95 Baofu Drinks Tea
[Yuanwu’s] Appended pointer says:
Where there is a Buddha do not get there and stop; to stop manifests a life of horns on the head. Where there is no Buddha, quickly run by; if you do not run by, the grass is ten feet deep. If you are abundantly upright, clear and all naked, red and all washed, with external affairs being without machinations, and the external being without affairs, you do not escape sticking by the stump waiting for a rabbit.
Just say, altogether, is treading the living walk not like this or is it like this? A test is raised for examination:
There was a time Changqing said, “I would rather there be talk about arhats having the three poisons; don’t talk about the Tathagata having two kinds of language. I don’t say the Tathagata is without language, only is without two types of language.”
Baofu said, “How do you make it alive to be the Tathagata’s language?”
Qing said “A deaf person struggles to be able to hear it.”
Baofu said, “I know for sure you are facing towards the way of the secondary head.”
Qing said, “How do you make it alive to be the Tathagata’s language?”
Baofu said, “Go drink tea.”
[Xuedou's] Ode says:
Oh, the head! Primary. Secondary.
A resting dragon does not reflect on the still water.
Having the moon without a place, the waves settle.
Having a place, the billows rise up without a wind.
Zen traveler Leng, Zen traveler Leng!
In the third month at the Dragon Gate of Yu, he incurred a spot on the forehead.
Changqing Huileng (854-932) and Baofu Congzhan (d. 928) were both disciples of Xuefeng Yicun. It is said in the Zen records that “Baofu often inquired of his Dharma brother, Changqing Huileng, concerning ancient and current expedient methods of teaching.”
As Yuanwu’s pointer implies this koan is about the three levels of teaching in Zen. Yuanwu designates the three levels as (1) where there is a Buddha, (2) where there is no Buddha, and (3) the pure naked state without any outside entanglements.
Baizhang Huaihai (Pai-chang Huai-hai, Hyakujo Ekai) (720-814) taught the three steps of the teaching this way:
The words of the teachings all have three successive steps: the elementary, the intermediate, and the final good. At first it is just necessary to teach them to create a good state of mind. In the intermediate stage, they break through the good mind. The last is finally called really good—‘A bodhisattva is not a bodhisattva; this is called a bodhisattva. the truth is not a truth, yet is not other than truth.’ Everything is like this. Yet if you teach only one stage, you will cause sentient beings to go to hell; if all three stages are taught at once, they will enter hell by themselves. This is not the business of a teacher. (Thomas Clearly translation)
The first step then is the teaching “there is a Buddha”. This is the elementary step of dwelling in the good that affirms and teaches using positive metaphors, but staying in this stage is still living under the duality of good and bad and is thus a life with horns on the head. The intermediate step of not dwelling in the good is taught by negative metaphor such as the teaching of “there is no Buddha” to lead the student to transcend the former duality. However, to dwell in this stage is to allow the grasses of confusion caused by attachment to emptiness to grow. In the third stage, the transcendent unified synthesis of the first two stages is without even the conception “not dwelling.” Having no conceptions about Buddha or no Buddha, it is called being pure, naked, and completely washed. Though this third stage can be said to be the first stage of Zen, having a conception of being naked and clear is still a last attachment. The fruition of Zen is to go beyond the three stages, and this realization is the meaning of this koan.
“the Tathagata having two kinds of language” In most Mahayana Buddhism other than Zen, such as Tiantai (Tendai) and Pure Land, it is said that Buddha speaks two types of truths: the relative and the absolute, or the conventional and the genuine. Another way of saying this is that Buddha speaks in the two languages of affirmation or positive metaphor and negation or prohibitive words of negative metaphor. The relative or conventional language of positive metaphors affirms the Dharma as a good: that there is practice, that there is realization, that the mind itself is Buddha. The absolute truth uses the language of negative metaphor: there is no practice, no realization, no mind, and no Buddha.
“The Tatahagata is without two types of language”. From the Zen point of view, the two types of language correspond to the elementary and intermediate steps of the teaching and do not reach the third step that simultaneously synthesizes and goes beyond these two steps to speak the bare naked language of the nondual, beyond assertion and denial. Tathagata Zen speaks the nondual language of the Tathataga.
“How do you make it alive?” This is a Zen idiom that refers to using language in an alive manner and not in a dead manner. Baizhang Huaihai instructed, “In reading sutras and studying the teachings, if you do not understand their living words and dead words, you will certainly not penetrate the meanings and expressions therein." Asking “How do you make it alive?” is synonymous with asking for “turning words” that turn the mind around from externality and dualism to realize the nondual.
“A deaf person struggles to be able to hear.” This is a double entendre pun as the term “deaf” (聾) is also used in Mahayana (Great Vehicle) jargon as a depreciative term for a sravaka, a disciple of the Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle). In the frame of reference of the three vehicles of Buddhism, the people of the three vehicles are termed 聾, 緣, and 菩, that is, śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas. So, when asked about the language of the Tathagata, Changqing's comment is also saying the disciples (sravakas) of the lesser vehicle struggle to be able to hear it, meaning they only hear the spoken words and are deaf to the meaning. He is thus pointing to one of the primary foundational issues of the Mahayana that says all beings are Buddha by nature and all things (dharmas) preach the Dharma, so there is no need to struggle or strive to hear the language of Suchness because whatever we hear is that language once we know the true Tathagata.
Changqing is being slippery and cutesy. When asked to make the nondual language ot the Tatagata come alive, he avoids both the affirmative statement about what it is and the negative statement about what it is not. In the context of Zen's three levels of teaching, Changqing is attempting to speak from the position of the third stage of being "naked and bare” by not asserting or denying any conception about it, while at the same time pointing to it by saying those who are not of the Mahayana struggle to hear it.
“facing towards the way of the secondary head.” Baofu is correcting Changqing because Changqing’s response still has the odor of attachment to the conception of not having a conception of not dwelling. “The Way of the secondary head” is the language still within the first or second stages and has not yet realized the nondual, that is, not reached the primary principle of the One Vehicle (Ekayana) as taught by Bodhidharma. By saying a deaf person "struggles," Changqing is implying that he and others in the know do not struggle because they hear the Tathagata’s language everywhere from everything. But the dualities of struggling and not struggling, hearing and not hearing, are still lingering conceptions clinging to Changqing’s words. He’s bragging that he doesn’t objectify the Tathagata’s language, but he is bragging based on pointing to others who do objectify the Tathagata’s language, and so he still has the whiff of “self and other” in his words and has not reached the nondual language of the Tathagata.
“Go drink tea.” Baofu is echoing Chang of Baizhang (not to be confused with Baizhang Huihai his teacher) who had a favorite saying when teaching the assembly,
“Baizhang has three tricks of the trade: ‘to drink tea’, ‘to cherish it’, and ‘to take a rest.’ By intending to discuss it further and to use comparative reasoning one knows you still have not penetrated.”“To drink tea” is to hear and speak the Tathagata's language in the deepest sense. This tea is never exhausted. Baofu is telling Changqing he doesn't need to stir up waves with his comments about the deaf struggling to hear; it is enough to drink tea with the Tathagata, to cherish the drinking and the tea, and to let the waves rest on their own.
"Zen traveler Leng" This is an informal and comradely way of addressing Changqing Huileng using only his shortened personal name "Leng."
”In the third month at the Dragon Gate of Yu, he incurred a spot on the forehead.” This line uses a pun to eulogize Baofu’s words that Chingqing remained in “the secondary head”, by saying that “Zen traveler Leng”, i.e, Changqing, is bumping his head against the barrier of the nondual Tathagata’s language. The Dragon Gate of Yu is a legendary gate created in the mountains by Emperor Yu over 5,000 years ago for the Yellow River to pass through. The Gate is a narrow passage through the mountains where the river rushes through exceptionally fast. The third month is the month when the river is highest and the water is most turbulent as it passes through the gate, and it is said that if a lowly carp is able to swim upstream and pass through the gate on the third day of the third month it is transformed into a dragon, hence it is called the Dragon Gate. Xuedou is saying “Changqing, you wanted to be a dragon but you just bumped your head and remained a carp.” He is confirming that Baofu was the dragon in the interchange of that koan.