Transmission Speech

Raises stick, hits the table The stick is the table, the table is the stick. This is opposites world. Everything is changing moment by moment. Who can know it or define it?

Raises stick, hits the table

No stick, no table. This is absolute world. It requires no explanation, no faith, and no understanding.

Raises stick, hits the table

The stick is brown, the tablecloth is red. This is complete world. Not reliant on knowledge, not giving rise to grasping or rejecting.

Each of these statements represents three worlds: Opposites - Absolute - Complete

Which one do you like?


Right now, we are all present in this dharma room for a ceremony.

The precision and intelligence of each moment flows freely only when we are not judging and evaluating our experience.

In 2008, as some of you may recall, I was involved in a near death automobile accident on my way home from zen practice one evening. An intoxicated driver hit my vehicle from behind. Five eyewitnesses testified his speed to be near 100 mph. My vehicle rolled over three times. In addition to multiple other injuries, my neck was broken which is often fatal or resulting in paralysis. The driver who hit me subsequently was found guilty of felony drunk driving and sent to prison. As for me, I spent the better part of a month in the hospital: initially the trauma ward, followed by intensive care and then rehab.

When I was sufficiently capable to take calls, Zen Master Wu Kwang telephoned me with well wishes. It took a moment for the nurse to fit the telephone hand set through the metal bars of the halo device that was attached to my skull, keeping my neck in place.

He asked me "How are you doing?" Not wanting to miss an opportunity, even under those circumstances, to engage him, my response was, "Right now I'm lying here in bed looking up at the ceiling and talking to you!" Sort of a "dharma convalescence combat." Without hesitation Wu Kwang Zen Master replied, "What choice do you have?" His mind sword pierced me that day, his zen stick hitting me from clear across the country. In this life, we are guaranteed nothing.

Upon his enlightenment, Zen Master Man Gong composed this poem:

"Empty Mountain, true energy without time and space. White cloud and clear wind come and go by themselves. Why did Bodhidharma come to China? Rooster crowing in the morning, sun rising in the east."

Jun Kang Zen Master in commenting said, "If you attain this poem, you attain the meaning of all the sutras. The last two lines are the most important: Rooster crowing in the morning, sun rising in the east. If you find that point, then you find Bodhidharma's heart and Buddha's head." He finished by saying "Thorny jungle everywhere."

Oftentimes we set up some gaining idea in the road of practice. We entertain a linear vision of practicing to purify something, eliminate something, or transform something into something else. The truth however can only be found in the present moment. This moment has no birth and no death. Birth and death, coming and going, are all based on some type of conceptual framework. We make attempts to anchor ourselves in a system of rationale and theoretical space at first, but only by stripping away all the props and constructs can we arrive at a place of not knowing that is truly profound. Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say, "no meaning is great meaning."

"A novice monk once asked Zen Master Joju, "Master, each day you and I wake up at the same time, bow together, chant together, eat together, and meditate together. What differentiates us that elevates you to the high seat? Master Joju replied, "There is only one difference." The young monk, eager to learn what this one difference could be, implored the Master to reveal this single element. Joju replied, "It is really quite simple. I use the twenty four hours and you are used by the twenty four hours."

Everything is no problem as long as we are not attached to our thinking and the resultant thought streams that control our actions, speech, and emotions.

Observing the comings and goings of our mind without rejecting or grasping anything allows us to see all situations with a clear mind. We can give up being competitive, and settle into an intelligence that responds rather than reacts to life situations. When this takes place, our founding teacher's legacy stands there like a mirror to remind us that our true inside job is to help this world and save all beings from suffering.

Raises stick, hits the table

If you say that sound is liberating, you have already lost it.

Raises stick, hits the table

If you say that sound is binding, you are trapped in a world of opposites.

Raises stick, hits the table

Liberate or bind, how do you resolve this dilemma?


In a little while, we will all pose for a group photo.