I don’t understand it, I hope somebody will figure it out someday, but it happens.” – Henry