“A monk asked Tôsu (T’ou-tzŭ ), a Zen master of the T’ang
period: “ I understand that all sounds are the voice of the Buddha.
Is that right?” The master said, “That is right.” The monk then
proceeded: “Would not the master please stop making a noise
which echoes the sound of a fermenting mass of filth?”
The master thereupon struck the monk.
The monk further asked “Tôsu: “Am I in the right when I understand
the Buddha as asserting that all talk however trivial
or derogatory, belongs to ultimate truth?” The master said, “Yes,
you are in the right.” The monk went on, “May I then call you
a donkey?” The master thereupon struck him.
It may be necessary to explain these mondo in plain language.
To conceive every sound, every noise, every utterance one makes
as issuing from the fountainhead of one Reality, that is, from one
God is pantheistic, I imagine. For “he givith all life, and breath
and all things” (Acts 17:25); and again, “For in him
we live, and move, and have our own being” (Acts 17:28). If
this be the case, a Zen master’s hoarse throat echoes the melodious
resonance of a voice flowing from the Buddha’s golden mouth,
and even when a great teacher is decried as reminding one of
an ass, the defamation must be regarded as reflecting something
of ultimate truth. All forms of evil must be said somehow
to be embodying what is true and good and beautiful, and to be
a contribution to the perfection of Reality. To state it more
concretely, bad is good, ugly is beautiful, false is true, imperfect
is perfect, and also conversely. This is, indeed, the kind of reasoning
in which those indulge who conceive the God-nature to be
immanent in all things. Let us see how the Zen master treats
It is remarkable that Tôsu put his foot right down against
such intellectualist interpretations and struck his monk. The
latter in all probability expected to see the master nonplussed
by his statements which logically follow from his first assertion.
The masterful Tôsu knew, as all Zen masters do, the uselessness
of making any verbal demonstration against such a “logician.”
For verbalism leads from one complication to another; there
is no end to it. The only effective way, perhaps, to make
such a monk as this realize the falsehood of his conceptual
understanding is to strike him and let him experience within
himself the meaning of the statement, “One in All and All
in One.” The monk was to be awakened from his logical
somnambulism. Hence Tôsu’s drastic measure.”
Daisetz T. Suzuki
Zen and Japanese Culture
“bad is good, ugly is beautiful, false is true, imperfect
is perfect, and also conversely. “
until someone throws a corpse in the middle of the
room, or a lash bruised woman to be listened to
as she begs to be returned to the pleasure of her master
where she belongs. Have I got this right? Satori?