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石室善道 Shishi Shandao (760-830), aka 石室行者 Shishi Xingzhe

(Rōmaji:) Sekishitsu Zendō
(Magyar:) Si-si San-tao


The Record of Linji

Someone asked, “The lay worker Shishi in treading the pestle shaft of the rice mortar would forget he was moving his feet; where did he go?”
“Drowned in a deep spring!” the master replied.

The lay worker Shishi translates 石室 行者 (Shishi Xingzhe), another name for Shandao 善道. Shandao was a ninth-century monk in the Qingyuan line of Chan and an heir of the master Changzi Kuang 長髭曠 (n.d.). According to his biography in zj 5 (15–16), during the proscription of Buddhism of 843 to 845 Shandao lived in a stone grotto in the Yu 攸 district of Tanzhou 潭州, in present Hunan. There he took off his monk’s robes and assumed the dress of a “lay worker” 行者, a layman who lives in a temple and engages in menial work but does not shave his head. After the proscription was lifted, elder monks gathered around Shandao. He did not resume wearing his robes, however, spending his days instead treading the pestle shaft of the rice mortar to provide food for his students. Yangshan Huiji visited Shandao; so also did Mukou 木口 (otherwise known as Xingshan Jianhong 杏山鑑洪 [n.d.]; see Introduction, page 100, note 33; for Xingshan’s visit to Linji, see page 302). Shandao’s biography is also found in the jc (t 51: 316a–b). Th e present anecdote is not found in Shishi Xingzhe’s biographies. Th e term “lay worker” is also associated with Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch, who, when he was at the Fift h Patriarch’s monastery working in the rice-threshing shed, was known as Lu Xingzhe 廬行者, “the lay worker Lu”; he is regarded as the fi rst lay worker in Chan.

Note in The Record of Linji
by Ruth Fuller Sasaki
p. 138.


Encounter Dialogues of Shishi Shandao (781-872)
compiled by Satyavayu of Touching Earth Sangha
DOC: Treasury of the Forest of Ancestors

Master Shishi Shandao (781-872) was a disciple of Master Changzi Kuang, one of the prominent students of Master Shitou. Master Shishi lived and taught in the hermit-caves of Youxian in Hunan, the same area that his spiritual cousin Yunyan had settled in, and perhaps for some of the same time. (“Shishi “ means “stone chamber”). During the Buddhist persecution of 840-846, Master Shishi was said to have taken a job in a mill as a layman, and so was later often known as “Worker Shishi.”

When Master Shishi saw a new monk coming by, he was often known to hold up his staff and say, “Awakened ones of the past are just this; awakened ones of the present are just this; awakened ones of the future are just this.”

Once Master Shishi was visited by the monk Huiji who asked, “Where does the roundness of the moon go when it's a sharp crescent? Where does the sharpness go when it's full and round?”
Shishi said, “When it's a sharp crescent the roundness is still there; when it's round the sharpness is still there.”


161. The Mill Worker’s Staff
In: The True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans
with commentary and verse by John Daido Loori, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Daido Loori;
Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2005

Worker Shishi saw a monastic coming. He held up a staff and said, “Buddhas in the past
are just this. Buddhas of the present are just this. Buddhas of the future are just this.”1

Worker Shishi was a student of Master Mazu’s. Shishi, during the persecution of
Buddhism, took up work in a mill. He clearly understood the Zen workings of the staff,
and whenever a Zen monastic showed up, he would hold up his staff and say, “The
buddhas of the three times are just this!” Do you understand? In a single gesture he
envelops heaven and earth—thus! The buddhas of all time and space come home in a
single instant. But do you understand that instant?
It is not a matter of arriving at the moment or entering the moment. It’s more like
spring meeting spring, the teacher meeting the teacher, the student meeting herself,
buddha meeting buddha. It does not concern understanding or believing, yet it is not
devoid of understanding or believing. It’s not mindfulness or mindlessness, nor is it a
question of delusion or enlightenment. It’s just this.
Just this does not ignore past and future but rather is a realization of the moment.
When the moment is realized with the whole body and mind, the ten thousand kalpas
have at once been realized as well. If you still cannot see it, then look. See the ten
thousand blossoms opening with the spring breeze. Listen to the sounds of the valley
streams, and then enter there.

If you want to understand the past,
look at the present.
If you want to understand the future,
look at the present.

1 What is he making such a fuss about? Does he have something to impart or not?


Si-si San-tao, 760-830
Fordította: Terebess Gábor
Vö.: Folyik a híd, Officina Nova, Budapest, 1990, 81. oldal

Si-tou a hegyekben barangolt tanítványával, Si-sivel. Egyszer csak a szűk ösvényt lezárták az összefonódó ágak. Si-tou arra kérte Si-sit, hogy vágja át őket.
– Nem hoztam kést magammal – mondta Si-si.
Si-tou elővette a saját kését, és odanyújtotta a pengéjét.
– A nyelét kérem – mondta Si-si.
– Mit akarsz csinálni vele? – kérdezte a mester.
Si-si hirtelen feleszmélt.