Can Do, Will Do, Done
Dharma Discourse by John Daido Loori Roshi
Touzi’s Clarification of the Ancestor’s Intention
Featured in Mountain Record 27.4, Summer 2009
The Main Case
Furong Daokai said to his teacher Touzi Yiqing, “‘The intentions and phrases of the buddhas and ancestors are like everyday meals.’ Besides this, are there any other words for guiding people?”
Touzi said, “When the Emperor of the nation issues a decree, does he need to confirm this with the ancient emperors Yu, Tang, Yao, or Shun?”
Furong was about to open his mouth to speak, when Yiqing covered his mouth with his fly whisk and said, “As soon as your mind arises, you deserve twenty blows of the stick.”
Furong had realization, made a bow, and began to leave.
Touzi called out, “Reverend!”
Furong didn’t even turn his head.
Touzi said, “Have you reached the place of no doubt?”
Furong covered his ears and left.
Although Furong knows how to say, “The intentions and phrases of the buddhas and ancestors are like everyday meals,” it is clear that he has not yet experienced the miracle of this truth. The eating and drinking of everyday meals is the essential truth of all dharmas. To eat and to drink is to experience any activity, and at the very moment of fully experiencing an activity, we merge with its ultimate reality. Thus, dharma is eating and eating is dharma. This truth can only be realized by oneself, can only be verified by oneself.
Just as Furong is about to fall into a thicket of word brambles, Touzi snatches away his tongue. Having broken the rhinoceros horn of doubt, there is no calling him back. Tell me, what is this place of no doubt that Touzi asks about?
If you can show it, then whether you dwell in the canyons of a city or the stillness of the wilderness, I will grant that you are free, unhindered, and complete wherever you stand. If not, you must study this matter of everyday meals carefully.
The Capping Verse
Winding river, endless mountains—
the dark forest breathing mist.
There is no road into the sacred place.
It’s just that, the deeper you go,
the more wondrous it becomes.
Some years back, a group of twenty students and I encountered numerous barriers on a ten-day wilderness trip. The river was very low, which made the current difficult to navigate in many places, and we had to put a lot of effort just to propel ourselves in our canoes. Then, we continually encountered beaver dams, which meant we needed to get ten canoes and twenty people through them–and to do so in such a way that we wouldn’t do permanent damage to the dam or to the flow of the river.
Beaver dams are beautifully constructed. They are designed to withstand the tremendous force of water, so they are very resilient. You can’t just take an ax to them because it will just bounce off. A dam needs to be taken apart the same way it was put together. Then it has to be put back again. Of course, the beaver are never satisfied with our attempts so they immediately fix it up the way it’s really supposed to be.