July 08, 2010

Green Koans Case 2: Shantideva's Sword

ManjushriOnce Shantideva became a bodyguard to King Arivishana. But unlike the other bodyguards, he managed to defeat the king’s enemies using only a wooden sword. “This man is an imposter!” the other bodyguards told the king. “How could he defend Your Highness using only a wooden sword?”

Upon discovering that his chief bodyguard was so poorly armed, King Arivishana demanded that Shantideva show him the weapon.

“That could prove dangerous,” cautioned Shantideva. “The power of this sword is such that it might injure Your Highness even to gaze upon it.”

“Even if it injures me,” replied the king, “I demand that you show it to me now.”

“In that case, you should at least cover one eye with your hand and look with the other,” Shantideva advised.

Indeed, when the sword was drawn, it shone with such brightness that the king’s eye shot out of its socket onto the ground.

The king was so terrified at this that he immediately asked to take refuge, whereupon Shantideva placed the eyeball back in its socket and the king’s sight was restored.

Read the rest, including Clark Strand's commentary, here.

[Image: Monju (Manjushri) by Seiko Morningstar]

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Josh's picture

"As for the various practices modern-day students have fallen into, such as writing down idle, nonsensical speculations they hear from their deadbeat teachers, or copying notes that others have made, pasting such notes as cribs in the margins of Zen texts, glibly passing information of this kind around to others, embellished for good measure with arbitrary observations of their own - need I mention how useless those pastimes are?" - Hakuin, translated by Norman Waddell in Essential Teachings of Hakuin