The Knight patriarch coming from the west – Koan 88

No. 88. The Knight patriarch coming from the west

Yamana Morofuyu was a brave warrior of the Ashikagas, who was transferred from being a naval captain to the cavalry. For some time after that he trained in Zen at Enkakuji. One year he came to the Rohatsu training week in December, but would not sit in the special meditation hall reserved for the warriors. Instead he was riding his horse all day in the mountains. Master Daikyo, the 43rd teacher at Enkakuji, warned him against this, saying, ‘On horseback your heart will easily be distracted. During the Rohatsu, sit in the hall.’

He said: ‘Monks are men of Zen sitting, and should certainly do their meditation in the special Buddha place. But I am a knight and should practise my meditation on horseback.’

The teacher said, ‘Your Honour was formerly a sea captain, and now become a knight. The patriarch’s coming (from India to China) on the waves, and the patriarch’s coming on horseback, is the meaning the same or different?’

Morofuyu hesitated.

The teacher snatched the whip and hit him with it, saying, ‘Oh, ride away, ride away.’

TEST

Say something for Morofuyu.

This became a koan in Kamakura Zen with the interviews of master Chintei, the 47th teacher at Enkakuji.

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