Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gutei and Chuangtse and the one finger

The reading:

There is a very difficult and variously explained passage in Chuangtse, which has bearing on this matter of a finger. The verbal coincidence may be accidental, but the philosophy developed is, to some extent, an explanation of Gutei's attitude.

Zen and Zen Classics, Volume Four (Mumonkan), Case Three (Gutei's Finger)
R.H. Blyth


Here is my translation, if you will, of the Chuang-tse that Blyth is referring to:

Do not use a finger to show that a finger is not a finger,
use no-finger to show that a finger is not a finger.
Do not use a horse is show a horse is not a horse,
use no-horse to show that a horse is not a horse.
All Heaven and Earth is only a finger,
and the ten thousand things are only a horse.

I disagree with Blyth here. I don't think Chuang-tse "explains" Gutei, and I don't think that the use of a finger is an coincidence. Who's finger is Gutei holding up? Ask the boy.

"The ten thousand things" is an expression which refers to "everything in the world". Perhaps there are more than ten thousand things. You can count things or you can study Zen. If you can do both then you should certainly take up meditation.

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