January 3, 2014, 7:50 pm ~ by Harada Roshi, transcriber May in news
The spring mentioned in the poem is not about the season of spring, however. It is about that awakened state of mind that we come to know joyfully. We have to realize that serene state of mind inside of us that wells up deeply. This is also a place where there is no longer any idea of there being attainment or no attainment or that there is something which is good or bad, enlightened or un-awakened. For this, we have to intensif your deepest vow so as to experience this and realize this power –to know this spring beyond any dualism and to know that clear and brightly revealed mind.
The world of clear nature, which has no ideas about what is between things which seem to be and appear to be different, such as enlightenment and ignorance, attaining and not attaining. And when this is all over, then we are in fact able to ride on this excellent horse, this famous horse. We are on a superior horse, not a poky donkey, but a horse that runs at just seeing the shadow of a whip. And this horse will be, having been used thoroughly, at the south of the mountain where it can live in peace.
We have the words, “The horse has been returned to the south of Mount Kasan.” And these words come from a time in the history of China where there was a country, a kingdom, called the In Kingdom. The In Kingdom at the end of its era was taken over by the Shu Kingdom. This happened because the emperor of the In Kingdom, was very, very selfish and irresponsible and living in luxury by taking taxes from his people, who lived in terrible situations. They tried and tried and tried again to get rid of this luxurious, selfish emperor, but they were unable to do so. While they tried to topple him, he responded violently until,finally, the person who later becomes the head of the Shu Kingdom,Taikobu, was able to defeat the emperor of the In Kingdom, but he had to use violence to do so.
The new emperor was a very superior emperor. And while he appeared to be fishing sometimes, he would have no bait on his hook. He was just doing this fishing to be able to look deeply within. This very wise emperor of the Shu Kingdom,which took over after the In Kingdom, was the one who spoke these words, “To return the horse to the south of Mount Kasan.”
Although the emperor of the Shu Kingdom did not want to use violence to take over the In Kingdom, it was necessary because the head of that country was unable to give up and the people were suffering badly because of it. The emperor of the Shu Kingdom had to use the horses and the cows and everything in the war against the head of the In Kingdom. What the emperor of the Shu Kingdom wanted more than anything was to return these horses to the south so that there would be no more wars. And that is why he spoke these words.
This story comes from the history of China, but to put it into Zen words, “Who is it that can take away our freedom anyway?” In Zen there is no outer enemy; it is only that ego within. Even like that head of the Ing Kingdom, even if it falls from that selfish and luxury loving emperor, if we are still full of ego then we are like that same selfish violent head of the kingdom of In. We are no different. We are without peace. We have to return those horses to the south of Mount Kasan. Return the fuse within us to being peaceful horses; to return to the truest peace of awakening and realize the serenity of that true peace in our everyday life.
Daito Kokushi, the founder of the great temple of Daitoku-ji, was awakened at the age of 25. His teacher, Nanpo Jomyo Zenji, at that time, sent him to ripen for 20 years before going into the world as a teacher. During that time, he lived with a group of beggars under the bridge in the daytime and at night sat zazen in the eastern mountains of Kyoto. He became a very excellent actualized Zen master.
He gave the koan of Nangaku’s Eshu,which tells of the state of mind – this is a very advanced level koan among all the koans. Both Nangaku Ejo Zenji and Seigen Gyoshi Zenji were transmitted to from the Sixth Patriarch and between the two of them Zen flourished in China. A disciple of Nangaku Ejo Zenji was the great Baso Doitsu Zenji.
After Baso Doitsu Zenji had left his teacher, for 30 years, his teacher heard nothing from him. But his teacher heard about him and heard from people what Baso Doitsu Zenji was doing. Baso Doitsu Zenji did not meet with his teacher for 30years. And so Nangaku Ejo Zenji sent one of his superior monks outto call on Baso Doitsu Zenji. Nangaku Ejo Zenji told the disciple to go to the temple where Baso Doitsu was teaching and as soon as Baso Doitsu Zenji goes up on the high platform to speak, the disciple should just say simply, “How is it?” The monk was told to do this very specifically.
When Baso Doitsu went up to the platform, the disciple asked simply, “How is it?” To this BasoDoitsu Zenji answered, “For 30 years, I had never been lacking in salt and soy sauce.” For our meals, we have to have salt and soy sauce for them to have any kind of deep flavour. But what he was talking about was not meals that we eat for our physical nutrition. He was talking about a state of mind in which he had never ever missed.
For a person of Zen, this means that he has received the Dharma which is not able to be moved around by anything in every single part of his day and life. The disciple, who had been sent from Nangaku Ejo Zenji, to call on Baso Doitsu Zenji,wrote all of this down and took it back to Nangaku Ejo Zenji. Hearing the words that had been spoken in the situation, Nangaku Ejo answered that Baso Doitsu Zenji was now truly ripened. This is the central core of the koan.
To this koan, Daito Kokushi gave the words that he would still give him 3,000 or 800 blows, even if BasoDoitsu said he was missing no salt. These may be excellent words,but still Daito Kokushi said he must still be receiving the stick again and again and again, to not sit down on that realization andthat Baso Doitsu Zenji also has to know that state of mind being taken away as well. And then, and only then, these words of the horse being put to peaceful fields would be appropriate and given.
There is a line from the song of Enlightenment, written by the fourth patriarch, that says, “Have you not seen the idle person of the way? No longer chasing after thoughts and attachments.” In this way, we have to seek and clarify to the point where we are no longer even being used by our extraneous thinking. Even if those thoughts are there we are not a slave to them – Living our daily life, giving everything to our daily life, but not being moved around by anything that comes to us.
In today’s life we are given this opportunity to be alive. And if we are not given that, which just comes to us, then we die. We simply die. We receive this day’s life and everything that comes with it. And if not then we die. To know this is to truly know Zen. And then we can know the meaning of,“Have you not seen the idle person of the path? No longer chasing after thoughts and attachments.” To not be attached to attainment or to anything else that comes up at all.
And this is how Daito Kokushi, who in his words deeply confirmed the understanding of Baso Doitsu Zenji,also said, “This mind, this is Buddha.” To return the excellent horse to the quiet field south of Mount Kasan and then the true ripening can take place. As Master Hakuin has said, “For one who has truly heard the sound of the single hand, every single thing he does is full of truth. For one who has not yet heard the sound of the single hand, nothing he does is truthful.”
We have to resolve this through our own deep perception and experience and liberate our state of mind into this huge all-embracing state of mind. This is the ideal for all of us. A vow cannot be narrow and small. As huge and difficult as it sounds, to make a firm commitment that we will realize and live in this truest peace.
It is my deep prayer for all that we will make this vow that will allow us to also realize this state of mind of the superior horse that is then able to be set free on the southern fields south of Mount Kasan.