Deshan Xuanjian
Japanese: Tokusan Senkan
Mt. Deshan (Virtue Mountain)     Declaration Mirror
born:  780
died:  865   83 years

place:  China
Chan master:  Longtan (J., Ryutan)
Chan disciples:  Xuefeng (J., Seppo),
Yantou (J., Ganto),...
Note:  There are at least two Chan masters
named Deshan--
Deshan Xuanjian, and
Deshan Yuanmi. This is the name of a
mountain--Virtue Mountain.

aka:  "Diamond" Zhou, Master Zhou, Master
Chou (old W.G.),
Te Shan Hsuan Chien (old W.G.)
Deshan was studying Chan under Longtan.
One night Deshan came to Longtan and
asked many questions.

The teacher said, "The night is getting old –
why don't you retire?"

So Deshan bowed, and as he opened the
screen to go out he observed, "It is very dark

Longtan offered Deshan a lighted candle to
find his way, but just as Deshan received it,
Longtan blew it out.

At that moment the mind of Deshan was

This. This. A Thousand Times This: The Very
Essence of Zen, ch. 9

No Water, No Moon, ch. 6

Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest,
ch. 8

Zen: The Diamond Thunderbolt, ch. 2, ch. 7

No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity, ch. 5

The Great Zen Master Ta Hui, ch. 5, ch. 7
         oshobob  The Living Workshop                                        
                                                       Zen Masters
Before he had realized his own enlightenment,
Tokusan planned to visit the famous Zen
master, Soshin, who lived on a mountain in
Ryotan. When he arrived at the foot of the
mountain, Tokusan found a tea house by the
roadside, and thought that he might have a
snack before climbing the mountain.
He ordered it from an old woman at the tea
house. "Snack" in the Chinese language is
tenjin – which means literally "to light up the
The old woman asked Tokusan, "What do you
have in the box on your shoulders?"

"I have a most valuable sutra called The
Diamond Sutra in it," Tokusan said.

"Is that so!" she said. "Then I have a question to
ask you. If you can answer my question,Ii will
provide you with a snack. If, however, you
should fail to give me a satisfactory answer, I am
sorry, but you will have to go without a snack."

Tokusan was a proud and confident scholar. He
replied, "All right. You may ask me any

At this the woman said, "In the diamond sutra it
is written that past mind is unattainable; present
mind is unattainable; and future mind is
unattainable." The old woman continued, "You
say you are going to light up your mind. Which
mind, now, are you going to light up?"

Tokusan was not able to answer the old
woman's question. He had to admit his inability
to give the answer, and at the suggestion of the
old woman of the tea house, he was determined
to study Zen under master Ryotan.

Some time later master Ryotan and Tokusan
were spending the evening together.
Ryotan said, "It is getting dark. You had better
return to your place."

Tokusan said, "Good night" to the master, and
stepped outside. A few moments later, he
returned to the master saying, "It is so dark

The master lit a candle to give to Tokusan, but
just as Tokusan held out his hand and was
about to get hold of the candle, Ryotan
vehemently blew out the flame.

At this very moment Tokusan was awakened
and made a bow to the master.

There are many important things to be noted as
deeply in you as possible. One is that light does
not come from outside. Nobody can give it to
you. Ryotan was very kind to make it clear by
blowing out the candle.

Outside is darkness and inside – where light is –
you are not. The only way to have light is to
enter into your innermost being. Hence it is
called enlightenment.

You have become the candle which nobody can
blow out.
You have found the fire that is eternal, the very
flame of existence.
You are all flames. It is just a question of seeing
within yourselves...

This. This. A Thousand Times This, The Very
Essence of Zen, ch. 9