Master Yakusan Is Dying

Master Yakusan Is Dying

The Case:
When Master Yakusan was dying, his monks gathered around him. He said to them “The Dharma Hall is falling down!”, whereupon the monks rushed to the Dharma Hall and held themselves against the pillars and the walls. Master Yakusan said “You don’t understand me”, and died.


1. We think there is a pre-existing world which we enter and leave, but that’s not so. Our world is like a picture in water. We think there are two things, but really there is just pictured water. Millions of worlds. Millions of Dharma Halls. Our own, and others. Master Yakusan is dying. The Dharma Hall is falling down. The world is falling down.

2. Master Yakusan was able to die because the monks did understand. They understood that the Dharma Hall was not a thing in a world of other things, but their own complete effort, moment to moment. And because they enacted this with their whole body and mind, there was no separation between them and Yakusan, between his words and their deeds. And so, they did not ‘understand’

3. In the layout of a Chinese Zen monastery, the Buddha Hall, the place of formal teaching, is at the head, and the Dharma Hall is at the heart. The essence of Yakusan’s teaching was not where his head lay, or where his body lay, or where his words lay. Both the monks and Yakusan freely jumped in and out of his heart.