Schuzan said, Don't oppose reality,
don't ignore the facts. What is it, my short staff ?
(The Koan-answer is the picture's caption!)
Show the Short Staff
The background story of this Koan
Shuzan held out his short staff and said:
"If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact.
Now what do you wish to call this?"
The original Chinese Goang
Venerable Shoushan picked up his “bamboo comb” and said to the assembly,
"You people of various ranks, if you call out ‘bamboo comb’ you butt your head into the norm.
Not calling out ‘bamboo comb’ you turn your back to the norm.
You various people, just say what do you call out?”
Traditional Commentaries and .... Poems (Gata)
If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact.
It cannot be expressed with words and it cannot be expressed without words.
Now say quickly what it is.
To call out “bamboo comb” you butt your head into the norm. Not to call out “bamboo comb” you turn your back to the norm.
It is not proper to have words; it is not proper to be without words.
Speak quickly! Speak quickly!
Holding out the short staff,
He gave an order of life or death.
Positive and negative interwoven,
Even Buddhas and patriarchs cannot escape this attack.
Picking up and raising the “bamboo-comb,"
He decrees the killing and saving of lives.
When turning the back and butting the head intersect and propagate,
Buddhas and ancestors beg for their lives.