Tozan's Three Blows
Tozan went to Ummon. Ummon asked him where he had come from.
Tozan said: `From Sato village.'
Ummon asked: `In what temple did you remain for the summer?'
Tozan replied: `The temple of Hoji, south of the lake.'
`When did you leave there?' asked Ummon, wondering how long Tozan
would continue with such factual answers.
`The twenty-fifth of August,' answered Tozan.
Ummon said: `I should give you three blows with a stick, but today I
The next day Tozan bowed to Ummon and asked: `Yesterday you forgave me
three blows. I do not know why you thought me wrong.'
Ummon, rebuking Tozan's spiritless responses, said: `You are good for
nothing. You simply wander from one monastery to another.'
Before Ummon's words were ended Tozan was enlightened.
Mumon's Comment: Ummon fed Tozan good Zen food. If Tozan can
digest it, Ummon may add another member to his family.
In the evening Tozan swam around in a sea of good and bad, but at dawn
Ummon crushed his nut shell. After all, he wasn't so smart.
Now, I want to ask: Did Tozan deserve the three blows? If you say
yes, not only Tozan but every one of you deserves them. If you say
no, Ummon is speaking a lie. If you answer this question clearly, you
can eat the same food as Tozan.
The lioness teaches her cubs roughly;
The cubs jump and she knocks them down.
When Ummon saw Tozan his first arrow was light;
His second arrow shot deep.
A Zen koan from the classic collection The Gateless Gate.
Original transcription by Ben Walter and Adam Fuller of iBiblio.