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.
David tells the story of Jiashan’s awakening after being sent by Daowu to find the Boat Monk. From a talk given in Summer Sesshin, June 16, 2022.