The Gift of Life

Dharma Discourse by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei
Book of Serenity, Case 73
Caoshan's Fulfillment of Filial Piety

Featured in Mountain Record 28.3, Spring 2010

The Pointer

Lurking in the grasses, sticking to the trees, one turns into a spirit. Being constrained and unjustly punished, one becomes a ghostly curse. When calling it, you burn paper money and present a horse; when repelling it, you curse water and write charms. How can you get peace in the family?

The Main Case

A monastic asked Caoshan, “How is it when the mourning clothes are not worn?”
Caoshan said, “Today Caoshan's filial duty is fulfilled.”
The monk said, “How about after fulfillment of filial duty?”
Caoshan said, “Caoshan likes to get falling-down drunk.”



The Capping Verse

The pure household has no neighbors:
For long years staying and sweeping, not admitting any dust.
Where the light turns tilts the moon remaining at dawn:
When the forms of the hexagrams are distinguished,
Then are established dawn and spring.
Having freshly fulfilled filial duty,
Then one meets the spring—
Walking drunk, singing crazily, turban hanging down,
Ambling with tousled hair, who cares—

In great peace, with no concerns, a man falling-down drunk.

This koan always makes me think of Daido Roshi because it takes up the subject of filial duty. It’s been a number of months since Roshi passed away on the morning of October 9th, 2009. Some of you who are now training in the Mountains and Rivers Order never met him, while others had a few encounters; but many of us had the opportunity to study closely with him for years. For some of us, he was our only teacher, the guiding teacher of the Order. He brought this sangha into being—teaching, leading  the way, and helping it mature over these three decades.