22. UMMON SHAKEN
Ummon held up his staff and said,
“We are told in the scriptures that an ordinary man
thinks the staff is a real existence; that those of the
Hinayana take it as nothing; that those believing in
the pratyekabuddha take it as an illusory existence;
that bodhisattvas say its reality is emptiness. But I
say unto you, take the staff as just a staff; movement
is movement; sitting is sitting, but do not waver
under any circumstances!”
why is ummon so ambiguous
there is nothing to be gained by such subtlety
the others took the staff as just a staff
while ummon shatters a thousand possibilities
after all what can you do with a staff
could there be?
An insignificant staff? / Each thing contains all qualities.
A visionary experience? / The common people declare this reality.
“If you understand this staff, you monks, your travels are ended!” (Fenyang Wude)
A monk approached Bokuju and said, 'What is the statement surpassing all Buddhas and Patriarchs?' The master instantly held forth his staff before the congregation, and said, 'I call this a staff, and what do you call it?' The monk who asked the question uttered not a word. The master holding it out again said, 'A statement surpassing all Buddhas and Patriarchs—was that not your question?'
21. UMMON STRIKES
One day Ummon ascended the rostrum and said,
“Vasubandhu happened to transform himself into a staff
of chestnut wood, and, striking the Earth once, all the
innumerable Buddhas were released from their entangling
words.” So saying he descended from the platform.
poor ummon he couldn't think of
anything to say
vasubandhu had a sort of accident with
that chestnut transformation but
innumerable leaves sprouting from
that staff emptied ummons busy hour
on the wooden rostrum once
Even a crooked staff cuts through winds.
“Yesterday it was a wooden walking stick [...] tomorrow it may become firewood, crackling in the flames.” (Shifu Zhang)
Addendum | Blue Cliff Record:
One day, the World-Honoured One ascended to the rostrum.
Monjusri struck the table with the gavel and said,
'Contemplate clearly the Dharma of the Dharma-King! The Dharma of
the Dharma-King is like this.'
Thereupon, the World-Honoured One descended from the rostrum.
20. UMMON CURED
Ummon said to his monks,
“The whole universe is the medicine to cure illness —
but who's the sick man?”
every monk knows who the sick man is
except for that mindless ummon
who laughing at the misfortunes
of others swallows the universe in a
single gulp it's difficult to change your clothes
when you wear nothing
if you are
you are not
if you are not
“The entire universe, the Cosmos and the Great Earth, and I,
this old monk in this world! With my staff I give it one blow,
and say, 'It is smashed to smithereens!”
whichever way you break it
something is tearing up and down
bad luck for this old monk in this world
with the entire universe on his back
and ummon just behind about to strike
worse luck for ummon
what will he have left when it's all
smashed to pieces
which was really broken
Been a long time coming. Finally started typesetting this for print..
I think I've settled on Riso printing with metallic gold. I'm planning to do two slim volumes containing 24 cases each, possibly including some cut-up fragments and accompanying images/designs. Haven't decided on how many copies yet.
18. BREAKING THE SURFACE
A monk asked Ummon,
“How about a man whose parents won't let him be a priest?”
“Shallow!” said Ummon.
“I am not uneducated, but I don't understand”, responded the monk.
“Deep!” said Ummon.
Ummon asked a monk,
“Where have you come from?”
“From Nangaku,” he replied.
“Usually,” said Ummon, “I don't entangle people with words,
and bamboozle them with phrases; come a little closer!”
The monk went nearer, and Ummon shouted, “Be off with you!”
closer or nearer if you refuse
to answer the question it's a shame
and everyone will sympathise
after all it was already too late
to come closer under such rudeness
night woods in winter
barest branches growing on the moon
what entangles what
A scrapbook of words → fragments from observations, meditations & relations with landscape & lore.
Also home to the #ummonkan transcription.
Raszy lives with their partner in a Swedish forest on a flat granite mountain, where they grow food, chop wood and restore old meadow-land. They're a friend to rad anarchists, trad witches & hermit monks.
CONTACT / FEDI LINKS:
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I have a habit of re-drafting, editing and shifting entries around. If you're following and reading these posts via the fediverse, note that the federated drafts — on Mastodon for example — might be out-of-date.
Ummon asked a monk,
“Are you the gardener?”
“Yes” replied the monk.
“Why have turnips no roots?” Ummon asked the monk, who could not reply.
“Because,” said Ummon “rainwater is plentiful.”
why are turnips plentiful
because rainwater has no roots
but then why are roots plentiful
this line is too long
to be longer
Why explain turnips at all? This may well answer everything and nothing.
“Rice is in the bowl, water is in the tub, [turnips have no roots,] all’s right with the world.”
Addendum | Blue Cliff Record:
“Chen Chou produces big turnips —
Everyone knows. Just avoid saying so.
Each time it's brought up it's brand new.”