Dongshan Shouchu
Mt. Dongshan (Cave Mt.)   Protect Original
Jap., Tozan Shusho (sometimes seen as "Tosan")
born:  910
died:  990

place:  China
Chan master:  Yunmen (J. Ummon)
Chan disciples: ....
Wumenguan, Case 15
Blue Cliff Record, Case 12 ("Three Pounds of

Live Zen, ch. 9

And the Flowers Showered, ch. 8
This Mt. Dongshan in Hebei Province is
different than the Mt. Dongshan in Jiangxi
Province.  And the two Chan masters with this
mountain name are different too--
, and the more well known Dongshan Liangjie.
          oshobob  The Living Workshop                                        
                                                          Zen Masters
A monk asked Tozan, “What is Buddha?”

Tozan said, “Three pounds of flax.”

Setcho says:

    The golden crow swoops, the silver hare
    The echo comes back, direct and free.
    Who judges Tozan by his word or phrase
    Is a blind tortoise, lost in a lonely vale.
    The abundant blossoms, the luxuriant
    The southern bamboo, the northern trees.
    One recalls Riku Taifu and Chokei:
    “You should not cry, but laugh!” Eh!

At that moment he was carrying three pounds of
flax. In that moment he could not indicate
anything else; there was nothing else available
other than three pounds of flax. In fact he is
saying that the question is wrong and if you ask
a wrong question you will get a wrong answer.
But he is compassionate and polite. Rather than
saying, “You idiot! A question about buddha is
not to be asked – it is an experience without any
explanation, an experience beyond mind.” Being
of a very kind nature, rather than saying that
you are asking a wrong question, he simply
gives an absolutely absurd answer:

“Three pounds of flax.”

In that moment it must have come to the inquirer
as a shock and also as an insult – not only to
himself but to Gautam Buddha – but he knows
that Tozan cannot be insulting or derogatory in
any sense towards Gautam Buddha, because
for Tozan to insult Gautam Buddha will be to
insult himself...

                                                Live Zen, ch. 9