|born: c. 800
died: c. 870
master: Gao'an (J. Koan)
Chan disciples: none recorded
Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest,
oshobob The Living Workshop
monk, Kankei, once visited the nun, Massan
Ryonen. He said to himself, "If what she says
hits the spot, I will remain there. If it doesn't I will
overturn the Zen seat!"
He entered the hall, and Massan sent a
messenger to ask, "Have you come on a
mountain-viewing journey, or for the sake of
In response, Kankei said, "For the sake of
Buddhism," so Massan sat upon her seat, and
Kankei approached her.
She said, "Where did you come from today, may
Kankei replied, "From Roko."
Massan then said to Kankei, "Why don't you
remove your bamboo hat?"
Kankei had no reply, and, making his bows,
asked, "What is Massan?"
She answered, "It does not show its peak."
He asked, "Who is Massan's husband?"
She answered, "There is not real form of men
He said, "Kwatz!" and asked, "Why then don't
you change and disappear?"
She said, "I am not a god, I am not a demon.
What could I change?"
At this, Kankei knelt down, and became the
gardener of Massan's temple for three years.
These anecdotes, when first translated by
Christian missionaries, were translated to show
the world that "Christianity is the only civilized
religion, and as a proof look at these stupid
dialogues, with no reason and no rhyme!" But
everything backfired. They wanted to prove Zen
to be a very primitive religion. But to those who
were real seekers, it proved that on the contrary,
every other religion may be primitive; at least
Zen is not...
Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest, ch.