Meditation of the energy-sea – Koan 92

No. 92. Meditation of the energy-sea

A retired landowner named Sadashige of Awafune (the present-day Ofuna) trained at Kenchoji under Nanzan, the 20th master. Once he was away for a time and when he

returned the teacher said, ‘You have been ill, Sir, and for some time you have not come to the Zen sitting here. Have you now been able to purify and calm your kikai (energy-sea)?’ Sadashige said, ‘Following your holy instruction I have meditated on the kikai and been able to attain purity and calm.’

The teacher said, ‘Bring out what you have understood of the meditation and say something on it.’

  1. This my kikai tanden, breast, belly, [down to the] soles of the feet, [is] altogether my original face.

TEST

What nostrils would there be on that face?

  1. This my kikai tanden

[is] altogether this my true home.

TEST

What news would there be from the true home?

  1. This my kikai tanden

[is] altogether this my lotus paradise of consciousness only.

TEST

What pomp would there be in the lotus paradise?

  1. This my kikai tanden

[is] altogether the Amida of my own body.

TEST

What sermon would that Amida be preaching?

This koan was first given in the interviews of Master Nanzan. (Note: In the Bushosodan record in Zenkdji these are given as

four separate meditations. Centuries later, Hakuin refers to them in two works, Orategama and Yasenkanna. The version in ‘Yasenkanna’ is closest to the one here. The four meditations are identical except that the first one has ‘loins, legs, soles of the feet’, and in all four the phrase kikai tanden is preceded by the descriptive ‘below the navel’. Some of the Chinese expressions are given in a similar Japanese form. Each koan and its test run on as one sentence. In Orategama there are more changes. The phrase ‘loins, legs, soles of the feet’ is repeated each time, the order is changed, and there is an extra koan ‘. . . altogether this is Joshii’s Mu: what is the truth of the Mu?’ In this version the ‘my’ is omitted before ‘original face’. These are small changes and it is clear that Hakuin must derive his kikai tanden method from the Kamakura text, or from a source common to both.Tr.)

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