Zhaozhou taught, “’The greatest way isn’t difficult if you don’t pick and choose.’ As soon as I speak, you’ll think, ‘That’s picking and choosing,’ or ‘That’s clear.’ But I don’t identify with clarity. Can you live like that?”
A student asked, “If you don’t identify with clarity, what do you live by?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you don’t know, why do you say that you don’t identify with clarity?”
“When you ask the question you already have it. Make your bow and step back.”
—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 2 (based on a quote from 3rd Ancestor Sengcan‘s “Trust in Mind,” a foundational Chan text)
“Koans light up a life that may have been dormant in you; they hold out the possibility of transformation even if you are trying to address unclear or apparently insoluble problems.” Originally published in Shambhala Sun Magazine, November 2004.