Shugen Sensei

The True Revolution

Dharma Discourse by
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei
Book of Serenity, Case 3
The Invitation of the Ancestor to India

Featured in Mountain Record 31.3, Spring 2013

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.


The state before the beginning of time—a turtle heads for the fire. The one phrase specially transmitted outside of doctrine—the lip of a mortar bears flowers. Now tell me, is there any “accepting and upholding, reading and reciting” in this?

Main Case

A Raja of an East Indian country invited the 27th Buddhist ancestor Prajnatara to a feast. The Raja asked him, “Why don’t you read scriptures?” The ancestor said, “This poor wayfarer doesn’t dwell in the realms of body and mind when breathing in, doesn’t get involved in myriad circum- stances when breathing out—I always reiterate such a scripture, hundreds, thousands, millions of scrolls.”


A cloud rhino gazes at the moon, its light engulfing radiance.
A wood horse romps in spring, swift and unbridled.
Under the eyebrows, a pair of cold blue eyes.
How can reading scriptures reach the piercing of oxhide?
The clear mind produces vast aeons,
Heroic power smashes the double enclosure.
In the subtle round mouth of the pivot turns the spiritual works.
Hanshan forgot the road by which he came—
Shide lead him back by the hand.