Zen Master Xuanze had affinity with Fayan. Once Xuanze was appointed as director in the assembly of Fayan.
One day Fayan said, “How many years have you been here?”
Xuanze replied, “I have already been in the teacher’s assembly for three years.”
Fayan said, “You are a student, so why don’t you ever ask me about Dharma?”
Xuanze said, “I dare not deceive the teacher. When I was at Qingfeng’s place, I realized peace and joy.”
Fayan asked, “Through which words were you able to enter?”
Xuanze responded, “I once asked Qingfeng, ‘What is the self of the student?’
Qingfeng said, ‘The fire boy comes seeking fire.’”
Fayan said, “Good words, only I am afraid that you did not understand them.”
Xuanze said, “The fire boy belongs to fire. Already fire but still seeking fire is just like being self and still seeking self.”
Fayan exclaimed, “Now I really know that you do not understand. If Buddha Dharma was like that it would not have lasted till today.”
Xuanze was overwrought and jumped up. Out on the path he thought, “He is the guiding teacher of five hundred people.
His pointing out my error must have some good reason.” He returned to Fayan’s place and did prostrations in repentance.
Fayan said, “You should ask the question.”
Xuanze asked, “What is the self of the student?”
Fayan said, “The fire boy comes seeking fire.”
Xuanze was greatly enlightened.
Fayan is master Hogen; Qingfeng is master Seiho.
Dogen’s Extensive Record, as translated by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Leighton.
Photo and creation by Rosa Bellino, used with her permission