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Man Hanging from a Tree

Mushin Sensei offers this commentary on Case #5 of The Gateless Gate:

What if you are hanging by your teeth from a branch in a tree on a one-thousand-foot cliff and someone asks you: What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from India?

Isn’t this the whole expression of dharma transmission – cutting off words, directly pointing – as put forth by Bodhidharma? With your whole body, without words. Bodhidharma practicing wholeheartedly facing the wall, facing himself, in silence, for nine years. On the edge between life and death, going beyond life and death. Dangling between heaven and earth, with nothing to depend on. Above the head, clear and vast, below the feet, clear and vast.

Aren’t we all dangling between life and death, hanging in mid-air? Not knowing how to live, not knowing how to die. The turning point is to be wholly present no matter what the circumstances, expressing dharma with your whole body, realizing empty space by returning to stillness, returning to your true self.

Dogen made the point: both following a teacher and following a sutra are following yourself. A sutra is no other than a sutra as yourself.

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