PZI Teacher Archives

Little Jade (MK47)


Yuanwu thought that his teacher, Wuzu, didn’t understand him. As he was leaving, the teacher said, “Remember me when you are sick with fever.” Later when Yuanwu did become sick, he remembered this and returned. The teacher laughed and made him his assistant.

A treasury official retired and came home to Sichuan where he sought out Wuzu to learn about Zen. Wuzu said, “When you were young, did you read a poem which went something like,

“She calls to her maid, ‘Little Jade!’
not because she wants something
but just so her lover will hear her voice.”

The official said, “Yes, I read it.”
Wuzu said, “That is very near to Zen.”
Just then Yuanwu arrived. He asked, “I heard you mention the poem. Does the official know it or not?”
Wuzu said, “He only knows the words.”
Yuanwu said, “‘Just so her lover will hear her voice’ If he knows the words, why doesn’t he understand it?”
Wuzu said, “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West? The cypress tree in the garden!”

At these words, Yuanwu was suddenly enlightened. He went outside the cottage and saw a rooster fly to the top of a railing, beat his wings, and crow loudly. He said to himself, “Isn’t this the sound?” Full of gratitude, Yuanwu then took incense back into Wuzu’s room. He told of his discovery and said:

“The golden duck vanishes into the golden brocade,
with a country song the drunk comes home from the woods,
only the young beauty knows about her love affair.”

Wuzu said, “I share your joy.”

—PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 47

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Little Jade

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John Tarrant Roshi presents on the opening night of the 2011 Bare Bones Winter Sesshin with the koan, Little Jade: “A woman calls to her servant, ‘Little Jade!’ not because she wants something, but just so her lover can hear her voice.”

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John Tarrant presents on the concept of suddenness — when we enter it, difficulty starts to unpack. January 17, 2011.

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David Weinstein discusses the labyrinth at the Heart of the World. (2016)

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