Shugen Sensei

Miraculous Activity

Dharma Discourse by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei
True Dharma Eye Case 213

The Bodhisattva of No Miraculous Power

Featured in Mountain Record 31.1, Fall 2012
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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei is the abbot of the Zen Center of New York City: Fire Lotus Temple and the Head of the Mountains and Rivers Order.

Main Case

Daowu was once asked by a student, “Why is it so difficult to find traces of a bodhisattva of no miraculous power?”

Daowu said, “Those who travel together know it.”

The student said, “Master, do you know it?”

Daowu said, “No, I don’t.”

The student said, “How come you don’t know it?”

Daowu said, “Go away. You don’t understand my meaning.”


Having heard of the bodhisattva of no miraculous power, this student wants to know why it is not possible to find traces of such a being. Daowu’s “Those who travel together know it” means that it’s like one bright pearl whose radiance cannot be contained. “Cannot be contained” means reaching everywhere, traceless. The student’s “Do you know it?” clearly shows that the student doesn’t get it.

Have you heard old master Baizhang’s saying: “When the moment is not hindered by being and nonbeing, or reliance on knowing and not knowing, this is called miraculous power. Not being attached to this miraculous power is called being without miraculous power. Bodhisattvas without miraculous power thus leave no traces. This is the mark of continuous development beyond buddha.”

In the end, this encounter just turns out to be playing in the mud with no redeemable virtue whatsoever. That is, unless you can say a word on behalf of the student and manifest the bodhisattva of no miraculous power here and now.

Capping Verse

Present without thinking,
its presence is inherently intimate.
Completed without interacting,
its completion is inherently verified.