Blue Cliff Records - Sun Faced Buddhas Moon Faced Buddhas

Joshu’s Large Radishes

Preface by Shaw

Joshu Jushin was for many years a disciple of Nansen Fugan who died in 834.  There are no records of Joshu’s birth and death but at the time of this incident he was probably about 60 years old. 

Introductory Word by Roshi

There is no Introductory Word to Model Subject number 30 from the Blue Cliff Records but I will apply the following statement from A Buddhist Guide for Laymen by Sita Paulickpulla Renfrew (Publisher: Cambridge Buddhist Association, Cambridge, MA) as an introduction.

“According to Buddhist ethics, no person or authority can ever impose upon another any code of conduct lower in morality or humanity than the individual himself wishes.  Neither can anyone make another act on a higher plane than the individual himself desires.  Each individual can act only according to the level of his state of evolution, and he has to live by the consequences thereof.”

Main Subject by Setcho

Attention!  A monk asked Joshu, “I hear by rumor that you used to be closely associated with Nansen.  Is that so, or not?”  Joshu replied, “Chin-shu produces large radishes.”

Appreciatory Word by Setcho

Chin-shu produces large radishes.  Zen monks everywhere have taken this as a model (for replies).  It is obvious from ancient to modern times that one cannot ask a swan why it is white or a crow why it is black.  A rascal, a rascal.  The monks’ noses have already been twisted by him.

Commentary by Roshi

A student who is who is familiar with his own true nature will become familiar with his teacher's true nature as well as the true nature of a radish - the true nature of all existence.  There would be no problem merely because one thing happens to be big and another small, or one person the teacher and another the disciple, if their true nature is the same.  But what will happen if a swan is black and a crow is white?  It is natural for a swan to be white and a crow to be black.  This is Buddha Nature.

Do not say there is not need to practice Buddhism because we have Buddha Nature intrinsically.  There is a Buddha Nature only when a swan is white, a crow is black, a human being is a human being, and a Buddhist practices Buddha’s way of life.
If a Buddhist does not behave like a Buddhist, one cannot say he is a Buddhist, or a Christian.  Who is he?  There is no composure.  Eventually he will be unable to be aware of his true nature.

In Shobogenzo, Raihaitokuzui,1 Dogen Zenji says when you meet with a right teacher, who teaches you highest wisdom, you must not consider his caste or race, nor attend to his favorable or unfavorable appearance, nor consider his shortcomings.  You should be respectful of him only because of his true wisdom.  You should not have a feeling of aversion, but serve him and bow to him truthfully.
If you practice Buddhism without hypocrisy but with truthfulness, this truthfulness penetrates into the innermost nature of all existence and will encourage man nature and the true nature of man and nature will encourage your sincere practice.

1 Raihaitokuzui: The fascicle Bowing and the Marrow of the Teaching

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