40/35 Hakujushi



Cedar Trees

The koan, or story, of Hakujushi, “The Cedar Trees,” is very famous both in China and in Japan. Although many Buddhists have presented their interpretations of the story, most of them are unsatisfactory. In this chapter, Master Dogen gives his own interpretation. First he describes Master Joshu’s character, then he interprets the story. In the story a monk asks Master Joshu Jushin what was Master Bodhidharma’s intention in coming to China from the west. Master Joshu says “The cedar trees in the garden.” His intention is “It was just reality” or “It was just Dharma.” But the monk understood him to mean that cedar trees are just objective things. So he asked the Master for another answer. But the Master again insisted that cedar trees in the garden are just reality.