PZI Teacher Archives
When Luopu was about to die, he said to the gathering, “Today, I have something to ask you. If you think, ‘This is it,’ then it is like putting a head on top of your own head. If you think, ‘This isn’t it,’ then you’re looking for life by cutting off your head.”
Then the head of the temple said, “The green mountain moves its feet—you don’t need a lamp in broad daylight.”
Luopu said, “Is this the time to be making speeches?”
Another senior student, Yankong, stepped out and said, “Let’s leave these two paths you’re talking about. This isn’t it, don’t ask about them.”
Luopu said, “You’re not quite there yet. Try again.”
And Yankong said, “I can’t say it completely.”
Luopu said, “I don’t care whether you say it’s complete or not.”
Yankong said, “I’m not someone who can answer you.”
And they left it there.
—Book of Serenity Case 41
Questions about death and the after-death are a part of the traditional Chan koan curriculum. Dignified by their antiquity, they are the primordial instance of that which cannot be negotiated with.
There was a teacher called Luopu, a Chinese teacher, and he said this interesting thing. He said, “You have to directly realize the source outside of the teachings.” That’s the whole thing about it. That’s Bodhidharma’s thing, the direct realization outside of scriptures. The scriptures are nice and the teachings are nice, but really, the direct understanding—the direct meeting with life—the direct meeting with awakening is the thing.
The great Chan teacher Luopu’s deathbed story, and his emphasis on the importance of a “direct meeting with the source” outside the teachings—you can’t just read about it. “Don’t grasp principles with words.” The story features the Book of Serenity’s compassion for the whole process toward enlightenment, for these wonderful teachers. Dharma talk in Fall Sesshin. Video as recorded 2019.