Free and Clear Function

Konocti from GlenhavenZen teacher Torei Enji said:

It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly…

Layman Pang’s daughter Lingzhao described what it is to “function freely and clearly”:

Layman Pang was with his whole family sitting around the fire. Layman Pang suddenly said, ‘Difficult, difficult–ten bushels of oil hemp spread out on a tree.’ Mrs. Pang said, ‘Easy, easy–on the tips of the hundred grasses, the meaning of Zen.’ Their daughter Lingzhao said, ‘Not difficult, not easy–eating when hungry, sleeping when tired’.

(“Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu”, trans. Cleary & Cleary, pg 41)

“Eating when hungry, sleeping when tired” is free and clear function when it is “wei wu wei”–“action that is non-action”.

Dogen makes the description this way:

Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent.

(“Genjo Koan”, Dogen; tr. Robert Aitken and Kazuaki Tanahashi)

I describe it this way: “action that happens when the foreground of bodily activity and the background of autonomic respiration change places.”

I look to where I am (slippery!), and what is on the tips of the hundred grasses where I am, to allow free and clear function to take place.

Usually when I relate this story to people, most of them prefer Lingzhao’s remark for saving energy, and dislike what Old Man Pang and Old Lady Pang said about difficult and easy. This is nothing but ‘making interpretations by following the words’. People who think like this are far from getting to the root of the fundamental design.

(“Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu”, trans. Cleary & Cleary, pg 41)

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