Friday, August 10, 2012

Amban's 49th Case

The Reading:

The venerable Mumon made the words of forty eight Cases, and judged the ancient worthies' koans.  He is like a fried-bean-cake seller.  The buyers have their mouths opened and the cakes pushed in until they are full, and they can neither swallow them nor disgorge them.  That's what it's like.  But Amban wants to add another extra cake (to the forty eight) that are on the red-hot fire.  I don't know where Mumon will put his teeth into it.  If he can swallow it, he will emit light and move the earth [as Buddha did].  If he can't, I will fry them all up together again.  Tell me at once!  Tell me at once!

The [Hokke Kyo] sutra says, "Stop!  Stop!  You must not expound it!  My Truth is mysteriously difficult to grasp intellectually."  Amban says, "Where does this "Truth" come from?  What is mysterious?  How is it expounded?"

Have you not heard how Bukan was (told he was) a chatter-box?  This originated in [the Buddha's] talkativeness.  That old chap created a lot of phantoms, and so bound the descendants of a thousand and one ages in entanglements, that they couldn't stick their heads out.  Then Mumon comes along with his fine talk, and you can't shovel them out of it all, you can't cook the cakes whatever you do.  This is fine talk and is pretty well misunderstood, and people ask, "What is the conclusion of all this?"  Amban puts his ten finger-nails together and answers, "Stop!  Stop!  It is not to be expounded!  My Truth is marvelously difficult to grasp intellectually!" and quickly over the two characters for "difficult to think" draws a small circle, and shows it to the people.  The five thousand volumes of the sutras and Yuima's "Not two gates" are all contained in it.
-Amban, the 49th Case
-pg 321, Mumonkan, R.H. Blyth


There is a great deal of talk nowadays about Zen.  On the one hand, many expound about peace, love, harmony, and how these flow from Zen like dirty water from a rusted pipe.  On the other are those who have collected sacred texts and teachings into a pile of refuse so high nobody could ever climb it, let alone study it.  Amban was a Zen Master, and he drew a small circle.  That's all the text there is.  Do you doubt it?  Do you question my pronouncement?  Then you must think yourself a greater fool than me!  Tell me at once!  Tell me at once! 

No comments:

Post a Comment