porcupine oak

Someone asked, “What is my self?”
Jôshû said, “The oak tree in the front yard. Look at it.”


A monk asked, “I come from far away. Master, what is your teaching?
Jôshû said, “I do not tell it to the people.”
The monk asked, “Why do you not tell it to the people?”
Jôshû said, “This is my teaching.”
The monk said, “If you do not tell it to the people, why should they come across the seas to visit you?”
Jôshû said, “You may be a sea, but I am not.”
The monk said, “Well, then, what is there within the sea?”
Jôshû said, “I hooked one fish.”


The official Sai asked, “Can even a great master go to hell?”
Jôshû said, “I lead the way.”
Sai said, “But why should an excellent master, of all people, go to hell?”
Jôshû said, “If I don’t go, how can I meet you there?

—Yoel Hoffman, tr., Radical Zen: The Sayings of Jôshû (Autumn Press, 1978)

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