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瞿汝稷 Qu Ruji (1548-1610)
指月錄 Zhiyue lu

(Rōmaji:) Shigetsu roku
(English:) The Finger Pointing at the Moon / The Dialogue of Pointing to the Moon / The Ch'an Sayings Recorded During the Moonlit Meditation
(Magyar:) Holdra mutató beszélgetések*

*©Terebess Gábor

指月錄 Zhiyue lu
Rōmaji:) Shigetsu roku
Ouvrage en 32 juan, il a été composé sous la dynastie Ming (complété en 1595) par Qu Ruji 瞿汝稷 (1548-1610).

續指月錄 Xu zhiyue lu
(Rōmaji:) Zoku shigetsu roku
Ouvrage en 20 juan composé par Nie Xian 聶先 (actif en 1679), il s'agit de la continuation du Zhi yue lu 指月錄 de Qu Ruji 瞿汝稷 (1548-1610).


Records of Pointing at the Moon. Selections from vols. 31-32.
in: Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui [大慧宗杲 Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163)]. Translated by J. Christopher Cleary. New York: Grove Press, 1977, Shambhala Publications, 2006, 176 p.

The Ch'an Sayings Recorded During the Moonlit Meditation
Translated by Alexander Holstein

The Finger Pointing at the Moon
Translated by Lu K'uan Yü [Charles Luk]
In: Ch'an and Zen Teaching, Second Series
Rider, London, 1961,
The Lin Chi Sect, pp. 110-126,
The Ts'ao Tung Sect, pp. 127-157.


The Ch'an Sayings Recorded During the Moonlit Meditation
In: Pointing at the Moon: One Hundred Zen Koans from Chinese Masters
Translated by Alexander Holstein
Charles E. Tuttle Co., Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan, 1993, pp. 168-185.

PART THREE: The Ch'an Sayings Recorded During the Moonlit Meditation

82. The Three Realms 168

83. The Mind That Is Able to Change Reality Is a Buddha Mind 171

84. The Hermit's Life 173

85. Whence Comes Rice? 174

86. This Is What It Means 176

87. The Realm of Buddhahood 176

88. What Is the Use of the Handle? 179

89. The Magical Treasure of Self-Nature 181

90. An Interpreter of the Buddhist Sutras 182

91. The Boundlessness of Ch'an 184

The Three Realms

ONCE, Lu Tsu held up his cup of tea, exclaiming, "Why, this was here even before the creation of the world!"

"Well," Nan Ch'uan said, "now, people know this but they don't know the world."

"That's right," Kui Tsung agreed.

"Why don't you go along with me on this point, brother?" asked Nan Ch'uan.

At this, Kui Tsung raised his cup of tea, "I wonder how people could talk about this even before the creation of the world?"

After hearing this, Nan Ch'uan hastily covered his mouth with his hand, yet his face smiled as he did so. Then he went out. Thereupon, Kui Tsung lost no time in covering his mouth, too.

Commentary: By saying that even before the creation of the world there was nature in itself, Lu Tsu underlined its power as the origin of all principles and teachings. Nan Ch'uan's remark meant that self-nature, as a term inherent to spoken language, should be dismissed outright. Conversely, he tried to protect his companions from being fettered by Pure Nature (Emptiness), saying it should only be employed by them, not used purposely. In order to destroy the concept of Emptiness as the form of nature, Nan Ch'uan used the principle of "having without having." But Kui Tsung, agreeing that this statement was positive, fell into the world of phenomena just as Lu Tsu had done before. That's why Nan Ch'uan asked Kui Tsung, "Why don't you agree with me on this point?"

Fortunately, Kui Tsung used the great potential of his kung-fu to see the Truth. He then rejected the duality of "have" and "have not," the positive and negative, saying, "How could people talk about this even before the world was created?" Thereupon Nan Ch'uan showed through his gesture that True Emptiness couldn't be spoken of and that it was necessary to realize it on one's own. At last, Kui Tsung saw the truth of the elder master's gesture and simply repeated it after him, without saying a word.


The Mind That Is Able to Change
Reality Is a Buddha Mind

THERE WAS once a Ch'an master, Pai Yun, who learned diligently from the celebrated master Yang Ch'i, but lacked a sense of humor. One day, when Yang Ch'i asked him who his first teacher was, he replied, "A master by the name of Ch'a Lin Yu."

"I have heard it said that once, crossing a bridge, Ch'a Lin Yu slipped accidentally and fell down. As a result of the fall, he attained realization and composed a verse. Say, do you still remember that verse?"

Poor Pai Yun had memorized the verse so well that he could reel it off. So he took this to heart and recited:

I had kept a bright pearl,

Which was covered with dust for a long time.

This morning the dust was shaken off,

And the naked light flooded all around.

After hearing the verse, Yang Ch'i laughed and went out. All night long Pai Yun turned the master's laugh over in his mind. When in the morning he ran to ask the master the reason for his laughter, the master said, "Didn't you see the clown who was juggling a jewel yesterday?"

"Yes, I did."

"Don't you realize the fact that you aren't like a clown?"

"What do you mean by that?" puzzled Pai Yun.

"I mean to say that a clown is always glad to be the laughing-stock of others, while you are still afraid to make others laugh," scoffed the master.

In no time Pai Yun became Enlightened.

Commentary: Master Yang Ch'i laughed at Pai Yun's conviction that the nature of the self was given by heaven. When he saw Pai Yun's futile act of carrying the experience of others' realization in his own mind for many years, he merely laughed and went away, making Pai Yun become dubious about his accomplishments. He started from doubt, investigating the situation and himself within it through all his spiritual forces. For although he thought hard all night long, his kung-fu was not enough to make him realize the truth of the master's meaning. That's why Yang Ch'i used his trick with the image of the clown.

In fact, to realize the master's point was not such a complicated thing. He simply wanted Pai Yun to realize that, first and foremost, he should become self-contained, regardless of circumstances. This means that it is not one's mind that changes according to circumstances, but circumstances that are controlled by one's mind. Those who realize this principle in practice can remain indifferent to the curses or taunts of others.


The Hermit's Life

THERE WAS once a monk who asked Chao Chou, "How does a person feel being alone at the top of a high peak?"

"I shall not give you my answer."

"Because I'm afraid of falling to the ground," was the reply.

Commentary: "Peak" symbolizes that realm of the self-nature which is beyond any opposing concept of duality, and cannot be spoken of "Ground" represents the phenomenal world.

As soon as people try to express Pure Nature through words, they fall into delusion and misconception within their minds. That is why Master Chao Chou said, "I'm afraid of falling to the ground." This means he was afraid that the Way would be lost if language was used.


Whence Comes Rice?

A DISCIPLE of Abbot Wei Shan by the name of Shih Hsiang held the position of storemaster of the temple's granary. One day, Wei Shan came for an inspection.

"We must be careful," he warned his disciple, "don't waste rice!"

Hearing this, Shih Hsiang was disturbed. "Nobody wastes rice here," he groaned.

At this Wei Shan picked up a fallen grain of rice from the floor. "You said that no one wasted rice," he jeered, "but do you know where this one came from?" and he pointed his finger at the grain of rice.

Shih Hsiang was silent, he had nothing to say in answer to the abbot's question. Thereupon Wei Shan concluded, "We shouldn't take this lightly. It is necessary to realize the fact that a great quantity of rice originates from this one grain!"

"But who knows," retorted Shih Hsiang, "where this one comes from?"

The abbot burst out laughing upon hearing this, and left feeling quite satisfied.

Commentary: In short, Wei Shan wanted to show that many principles and teachings originate from oneness. This oneness is self-nature. At that, Shih Hsiang asked the master where self-nature came from, proving the fact that he had already attained realization. That is why the abbot laughed, feeling pleased.

Besides, the abbot emphasized that to the ordinary mind it is not easy to see what is just before the eyes.


This Is What It Means

ONCE, A certain official named Yu Ti asked Ch'an master Tao T'ung, "What is the meaning of 'the ship being blown by the black wind is cast ashore on the Demon Land'?"

"You fool! Why do you ask me such a stupid question?" retorted the master.

At this Yu Ti's face turned red in anger. Seeing this, Tao T'ung pointed his finger at him, exclaiming, "This is what it means!"

Commentary: "Black wind" means one's anger, while "ship" is a symbol of one's ego (selfishness). When people want to release their frustration by expressing anger, they merely cast themselves into the prison of their own propensities.

Answering the question indirectly, the master scolded the official purposely in order to anger him, and to make him realize, on his own, the real meaning of the "black wind." By pointing at the individual, he emphasized that the the official's troubles were caused by selfishness, as a ship blown ashore on a Demon Land.


The Realm of Buddhahood

ONCE, during an assembly, a master by the name of Yun Men Yen said to the audience, "The adherents of the Buddha's teachings are as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. Which-— of you can say, in words of one syllable, where Buddhahood is found?"

Nobody could find an answer. Thereupon the master answered himself, "It's everywhere."

Commentary: As the Chinese sage Chuang Tzu said, "The Way is an ant and a mole, a grain of millet and a tile, even excrement."


What Is the Use of the Handle?

ONE DAY, Ch'an master Shih T'ou was walking deep in the mountains, admiring the scenic beauty in the company of a monk named Shi Shi.

"That branch," said the master, pointing at a large tree with many branches, "blocks the view. Please, help me to cut it off."

"Hand me your knife, Master," said Shi Shi.

Shih T'ou took his knife and offered it, blade first, to the monk.

"Not like that, Master," remarked the monk, "hand it with its handle first, please."

"Say," objected the master, "what is the use of its handle?"

Shi Shi attained immediate realization upon hearing this.

Commentary: Master Shih T'ou asked the monk to cut the knot which obscures the nature of the self. He did it to show that all fetters of the mind should be dismissed, letting one be at peace and in harmony with the external environment. The question, "What is the use of the handle?" proved the uselessness of all phenomena in seeing the empty nature of all dharmas.


The Magical Treasure of Self Nature

THERE WAS once a monk by the name of Shih Tsung who gave a precious mani pearl to the Heaven Rulers of the Five Temples on the top of Sumeru Peak for inspection.

"What color is this treasure?" he asked the rulers, pointing at the pearl.

Everyone expressed different opinions about its color. Then Shih Tsung hid the pearl behind his back and stretched his empty hand out, saying, "What color is this treasure?"

"Enough of this folly!" the rulers exclaimed in one voice, looking at the monk's empty palm. "No, nothing! What color are you talking about?"

"Listen," said Shih Tsung, "don't turn it upside down. When I gave you the most precious pearl in the world to look at, each of you confirmed that it was green or yellow or red or white. . . now, when I hand you the true treasure, no one even realizes it. Is it so difficult to see what is just before your eyes?"

Hearing this, the rulers attained instant realization.

Commentary: The precious pearl is a symbol of the phenomenal world through which the monk pointed indirectly at self-nature. The magical treasure of Nature is so bright and miraculous that nobody can express how it looks through words. Everything that people can see, in fact, is only color reflected in their minds and not the original colorlessness of self-nature. As Lao Tzu said, "The five colors blind the eyes . . . rare possessions undermine the morale."


An Interpreter of the Buddhist Sutras

BODHISATTVA Shan Hui was a famous interpreter of the Buddhist scriptures. He was born in A.D. 497, and is believed to be one of the most eminent figures in the Ch'an tradition.

The most devoted Buddhist among the Chinese emperors, Liang Wu Ti, once asked Shan Hui for his interpretation of the Diamond Sutra. Mounting the stage, Shan Hui suddenly tumbled down the stairs. The emperor was quite baffled, finding this to be as clear as mud.

"Do you understand, Your Majesty?" Shan Hui then asked the emperor.

"No, I don't."

"I have already interpreted the sutra for you," declared the master.

Commentary: In the Buddhist scriptures, there are descriptions of all of the Buddha's lives, but hot of Buddhahood. The principles recorded in them can only direct people to the Buddha's path of realization, which can be attained through everyday practice.

Interpretation, whether one's own or another's, is always limited by language and understanding. That is why the best way to interpret the sutras is to give up any attempt at interpretation.


The Boundlessness of Ch'an

SOMEONE once asked Ch'an master Chao Chou, "What about Chao Chou?"

"The east gate, the west gate, the south gate, the north gate," was the answer.

Commentary: Actually, the questioner wanted to ask about the Ch'an master's life, but the master answered by playing on the association of his name with the city, Chao Chou, which employed the same characters. Like every other city, Chao Chou had four gateways, facing the four main directions. Using the image, Chao Chou showed the Ch'an style to be something that couldn't be kept within the limits of rules and doctrines, as the city's wall divided all things into two distinct parts inside and outside the city. The Ch'an style of living is unlimited, progressive, and spiritually meaningful. It is like the Four Gateways expanding in all directions, allowing one to drift freely to the Four Corners.

Actually, the gateway through which people can enter the world of Ch'an is not a gateway at all. And only because of this can they go through any kind of gate or door without problems.