Tõzan came to study with Unmon. Unmon asked, "Where are you from?"
"From Sato," Tõzan replied.
"Where were you during the summer?"
"Well, I was at the monastery of Hõzu, south of the lake."
"When did you leave there," Unmon asked.
"On August 25" was Tõzan's reply.
"I spare you sixty blows," Unmon said.
The next day Tõzan came to Unmon 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 Unmon. "What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now south of the lake?"
Tõzan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.
If Unmon had given Tõzan the true food of Zen and encouraged him to develop an active Zen spirit, his school would not have declined as it did.
Tõzan had an agonizing struggle through the whole night, lost in the sea of right and wrong. He reached a complete impasse. After waiting for the dawn, he again went to Unmon, and Unmon again made him a picture book of Zen.
Even though he was directly enlightened, Tõzan could not be called brilliant.
Now, I want to ask you, should Tõzan have been given sixty blows or not?
If you say yes, you admit that all the universe should be beaten.
If you say no, then you accuse Unmon of telling a lie.
If you really understand the secret, you will be able to breathe out Zen spirit with the very mouth of Tõzan.
Mumon's Verse 頌曰
獅子教兒迷子訣 The lion had a secret to puzzle his cub;
擬前跳躑早翻身 The cub crouched, leaped, and dashed forward.
無端再敍當頭著 The second time, a casual move led to checkmate.
前箭猶輕後箭深 The first arrow was light, but the second went deep.
[Someone asked for an elucidation of this seemingly bizarre "case" from the Mumonkan. So, here are my blow-by-blow "notes." Don't bother to read them if you already get the gist. I will only add that I would love to see a suspenseful and action packed movie made of the whole Mumonkan. Whenever I read it, I get white knuckles and move to the edge of my seat.]
Unmon was renowned as an Enlightened Master of Chan. By coming to study with him, Tozan was declaring his intention to seek Enlightenment also. However, in Unmon's peculiar brand of Chan, Buddhahood is not something you can seek; it's the all-pervading and instantaneous reality before words and thoughts. Tozan must have an inkling of this already. Unmon's teaching was renowned. So Unmon rightly asks, "Where are you from?" This far reaching Zen question should be enough to wake Tozan up. But he interprets it narrowly to be a question about his mentally objectified "self" -- the Tozan, who has supposedly come from point A to point B. Of course, for Unmon, this delusional picture of self is the least interesting topic of conversation possible. Tozan's dull, flat, rote factual answer must have been a great disappointment.Tozan came to study with Unmon. Unmon asked, "Where are you from?" "From Sato," Tõzan replied.
Unmon is awake to the comic possibilities of this dialogue. He continues it even though it must have been exquisitely painful to hear Tozan "miss the mark" every single time:
"Where were you during the summer?" "Well, I was at the monastery of Hõzu, south of the lake." "When did you leave there," Unmon asked. "On August 25" was Tõzan's reply.This is too much. Tozan is completely blind not only to the intent of the Master's questions but to the real source of his dull answers. Mind is just speaking to and hearing Mind, but Tozan actually believes this dull-headed figment of words and speech called "Tozan" to be his real Self! Even more hilariously, he seems to believe that an Enlightened Master is actually interested in such ephemeral nonsense.
So we have the turning point:
"I spare you sixty blows," Unmon said.Tozan must have been insanely bewildered. Here the great Zen Master, the man he has always dreamt of studying with, is saying right at the instant Tozan's dream is about to get fully realized: 1) You deserve sixty blows from my stick; 2) I will spare you (this time). Where did he go wrong? All he did was directly answer the Master's questions! So unfair! Or is it?
Tozan probably spent the night in a hell of doubts. If the Master is just crazy, he has come all this way to study with a crazy man. But if the Master is right, then how was he (Tozan) wrong? What did he do? What did he say? Or maybe it's just how he looks? All night, Tozan sleeplessly goes over the simple little dialogue with Unmon, and he cannot find his mistake. It's driving him out of his mind. Why didn't the Master just beat him senseless!? That would have been more compassionate. Toward dawn, he bursts into tears. It's all over for him. He'll never understand Zen.
The next day Tõzan came to Unmon and said, "Yesterday you said you spared me sixty blows. I beg to ask you, where was I at fault?"Try to hear the desperation under Tozan's politeness. The man has reached the end of his rope. This isn't how he saw studying Zen under Unmon. He's been made to feel stupid, totally worthless; not even worth the sixty blows!
"Oh, you rice bag!" shouted Unmon. "What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now south of the lake?"Unmon's shout, combined with the most insulting possible slur you can make about a monk -- who after all has sacrificed everything in order to enter the Way -- must have caused Tozan's hair to stand on end. This is really the worst possible outcome of his quest. Right? But Unmon's next question shatters the block of ice, making everything as clear as the open sky. *"What is it* that makes you . . . " Here, Unmon is pointing directly to Tozan's true Self and to the free activity of his Original Nature, and drawing a sharp distinction between this already Enlightened activity and the imaginary "Tozan" who inhabits a mental prison ward of mere ideas "about" this or that.
Tõzan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.Note that this case entirely contradicts the fraudulent "buji Zen" orthodoxy that rules over most online Zen discussions. cf. Tozan has a "mighty enlightenment experience" as a direct result of his dialogue with Unmon. In other words, enlightenment in Zen is a real experience in time and space, not a myth or a figure of speech; enlightenment can be provoked by a Master who is clever enough to trap a student in logically impassible situation; also, there are degrees of enlightenment in Zen (Tozan's is said to be "mighty"). Those who are enlightened know the "secret" and so "breathe out Zen spirit" just like Tozan. Note the very explicit reference to breathing and Qi 氣 as connected to enlightenment.