Shitou Xiqian
Jap., Sekito Kisen
Stone Head    Rare Change
born:  700
died:  790   90 years

place:  China
Chan master:  Qingyuan (J. Seigen), Huineng (J.
Nanyue (J. Nangaku)       
Chan disciples:  Yaoshan (J. Yakusan), Danxia
(J. Tanka Tennen), Tianhuang, Dadian,
Zhaoti, Changzi, ...
Shitou is considered to be, along with Mazu, one
of the most important Zen masters in its history.  
This stems from the fact that all Zen lineage, except
for the early lines that died out, emanated from
these two masters.
Originally from the Guangdong area of old China,
Shitou's surname was Chen. After studying with
the 6th Ancestor Huineng as a youth, he gravitated
to Qingyuan after Huineng died. Shitou ended up
on Nanyue Hengshan in Hunan Province, just a
stones throw away from Master Mazu's place,
though there is no record of the two ever having
met. See
this page for more on Shitou's Nantai Zen
Temple with modern photos--2006.

Shitou set up his hut on a stone ledge, thereby
receiving his name in Zen history. This was at
Nantai Zen Temple on Hengshan Mountain.  His
famous contemporary Mazu was already probably in
Jiangxi Province at this time, and the two are
recorded as sending disciples back and forth to
each other.

This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very
Essence of Zen, ch. 5

Zen: The Quantum Leap From Mind to
No-mind, ch. 4, ch. 9

Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest,
ch. 6, ch. 15

Zen: The Diamond Thunderbolt, ch. 11

Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror, ch. 7

No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity, ch. 12

God is Dead: Now Zen is the Only Living Truth,
ch. 1, ch. 2, ch. 3, ch. 4, ch. 5, ch. 6, ch. 7

I Celebrate Myself: God is No Where, Life is
Now Here, ch. 1, ch. 2, ch. 3, ch. 4, ch. 5, ch. 6,
ch. 7

The Zen Manifesto: Freedom from Oneself, ch.
4, ch. 6,  ch. 8
         oshobob  The Living Workshop                                           
                                                      Zen Masters
Shitou's Song of the Grass Hut:

I make a grass hut in which inside there is no
worldly treasure. I eat and sleep naturally and
easily. When I made the hut, the reeds were new.
When the hut gets torn, I cover it with reeds
again. The person living in the hut is always there.
He does not belong to inside or outside. I do not
live where ordinary people live; I do not love what
ordinary people love.

Although the hut is small, it contains the dharma
world. A man of Zen understands it well.
Bodhisattvas of the supreme vehicle have no
doubt about it, but the mediocre are bound to be

If I were asked whether this hut breaks down or
not, I would say that the subject is originally both
in the breakable and unbreakable. I don't live in
the north or south or the west or east.

The foundation of the hut is the most solid. Under
the green pine tree, in the hut's bright window –
even a golden palace can't compare. If I cover
myself with the old quilt, everything settles. Then I
don't understand anything.

Living in this hut, I stop looking for any solutions.
Who would put them proudly in the show window
for the people to buy?

When evening comes and the sun is setting, I
come back to the hut. My being is so vast that
there are no divisions. Meeting with the intimate
teachings of the ancestral master, I made a hut
with grasses and don't think of leaving. I just let
the hundred years go as they pass by.

If I move with my hands open, there is no problem.
A thousand words, ten thousand solutions, only
keep you in ignorance. If you want to know the
immortal person in the hut, why do you go away
from this skin bag?

The foundation is on a rock. You know Shitou
he used to remain on a rock, that's why he
became famous as Stonehead. A completely
shaven head that looked like a stone, and he was
always sitting on a stone. And it was the master
Nanyue who ordered his people to make a hut for
him – around him, because he was a strange
fellow, he would not even move.

So the foundation was really strong. It was a flat
rock, and he remained sitting while Nanyue's
people were making the hut around him. He did
not say anything – whether to make it or not to
make it, he did not take any note.

A man reported to Nanyue: "That fellow is very
strange. We are making a hut around him, and he
does not even inquire what we are doing."

Nanyue said, "I know him. Even when he was not
enlightened he was very strange. And now that he
is enlightened, he is the strangest man. But you
finish the job; don't be bothered by him, and don't
be afraid of him. He is a very soft-hearted man,
just his head is like a stone, hard..."

I Celebrate Myself: God is No Where, Life is Now
Here, ch. 4
Chinese simplified: 石头希迁
Note:  In his original English talks,
Osho used the Japanese
pronunciations of the Chinese names
used in these stories, to a large extent.
In his books the names were
romanized using Japanese
romaji. In
the instances where Osho used the
original Chinese names, they were
romanized in the books using the old
Wade-Giles system, now seen very
infrequently in world wide usage.

The stories shown on this website will
attempt to revert to the more accurate
original Chinese identification, using
modern Chinese
pinyin romanization, if
the people and places are Chinese. If
they are Japanese, then Japanese
romaji will be retained.