Seeing With the Unconditioned Eye

Dharma Discourse by John Daido Loori Roshi
True Dharma Eye, Case 104
Deshan's Enlightenment

Featured in Mountain Record 28.4, Spring 2010

John Daido Loori Roshi (1931-2009) was the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order. A successor to Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Daido Roshi was a lineage holder in both the Rinzai and Soto schools of Zen.

The Main Case

Deshan was a scholar of the Diamond Sutra. He heard that the Zen school was widely spreading in the South and wanted to know why. He dissolved his study group, let his students go, and went South, carrying books of commentaries on the sutra. He first visited the monastery of Longtan. Entering the monastery gate, he said, “For a long time I heard about the Dragon Pool (Longtan). But now that I have arrived, I see neither the dragon nor the pool.”

Longtan said, “You have arrived personally at the Dragon Pool.”

Deshan bowed and walked away. Later that evening he was invited to enter the abbot’s room. Deshan stayed with Longtan until the night was deep.

Longtan said, “Why don’t you take your leave?”

Deshan then said good night, raised the screen, and walked out. Seeing it was dark, he turned around and said, “It’s dark outside.”

Longtan lit a paper lamp and offered it to him. When Deshan was about to take the lamp, Longtan blew out the light.

Deshan suddenly experienced great enlightenment and made a full bow.

Longtan said, “What did you see that made you bow?”

Deshan said, “From now on I will not doubt your words.”

On the following day, Longtan gave a talk in the dharma hall and said, “There is a person here. His fangs are like swords. His mouth is like a tray of blood. When I give him a blow, he does not turn his head. Some day he will get to the top of a solitary peak, stand on my path, and advance.”

Deshan then took out the books of commentaries he was carrying, held up a torch in front of the dharma hall and said, “Investigating commentaries is like placing a hair in the vast emptiness. It is like adding a drop of water to an ocean of essential matters in the world.”

Then he burned his books and bowed.