Chinese Poetry, The Masters, Zen Stories

It Now is Me, I am Not It – Dongshan

Attributed to Master Dongshan, the 9th century founder of the Caodong (Soto) School, this short verse stands in contrast to his longer and more famous teaching verse, The Hokyo Zanmai or The Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi. After spending some time with Master Yunyan, Dongshan was preparing to leave. He asked the master how he should respond when people asked him to describe the master’s teachings and Yunyan replied ‘Just this is it.’ Dongshan was puzzled and Yunyan added, ‘You are now in charge of this great matter; you must be most thoroughgoing.’ It wasn’t until later, when Dongshan caught his own reflection in a stream, that the meaning of Yunyan’s words really sank in: the imminence and immediacy of the reality that Yunyan was trying to communicate as well as the understanding that the image of himself was never the whole story, but at the same time, It was entirely his own being. 


Dongshan’s Verse

Do not seek from another,
Or you will be estranged from self.
I now go on alone,
Finding I meet It everywhere.
It now is me,
I now am not It.
One should understand in this way
To merge with suchness as is.


Dongshan Liangjie (807-869)



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