The capping verse: Xuefeng is clearly a thief who steals in broad daylight. All buddhas in the three worlds are in the furnace turning the great dharma wheel—this encompasses everything, the whole universe is right there, nothing is left out. The capping verse continues, . . . but Xuansha steals the thief’s horse and pursues him. Xuansha takes the other side, saying, “Look, there’s more to it.” The next line says, It finally just comes down to two monastics playing with mud balls. The reason it’s playing with mud balls is because they’ve gone ahead and intellectualized this whole thing. It’s very easy to talk about it. It’s the same lip service that I was just talking about: the lip service we give to motherhood, the lip service we give to peace, the lip service we give to taking care of the environment, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, maintaining the precepts. Easy to say. Very difficult to do. You have to put yourself on the line to do it. You have to be willing to do it. You need to ask yourself the question, “Am I willing to practice in the fire? Can I turn the dharma wheel in the fire?” The answer is yes, you can. But are you willing?

The next line says, After all, sweet is just sweet, bitter is just bitter. Therein lies the truth of our lives: everything just as it is, sweet or bitter, is our life. Perfect, complete, lacking nothing—the life of a buddha. When we turn our life from that, when we run away from that, it never comes alive. So we should ask, am I willing to work with anger, conflict, pain and suffering? Not only my own, but that of others. Am I willing to enter the fray?

True Dharma Eye is a complete, modern English translation of Master Dogen’s Three Hundred Koan Shobogenzo translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and John Daido Loori with Daido Loori’s commentary, capping verse, and footnotes.