"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)



Koan 15 -- Tozan's Sixty Blows

Tozan came to study with Ummon. Ummon asked, "Where are you from?" "From Sato," Tozan replied. "Where were you during the summer?" "Well, I was at the monastery of Hozu, south of the lake." "When did you leave there?" Ummon asked. "On August 25," was Tozan's reply. "I spare you sixty blows," Ummon said.

The next day Tozan came to Ummon and said, "Yesterday you said you spared me sixty blows. I beg to ask you, where was I at fault?" "Oh, you rice bag!" shouted Ummon. "What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now south of the lake?" Tozan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.

Ummon (d.949) was the founder of one of the five major schools of Zen. Tozan (910-990) was one of the four most distinguished disciples of Ummon. To spare blows to a disciple is a great insult. The disciple is not even worth the punishment of the master. When Ummon asks Tozan what good his wandering from one monastery to another is, the master is revealing that what the disciple is seeking he already possesses. He should concentrate upon bringing it to the surface, rather than wandering here, there, and everywhere. At this realization Tozan attained enlightenment.


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