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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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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