A student asked Dongshan, “When cold and heat come, how can we avoid them?”
Dongshan said, “Why don’t you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?”
The student asked, “Where’s the place with neither cold nor heat?”
Dongshan said, “When it’s cold, the cold kills you. When it’s hot, the heat kills you.”

As I spend time with this koan from Dongshan about heat and cold, I’ve been visited by a number of other koans. First there was Zhaozhou, when someone asked him, “When times of great difficulty visit us, how should we meet them?” And he said, “Welcome.” 

Then Linji came along and said, “Wherever you are, just take the role of host and that will be a true place.” 

Then there was Yunyan telling Dongshan, “Just this is it.” 

Word of the party got out and a number of koans from the miscellaneous collection came along:

Stop the sound of the distant temple bell
Put out the fire across the river
Stop the dogs barking at midnight
Extinguish the star
Make the mountain dance
Hide in a pillar

Of course there was also Dongshan’s, “Now it is me, I now am not it.” 

The other thing that happened was being reminded of an earlier time in my practice when I mistook submission for surrender.

What strings in other koans get plucked for you?

—David Weinstein, July 2nd, 2024

David Weinstein Roshi



David Weinstein Roshi, Director of Rockridge Meditation Community


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