Banpo itsu ni ki su

Banpo itsu ni ki su
The ten thousand things return to One

Master Joshu was asked by a monk, "All of the myriad existences return to the absolute One, but to where does that One return?" If we do even a little zazen we know the place where all things return to the One, but we can't stop there, thinking that emptiness or an absolute is all there is. If it's not clear where the One returns to, then our Zen is poison, separated from the actual world, a nihilistic trap to which all of humans' abundant, creative capability is lost.
Joshu responded, "When I was in Seishu I made a hemp vest. It weighed seven hundred grams." Where in Joshu's response is there an answer to the monk's question? He seems like an absent-minded grandfather replying to a grandchild, but this is in fact a splendid response to the question at hand.
If we get caught on the words of others, we'll be dragged down into a game of explanations. In Zen, experiencing the great death and being reborn is what is most important, and that's what is being expressed here. If Joshu had said, "That's the One!" he would have been completely tangled up in the monk's question. Instead he expressed that refreshing clarity where all dualism and explanation end. This is the mind of Zen. 

Roshi Shodo Harada

Due to Roshi's busy schedule this year, we are currently not accepting any new questions at this time

Your question to Harada Roshi

Characters remaining 1000

Please check previous questions before submitting to avoid duplication

Submit question