Gnawing Through Qiánfēng’s Three Illnesses and Two Lights

Gnawing Through Qiánfēng’s Three Illnesses and Two Lights July 19, 2023

   Dogen Zenji famously said that to study the buddha way is to study the self. This post concludes a series of translations and commentaries that dig directly into that point. And the koan that is unpacked below points directly to this “I” consciousness (aka, manas or seventh consciousness) that Dogen was referring to.

   The above mentioned series, includes the following:
   Below you’ll find the pre-koan to “Yunmen’s Two Illnesses” and in an attached pdf – here – because it seems to me that it’d be easier to work with it that way. You’ll also find my commentary included in the pdf at Patreon (open to all) where I give some context for this koan being a “difficult to pass through” (nanto) koan and highlight some of the key points for students to clarify.
   Hakuin Zenji says about this kōan:
   “I want you noble ones penetrating Zen’s hidden depths to know that these words of instruction Qiánfēng addresses to his monks are very difficult— difficult in the extreme. You should never think otherwise…. Just concentrate yourselves steadily and single mindedly on gnawing your way into Qiánfēng’s words. Suddenly, unexpectedly, your teeth will sink in. Your body will pour with cold sweat. At that instant it will all become clear. You will see the infinite compassion contained in Qiánfēng’s instructions. You will grasp the timeless sublimity of Yúnmén’s response.”
To read the full article and download the pdf with a new translation of this case and commentary, click here.

Dōshō Port began practicing Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches with his wife, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with Vine of Obstacles Zen, an online training group. Dōshō received dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He is also the author of Keep Me In Your Heart a While: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Record of Empty Hall: One Hundred Classic Koans, was published in 2021 (Shambhala). His third book, Going Through the Mystery’s One Hundred Questions, is now available. Click here to support the teaching practice of Dōshō Rōshi.

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