died: 1151 62 years
(J., Tanka Shijun)
Chan disciples: none recorded as masters
| oshobob The Living Workshop
asked Choro, "What is the self before
the empty eon?"
As Choro was about to answer, Tanka said,
"You're still noisy – go away for now."
`Eon' means before the beginning of existence.
Tanka is asking, "Before existence began,
there was eon...?" That is only a word: `age'; it
means simply age. It would be better translated
to say, `time' – pure time existed.
Tanka asked Choro, "What is the self before
the empty eon?"
Before that empty timelessness, what is the
self...where have you been? You must have
been somewhere – a relevant question.
Existence may not have been here, you may
not have been in a body, but somewhere,
hiding in some corner, you must have been
One day, as Choro was climbing Bol Peak, his
mind opened up into enlightenment. He took a
shortcut down and went back to stand by
Tanka, who slapped him and said, "I thought
you knew it exists." Choro bowed joyfully.
He didn't say anything. On this second
occasion, Choro suddenly felt a silence as he
was coming up the mountain. It happens more
easily in the world of Zen, because everybody
is looking for silence. As he was climbing up,
suddenly a moment of silence, and he found
why the master had rejected him. He took a
shortcut to reach the master.
Tanka looked at him, slapped him, and said, "I
knew you would know it exists. It is not the self,
it is not the no self; it is simply isness, and you
will find it one day. I knew it, and I am happy
that you have found it..."
The next day Tanka went into the hall and
said, "The sun illumines the green of the
solitary peak; the moon shines in the cold of
the valley stream. Don't put the wondrous
secret of the ancestral teachers in your little
heart." Then he got up off the seat.
Choro came directly forward and said, "Your
address today can't fool me anymore."
Tanka said, "Try to recite my address."
Choro remained silent.
Tanka said, "I thought you had a glimpse."
Choro then left.
The master is saying that in the first place this
is impudent – "coming before the assembly
and making the statement...." Secondly, "When
asked to recite, if you cannot recite it, you can
at least ask for forgiveness. But you remained
silent like a dead lamppost."
Tanka said, "I was wrong. I thought you had a
glimpse. Yesterday you had a different vibe.
Today that vibe has changed..."
The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself,