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洛浦元安 Luopu Yuanan (834-898)

(Rōmaji:) Rakuho Gen'an
(Magyar:) Lo-pu Jüan-an


by Andy Ferguson
In: Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings, Wisdom Publications, 2011, pp. 254-258.

LUOPU YUANAN (834–98) was a disciple of Jiashan Shanhui. He came from ancient Linyou (now located in modern Jiangxi Province). Ordained at the age of twenty, he was well versed in Buddhist scriptures and doctrine. He studied under Linji Yixuan and served as his attendant. Later he practiced under Jiashan Shanhui for many years, becoming his Dharma heir. After leaving Jiashan, he first lived at Lizhou (now Li County in Hunan Province) on Mt. Luopu, where he gained his mountain name. He then lived at Suxi (in modern Hunan Province).

Luopu was known as a skilled expounder of Dharma, and students came from throughout China to study under him.


Linji once praised Luopu before the congregation, saying, “Here is an arrow of the Linji school. Who dares to withstand its point?” Linji bestowed Dharma transmission upon Luopu, giving him the Dharma name Yizu [“Already Complete”].

When Luopu was acting as Linji’s attendant, a scriptural master came to meet with Linji.

Linji asked the scriptural master, “If there is a person who understands the three vehicles and twelve divisions of scripture, and there is another person who does not understand the three vehicles and twelve divisions of scripture, then do you say these two people are the same or different?”

The scriptural master said, “What they understand is the same. What they don’t understand is different.”

Luopu interjected, saying, “How can you say such a thing? Talking about ‘same’ and ‘different’!”

Linji looked at Luopu and said, “What are you doing?”

Luopu then shouted.

Linji sent away the scriptural master, then asked Luopu, “Do you think it’s appropriate to shout at me?”

Luopu said, “Yes.”

Linji then hit him.

Some time later, when Luopu prepared to leave Linji, Linji asked him, “Where are you going?”

Luopu said, “I’m going south.”

Linji took his staff and drew a circle in the air. Then he said, “Pass through this and then go.”

Luopu shouted.

Linji hit him.

Luopu bowed and then left.

The next day, Linji entered the hall and said, “Beneath the gate of Linji is a red-tailed carp. Shaking its head and wagging its tail, it goes south. I don’t know in whose pickled vegetable pot it will drown.”

Luopu traveled for a year, and then came to Mt. Jia, where he built a hut and stayed. He remained there a year without visiting Zen master Jiashan’s monastery [on the same mountain]. Jiashan wrote a letter and instructed a monk to take it to Luopu. Luopu received the letter, then went back and sat down without reading it. He then extended his hand to the monk [as if to say, “Do you have something else?”].

When the monk didn’t answer, Luopu hit him and said, “Go back and tell your teacher about this.”

The monk recounted to Jiashan what had happened.

Jiashan said, “If he opens the letter, then he’ll come here within three days. If he doesn’t open it, then no one can save him.”

Three days later, Luopu came. Upon coming before Jiashan, he didn’t bow, but just folded his hands and stood there.

Jiashan said, “A chicken is roosting in a phoenix’s nest. They aren’t the same species. Go away!”

Luopu said, “I’ve come from afar to seek your teaching style. I ask you to receive me.”

Jiashan said, “Before me there is no you. I am not over here.”

Luopu shouted.

Jiashan said, “Stop! Stop! Don’t be crude. The moon, though eclipsed by clouds, remains the same. But every valley and peak is different. It’s not that you can’t cut off the tongues of everyone on earth. But can you make a tongueless man talk?”

Luopu was lost in thought.

Jiashan hit him.

Luopu then acquiesced to Jiashan.


Luopu asked Jiashan, “How does one realize the place that isn’t reached by buddhas and demons?”

Jiashan said, “A candle illuminates a thousand miles of forms. Inside my room I’m confused.”

Luopu also asked, “How is it when the morning sun has risen and the night moon is not visible?”

Jiashan said, “In the dragon’s mouth is a pearl, but the swarming fish don’t notice it.”


When Jiashan was about to die, he said, “The Shitou branch! Look! Look! The last teacher passes away.”

Luopu said, “Not so.”

Jiashan said, “Why?”

Luopu said, “His house has a green mountain.”

Jiashan said, “If indeed that’s so, then my teaching won’t collapse.”

Jiashan then passed away.


Luopu went to Cenyang where he encountered an old friend. They talked about hiding out [during the Wuchang era suppression of Buddhism], and his friend asked, “Where did you flee during the persecution?”

Luopu said, “I just remained in the middle of the market.”

His friend said, “Why didn’t you go where there weren’t any people?”

Luopu said, “What problems are there where there are no people?”

His friend asked, “How did you escape by being in the market?”

Luopu said, “Although I remained in the middle of the market, no one knew me.”

His friend was perplexed. He also asked, “The teachings of all buddhas, the transmission of all the ancestors, when these were not concealed, then what happened?”

Luopu said, “Before an old rustic’s door, there is no talk of the affairs of the royal court.”

His friend asked, “What do you mean by this?”

Luopu said, “If one doesn’t encounter others, after all, nothing is revealed.”

His friend said, “When someone who’s not from the royal court arrives and you meet him, can you speak with him or not?”

Luopu said, “The immeasurable function! It’s seen in arduous circumstances.”


A monk asked Zen master Luopu, “What if I want to return to my country home?”

Luopu said, “The houses are demolished and the people are dead. To where would you return?”

The monk said, “In that case I won’t go back.”

Luopu said, “The sun melts the snow at the front of the courtyard, but who will sweep the dust that has drifted into the room?”

Luopu then recited the following verse:

If your resolve is to return home,
Then board the boat that ferries o’er the five lakes.
Raise the boat pole; stars and moon are hidden.
Stop the oar; the sun is alone.
Slip the moorage and leave the baneful shore.
Hoist the sail and set off on the true way.


On the first day of the twelfth lunar month, Luopu said to the monks, “If I don’t die tomorrow then it will be soon after. Today I have one question to ask you all. If you say this is it, then you are putting a head on top of your head. If you say this isn’t it, then you’re seeking life by cutting off your head.”

The head monk said, “The green mountain does not lift its feet. Don’t carry a lamp in broad daylight.”

Luopu said, “Why talk in such a way at a time like this?”

At that time a monk named Yancong spoke to Luopu, saying, “Apart from these two roads, I ask the master to not ask.”

Luopu said, “That’s not it. Speak again.”

Yancong said, “I can’t say it entirely.”

Luopu said, “I don’t care if you can say it entirely or not.”

Yancong said, “I answered you undeferentially.”

Luopu then was quiet. That evening he had his attendant summon Yancong, and then said to him, “Your answer today had meaning. You are in accordance with understanding my late teacher’s meaning. He taught, ‘What is in front of the eyes is not the Dharma. Consciousness is in front of the eyes. It is not Dharma that is in front of the eyes. It is not what meets the ear and eyes.’”

Then Luopu said, “Now tell me, what phrase is the ‘guest,’ and what phrase is the ‘host.’ If you can tell them apart, then I’ll give you the robe and bowl of succession.”

Yancong said, “I don’t understand.”

Luopu said, “You can understand.”

Yancong said, “I really can’t do it!”

Luopu shouted and said, “How awful!” ([Later,] Xuanjue commented on this, saying, “If monk Cong says he doesn’t understand, then Luopu is afraid that the bowl and robe will be stuck to him.”)

The next day during the noon session, a different monk asked the master about the previous day’s conversation.

Luopu said, “The boat of compassion is not rowed across pure waves. In a narrow strait the disciple futilely put out a wooden goose.”124 The master then passed away.



第四十一則 洛浦臨終 Luopu About To Die
宏智正覺 Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091–1157) & 萬松行秀 Wansong Xingxiu (1166-1246)
從容録 Congrong lu, Case 41
Translated by Thomas Cleary
Chinese-English bilingual edition

Introduction: Sometimes out of loyalty and sincerity denying oneself, the pain and cramp is hard to express. Sometimes calamity extends to other people but one doesn't take responsibility. When about to pass away, we are cut down cheaply; at the very end there is the most care, tears come from a painful gut, it is impossible to hide or escape any more. But is there anyone who has cool eyes?

Case: When Luopu was about to die, he said to the assembly, "I have one thing to ask you people.(He's still talking military strategy.) If this is so, this is adding a head on top of your head.(This way won't do.) If it is not so, this is cutting off your head seeking life."(Not this way won't do either.) At that time the head monk said, "The green mountain is always moving its feet; you don't hang a lamp in broad daylight.(If it's spoken clearly, it's all the more difficult to get out.)" Luopu said, "What time is this to make such a speech?"(He's lost his money and incurred punishment.) A certain elder, Yancong, came forth and said, "Leaving these two paths, I request the teacher not to ask."(Easy to open is the mouth of end and beginning; hard to maintain is the heart of the dead of winter.) Luopu said, "Not yet--speak again."(Poems must be recited twice to see their worth.) Yancong said, "I can't say it all."(Not letting people see it makes it all the more charming.) Luopu said, "I don't care if you can say it all or not." (Letting a bottomless one come, he can't help not stopping.)Yancong said, "I have no attendant to answer the teacher."(The shadowing grass is around him.) That evening he called elder Yancong: "Your answer today was most reasonable.(He just practices sticking it on his head.) You should experientially realize the saying of my late teacher, 'before the eyes there are no things--that meaning is before the eyes.(If you cut down the cassia tree on the moon, the pure light must be even more.) That is not something before the eyes, not in reach of the ears and eyes.' (When the moon sets, come to see me.) Which phrases are guest, which phrases are host? If you can pick them out, I'll impart the robe and bowl to you." (Holding a stick, he calls the dog.) Yancong said, "I don't understand." Luopu said, "You should understand." (He's going to make a high mountain.) Yancong said, "I really don't."(He doesn't bring a single load of earth.) Luopu shouted and said, "How miserable!"(He cheats ordinary people.) A monk asked, "What is the teacher's meaning?" (Where the torch is lost, greasy char is found.) Luopu said, "The boat of compassion is not rowed over pure waves: over precipitous straits it is wasted effort to set out a wooden goose."(Flaunting skill, he becomes clumsy.)

Commentary: When Luopu was about to die, he was too kind. The head monk bared his heart entirely, but was blamed for being untimely; Yancong didn't move his lips, but Luopu allowed as he should understand. Luopu could only sift and strain over and over--what a pity, just to sink into oblivion. Kepin was willingly fined the price of congee; the blind donkey purposely destroyed the eye of the true teaching. Xuanjiao said, "Tell me, did elder Yancong really not understand? Or did he fear that the bowl would defile him?" Thus the records of the Chan transmission include Yancong among the successsors to the Dharma. Luopu once instructed the group, "You must directly realize the source outside of the teachings; don't grasp principle within words." A monk asked, "What is practice of the inconceivable like?" Luopu said, "The green montain is always moving its feet; the bright sun doesn't shift its orb." When we use this to test them, the head monk and Yancong can be seen clearly. As for Luopu's part, is there after all anyone to take up after him? After a hundred years, after all there's Tiantong: his verse says.

頌云。 餌雲鉤月釣清津(不入驚人浪難逢稱意魚)。年老心孤未得鱗(氣急作麼)。一曲離騷歸去後(在甚麼處)。汨羅江上獨醒人(洛浦猶在)。
Verse: The bait is clouds, the hook the moon, fishing in the clear harbor:(If you don't enter the frightening waves, you'll hardly find a fish that you want.) Old in years, alone at heart, he hasn't got a fish yet.(Why so hurried?) One song "leaving the clamor," coming on back:(Where?) On the Milo river, the only sober man. (Luopu's still around.)

Commentary: An ancient used a rainbow as a pole, the new moon as a hook, a piece of cloud for bait: in the clear waters one can thus pole the boat of compassion; in the precipitous straits one must first release a wooden goose. In the instructions for sitting meditation written by Master Wuyun of Hangchow it says, "Follow the flow through the ravine straits; don't get stuck with the wooden goose." The water of ravine straits is steep and dangerous, flowing so fast that if two boats collide on it they would surely be smashed; therefore they first cut a piece of wood and float it downstream--this is called a wooden goose. The different explanations given in various places are hardly reliable; none is as good as these meditation instructions for evidence (of the meaning of 'wooden goose'). "Old in years, alone at heart, he hasn't got a fish yet"--those who do not know think this means that Luopu had no successors, but in all Luopu found eleven people, like Wuya, Qingfeng, and others, who were all white--browed old adepts. A poem by Master Na of Momo hermitage says, The sharp famous wine of present and past--Those it intoxicated were all outstanding heroes: The emaciated man by the marsh's edge Is not worthy of being considered the only sober one. Qu Yuan was styled Ping; he served King Huai of Chu as the chief of the royal families. Denounced by Geshang, he was demoted and sent to Changsha. He walked alone by the riverside; he told the fishermen, "All the world is drunk; I alone am sober. All the world is polluted; I alone am pure." He plunged into the Milo river and died. The river is in the Luo district of Tan province. The classic Leaving the Clamor included in the Literary Selections was composed by Qu Yuan. When Luopu was about to die, Yancong tarried dully. Though Luopu went fishing, he didn't get a fraction of a cent; in direct confrontation, after all water and rice didn't mix. Do you understand? If one doesn't get enfeoffed as a baron, then one is free.



Empty Valley Collection
Translated by Thomas Cleary
Timeless Spring: A Soto Zen anthology. Weatherhill, Tokyo-New York, 1980

As Luopu was standing by Linji, a lecturing monk
came to call on Linji; Linji asked, "There is one man
who attains understanding from the teachings of the
three vehicles, and there is one man who doesn't attain
understanding from the teachings of the three vehicles;
tell me, are these two men the same or different?" The
lecturer said, "If they understand, they're the same; if
they don't understand, they're different." Linji looked at
Luopu and said, "What about you?" Luopu immediately



Case 119: 洛浦供養 Luopu's “Offerings”
Entangling Vines
A Classic Collection of Zen Koans by Thomas Yuho Kirchner. Foreword by Nelson Foster, Wisdom Publications, 2013

A monk asked Luopu Yuan’an, “A single follower of the Way free of thought is more worthy of offerings than a hundred thousand buddhas.1 What is the failing of the buddhas, and what is the merit of the follower of the Way?”

Luopu answered, “A wisp of white cloud blocks the mouth of the valley; many returning birds cannot find their nests in the night.”2

1.This statement has its source in the Sutra in Forty-two Sections, section 11. The passage reads in part:

Offering food to a single pratyekabuddha surpasses offering food to one billion arhats. Offering food to a single buddha of the three periods of time surpasses offering food to ten billion pratyekabuddhas. Offering food to a single person of no-thought, no-abiding, no-cultivation, and no-attainment surpasses offering food to a hundred billion buddhas.

2.The ZGJI comments: “Deluded students who seek outside themselves eventually have no place to return.” Conversely, the Zen Phrase Lexicon says: “The valley is a no-minded wayfarer; the returning birds are mind and thoughts—fine it is that they lose their way.”




Lo-pu Jüan-an, 834-898
Fordította: Terebess Gábor
Vö.: Folyik a híd, Officina Nova, Budapest, 1990, 73. oldal

Lin-csi megkérdezte Lo-put:
– Régen az egyik mester a botot szorgalmazta, a másik az ordítást. Ki volt közelebb az igazsághoz?
– Egyik sem.
– Akkor mi van közel hozzá?
Lo-pu elordította magát, a mester pedig megbotozta.