Ch’an Master Louhan Dongshan

Ch’an Master Louhan Dongshan

sat lecturing in silence on the nature of emptiness
when the monk Fusan came running.

“The villagers are coming with scythes and pitchforks!”
“Coming here, why?”

“They say Louhan Dongshan betrays their trust.”
“What trust?”

“They say Louhan Dongshan defiles the dharma.”
“What dharma?”

“Master, listen to me, these people are out for blood!”
“Then prepare food, perhaps they are hungry.”

“They are enraged and shouting, ‘Louhan Dongshan must die!’”
“Then draw water for they will be thirsty.”

“Master, please take this seriously! Just give the command
and we will fight them off, or die trying to the last man.”

For full five minutes Louhan Dongshan remained silent.
Then he spoke: “Take twelve monks with you.
The meekest to greet them.
The wisest to see that none lose their way.
The strongest to carry any who might be weary on his back.
The most loving to encourage them, and care for their needs.
The purest to sing songs that will heal their hearts.
The most compassionate to see that none are left behind.
The eldest will lead them directly here.
The five others should burn incense of sandalwood
or champa, to make their journey as pleasant as possible.”

Then Louhan Dongshan entered again into silence.
The monk, trembling and confused, bowed and turned away.

“And tell me, Fusan.” the master called after him,
“Who is this Louhan Dongshan anyway?”

– Astika Mason.


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