PZI Teacher Archives
Decheng, the Boat Monk, resided on a boat, ferrying people across the river and teaching them Chan.
One day a young monk came to seek him out for instructions. After an exchange of words, Decheng realized the potential of the young monk, so he posed a question.
When the young monk tried to answer, Decheng knocked him off the boat into the river and cried, ”Speak, speak!”
The young monk had an awakening. Decheng pulled him up and said, “Today I have finally caught a big golden fish!” The two stayed all night on the river, sometimes talking, sometimes silent.
In the morning, Decheng bade farewell to the young monk and left him on the shore. He said to him, “I studied under Yangshan for thirty years. Today I have repaid his kindness. From now on, you need not think of me again.”
Then he rowed the boat to the middle of the river and tipped it over and disappeared without a trace.
The young monk later became a Chan master at Mount Jia, taking the name Jiashan.
Zen is about meeting—we make friends with each koan and allow the universe to work with and through us. The sweetness, and even the gnarly bits of friendship are part of the intimacy at the center of meeting. In the field of connectedness we discover things we can’t discover on our own.
The nice thing about falling is it’s already happened, you know? It started already; there’s not much you can do about it. So you’re kind of free, in a way. It’s sort of like being condemned: Knowing you’ll die tomorrow—well, you can do anything you want tonight.
The mind is a great artist, ceaselessly creating and assessing problems. The territory of the koan is finding the delicious helplessness of the mind and body, and settling into that—it’s the robe of the moment.
To meet a Tea Lady was always a somewhat risky proposition. Usually, in koan-ville, an unsuspecting traveler hurrying on their way somewhere else—consumed with their own knowledge and problems— would encounter a tiny wayside establishment with a deeply mysterious proprietor on hand.