23 Myo's Run After Eno

Eno asked Myo "What was your original face,
when you ran after me?"
At these words Myo was illumined.
(The Koan-answer is the picture's caption!)


Run and Sweat

An explanation of the Koan answer

The Koan question is only a snippet from the long Koan story.
It seems like a question of the winner for the loser. But the Koan is not about victory or morality. That's expressed in the story itself by "don't think in the dualities of good or no-good".

The original face of the Koan-question means nothing else but your face, you yourself. Today. Now.
Think back to your running, just running, Huineng says. You were a one-centred runner. Nothing but that. Just running.

If you're a runner yourself, today, you may have the same experience.
After some time, especially after you're a bit exhausted, you're only running. There's nothing else for you but your running. Therefore I think, running (or some other exercise) is sometimes described as a kind of meditation.

To answer the Koan take your towel and wipe the sweat from your forehead after the run.

What next?

The background story of this Koan

The fictional generations of Chinese Zen-masters the lineage, was always undisputed until the fifth generation patriarch Hongren, who was supposed to lived in Huangmai, a legendary 7th century monastery.
His successor as sixth patriarch was Shen Xiu the head monk of Huangmai.

Two generations later, an obscure figure in Zen history, Shenghui, made up the story of this Koan to introduce Huineng as sixth patriarch instead of Shenxiu.
A clever move, for Shen Xiu was already dead and as disciple of the now sixth patriarch Huineng Shenhui became the seventh patriarch.

The story begins in Huangmai, with a poem writing contest. The winner would become the successor of Hongren, as sixth patriarch.
The headmonk Shen Xiu (Myo) loses the contest against Huineng (Eno), the story runs, but Myo wouldn't give in. Myo ran after Eno, who had aready left the monastery.

click to read more about the story of this Koan

Free ebooks!

Zen Riddle #50-wood :
A Buddha made of wood why can't he pass through fire?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)

Want more riddles? Choose one!
#8-well #34-shirt #18-lotus mumonkan

The original Chinese Goang

The Sixth Ancestor: Because Upper-seat Ming pursued and arrived at Daiyu mountain, the Ancestor upon seeing Ming arrive and draw near tossed down the robe and bowl on top of a rock and said, “This robe is a superficial sign, can force contend for it? I allow you to remove it.”

Ming went to lift up the robe, but like a mountain it did not move.
Hesitating and trembling with fear, Ming said, "I come to seek the Dharma, not for the robe! I hope, the monastery Helper [xingzhe the "go-fer" or servant, lit. “he who walks”/ “he who does”], will open it and teach me.”

The Ancestor said, "Don’t think good, don’t think evil. Right now, what is it that is the original face of Upper-seat Ming?”

Ming just then fell into great realization.
The sweat of his body flowed everywhere.
Weeping tears he did proprieties and asked, “Beyond coming to these esoteric words and esoteric meaning, is there not a further outward intended purpose?”
click to read more

Traditional Commentaries and .... Poems (Gata)

Mumon's comment: The sixth patriarch certainly was kind in such an emergency.
It was as if he removed the skin and seeds from the fruit and then, opening the pupil's mouth, let him eat.

Wumen says: It could even be said the Sixth Ancestor was putting forward his function like the wife of a family whose worries are close to her heart.

For instance, he takes a fresh lichee fruit, finishes peeling the skin, finishes removing the pit, puts it inside your mouth, and you should just swallow it in one swallow.

What next?

The Gata

You cannot describe it, you cannot picture it,
You cannot admire it, you cannot sense it.
It is your true self, it has nowhere to hide.
When the world is destroyed, it will not be destroyed.

It is incapable of being copied; it can’t begin to be depicted;
Praise is unbecoming; cease giving rise to sensations (vedana).
The face that comes has no place to be concealed.
At the time the world is destroyed, it is immortal.

What next?