Yunyan’s “Great Compassion”

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Yunyan asked Daowu, “What does the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion do with so many hands and eyes?”
Daowu said, “It’s like someone reaching back for the pillow at night.”
Yunyan said, “I understand.”
Daowu said, “How do you understand?
Yunyan said, “All over the body is hands and eyes.”
Daowu said, “You said a lot there, but you got only eighty percent.”
Yunyan said, “What about you, elder brother?”
Daowu said, “Throughout the body is hands and eyes.” 

Case 54, Book of Serenity, trans. Cleary

The koan referenced in the talk is “Yu Uses Her Full Strength” (China, 12th century) with Kokyo Meg Porter Alexander’s Reflection, from The Hidden Lamp: Stories from 25 Centuries of Awakened Women, Ed. Caplow & Moon, 2013:

 The laywoman Yu Daopo made doughnuts for a living. She also studied Chan — Chinese Zen– with Master Langye Huijue, who told her to contemplate Linji’s phrase, “the true person of no rank.” One day she and her husband were delivering doughnuts, and as they walked through the street, they met a beggar who was singing “Happiness in the Lotus Land.” Yu was suddenly enlightened and she threw the tray of doughnuts to the ground.
     Her husband scolded her: “Have you gone crazy?”
     Yu slapped him, saying, “This is not a realm you understand.” She then went to see Langye, who immediately verified her awakening.
     One day after this, Langye asked the assembly, “Which one is ‘the true person of no rank’?”
     Yu shouted out this verse:

There is a true person of no rank, who has six arms and three heads,
When she uses her full strength to cut, Mount Hua is split into two.
Her strength is like the ever-flowing water,
not caring about the coming of spring.

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The  last koan to be practiced for this series is Case 20 from The Book of Serenity,trans. Cleary:

Dizang asked Fayan, “Where are you going?
Fayan said, “Around on pilgrimage.”
Dizang said, “What is the purpose of pilgrimage?”
Fayan said, “I don’t know.”
Dizang said, “Not knowing is most intimate.”

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