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Tokusan Holds His Bowl

Tokusan went to the dining room from the meditation hall holding his bowl. Seppo was on duty cooking. When he met Tokusan he said: `The dinner drum is not yet beaten. Where are you going with your bowl?'

So Tokusan returned to his room.

Seppo told Ganto about this. Ganto said: `Old Tokusan did not understand the ultimate truth.'

Tokusan heard of this remark and asked Ganto to come to him. `I have heard,' he said, `you are not approving my Zen.' Ganto admitted this indirectly. Tokusan said nothing.

The next day Tokusan delivered an entirely different kind of lecture to the monks. Ganto laughed and clapped his hands, saying: `I see our old man understands the ultimate truth indeed. None in China can surpass him.'

Mumon's Comment: Speaking about ultimate truth, both Ganto and Tokusan did not even dream it. After all, they are dummies.

Whoever understands the first truth
Should understand the ultimate truth.
The last and first,
Are they not the same?

A Zen koan from the classic collection The Gateless Gate. Original transcription by Ben Walter and Adam Fuller of iBiblio.

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