KOAN and Haiku (03)


Koan and Haiku (03) - 公案と俳句

What is your original face
before your parents were born?

Click HERE to have a peek !!!

My Daruma and the Original Face


what was her face -
she never asked
she never asked

. the short life of a white lily
Gabi Greve, August 2010


ganjitsu ni umarenu saki no oya koishi

on New Year's Day
I long for my parents
before I was born

. Natsume Soseki 夏目漱石 .

- quote
The original face is a term in Zen Buddhism, pointing to the nonduality of subject and object.

The "original face" points to "the nonduality of subject and object":

The phrase "father and mother" alludes to duality. This is obvious to someone versed in the Chinese tradition, where so much philosophical thought is presented in the imagery of paired opposites.
The phrase "your original face" alludes to the original nonduality.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


what was my face
before my forefathers were born?
Seimei Festival

Chen-Ou Liu

. WKD : Seimei Festival, Ching-ming  


tarachine no umarenu saki no tsuki akari

bright moonlight
before my mother
was even born

Nakagawa Mune-ichi
Tr. Gabi Greve

What is Your Original Face?
by Zen Master Wu Kwang

The word "recovery," according to the dictionary, means regaining something that was either stolen or lost. From a spiritual point of view, what you are actually recovering is your perception of something that you already possess. The thief is yourself, disabling you from seeing what you already possess.

Case number ten in the Mu Mun Kwan, "Cheong Sae is poor," illustrates this idea: A monk, Cheong Sae, approached Zen Master Chosan and said, "Master! I am poor and destitute. Please help me!" Zen Master Chosan, without hesitation, just called out the monk's name: "Cheong Sae!" And the monk, without thinking, responded, "Yes, sir!"
Zen Master Chosan then said, "It is as if you have already drunk three bottles of the best vintage wine in China, and yet act as if you have not even wet your lips."

Basho's famous enlightenment haiku points us in the same direction. Sitting by a pond, he is asked by the Zen Master to give something of his own words, rather than the regurgitated words of the Buddhas and patriarchs.
Basho is stuck.
He sits there for a long time in a sense of stillness or vacancy. All of a sudden, a frog jumps in the pond. Basho's mind opens up and he says: "Still pond, frog jumps in. Splash!"

Still pond, or emptiness, comes to life in the momentary perception of "Splash!", just as it does in Chong Sae's "Yes, sir!" Emptiness and fullness are then two sides of the same coin.

Read a lot more about this subject here:
What is Your Original Face? / Zen Master Wu Kwang

© The Kwan Um School of Zen


Immortality does not beget wisdom.
Only mortality begets maturity.


There are people in this world who have had enough adventures for several lifetimes. They are the closest conception we can have of immortals. Yet some of these people are hopelessly immature. After all, whenever life became difficult for them, they changed to a new path and by luck the new one was always rich and fruitful. Life came so easily that they took more than one helping.

Unfortunately, maturity only comes from the threat of mortality. Success only comes from the threat of failure. Without pressure, we would not plan, utilize wisdom, or exercise care. We realize that we have only a very short time to make an achievement, to prove that our existence was worthwhile, and so we strive harder. An immortal can never conceive of such effort.

It would be good if our religious traditions provided us with a foolproof way through life. After all, we live somewhat haphazardly: Our lives are a tapestry woven of both mistakes and successes. Religion doesn't always provide us with a meaningful pattern. We must make our decisions the best that we can, and as we mature, we can see our way better.

We are motivated by death. We are frightened by failure. We have to make our peace with this mysterious, sometimes hostile world. An immortal does not need to cope with any of this. But we mortals must, and we must strive to make a good showing for ourselves.

© 1995-2005 lisbeth west


no need to cope
with immortality <>
just writing haiku

October 29, 2005


KOAN and Haiku (01) .. 公案と俳句

KOAN and Haiku (02) .. Dreams 夢

. QUOTES . .. .. .. .. .. to enjoy haiku even more




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!

This is something new to me even though I've read and keep on reading that most famous haiku of Basho. And it's only now that I've encountered a new translation of the first line. It usually reads "old pond" or "ancient pond." Here it is "still pond."

The background-- the Zen story-- is entirely new to me and has
given me a fresh perspective to understand and appreciate Basho's haiku-- and Basho himself.