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A Vast, Nameless Love

Dharma Discourse by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei
True Dharma Eye, Case 211
Caoshan’s “Love Between Parent and Child”

Featured in Mountain Record 29.3, Spring 2011


Main Case

Caoshan was once asked by a monastic, “A child went back to her parent. Why didn’t the parent pay attention to her?”

Caoshan said, “It is quite natural just like that.”

The monastic said, “Then where is the love between parent and child?”

Caoshan said, “The love between parent and child.”

The monastic said, “What is the love between parent and child?”

Caoshan said, “It cannot be split apart, even when hit with an ax.”

Commentary

At the time of birth, parent and child become each other. This means that in the middle of the night, before the moon has appeared, do not be suprised that people meet without knowing each other. At this point, the empty sky has vanished and the iron mountain has crumbled. There is not an inch of ground to stand on. Be that as it may, mountains are high and valleys are low. Thus Caoshan says the love between parent and child neither arises nor vanishes. Then how can it be divided into fragments and segments? All this notwithstanding, how is it that parent and child can meet and yet not know each other?

Capping Verse

Why must yin and yang be placed in an arrangement?
If you do, you will never have today.
When the wind blows, the grasses bend;
when the rains come, the river fills.



Human beings seem unique in their yearning to find meaning. I open my eyes, see someone in the mirror and call it myself. I look around and observe time and place and I call that my world. I interact with others and call that my relationships. And into all of these, I attribute meaning: what does this thought, emotion, situation or event mean? How do I interpret that meaning to obtain what I want? Buddhadharma challenges us to ask the deeper question, the real question: who is this person, what is the real truth of this world and how do I live this life without creating suffering?