PZI Teacher Archives
Whatever he was asked, Juzhi (Judi) just held up one finger.
—Blue Cliff Record Case 19 (transl. by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland) & Book of Serenity Case 84
From the Commentary in Gateless Gate Case 3, BCR 19 & BS 84:
While Juzhi was residing in a small temple, he had a visit from a traveling nun, who came right into the temple without removing her headgear. Carrying her staff with her, she went three times around the meditation chair in which Juzhi was sitting.
Then she said to him, “Say a word of Zen, and I will take off my hat.” She repeated this three times, but Juzhi did not know what to say. When the
nun was about to depart, he said, “It is growing late; why not stay here overnight?”
The nun said, “If you say a word of Zen, I will stay.” As he was still unable to say a word, she left.
Juzhi decided to leave his hermitage and went on a pilgrimage. That night he dreamed that a bodhisattva was coming to teach him. The next day the famous teacher Tianlong came. Juzhi told him about the nun’s visit and about the dream. In answer, Tianlong lifted up one finger. Juzhi was awakened, and said, “I have acquired Tianlong’s one-finger Chan as an inexhaustible treasure for the rest of my life.” From that time on, whatever he was asked, Juzhi just held up one finger.
Section below translated by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland:
One day, a visitor asked Juzhi’s attendant what Juzhi taught, and the boy held up one finger. Hearing of this, Juzhi cut off the boy’s finger with a knife. As the boy ran from the room, screaming with pain, Juzhi called to him. When the boy turned his head, Juzhi held up one finger and the boy immediately had an opening. Just before his death, Juzhi said to his students, “I received this one-finger Chan from Tianlong. I used it all my life but never used it up. Do you understand?” He held up his finger and died.
Tess Beasley “Opens the mouth of the dead,”— a quote from Carl Jung—and contemplates the big questions at the heart of Zen, like,”‘Who am I?” and “What is the Way?” through the turning words of Zen masters that were handed down at the Blue Cliff.
I think this is a time when things are kind of changing and incredibly uncertain, and that fidelity to what’s really true to us is important and valuable. And we don’t have to pretend that when difficulties are here, they’re not here. But also, we don’t have to pretend that they cancel the illumination, because nothing does, really. Even if we’re dying, the brightness of life is still there. And after we’re dead, we’ll worry about that later, [laughs] when the time comes in the bardos.
PZI Zen Online: A woman’s story of awakening, and meeting with the mysterious prediction of teacher Heavenly Dragon. The absurdity of life’s journey. A meeting with a strange woman and her interrupting request, “Say a word of Zen!” How do you allow something different to arise? This—one finger! As recorded May 24, 2020.