Kyogen Mounts the Tree
Kyogen said: `Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a
precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and
under the three another person asks him: `Why does Bodhidharma come to
China from India?'
`If the man in tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer,
he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?'
Mumon's Comment: In such a predicament the most talented
eloquence is no use. If you have memorized all the sutras, you cannot
use them. When you can give the right answer, even though your past
road was one of death, you open up a new road of life. But if you
cannot answer, you should ages hence and the future Buddha, Maitreya.
Kyogen is truly a fool
Spreading that ego-killing poison
That closes his pupils' mouths
And lets their tears stream from their dead eyes.
A Zen koan from the classic collection The Gateless Gate.
Original transcription by Ben Walter and Adam Fuller of iBiblio.