PZI Teacher Archives

Zhaozhou's Idiot (BCR 57)


A student asked, “The Great Way is not difficult if you just don’t pick and choose. What is not picking and choosing?”
Zhaozhou said, “Above the heavens, below the heavens, I’m alone and honored.” 
And the student says, “That’s still picking and choosing!”
And Zhaozhou says, “Idiot, where’s the picking and choosing?” 

Note: That’s a quotation: When Buddha was born, immediately he pointed up and he pointed down, took seven steps, and said, “Above the heavens, below the heavens, I am alone and honored.” 

Commentary: Yuanwu says, “Before you’ve seen through, it all seems like a silver mountain, like an iron cliff.”

—Blue Cliff Record Case 57 (transl. John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland)