PZI Teacher Archives
A monk asked Yunmen, “Where do all the Buddhas come from?”
Yunmen said, “The East Mountain walks on the water.”
—Entangling Vines, Case 49
Note: Yuanwu gave Yunmen’s koan to his student Dahui, who was struggling to break through.
John Tarrant gives a talk on Zhaozhou’s NO: This koan is often offered as a first “gate,” but I think you need to already be in trouble and falling before it’s useful. Life is always offering us that cliff—that door of falling. When you’re falling, you can’t screw it up because actually there’s not a lot you can do. But what you do will be very free and won’t be constrained by the usual. From a recording made in Fall Sesshin 2022.
Eventually you come to a place where you can’t go on and you can’t go back. You have arrived at the base of cliffs; you can’t scale them, you can’t get around them, and there’s no handy tunnel through them. It’s a daunting place—that’s the point of it. And when you arrive here your life and your journey can become your own.