PZI Teacher Archives

The Woman at the Inn (MK32)


There was a woman who kept the pilgrim’s inn at Hara under Mt Fuji. Her name is unknown, and it is not known when she was born or died.

She went to hear a talk by Hakuin, who said, “The Pure Land where everything is only mind, the Buddha of Infinite Light in your own body—once Amida appears, mountains, rivers, and earth, plants, trees, and forests, all glow with a great light. If you want to see this, look into your own heart. Since the Pure Land is only mind, what kind of special features would it have? Since the Buddha of Infinite Light is your own body, how would you recognize it?”

When she heard this, the woman said to herself, “This isn’t so hard.”

Returning home, she meditated day and night, asking these questions while she was awake and during sleep. One day, as she was washing a pot, she had a sudden breakthrough. She tossed the pot aside and rushed to see Hakuin.

She said, “I’ve run across Amida in my own body, and everything on earth is shining with a great light. It’s wonderful!” She danced for joy.

“Is that so?” Hakuin asked, “But what about a pile of shit—does it shine with a great light too?”

The woman ran up and slapped him, saying, “You still don’t get it, you old fart!”

Hakuin roared with laughter.

—PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 32

Video September 18, 2019

The World Is Here For You

John Tarrant

John Tarrant gives a dharma talk Thursday night of the 2011 spring sesshin. The universe is here for each one of us. Underlying the troubles and pain of the world there is always a presence, a brightness, which is us and we are it. April 21, 2011.

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Video October 24, 2018

You Know Nothing (of Zen) – The Woman at the Inn

John Tarrant

Hakuin’s “Woman at the Inn,” the woman is unknown but kept the inn where pilgrims coming to study with Hakuin stayed. Hakuin’s dharma talk spoke of the pure land of mind and the buddha of light in your own body. When that buddha of light appears, everything glows with a great light. The woman meditated day and night and one day while washing a pot she has a breakthrough.

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