The Commentary

Deshan made the long journey to southern China in order to discredit the “special transmission outside the scriptures,” only to be defeated by an old woman selling rice cakes who buried him in his own rhetoric. Since Deshan did not ask for clarification, the old woman did not give any.

Deshan finally found his way to Longtan where, although his eyes went blind, he nonetheless ultimately lost his nostrils. Yet even in his blindness, he was able to find his way to Guishan, who tried to get him to step off the hundred foot pole, but the time was not yet ripe. In the end however, he was finally able to untie that which was bound and see the last word of Zen. Then, carrying his bowls, he followed the clouds and was freely blown by the wind. Now tell me, what is Deshan’s blindness and how did he lose his nostrils?


The Capping Verse

Within darkness there is light;
within light there is darkness.
When the dharma wheel turns,
it always goes in both directions.

The unconditioned eye is the eye of a student. It’s open, innocent, and wild. It is the eye of a beginner—uninformed and constantly searching. Every possibility is present and nothing is excluded. Seeing the universe and the self like this means seeing them in a way that is fresh, new, and original. On the other hand, the conditioned eye is the eye of the expert—informed, sophisticated, cultivated. It is not wild. It’s experienced, accomplished. Needless to say, there is a big difference between these two ways of seeing and therefore the way in which we’ll understand what we see.