Shugen Sensei

A Deep and Vested Interest

Dharma Discourse by
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei
True Dharma Eye, Case 23
Yangshan’s “High and Low”

Featured in Mountain Record 31.2, Winter 2012-2013
Click here to order this discourse on MP3 or CD.

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

One day Zen master Huiji of Yangshan joined his teacher Guishan in plowing the rice field. Yangshan said, “Master, this place is low. How can I level it with the higher place?”
Guishan said, “Water is level, so why not use water and make the entire field level?”
Yangshan said,“Water is not necessary. Master, high places are level as high and low places are level as low.” Guishan approved.


The House of Guiyang is like this, parent and child complementing each other’s actions. Yangshan’s question is just an excuse to interact with his teacher. How can he not know that high is perfect and complete just as it is, and low is perfect and complete just as it is?

But say, is there some Zen truth here that is being revealed?

Although you may speak of the absolute and the relative as if they were two things, the truth is that they are in fact one reality. In one there are the ten thousand things, in the ten thousand things there is only one.

Capping Verse

Each and every thing abiding in its own dharma state
completely fulfills its virtues.
Each and every thing is related to everything else
in function and position.