Teisho: Case 53, Book of Equanimity: Obaku’s Drinkers

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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.”

“… You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen. Simply wait. Do not even wait. Be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet …” ~ Kafka

be still world rolls in ecstasy at your feet

Description: Koans may seem inscrutable, but truly, they are a way of describing how things really are. Henry begins this teisho with a quote from Kafka that points to this: “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen. Simply wait. Do not even wait. Be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” If we live in a world constructed of concepts, we miss this reality, we are not really alive – drinking dregs! Henry rounds off the teisho by switching gears and discussing the Japanese word shin (heart-mind) and the story of Bodhidharma’s putting to rest his disciple’s dissatisfied shin. This of course marks not an endpoint, but a beginning: a beginning we can all experience and live from rather than a landmark to work toward.

Post & Featured Image (edited): Meditation Monk Enlightenment by sciencefreak, CCO Public Domain.

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