Dharma Talk by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei
Blue Cliff Record, Case 29
Dasui’s "It Goes Along with It"
Featured in Mountain Record 26.2, Winter 2007
When fish swim through, the water is muddied; when birds fly by, feathers drop down. He clearly discriminates host and guest, he penetratingly distinguishes initiate and outsider, just like a bright mirror in its stand, like a bright pearl in the palm of the hand. When a native comes, a native is reflected; when a foreigner comes, a foreigner is reflected. The sound is obvious, the form is evident. But say, why is it like this? As a test I’m citing this old case: look!
The Main Case
A monastic asked Dasui, “The conflagration at the end of the eon sweeps through and the universe is totally destroyed. I wonder, is this one destroyed or not?”
Dasui said, “It is destroyed.”
The monastic said, “If so, then this goes along with it.”
Dasui said, “It goes along with it.”
The Capping Verse
In the light of the conflagration ending the age he poses his question—
The patchrobed monastic is still lingering within the double barrier.
How touching—for a single phrase, “going along with that,”
Intently he travelled out and back alone for ten thousand miles.
One of the eternal questions of human nature is the question of life and death and the question of life after death. In our confusion we become fearful of life. Being fearful of life, we look to what follows. But whether our belief in what happens after death is reassuring or not, we tend to be afraid of death—of the idea of death—anyway. Being fearful of death, it becomes difficult to live freely. Being fearful of life, it is difficult to die freely. And so we get caught in the fear of losing what we believe we have possession of: our body, our mind, our health, our history, our relationships, everything that we find meaningful, life itself.
I received a letter recently from a student who wrote that she suddenly realized that everyone around her, everybody she loved, was one day going to die. She saw that everything around her was one day going to pass away and no longer exist. Then she asked the question, “What’s the purpose in activity?”