The Gateless Gate, Case 7

The Gateless Gate, Case 7.

The case: A monk said to Joshu, “I’ve just arrived at the monastery, please teach me”.

Joshu said, “Have you eaten your rice?” The monk said, “yes I have.” Joshu said, “Then wash your bowl.”

Commentary: In the Chinese monasteries the monks would eat a kind of rice gruel, vegetables would be cut very small and the gruel – the rice and vegetables – would be cooked and cooked until everything interpenetrated each other. So, the gruel was a symbol for dependent origination, the whole cosmos.

And before the monks could eat, they would chant, and that chant would express gratitude for the rice and an acknowledgement of where the food came from; an acknowledgement that the whole universe was feeding them. So the gruel was also the reality of dependent origination.

Likewise, in the bowl of this bodymind, our experience, all of it, is like this rice gruel. Our experience now, all of it, is given to us by this entire universe. If we reject it, it will putrefy. If we cling to it, it will never be digested. To wish it different is a wrong view, because it is an expression of the whole universe, this miracle of something rather than nothing.