Yet while Roshi could be very demanding, he could, at the same time, be extremely flexible. As he trained the senior students in the early years he would be very meticulous with how things should be done, or how students should be trained. Then when we had learned that, he would sometimes challenge us, “Why are you doing that?” “You told us to,” we’d say. “No, not this time,” he would say. He was pointing to the fact that there is functioning within a rule, and there is the rule of no rule. Sometimes it’s important to hold fast and to have the student meet him or herself in a tight place, and sometimes it’s important to throw the rule away and give the student a wide space in which to move. Daido Roshi could do both, and he did. It depended on each particular student and on the situation.
Whatever the student was holding on to, Roshi would always point to the other side, which is uncomfortable, and he would do that as medicine, so that we would not “lurk in the grass” and “stick to the trees,” as the pointer to this koan says. Daido Roshi did it so we would not become spirits or ghosts, but so we would be our true selves, so we would return to and discover our original nature.
The pointer says, “When calling it, you burn paper money and present a horse.” Burning paper money is destroying something that has value. And we destroy it by attaching to it. “When repelling it, you curse water and write charms.” By ignoring something, we shun what is essential, we push away the thing that our lives depend on. “How can you get peace in the family?” This is the question. How do we find the peace that Daido Roshi dedicated his last thirty years to, and manifest this within both our sangha family, as well as the sentient and insentient family of beings? This is what the Buddha dedicated his life to; this is the legacy of the dharma. It is what is passed down, generation after generation.