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Case 54: Ungan asked Dôgo, “What does the Bodhisattva of the Great Mercy use so many hands and eyes for?” Dôgo answered, “It is like a person in the middle of the night reaching with his hand behind his head groping for his pillow.” Ungan said, “I understood.” Dôgo said, “How did you understand it?” Ungan said, “The whole body is hands and eyes.” Dôgo said, “You said it very well. But you expressed only eight-tenths of it.” Ungan said, “How would you say it, Elder Brother?” Dôgo said, “The entire body is hands and eyes.”
Description: This talk explores love. Few koans mention love, or “mercy,” directly, although in a sense it is a central concern of all of them. Here we have a koan that speaks directly to it. The philosopher Derek Parfit said, “No question is more sublime than why there is a universe: why there is a universe rather than nothing.” It’s not far-fetched to say that Zen can bring us closer to an answer to that question, although it is not a conceptual answer but an experiential one. Henry says that Zen doesn’t have room for anything that can be called something. But its functioning can be called universal love. What is universal love? What does it have to do with existence itself?