The Dance of Samsara

Dharma Discourse by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Sensei
Blue Cliff Record, Case 33
Ministry President Ch’en Sees Tzu Fu

Featured in Mountain Record 30.1,  Fall 2011

Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Sensei is the abbot and director of operations of Zen Mountain Monastery. He received dharma transmission from Daido Roshi in 2009.


They do not discriminate east from west, nor distinguish south from north, from morning till evening, evening till morning; but can you say they are fast asleep? Sometimes their eyes are like comets, but can you say they are wide awake? Sometimes they call south north; but tell me, are they mindful or mindless? Are they people of the Way or just ordinary persons? If you can pass through here, for the first time you will know the ultimate, and then you will know how the ancients were so or not so. But tell me, what time is this? To test, I cite this. Look!

Main Case

Ch'en Ts'ao, ministry president, went to see Tzu Fu. When Fu saw him coming, he immediately drew a circle. Ts'ao said, "My coming here like this has already missed the point; how much more so, to go on and draw a circle!" Fu thereupon closed the door of his room.

Hsueh Tou said, "Ch'en Ts'ao has just one eye."


Round and round the jewel turns, ringing
       like jade—
Horses carry it, asses bear it; load it on an
      iron ship;
Share it with an unconcerned traveler of sea
   and mountain.
When fishing for a tortoise, he lets down
a cage-trap.
Hsueh Tou also said, “No patch-robed monk in
the world can jump out.”