Who Doesn’t Get Sick? Ouch, Ouch!

Happy New Year to you all.

Enjoying the break here – still! My day job is cancelled again today due to the “excessive” cold.

How cold? It was so cold yesterday that I didn’t take dog Bodhi for a walk.

That’s how cold it was. And now a heat wave. +4 at present.

Yesterday there were wind chills of more than -50 degrees (before the ’90’s it would have been in the -70’s). Or like we say in our understated Minnesotan way (hear this as in Fargo), “Gol darn-it anyway, it’s a bit cool out there.”

And speaking of cool. The fox above wasn’t drawn by me but by the five-year-old daughter of a Zen student.

And also speaking of cool, this post features a koan for you for a cold day or for any day in the shape-shifting wild-fox-swirl of the samsara-nirvana fractal. It’s from the wonderful, free and downloadable Collected Works of Korean Buddhism (click here), V. 7, Case 677:

Deshan was not well and a certain monk asked, “Is there someone who does not get sick or not?”

The master said, “There is.”

The monk said, “Who does not get sick?”

The master said, “Ouch, ouch!”

What’s the deep meaning of this?

“Ouch, ouch!”

That’s really all there is to the buddhadharma – not much at all.

Deshan was famous for his strong spirit, shouting and beating the delusion out of anyone who happened by. Here, though, life and death are giving him a beating. He’s gotten old and soft like an overripe persimmon ready to go “Splat!”

Reminds me of the long-ripe and soft-spoken Myogen Steve Stucky. Here’s his death poem –


This human body truly is the entire cosmos
Each breath of mine, is equally one of yours, my darling
This tender abiding in “my” life
Is the fierce glowing fire of inner earth
Linking with all pre-phenomena
Flashing to the distant horizon
From “right here now” to “just this”
Now the horizon itself
Drops away—


Myogen gives away his lineage secrets. Bodhi! Svaha.

What about for Deshan?

Ouch, ouch!

After the encounter with the monk, Deshan said, “You lay your hands on the sky and chase after echoes, exhausting your mind and body. You wake up from the dream and realize it was not. In the end what is there to do?”

The text says, “Once [Deshan] was done talking he sat peacefully and passed away.”


What is there to do? Just live. Just die.

“Ouch, ouch!”

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