The Gateless Gate, case 46 Shi- shuang:”Step from the top of the pole”

The case:

The priest Shi-shuang said, “How do you step from the top of a hundred foot pole?”

Another eminent master of former times said:

You who sit on the top of a hundred foot pole,

Although you have entered the Way, it is not yet genuine.

Take a step from the top of the pole

And worlds of the ten directions are your total body


The cornerstone of Buddhism is dependent origination, that all things arise within this full dynamic functioning and are not separate from it, hence “empty”

But if emptiness is seen from the mind, sitting on top of the hundred foot pole of the spine, balanced, serene, it is a sickness. That is why, in elevating emptiness, Mahayana required to equally emphasise compassion.

Our whole life is a struggle between fear and love. It is no use understanding that the approaching army is a chimera if the fortifications still remain.